I've got a little backlog of stories to tell and so today I'm reliving memories of London from the day of my actual 50th birthday. Instead of marking the occasion with something sedate to fit my advancing age, like tea in the Ritz (which we'll have to do sometime), someone had another idea.
Remember when I got roped into cooking nigh on a thousand canapes for e-Laura and her husband ? Well, partly to thank me for that they bought a super-duper joint birthday present for me and Louis. Given that we prefer memories to stuff they came up with the idea of a high speed trip up the River Thames on a high velocity speedboat to the massive flood barrier. 'Would that be okay?' asked e-Laura. It wasn't just okay but perfect!
The guys from Thames RIB experience did us, and another party of another mum and a group of excited boys, proud. The journey starts with an informative little jaunt in the wrong direction, westwards from Embankment Pier, past the London Eye and on to the Houses of Parliament that according to the guide is owned by the Queen. Then we turned around and headed at a slowish pace towards Tower Bridge. It was there that things hot up. Out went the powerboat throttle and we raced westwards, making huge waves and tipping alarmingly onto each side of the boat as the boat cornered this way and that. Blimey I thought that we'd be in Southend in no time and could pop in to see Mama and Papa Lovelygrey for a cuppa! We slowed down at Greenwich though to have a look at the Cutty Sark, the Observatory and the Naval College.
Then another twisty turny speedy ride down to the Thames Barrier. Wow! Those pods are huge. By now we were getting chilly. Just a little tip if you follow in our footsteps. Take woolly pullies, gloves, hat, everything that we didn't have. The lovely waterproof clothing that we were lent didn't quite cut the mustard.
This funky boat moored on the north bank of the Thames was one of my favourite sites but apparently that funky decor isn't modern at all. It was applied during the First World War and is a camouflage effect designed to confuse the enemy. Well it certainly confounded me!
There was an eclectic soundtrack to our voyage. Of course, we had to have a bit of Bond and the theme from Hawaii 50. And to mark my birthday and that of one of the kids on the boat, this was played. Stevie Wonder's album 'Hotter Than July' brought back memories from the eighties. 'That's old people's music' I told our tour guide, who was about the same age as me. 'I know' he said. 'It's why I chose it'.