Wednesday 16 May 2012

Preamble in London

I flew down to London around teatime on Sunday and made my way in to Green Park tube station as I was staying at the Washington Mayfair in Curzon St. in advance of the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit on Monday and Tuesday. Having muddled up the air-con I ended up with a most unpleasant, warm night which felt like climate training for Dubai later in the week.

The walk to work on Monday morning was a pleasant one however: across Green Park and the Mall, then through St. James' Park and past Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament before crossing the Thames at Westminster Bridge. The summit was in the Park Plaza Hotel which looks across the bridge to Big Ben. I stayed in the Park Plaza last year but cutbacks have decreed it is too expensive for me to stay in this year. London was grey and showery and chilly, in keeping with the gloomy economic forecasts that surround work these days.

The conference was worthwhile, more practical and less theoretical than some of the Gartner output of recent times, and I was able to chat with a few of my peers too. At the close of play on Monday I took a long walk back, cutting along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square and then up Haymarket to Regent St and Oxford St, doing a little light shopping with an eye on Dubai. I eventually turned down to Mayfair, passing Claridges and Berkeley Square which was lined with a far higher proportion of Bugattis than I'm generally used to in Fairmilehead.

I dined out in The Little Square in the Shepherd Market just across the road from the hotel, a great little hideaway of restaurants and boutique shops in the heart of Mayfair. On Tuesday I was greeted with rain as I checked out the hotel, so I caught the tube to Waterloo prior to the conference. After the summit ended I was back at Waterloo to catch the train to Mortlake (after a mis-routing to Barnes Bridge) to stay with Ali and Gordon for the evening. Splendid company as ever, with Innes now a stomping 18 months old, competing for attention with Megan and Freya.

Wednesday was my day off, so I returned to the city centre, blagged my bags into the concierge at the Park Plaza ("Yes, I've just checked out. Room 319.") and set off on a wander. I headed down Abingdon St, round the side of the Palace of Westminster and was impressed at the detail on the Sovereign's Entrance - reminiscent of Notre Dame Cathedral or Il Duomo in Milan. Buckingham Palace was slightly obscured by temporary seating which has been erected for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in three weeks' time but I still saw the changing of the guard.

Predictably, I headed to Kensington Whole Foods for a perusal of the food on offer and made a selection for lunch. Next I found myself a book for Dubai (it took a long time to find a bookshop in central London - the disintermediation of booksellers by Amazon and supermarkets continues) then I sat in a pleasant burst of sunshine in a park by Victoria Embankment next to Charing Cross, watching two elderly people play table tennis.

The "me time" was over. It was time to recover my luggage and get on a busy tube to meet my wife at Heathrow Airport...

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