On Tuesday The Gardener took me to the nearest town blessed with a station, where I took a train and went to London for the day. Thank goodness for a Seniors' Railcard - a rare advantage of getting older - which made this almost affordable.
I met up with the Lovely Son, who is going away for 5 weeks, and whose birthday I will miss. He is growing a beard and moustache. A triumph of hope over experience, we agreed; he says it will soon turn gingery, and will have to be shaved off. Not being a natural beardie, he seemed rather pleased with himself for having got this far, as well as resigned to its likely short-livedness.
He was also very pleased with his early birthday present, a small digital camera (Panasonic Lumix for those who are interested) and we sat outdoors in the muggy air for a while while he played with it. I took cheesy touristy snapshots.
The pigeon controller was there, looking fierce.
And his own controller, a cheerful-looking man with a big gauntlet and a bag of titbits, dealing patiently with tourists asking questions, while his sharp-eyed charge observed us all. There were no pigeons in sight.
Then we braved the
We didn't do much; we wanted to spend time together, rather than visit galleries or exhibitions, and time was short.
We did visit here (no not just the cafe!), becoming embroiled in some interactive art (I think that was what it was; yes, I know I'm a Philistine) that seemed to be a horde of people walking - then running - up and down the vast space with an unusual air of determination, some of them peeling off from the group to talk intently to members of the public before rejoining the group without warning. We obliged, listening and er... interacting. They continued their walking/running, then sat, talked, sang; we came away none the wiser.
We wandered around, giving the Munch exhibition a miss (too little time, too expensive) and the LS took photos. The birthday present seems to have been a success.
We drank tea in the cafe, and I looked longingly at other people's very appealing lunches. But The Lovely Son was intent on introducing me to real Mexican food, as opposed to the rather poor Tex-Mex stuff that had so underwhelmed me years ago.
And so we ambled along to the latest Wahaca, a colourful temporary structure built from containers, staffed by whizzy, cheerful, efficient young people, and ordered a light lunch.
Which kept on coming.
Note: IMO, cactus looks and tastes much like courgette. Not interesting except as a first-time experience.
Everything else was delicious, and redressed the problem of my anti-Mex-food sentiments very nicely.
And eventually, full to the gunwhales, we managed to stagger away and walk again in the now-freshening air, taking yet more touristy snapshots, before braving the Tube, having another pot of tea, and reaching the 5 pm train in good time.
The Lovely Son and I parted yet again. How many times in his life have I said goodbye/travel safely/stay in touch to him before he set off abroad? Too many to count.
I sat in the quiet comfortable train for two hours, finishing the Kindle book I was reading with great enjoyment, and ignored my blistered toes, oddly-striped from where my sandals had leached dye into my feet.
The Gardener was waiting on the platform, smiling, to take me home, and I was pleased to get there, 12.5 hours after leaving the cottage in the morning.
It will take the Lovely Son less time to fly to Mexico City on Friday to spend some weeks with girlfriend and family, a joyous event that I hope will be fully documented by his birthday camera, and relayed home to his vicarious-traveller mother. He can practise his Spanish, which seems to consist chiefly of menu-related nouns, and he can make critical decisions about that beard. Goodbye, Lovely Son-about-to-turn-41, travel safely, and stay in touch.