On Day Two back in London we divided our forces and headed off with our own agendas.
I dove back onto public transport and headed east to Blackheath to catch up with a good friend and her new son. After about eight months of driving around L.A. it felt very weird to be jumping back on and off the underground and overground trains to get around (especially when L.A. has practically no public transport system). I really don't miss the commuter journey, the packed trains and cold London town, plus everyone trying desperately not to look you in the eye.
I was so glad I'd packed my big winter coat, scarf, gloves and hat - whatever happened to my shorts and sandals I wondered?
Fortunately my friend treated me to bowls full of hot yummy soup and lots of treats to keep my energy levels up as we caught up on life with babies (well in my case a puppy). It was so nice to get together and I really do miss having my friends close by most of all living in L.A.
After a few hours in the East End I got the train back into Waterloo and walked to my old company HQ in Southwark. I used to work for a media company in the unimaginatively titled Blue Fin Building. The company had only recently relocated into the building and they held a contest among staff to name the new headquarters, but I always thought that they chose such an uninspiring, desciptive name for what is supposed to be a 'creative' media company.
Anyway, it was like walking into any day at the office and time just fell away. What felt like ages for me looked like the months had flown by for my former colleagues, I could see it in their faces. Nothing had changed (aside from harder times and a few redundancies), but it was wonderful to see everyone again. Even though it had been a tough and stressful job, I'd really had a great time working beside and socialising with my workmates, so I'd left on a positive note with fond memories.
So when we decided to visit the UK, I couldn't wait for a night out with my work pals and an essential karaoke reunion.
Following a few glasses of prosecco in a new bar under my office, old friends and new ones piled into a taxi and headed to Leicester Square and the site of many crimes against music.
As they say the best laid plans - a miscommunication meant the room we thought we'd booked was unavailable and so about twelve people squeezed into a room meant for eight. Clearly a health and safety violation, but it's a Chinese restaurant so when does that even matter? We've done stylish high class karaoke, but we find we have the best fun at the cheap and dodgy Chinese restaurants in London's West End.
We finally navigated the karaoke system and set about slaughtering as many nostalgic pop songs as we could - old favourites like Dolly Parton's 9 to 5, Islands in the Stream, Madonna, Britney, Barry Manilow.
Nothing is too cheesy or corny for us and the great thing is that you can sing your heart out in your own private room with no shame, as even though the walls are paper thin, only your friends can see you and they are all doing it too.
The cheap bottles of wine, jokey-cola's (vodka and coke) and rounds of sumbucas flowed. Like a good boy, I got the last tube home from Picaddilly Circus to Hammersmith and was in bed by 12.30am, but then woke up at 4.30am and in classic jet-lagged fashion couldn't get back to sleep.
On Day Three we dropped our suitcases off at our hotel, High Road House in Chiswick, which is part of the swanky Soho House group. Located in the heart of Chiswick in West London, our old stomping ground, it's conveniently twenty minutes from central London and Heathrow Airport.
The small stylish bright bedrooms come with big comfortable beds, which have lovely crisp white sheets. They have the most indulgent showers, which revitalise you with their massive shower heads and fabulous COWSHED products.
After dropping our bags it was off to Ruislip to officially meet my in-laws for first time in nearly ten years of being in a relationship with my other half. Luckily it wasn't as scary as I'd envisaged, but I was hit by terrible jet-lag. So much so that I even left my contact lenses behind and we had to turn around on the way back to the hotel and add another half hour to our journey.
We continued our habit of eating our way around the world in the evening by joining some friends for dinner at a lovely restaurant just off Regent Street, called Patterson's. Driving into the centre of London reminded us how bad the traffic can be in the capital. But we got there in the end and I enjoyed some delicious fish courses and washed them down with a few cocktails and some champagne.
And that was another day over on our grand tour and another set of friends caught up with. Little did we know that there was so much snow on the way....