Yesterday was cold and damp: the perfect day to spend indoors rather than out. F and I therefore decided to visit the Victoria & Albert museum, to see the exhibition of wedding dresses that highlights the history and development of the wedding dress since the late 18th century.Off we went, to South Kensington tube station and, from there, via the tunnel, to the V&A. Except we didn’t. The entrance to the museum from the tunnel was closed due, as the security guard was patiently telling everyone, to the fact that the museum had reached its capacity and therefore entrance of new visitors was being controlled to the rate at which existing ones left.
We were advised to go to the main entrance on Cromwell Road and join the queue. When we made our way round there the queue was at least 300 metres long, and moving very slowly. Neither of us was in the mood for queuing in the cold and damp, and so made a quick change of plan, to have lunch first and then see whether things had quietened down.
We walked along Cromwell Road and onto Brompton Road, and spotted a branch of the Good Earth chain. Knowing of the quality of their food from previous experience we quickly made our way in and found a table. The first offering was next to a very loud and slightly drunk group of Russian speaking “lads”, so we moved into an alcove area, and settled down to peruse the menu.
The menu showed two flaps that opened out, rather like doors, to reveal the delights inside. Those looked rather slight to me: some set menus, a few chicken dishes, not the full range of food that I had expected. F had gone to visit the bathroom, and, waiting for her return I started to rehearse some comments about hoping that she was in the mood for chicken, and such like. Fortunately, just before she came back, I spotted two notches at the top of what turned out to be an inner cover, and, on opening these, discovered the full bill of fare. I can be remarkably dim at times.
We had Pan fried chicken and chive dumplings that came with a vinegar sauce; Tempura trio, prawns, sweet potato and asparagus with a sweet chilli sauce; Sautéed fillet of monkfish with a shallot and cracked rice relish; Sichuan prawns; Dry-fried french beans seasoned with dried shrimps and steamed rice. A bottle of Gavi de Gavi proved to be the ideal accompaniment to what turned out to be a delicious, if very filling, ad hoc meal1.
Our journey into Knightsbridge had started rather late. By the time we had finished our admittedly leisurely lunch it was around 3:45p and the cold and damp was now augmented by a darkening sky. We made a quick decision to visit the wedding dresses another day, and set of for South Kensington tube station and our journey home. On arrival at the entrance to the station the gates were locked! We tried another entrance only to find the same thing. By this time the V&A was admitting people as normal, so we took the front entrance and worked our way through to the tunnel exit. Also closed! Here however there was a very helpful member of museum staff who explained that South Kensington tube was closed because of overcrowding. He suggested an alternative route via another entrance: however a quick recce of that showed that it was one of the two routes that we had already determined was closed.
Decisive action was called for, and we headed east towards Knightsbridge tube station, where we could catch a Piccadilly line train to Earls Court and pick up the District line to Wimbledon from there. Except we couldn’t, because Knightsbridge station was also closed! Abandoning all hope of using the underground system in the area, a quick search using my iPhone revealed that the 414 bus would take us to Putney Bridge, from where we would, hopefully, be able to catch a District line train to Wimbledon.
Around 5:00p on a Saturday evening is not the best time to be catching a bus in the Knightsbridge area. The bus crawled through the traffic, living up to the billing that my Internet search had revealed, that the journey home would take us the best part of 90 minutes. As we eventually got onto the Fulham Road I started to check our location on my iPhone. That proved to be a flash of inspiration, since it showed that we were approached Fulham Broadway station, also on the District line but offering the prospect of a more speedy injection into the tube system. We therefore hopped off the bus and made our way to Fulham Broadway, and our first real break of the day when I realised that (a) Chelsea were at home that day, and Fulham Broadway station is virtually directly underneath their Stamford Bridge ground but that (b) it was now around 6:00p and so we could reasonably expect that the mass of fans would all have gone. And so it proved, and we eventually made it home.
1. For the record F felt that the sweet potato needed more salt and didn’t match the quality of the prawns and the asparagus. I was less inclined to that view although understood why one might say that.↩