2004 UK Trip
Day 7 Thursday April 8
Last day in London - I started the day by checking out of my room and checking my largest bag. Then I walked down Cromwell Road, exploring an area of London that I hadn't seen before.
After visiting a few stores I arrived at the Victoria and Albert Museum when it opened at 10 AM. I was surprised that they let me walk in with a fairly large backpack without even wanting to look inside it. Overall, the security seemed minimal.
This huge design museum has a many wonderful things, but with the emphasis on design rather than the history or art. I only had about an hour and a half, but with no crowds, was able to see the highlights I wanted - among them the musical instruments, Tippoo's Tiger, the Throne of Maharaja, the Great Bed of Ware and The Three Graces. This museum, doesn't quite click for me, just not the right emphasis for my interests. I visited the V&A because it hasmany things unique to the UK, but think I would have more enjoyed the Natural History Museum, next door.
Then back to Gloucester Road Station, stopping for a quick lunch of mediocre fish & chips at a chippie before picking up my suitcase at the Park International and taking the tube to Euston Station.
The train trip to Blackpool was about 3 & 1/2 hours and included a change to a smaller local train in Preston. I had a national map and mentally checked off communities as we passed.
During each of my train trips, the thing about the British countryside that most surprised and delighted me was the rivers. They were generally smaller than I expected and almost filled their banks. They were often filled with boats, most of them colorful long, narrow house boats. I think it could be fun to travel in one sometime.
The train arrived at Blackpool's North Train Station and I first walked to the Winter Gardens, a 4+ acre collection of facilities that housed this year's British National Science Fiction Convention (Eastercon). After checking in and picking up my registration packet, I walked another 2 blocks to the Delamere Hotel.
When I arrived at the hotel, the owners, Gill & Phil Reeves, were surprised to see me. They has expected me the day before and Gill seemed a bit put out. Still I checked in, which was pretty informal in the 9 room private hotel. They didn't ask for any money, identification or a credit card.
My room ran £70 total for the three nights. The room had a double bed, tiny TV, coffee pot, shower and sink. The shared toilet was down the hall. After cleaning up and changing, I headed out. Phil stopped me on my way out to apologize for not being more welcoming when I arrived. He had checked our emails and discovered that he had made an error when logging my reservation. He offered to buy me a drink, but I needed to be on my way.
I headed back to the Winter Gardens for a pre convention cocktail party and medieval banquet. Although there was a couple of people at the banquet that I recognized, there was no one I knew, so this was a key time to meet some people before the convention started. The banquet was late starting (almost an hour) and there were no seats at the cocktail party. Many of us were getting short tempered by the time we were able to take our seats.
The tables were very crowded and I started to think that it was going to be a miserable night, but there was a empty chair on my side of the long table and after getting rid of it, things were much more comfortable. The servers brought 4 bottles of wine and 4 pitchers of beer for the 11 of us at our table and things started to loosen up. The food was all you can eat served on platters, including vegetables, pork chops, BBQ ribs and very good roast chicken. Not very medieval, but we had a very good time.
The original entertainment for the evening had fallen through. The substitute accordion band was a bit corny, but entertaining. They did a number of things to get people involved and having fun. They did everything but the chicken dance (thank god!).
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