We head to the Gare du Nord on foot to catch the Eurostar, check in and head through passport control. It feels strange to be talking to an English officer in Paris in English.
Getting on the train proves to be an interesting exercise. Heading to the car we’re supposed to be on, I circle around a gaggle of elderly English women returning from a trip who are clustered around the doorway. ‘Excuse me,’ I hear from one of the women’ There IS a QUEUE.’ I haven’t yet touched English soil, and already I’m being castigated for not having minded the great English institution of the queue. ‘Sorry,’ I reply, ‘I thought you were just standing around talking.’ In my defence, there was no discernible line, and all they appeared to be doing was discussing how to get on the train. They puff up in indignagion at someone actually talking back to them rather than saying the usual response (sorry!), and an American couple smile at me. Clearly they have had experience with the queue nazis.
We leave Paris, head through some stunning countryside under overcast skies and emerge from the Channel Tunnel to…sunshine. I know! I was pretty floored- gobsmacked, flummoxed and bewildered. It feels quite alien to have sunny weather in England.
We meet my brother Andrew at the railway station and head for our accommodation in Highbury. It’s halfway between Andrew’s and my other brother Mark’s flats. It overlooks Highbury fields, another playground and is about 50 metres from a Tube station and a supermarket. The kids are also super excited because it’s a chance to see TV in English for the first time in three weeks. Actually we’re pretty excited too .
London is familiar and alien at the same time, and the good weather makes it even more alien. People are flocking to the commons to sit in the grass and read, sunbake, have picnic dinners, throw a Frisbee, or kick the footy around (a round football). At the local shopping centre in Angel, deckchairs were available for shoppers to sunbake in the courtyard. I had seen the same type of behaviour in Paris, where small living spaces make for a great appreciation of green communal spaces and playgrounds for children. However whereas the English love nothing more than to sit on the grass, the French seem to prefer benches and chairs- all the better to avoid grass stains .
And just like Paris, London can keep on surprising you- we found the TARDIS at Earl’s Court! Master BG wanted to know how we knew it was there. His dad informed him he was friends with Amy Pond and she sent him an email telling him it would be there that day .