‘Some tour guide you are!’
Jill smirked at me as I finished apologising profusely for a serious error that made us three Yorkshire people gape in disbelief right in the heart of London.
So what happened?
Somehow, I thought it would be a wildly cheap idea to travel to Greenwich, the home of the Royal Naval College, via the Thames Clipper Boat.
Stepping out of London Bridge Underground Station after an unplanned lunch in Camden Town followed by the crush of limbs and BO on the Northern Line, I loudly proclaimed this with a winning (and rather big-headed) smile:
‘Ah, don’t worry. You don’t even need to buy a ticket. You can pay through your Oyster Card and it costs as the same as a tube journey!’
I even sold the idea further to Jill and her little brother who was down visiting her for the week.
‘You can even go all the way from Vauxhall to Greenwich. What a great way to great around London instead of the stampede below, on the buses and even the trains! You can surf the River Thames in style like James Bond on the Thames Clipper!’
I was so enthusiastic that I almost bounced and giggled like a Japanese schoolgirl. Not even the dark clouds gathering in the horizon could knock me off the know-it-all pedestal.
‘Ed, where’s the pier?’
‘Oh, I’m not sure… Google Maps to the rescue!’
That wasn’t even the colossal mistake. Anything but. Oh, how Jill and Freddie was bemused at old excitable me.
While I’m fishing around trying to find out where the pier is, let’s check out what I did in Camden and why I started off being a bad tour guide.
Munching my crunchy nut straight out of the box that Sunday, scratching my belly; hair wildly all over the place, I suddenly got a message out of the blue on my phone.
‘Ed, still meeting in Camden? We may be late, like, 12:30pm.’
The mists from last night cleared and I starkly remembered while I was having drinks in Soho that Freddie landed the tour guide baton on my doorstep. Happily, I agreed and told them to be at Camden Town, as far on the other side of where I lived, for 12pm.
No problem, right?
I glanced at the clock and froze. It was 11:10am and I still had to get washed, changed and hightail it across London…
I held my hands up with an eager smile as I greeted a sleepy Jill and a thunderous Freddie a I rocked up outside the Camden Town Underground entrance at 12:50pm.
Did I mention it was raining hard and both of them were pretty wet from waiting for me, huddling under an umbrella?
I simply patted my waterproof jacket:
‘Always be prepared! You never know when it might rain!’
Oh, how we all chuckled but I suspect both of them did so sarcastically.
Leading the way, I showed them the market, albeit rather quickly due to the intensity of the rain until I abandoned that idea and swiftly brought them to Lock 17 bar to get away from the rain.
Did I tell you that I accidentally told them to wait under an open skylight while I got their drinks?
I apologised for their predicament and offered them their drinks: Freddie a Coke and Jill, a pint of iPunk IPA, which I surprised with.
‘What’s this?’ Jill puzzled as she stared at the weird nectar colour of the beer.
‘Try it! It’ll make you feel Camden style.’
She nervously sipped her pint with me and immediately scrunched up her face:
‘It’s… You can tell there’s a lot of flavour…’
But luckily, the rain disappeared before we knew it and we could enjoy the market in Camden once again.
Particularly the food market and the popular sights:
Soon, our tummies were rumblings and we partook in a delicious fish n chip lunch (you must try the peas) at the Lockside Restaurant on Camden Lock. That was before we tested our noses could move (don’t ask) and I took it upon myself to change Freddie’s hairstyle. Talk about personal encroachment!
After embarrassing both of them with my ultra-diligent attempts to extract the correct change, no tip (service charge was added) from the waiter, I whisked them downstairs for them to get some great pics of the iconic Camden sign:
And soon stumbled across a possible evening entertainment that I soon gushed over, rather loudly.
An outdoor cinema in Camden.
I got Jill excited too and we raced to the desk to book tickets to discover that the last screening was the day before. Oh, dear.
However, with grey clouds threatening, I had to cancel my cobbled together idea of grabbing a boat from Camden to central London and insist that we jump on the tube to London Bridge so I could finally wow them with my tour guiding skills by finishing the evening off at Greenwich, the perfect place to snatch a sunset shot that Freddie, the photographer, desperately wanted.
