If I tell you that our trip to Wimbledon (my first ever; a surprise for my 60th birthday); coincided with the day of the tube strike, that we didn’t get to see Andy Murray, that we stayed so late there were no trains back to our hotel, that the following day we waited two hours for a taxi and made our train home with seconds to spare; you would probably think it was a disaster of a holiday. But no, it was one of the best trips of my life! I’ll tell you why.
First of all, it was a present from my husband, Ben. Ben doesn’t organise anything in this partnership. He doesn’t do planning; that’s my role. But, in this case, he applied for tickets in the Wimbledon ballot almost a year in advance and jumped through all the hoops to get us onto Court No. 1 for the men’s quarter finals. We booked a hotel in Earl’s court and first class train to Euston.
The hotel was lovely (Best Western Burns Hotel, 5 mins from Earls Court station). it wasn’t the most luxurious of hotels but the staff were helpful, friendly and efficient. The location could not have been better, slap in the middle of bustling Earls Court with all of its interesting restaurants and pubs.
And Wimbledon was amazing. I have never been a fan of lawn tennis, preferring clay or hard courts, but my time at Wimbledon bowled me over (to mix a sport metaphor or two). We wandered around the outside courts and saw one or two promising youngsters. We also caught a glimpse of my idol, Martina (N not H), but the queue to get in was too long and there was too much else to see. And we saw Stan Wawrinka practising.
After our picnic and Pimms on the lawn (well it had to be done) we took our seats in No 1 court. We were right at the back but had a wonderful view. The first match, Federer v. Simon was a demonstration of power, skill and artistry by Federer. Roger was really on form and it was a joy to watch. The second match, however, was something else.
Stan Wawrinka v. Richard Gasquet. What a match! Well those of you who are interested in tennis will know it was, perhaps, the match of the men’s tournament (Watson v. Serena being, in my opinion, the match of the women’s). Those not interested only need to know that the crowd ignored the constant messages to ‘leave now or you’ll never get home’, ‘the last tube is leaving in half an hour’ etc. etc.
We couldn’t leave. The match was perfectly balanced with, first, Gasquet having the upper hand, then Stan and so it continued to the final point.
We staggered out of the court to a queue for taxis which, had it not been for the wonderful organisation of police and stewards working well together, would probably have left us standing there still!
We were back at the hotel in time for a decent meal in a local curry restaurant (Masala Zone on Earls Court Road). A great end to a wonderful day.
All we had to do now was get our train from Euston the next day.