It all started so well: we ran up the stairs on the bus and squealed in delight at the front seat being free (yeah, okay that was just me); we wandered round Greenwich market with all the tourists and local ‘well off’ people who thought it was reasonable to spend £3 on a wheat free cupcake; we soaked up interesting facts in the Maritime museum (but said no to the rocky ‘life at sea’ simulator); we kicked autumn leaves as we marched through the park up to the Royal Observatory; we stood on the GMT meridian line, which was weirdly exciting; we watched a video in the astronomy museum that taught me things about the universe that I clearly didn’t listen to when mentioned at school.
We snuggled into each other as we made our way back to the apartment, excited about our week in London, knowing how many wonderful things we had planned, and just looking forward to hanging out together.
As I went off to sleep, I was confident that after two weeks of period pain (my period hell continues, more tests next week) I was now in the clear and looking forward to a deep, relaxing night’s sleep. Unfortunately, my predictions will not be winning any psychic awards: I woke at 4 am in agony and spent the rest of the night awake. Dosed up on pain killers and affirmations I got up determined to enjoy my day.
We set off for Knightsbridge, discussing in detail our lunch options at Heston Blumenthal’s new place Dinner; we have been to the Fat Duck, so we knew the kind of culinary delights that lay ahead. The restaurant is in a luxurious five-star hotel overlooking Hyde Park; an environment were the word recession does not seem to exist (£12,000 for the presidential suite anyone?) We tasted and reviewed each dish as if we were food critics, with foodie Husband asking knowledgable questions about the menu.
We mooched past Harrods taking in the beautiful Swarovski Crystal Christmas windows and headed down towards the Victoria & Albert Museum. I have been to the V&A a few times before, but I think you could go every day for a year and still see something new each time. I am never sure whether it is the building I am most impressed with, or the sheer volume of pieces, or the beauty of each exhibition. Either way, it is an artistic feast.
As I drifted off to sleep that evening, again I was confident that period pain hell was gone – for this month anyway. And this time my psychic powers were rewarded with delicious, glorious, glorious sleep. But my new-found powers did not warn me that this was the last day of the holiday that I would feel okay: by 6 pm that evening I was in bed with a bug and spent the next 60 hours feeling very poorly. I tried so hard not to feel sorry for myself, I really did, but I couldn’t help wishing that this had happened on another week, a week when I didn’t have precious time with my husband, a week when I did not have the sights of London to explore.
We had to cancel the parts of our week that we were most looking forward to: catching up with good friends, going to the theatre, and going to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester – a three Michelin star restaurant – for lunch. (A lunch date Husband had been looking forward to for at least six months; I was gutted for him.) Husband went off and had mini adventures on his own, whilst I stayed plastered to the sofa, flitting from feeling bikini hot to Eskimo cold, desperately trying to not give in to the self-pity (especially as Twitter kept reminding me of three friends who are battling cancer).
He came home with little packages to make me smile, and cooked delicious, healing food. He let me hog the sofa, and have control of the heating so I could pamper to my erratic temperature; he gave me extra squishy hugs and lots of love.
By Friday, I managed to drag myself out for a few hours, so determined to actually see London on our last day. We headed off to Borough Market by London Bridge, with roots dating back to 1014. These days it is an expensive food market luring in tourists, or local people who have watched MasterChef and are seduced by the idea of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. We had a pint in a traditional pub (full of tourists and men in Friday ‘smart casual’ office attire) and then went for lunch, hoping in some way to fill the very large Alain Ducasse hole: a fresh sea food platter made a good dent.
We made our way back and snuggled on the sofa watching movies, whilst again Husband took loving care of me.
The bug has lifted, but I still feel a little fragile. And I am still trying not to feel annoyed about how our trip worked out (you would think I would be used to illness getting in the way of life, but it never gets any easier). I know how lucky we are to go away as much as we do, and sometimes these things just happen. It happened to a good friend of mine a few weeks ago: she spent the first three days of her week off work being violently sick. As she said to me at the time: one is not amused!
So London, you weren’t quite what I was hoping for, but I will do my best to forgive you. And hey, look how loved I am – that is something to always be appreciated.