Friday, September 10, 2010

Walking with Friends: Len's 50th Birthday

Leonard Joseph Erdwin
The birthday boy.

On Thursday 8th September, 1960, Len Erdwin was thrust in to this world!!!

On Wednesday 8th September, 2010, Len Erdwin was thrust upon London!!!

Saturday 4th September, 2010.

Len's birthday week began on Saturday 4th. Len had finished work on the Friday and was looking forward to a well deserved week off and a good day out on the Wednesday, to celebrate reaching 50. He arrived at my house at about 10am on the Saturday, while Emma and I were picking up his 'surprise.' Luckily Emma's brother, Adam, was at the house tiling the bathroom floor, so Len could get in. When we returned from collecting his 'surprise' we had to quickly hide it so that Len wouldn't see it. After a bite to eat, we left 'the boys' to it while we went to see Alysha in 'Hello, Mister Capello.'

On our return, from the play, it was decided that Len should have his surprise.

Adam kept Len busy in the garden while Me and Emma got things ready.

When we were sure that Len had his eyes shut, we carried it out in to the garden. Stuck it on the table and told him to open his eyes. As he opened his eyes he was silent and he just stared at it. I truly thought we had screwed up. It was then that he finally threw his arms out and said how happy he was.

(The 'surprise' was a birthday cake in the shape of a guitar. The lettering on the cake said, 'Len 50' and all around the base, on the icing, were musical notes and guitar shapes. It also read, 'Elvis 1935-1977'. The cake was based on a similar cake that Len had received for his 21st Birthday, which had also been an 'Elvis Cake.' My thanks go to Denise Cox from Tapestry Cakes, Watford for her excellent work. You're a Star.)

Once Len had got over the shock of the cake, and we had taken many photos of it, Len decided we should all try some. It tasted as good as it looked, if not better. A few more beers and cake and it was a great start to Len's Birthday week.

Wednesday 8th September, 2010.

Len and Swany arrived at my house at about 8:30am.

After a coffee I handed Len his birthday present. A black zippo lighter with a portrait of Elvis Presley on it. He seemed to like this present, too. We left my house at about 9.15 and headed for Met Station. The short journey got us there in time to catch our train to Baker Street. On arrival we had breakfast and a coffee at a small cafe and then began our stroll.

We walked along Marylebone road and turned in to Portland Place. This took us passed BBC Broadcasting House and through on to Regent Street. We then crossed over Oxford Street at the new 'Tokyo' style crossing, which should be introduced in more places. We then turned on to Carnaby Street and then in to Golden Square and on to Piccadilly Circus. From there we headed in to Leicester Square and up Long Acre and on in to Covent Garden. From here we headed down to the Embankment and followed the River Thames until we reached the MillenniuM bridge. All the while taking photos and pointing out the sites to Len.

From here we headed to St. Paul's Cathedral and on to Cannon Street, so that Len could see the 'London Stone'. (The 'London Stone' is a piece of Limestone that it is rumoured was the point that all measurements were made from in Roman times.) From here we made our way to the Tower of London to see the remains of the original, Roman, Tower Gate. More photos and then we crossed the River Thames via Tower Bridge.

Once on the South Bank, we followed the 'The Queen's Walk' along the River Thames, passing City Hall (Bojo's Palace as I call it.) and H.M.S. Belfast. It was about this time that we decided it was time for a drink. So we stopped at the 'Horniman at Hays' for a drink. We sat outside by the river and toasted Len on making it to half-a-century. From here we walked in to the Hays Galleria and then on to Borough Market, for some lunch.

Unfortunately, Borough Market is not fully open on a Wednesday, but there were still plenty of places to grab a snack, so we each had a rump steak bap with rocket and mushrooms and onions. Perfect!

From here we joined 'The Thames Walk' and wandered on to Clink Street, where we stopped at 'The Old Thameside Inn', next to the Golden Hinde. Here we had another toast to Len and some more photos were taken. Then we continued our stroll passed 'Winchester Palace's Rose Window' and 'The Clink Prison Museum' until we reached pub No. 3, 'The Anchor', Bankside. It was while we partook of another beverage to Len's enduring health that a Chinook flew overhead. (Near on everytime I go to London, I see a Chinook.) We then continued on our little jaunt along the 'Jubilee Walkway' and saw the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and the Bankside Gallery and then stopped at the 'Founders Arms' so that Len could have a short rest. While we sat there we thought it would be nice to have another toast to Len's longevity. So we did.

We had to make a small detour, because of the work that is being done to Blackfriars Bridge, but were soon back on our correct path. It was at this point that it started to rain. Luckily, we were next to the 'Doggetts Coat and Badge' pub, so we took shelter inside and toasted Len's youthfulness.

Once the rain had eased off, we continued our little stroll towards Westminster. We passed beneath Waterloo Bridge and saw the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Festival Pier, the Royal Festival Hall and through to the Jubilee Gardens by the London Eye. Lots of photos and then we continued on to Westminster Bridge. This is when Steve B rang to say that he had arrived at Baker Street. Perfect timing! While Steve B caught a train to the Embankment, we continued on towards Vauxhall, to take some photos. A shot across the Thames of Parliament and then one of M.I. 5 and then on to get a photo of M.I. 6. Then it was an about turn back to Westminster to meet up with Steve B.

Once we were all together we made our along the Embankment and saw the Playhouse Theatre. It was here that Steve B performed on stage for Sir David Jason. We then turned on to Villiers Street and went to the 'Princess of Wales' so that Steve B could toast Len's five decades on the planet. After this is was decided that we couldn't possibly visit London without seeing some Horse Guards. So, we headed to Whitehall to see them. A few photos with some Horse Guards later and we hit pub No. 7, 'The Old Shades' pub on Whitehall. (First free t-shirt each of the night.)

After toasting Len, for still being upright, we headed to Trafalgar Square. Len and Swany climbed on the Lions at the foot of Nelsons Column, while Steve B and I took photos. We then went to Leicester Square and looked at the imprints of various actors hands around the square. Then we went to the 'Bear and Staff'pub. It was here that we found a street artist who drew a caricature of Len for £10, Brilliant.

Once the caricature was finished, we headed off to 'The Cambridge' to try and get our second free t-shirt. (Basically, whenever you go in to a Nicholson's pub you get a map stamped. Get five stamps and you get a free t-shirt. Cool.) They didn't have any, but we had a drink anyway. From there we went to another pub that none of us can remember the name of, so we shall just call it Pub No. 10. No t-shirts here but plenty of drinks. Swany found a drink called 'Wild Swan', so he was happy. We then decided that it was getting late, so we headed off to find pub No. 11 and our second free t-shirt. We found our free t-shirts in the 'Argyll Arms' near Oxford Circus. By now we were toasting Len, Swany, Steve B and me and anything else that seemed like it needed toasting. Fantastic!

When we left the 'Argyll Arms' we jumped on the train and headed home. All in all a great day out and I truly hope that Len had a great 50th Birthday. I also hope that Swany and Steve B had a great day too.

(Now, the route we took was not set in stone and we did not run the route. I did, however, have in my mind an idea of when we would reach Westminster and I hoped this would be at the same time as Steve B. We were 15 minutes early, or Steve B was 15 minutes late. Timing a day out like that does not get much closer.)