20 July 2010 (Tuesday) - London, Ale, Barby

To London, on the Javelin. Yesterday I checked the train times and prices on the official website. When I got to the station I found that whilst this website had the train time correct, it had underestimated the cost of the ticket by thirty pounds. I mentioned this to the chap behind the counter, who said he was sick of people coming to him having been quoted incorrect information from the official website. Apparently it’s famous for being wrong, so I just smiled, and handed over loads of money. (Mind you, I must admit I’m impressed with the Javelin service. When I first moved to Ashford we were promised a high speed train link. It’s taken nearly twenty years to arrive, but it’s halved the journey time to London.)

Forty minutes later I was in London, and I made my way to the University for a training session. In the past I’ve mentioned how I go to other hospitals to assess their trainee blood-testers. I’ve been asked to perform similar assessments on students at the University, and today was a session for me to get to grips with their systems and ways of working. And, as always, things didn’t go to plan. The University had signs up saying that they were on “Amber Security Alert”, and consequently every single person walking through the door was being vetted by a security guard who obviously had been watching too many Hollywood blockbusters for his own good. Needless to say, this somewhat hindered the access of several hundred students into the building. I honestly can’t imagine anyone wanting to blow up a University, but I suppose in today’s climate, better safe than sorry.

The session I was attending was supposed to be over and finished by 1pm, but we had a fire alarm. The lecturer leading our session said to follow her to our muster point, which was several streets away. Walking there and back (once the all-clear was given) wasted half an hour, and made a mockery of the “Amber Security Alert” when hundreds of students and staff all just walked back in to the building unimpeded in any way. However we didn’t get as far as the lecture theatre: the alarm went again. Everybody out (again)!

With two unscheduled fire alarms, things rather overran. So much so that it probably wasn’t worth my while rushing to get back to work for the afternoon. So I took a leisurely stroll back to St Pancr(e)as station, via a pub I’ve been meaning to visit for years. The Bree Louise is about ten minutes walk from St Pancras International, and the bar staff were very welcoming. And they had the most ales in a pub that I have ever seen – seven ales on hand pump, and ten from the barrel. Seventeen in total, and a dozen ciders and perries too: I’ve been to beer festivals with less selection. I settled for a pint of the ruby mild and a bag of crisps, and read my book in peace and quiet for fifteen minutes before getting the train home.

I got home to find the postman on the doorstep delivering the benches I ordered on eBay on Sunday night. Delivered in less than two days: that’s impressive! And then I got jiggy with the fish pond filter. I’d come to the conclusion that the innards of the thing weren’t up to scratch, so I chucked them all out and replaced them with new stuff. I may well need to flocculate, but that will be in a day or so.

To B&Q for more charcoal, and then the tribes gathered for a birthday barby. A few beers, a few sossies, a few mozzie bites. Must do the barby thing more often…

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