I am coming to the end of my house sitting stint too. This upsets me on a number of fronts, chief among them the fact that I have become quite accustomed to gazing out the lounge room window at night times, just watching the twinkling City lights reflected in the Thames. I have enjoyed my 45 minute walks into work (on clear days), and I haven't really minded my pushy-shovey bus commutes (on rainy days). So the search has been on - again - for a flatshare in this crazy town. I am still not wedded to one particular part of town, refusing as I do to succumb to the silly notion that you have to be a "North of the River" or "South of the River" person. With my sense of direction, if I can even FIND the River, it's a good day.
I've been browsing a number of flatshare websites (Gumtree and Spareroom seem to be the most reliable for me). I was initially irritated because people weren't responding to my expressions of interest in their rooms - I mean, how dodgy must I have been sounding? So now when I'm responding to room adverts, I've taken to lying by omission. I gloss over how old I am, and I comment on what industry I work in, rather than reveal who my employer is - and so far, that is working for me. I'm seeing a number of rooms tomorrow (Sunday) and with any luck, I'll come out a winner. If not, I'll keep trawling sites next week and try not to take it all personally.
It was wonderful to spend today with my cousin EG, who flew over to London for work. Because she was taking the Tube from Heathrow this morning, I met her at Green Park station (the closest to Buckingham Palace) and the minute we saw each other, I knew something wasn't quite right. She hobbled towards me and revealed that in a rush to get onto the Tube she had twisted her ankle. Not a good start! So we limped as far as Fortnum & Mason down the street from The Ritz and we had soothing pots of tea. The tea did not soothe her ankle of course; we had to buy a compression bandage at Boots for that.
EG is quite the trooper though and insisted that we keep walking so that she could exercise her ankle, rather than rest and risk it swelling up like a grapefruit. I wasn't so sure we should be pushing things, given that she was due to fly back home tonight, but I do as I'm told. We compromised a bit and caught the Tube back to Covent Garden. I stuffed in a meat pie for lunch at a very cute little place on the lower ground level, and then we browsed the Jubilee Market, in search of some Banksy artwork. EG didn't find the exact piece she was looking for, but she still came away with a couple of small canvases for her bedroom wall. Score! Taking the rambling, direction-less route for which I am now famous, we eventually found Neal's Yard (a first for EG), and we paused for a coffee in the colourful courtyard area in between funky fashion boutiques and world food delis.
More walking followed and we meandered through China Town (celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival), down Haymarket and through Trafalgar Square. Writing this and thinking about the route we took, I still can't believe EG wandered all this way on her poor ankle - compression bandage or not! I took EG to witness the subterranean eeriness of Gordon's Wine Bar (another first for EG), but apparently the cat is well and truly out of the bag and now EVERYBODY wants to go there. Jerks. We couldn't get a seat and the place was packed, so we left. As the grey clouds looked more and more menacing, we called into a nearby Italian restaurant and split a pizza - well, I ate most of it but that's hardly surprising really.
The day went really quickly and it was quite sad for me to leave EG on the Tube, as she headed back to Heathrow. The visit was really brief but I hope it will be the first of many - fingers crossed. I just need to keep thinking of places I can take her when she comes back - she's not interested in the tourist traps; rather, she wants local sites. If I'm supposed to be the local here, it's time I stepped up to the plate. Eek, the pressure!