Nothing much was achieved on our fourth morning in London, basically because we were waiting to be picked up by Allen Choong who had rented a car to drive us to Dittisham. But first, before we could even leave London, See Liang Teik requested to be driven to Leicester Square where he wanted to buy a ticket for the West End show, Les Miserables. The problem arose because we were all unfamiliar with London traffic and we lost considerable time going down the wrong roads, despite using a GPS unit, or driving into dead ends. But eventually, we did manage to resolve the problem with good old Google Maps on my mobile.
That done, we finally left London slightly after noon and reached Dittisham at about five o'clock. A quick shower at the Red Lion Inn, and we were again on the road, this time to Paignton where, together with the convoy of cars from the overland drive and other Old Frees who had flown in from Malaysia and Europe, we were to attend a dinner hosted by Lotus Group UK. The drive to Paignton took us to Dartmouth where we had to take a five-minute ferry ride across the River Dart.
THE DARTMOUTH FERRY
That's not a flooded or submerged road. That's only the end of the road where vehicles will drive on board the berthed ferry.
DINNER AT PAIGNTON
The main banquet hall of the Palace Hotel in Paignton
Saw See chatting with Aslam bin Farikullah, the Chief Operating Officer of Lotus Group UK
We left Dittisham at about noon on Day Six to head back to London but along the way, we decided to make a stopover at Stonehenge. However, it was past three o'clock by the time we arrived at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and there wasn't enough time for us to go in and walk around. Besides, Allen was concerned about having to return the car to the rental company before six o'clock. Therefore, after spending about half an hour walking about the Visitor Centre and buying souvenirs, we were on the way again. We felt disappointed. Stonehenge was so near and yet so far. Then, as we drove back onto the highway, we suddenly noticed Stonehenge to our left in the far distance. Allen slowed down and I managed to whip out the camera and capture a few shots.
Unfortunately, the London afternoon rush hour traffic loomed ahead and by the time Allen managed to drop us off at the Manor Hotel, it was almost eight o'clock. I really don't know what happened to Allen and the car after that. I never got around to asking him.
Meanwhile. Liang Teik was persuading us to join him at the Kings Head Pub in Bayswater. The Kings Head Pub, according to him, was the most happening place for chess in London in the 1990s. So we took the Tube from Earls Court station to Bayswater. A short walk took us to the Kings Head Pub where we found people eating, drinking, reading and socialising. They were doing everything except playing chess. Liang Teik asked around but drew a blank from the waiters and staff. Chess? Never played here, they replied. Oh well, we looked at each other and shrugged. Perhaps the passion for chess at the Kings Head Pub had long disappeared.
Since we were there anyway, might as well have our dinner. We were hungry. We ordered our food. I chose their Fisherman's Platter while Saw See and Liang Teik went for the Mushroom and Chicken Pie. And we waited for them to arrive. We waited. And waited. Well over an hour. Saw See's and mine managed to arrive. Liang Teik's dinner never came. Even after complaining, his food never arrived. We decided to leave. He called for the bill and was given a 20 percent discount on our food. Anyway, as an afterthought, I must add that the pub food at the Kings Head Pub wasn't that great. A "Great British Pub" they are not. Sad.
The food looked better on the menu than it tasted. Serious!
Day Seven of our stay in London saw us heading to Earls Court station at an unearthly six o'clock in the morning. We were on our way to Victoria Station where we would finally catch the Gatwick Express to Gatwick Airport. We were going home and yes, I finally got to experience my Gatwick Express train ride. It was a short stay in England during which time we experienced life in a large cosmopolitan city as well as in a small English village. Best of two worlds. It's only because of Penang Free School's Bicentenary that we got the reason to do that. Goodbye, London, I really hope that I shall get the chance to see you again.