A weekend in London

London was calling one Friday in March - my first day off work in 2015 and boy did I need it. I know you're thinking 'How lazy, Alex. You'd only worked two and a bit months since Christmas and already you were flagging!' I hear you, but January and February are the busiest months of the year when you work in travel, so I was very much looking forward to a day out of the office.

The reason for my visit to the Big Smoke? A belated Christmas present from my other half's parents. So the two of us headed down on the 10 o'clock train from Wilmslow to meet them at London Euston. Upon arrival we headed straight for our base - The Civil Service Club.

Steps from Trafalgar Square

No,it isn't an exclusive private members' club; it's more of a three star hotel for the sole use of current and former civil servants - the boyfriend's parents are one of each. The building itself, as you can see below, is quite attractive from the outside but what really blew me away was the location. Steps from Trafalgar Square, walking distance from Whitehall and close to Covent Garden, you couldn't get much more central. And certainly not for the price- at around £115 a night including breakfast! Bargain.

Boston Burgers at Borough Market

After checking in, we headed straight for bustling Borough Market where we mingled with tourists and weatherbeaten workers on their lunch breaks. Spoilt for choice, we opted for a pork Boston Burger from the Boston Sausage Company stall. The burger itself was very tasty, topped with stilton, rocket and a sweet onion chutney. For dessert, we had Portuguese custard tarts known as pasteis de nata, before finishing off with a cheese course from the renowned Neal's Yard Dairy. The afternoon of over-indulgence culminated with some people-watching over glass of prosecco from a cute little bistro in the heart of the market.

Matilda the Musical and Trunchbull Terror

I'm a little bit of a musicals maverick - I absolutely love them. I love watching them live, on film and most of all, I love being in them - I met the other half doing am dram at Durham University. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to get late tickets to see Matilda the Musical, just five rows from the front. Without going into too much detail, it was absolutely outstanding. The children are super talented and I was truly terrified of the Trunchbull, particularly when he/she leapt from the stage and sprinted down the centre aisle, inches from my face.

Henry VIII and Hampton Court

On Saturday, we headed out of London for a day trip to Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace. I've been a bit of a Tudor fanatic since I was a child - I'm pretty sure I knew the divorced, beheaded, died... rhyme before the words to Humpty Dumpty. We opted out of the audio guide as we prefer to go at our own pace and spent a good couple of hours wandering the palace and verdant gardens - you can't miss the huge, bell-shaped trees or resist getting lost in the maze.

A Double Dinner Date at Pasta Brown

We struck lucky with dinner as we stumbled upon a lovely Italian in the Leicester Square area - Pasta Brown. A poster in this family-run eatery claimed that that octogenarian Grandma Carmela still makes cannelloni in the kitchen! We ended the night with a quick pint (or several) at CAMRA-recommended The Harp. As you can see in the picture, standard decor gives way to an innovative collage of beer mats and pump badges over the bar. Tip: mind the gap between your head and the bar when you're ordering or you will end up with an extremely painful papercut.

Come morning, my head felt as cloudy as the ciders I'd been drinking the night before,so the full English breakfast was very welcome. After a spot of shopping on Oxford Street, we headed back up North after a truly enjoyable weekend. I always have mixed emotions about London; whilst the majority of my friends live there and I always enjoy my visits, I don't think I can ever see myself living there. After all, I'm a true Northern girl at heart and Manchester always calls me back.


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