This would set in a chain of moments when I would make that hugely gigantic mistake that will shock fellow Yorkshiremen to their core.
‘Ooh, that’s great! I want to cross Blackfriar’s Bridge! I like that bridge!’
I had to break it to Jill that despite my initial thought that the Thames clipper was on the other side of the River Thames from London Bridge, it was actually on this side. Oops. She pouted.
But lo, and behold! We soon reached the Millennium Pier and checked out the timetable. There would be one in 20 mins. Oops. We had just missed a boat…but wait? What was that coming towards us? It was actually in fact, a late Thames Clipper!
I grinned. Could it be that my tour guiding luck was about to change? No more being a bad tour guide in London?
Of course, it didn’t!
We had to pay for the tickets first at the kiosk and there was a bit of a queue. Before our eyes, the Thames clipper left the pier to continue on its journey. Dammit.
Now, this is when the colossal mistake happened.
Now, before we left London Bridge tube station, both Jill and Freddie topped up their Oyster Card by £10 so we would have enough for a ‘return journey’ as a simple tube ticket within a zone is usually £2.80.
So imagine my surprise when Jill went to present her Oyster card at the kiosk that she was told that she didn’t have enough on her Oyster card. What? What the deuce?
I went to argue with the woman behind the kiosk when Jill got there before me.
So how much is it then? A return journey?
Oops. A BIG OOPS.
I looked round to Jill and Freddie, my mouth gaping with no words coming out. They did the same to me.
What an embarrassment. How could I get it so wrong? Especially with two people from Yorkshire who will never trust me with their money ever again. Could they start holding a grudge against me? I know I was being a bad tour guide, but what was even worse that I was a bad tour guide to people from Yorkshire. They’ll never let me live it down. Soon, I had visions of the news spreading across the shires to such extent that they would put out wanted signs out for me.
Jill saved my life.
How much would it be for a single ticket?
It was six pounds something which Jill went to pay. Claiming that it would be an experience anyway, I suspect she did so to ensure I wouldn’t be strung up over the city gates of York.
Freddie followed suit and the three of us sat on the seats waiting for the next boat to arrive.
That’s when it hit me why I immediately got the prices wrong in the first place.
During the tube strikes in early August, I remembered reading on the news that the Thames Clipper was offering tube fare prices for their boat commute journeys during that period. Oops.
So, immediately, I had to tell both Freddie and Jill who probably appreciated greatly why I came across that mistake. Perhaps, I should have kept it to myself…
Even when we left the booth to board the boat that I pointed out to both of them there were loads of signs all over the place showing the ticket prices, of which we walked past without a glance. Oops.
But with that colossal mistake made, I could now rest that since we boarded the Thames Clipper to Greenwich, my luck kind of changed. There was no further mistakes made. We enjoyed seeing the sunset over the city of London there. We even saw the Cutty Sark. Check out the pictures below:
All in all, it was rather a relaxing evening…until we had to return back to London Bridge via train. But I didn’t tell them I made yet another mistake. That’s right, guys, bad tour guiding is back.
We had to really run for our train that left from Maze Hill train station from our viewpoint at Greenwich Palace and we really ought to have caught the train from Greenwich train station anyway. Luckily, we caught the train in time and even when the train pulled into Greenwich, the next stop after Maze Hill, Jill looked at me with suspicion whilst rubbing her feet from all the running:
‘Greenwich?! Could have we got the train from here?’
I simply shrugged and offered a blank faced smile in the hope that she wouldn’t stab me with the stiletto of her shoe.
Your know what?
A bad tour guide knows when best to leave things unsaid…
Did you go inside Greenwich Palace to see the painted hall? It’s full of stunning murals!
I didn’t! It was closed by the time I got there!
Ah shame! If you ever have the chance to go, do it… it’s actually quite impressive, one of the best classical art in London!
You’re so lucky you had such an excellent guide in Dusseldorf…