The Sunday of the weekend was reserved for a Christening of my wife’s sister’s son, now one year old. This took place in Orpington. We had no car with us so needed to get to the church from the middle of London.
We exited the hotel earlyish and grabbed a taxi to London Bridge. My wife then realised that she had left the present back at the hotel. A quick calculation by me meant I was able to point out that:
a) the value of the present was less than the cost of a return taxi trip and
b) the kid was too young to care and the sister would understand.
So, we grabbed some food from a Whistlestop, grabbed some tickets and raced to the train. We ate on the train. Only just finishing in time before our stop.
We came out of the station on the wrong side – could not find the bus stop we required (as per the text from my sister-in-law). We dragged out suitcases back through the station tunnel, out the other side, up the road, over the zebra crossing and waited. In the sun. Sweating. Why oh why didn’t I bring the car? I asked myself time and time again. (Because it costs too much to park in London.)
I only had a modest sized trolley-bag with work laptop, treasured DSLR and a few clothes/toiletries. The rest of the family (clearly less in fear of back problems than me) had much more to carry.
We bundled onto the bus, threw our Oyster cards at the reader and hopefully stated our destination as a church (not really expecting this to be recognised – we were surprised). A few stops later. having counted a mini-round-about and two following stops, we rang the bell and hopped off with fingers crossed that we had the right place. We had, the church was just around the corner.
We were only an hour early! Fortunately it was not raining so we sat in the very nice gardens on a few benches. After reading the paper, I wandered around taking a few pics when the outlaws turned out (that is to say, my wife’s parents who I get on with very well in my view). They also had some other relatives on board (an aunt and uncle of my wife the aunt being half-sister to her dad; aren’t families complicated!) The uncle is blind but hardly shows it. One of the first times I met him, he was driving a lawn-tractor towards me (the previous time I had seen the lawn-tractor, my new girlfriend’s father was riding it towards the window of the room I was sitting it with I thought was a malevolent grin upon his face). Or maybe that was the time he was driving the mg around the vicarage garden (vaguely following shouted instructions of nephew purchased somewhere near the rear of the open-top car). He and I chatted about photography for a while and he had a good feel around my camera. I also showed him a couple of different memory card formats (a 2Gb CF card and a larger capacity but physically much smaller 5Gb mini-SD card – this intrigued him a lot).
We entered the church to find the music group practicing. I could not help but feel that they had insufficient time to perfect their performance in time for the ceremony that was to come. Later I estimated that a few months might suffice. My father-in-law conducted the baptisms by kind permission of the resident vicar. One other baby was also suitably introduced to the community. Despite their obvious limitations, the music group got to lead several hymns and insisted in endlessly repeating many sections and even returning to hymns after destroying some other tune for a while. Frankly, it was a relief when it was over.
Our luggage had made its ways in the outlaw’s car before we went into church. We didn’t – there was a bit of a sweep around to find someone to give us a lift. My wife and I were split from our children – I don’t think they minded.
Once back at the sister-in-law’s house, we were able to indulge in a wide-range of food typical of such events and generally mingle with many family members also typical of such events. I had fun watching my brother-in-law and other family members put together a gizebo-tent type construction to protect a small number of the party from the sun. Actually, it was great fun.
Eventually, we got a lift back to the station (once we found someone who had not been drinking) and made our way back into London. My wife was keen to use a direct train from London to Telford. A slow but convenient approach for some – would have driven me batty. For this we had to head to Marylebone. Oyster cards proved a good buy again. We got tickets for three and indulged in some Cornish Pasties which we ate at the tables provided where we had to fight off the flying rats who thought the food sufficiently attractive to risk entering the main-hall of the station. Disgusting.
I left at this point wanting to get back to my work-hotel at a reasonable time and get myself ready for work. They had an hour to wait whilst I had to get over to Bedfont Lakes where I had left my car. This involved a long trip on the Piccadilly line to Hatton Cross, then a taxi, then some time working out how to get into my company’s underground car park.
In the car at last, with the air-conditioning going full blast. A text from the family to say they were on the train stopped me worrying about them for a while and an easy drive to the hotel saw me checking in at a civilised time. They took pity on me an booked me into a club room – ah, free bar.
I settled into my room quickly, enjoyed a shower, ordered food and fired up my laptop to connect to work. That finished the weekend off.
Some time later, I had a chat with the family who had got to Telford, found their car intact and made is safely home where they found themselves knackered.