the hoofindex - rewind to the previous trip (changing of the guard and tower bridge in London) - fast forward to the following trip (Berlin)
Waitangi Day in London baby! Party time. Now the Hoof is always keen to stand out, so rather than going for the standard kiwi black t shirt, or AB's jersey - I convinced the Hoof'ess to get those bright Waikato Jerseys back out - team uniform for drinking events apparently.
Having got into team uniform we headed into London - planning to get to Bayswater at about 11am, we'd be at the front line rather than totally swamped by the crowds. We'd brought along some roadies but we were saving them for our arrival. Getting close to Paddington station, the official starting point, we decided to stand up - playing to the official rules of the crawl. For those of you unaware the key travelling rules are: 1) You can only travel on circle line trains, even if multiple lines use the same platform. 2) You are not allowed to sit down or hold on while traveling on the circle line trains. Lucky we did because as the train entered the station, the platform was packed with kiwi's yelling, "woooooaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". The crowd piled on, with all the seats empty, and everyone taking their surfing poses.
Arriving at Bayswater we struggled outside where there was a mass crowd of kiwi's almost blocking the road.
We cracked a couple of drinks open and watched the mornings events unfold. Cars very slowly drove past, while two guys in a sheep and a sheep dog outfit ran around chasing each other (where the hell do you get outfits like that in London - or do you get your mum to send them over from NZ). Then the crowd on the opposite side of the road looked up at the building behind us and cheered. Wondering what the hell was going on we headed across the road, looked up to see a couple of chicks in a window, one with nightie on, the other in a bra peeking from behind the curtains. They then swung open the curtains again to the loud cheers of the crowd.
We then decided to keep ahead of the masses and head down to Notting Hill Gate - stayed for a couple of beers - watching the Sheep and Sheep Dog who'd moved down at the same time.
Time for another, so we then headed to High Street Kensington. We'd been in contact with Stacey and the crew and knew they were somewhere behind us - so after visiting the local McDonald's to break the seal - we secured a spot just outside the station exit. Not long after Stacey and the crew arrived.
They reported that the police had closed the Notting Hill Gate station and they'd gone straight from Bayswater to High Street Kensington... trouble brewing already!
So at about 1pm this crowd had beer, RTD's and bottles of wine in various states of consumption. For a change we decided to check out the local pub round the corner to see if there was any chance to get in for a drink.
The answer was no. No chance! Given Notting Hill station was shut we decided to head on to the next before more were shut. But just like the pub, there was no chance of getting into the station - they'd closed this one too... so it was foot power to the next stop. We hoped to get in front of the closures again. No such luck, after a massive walk with a long spread out crowd of kiwi's, including a guy with a ghetto blaster on his shoulder playing crowded house, and walking through some of the poshest streets in central London, we got to Gloucester Road which had also been shut by the police. So then we hoofed it on to the next station, South Kensington - which lo and behold the police had beaten us to again.
However the police were very friendly despite having to put up with all these kiwis. The Hoof'ess then decided to try and debate the merits of closing the stations with the closest officer. I couldn't understand why he didn't listen to the argument of a clearly intoxicated Hoof'ess. And then agreeing with her, why he then didn't rush away to open the station. He just stood there explaining it was for our safety.
Since the police had changed the rules of the game, we decided to grab a bus to Victoria to get closer to Westminster and the Haka at 4pm. Arriving at Victoria we decided not to risk it and got on the circle line to Westminster straight away - lucky too as it was shut down short after we left. We subsequently lost Stacey and company as they missed this window of opportunity and got stuck in Victoria.
Arriving at Westminster and the gardens in front of the Abbey we secured a piece of a wall with good view over the developing crowd - over looked by the all mighty Big Ben.
The crowd filled up pretty quickly, including the Sheep and Sheep Dog, the New Zealand Speed Skating Team in their leotards (again where do you get 10 full lycra black body suits with kiwi branding on them in London?), and plenty of other outfits including the gurls of Shortland Street.
After a few calls we managed to get hold of Stacey who'd caught a bus into Westminster. After a short hunt we managed to find her in amongst all the crowds.
We decided it was time to move from our slightly elevated position into the centre. Some how (we still don't know how it happen) Stacey climbed onto the shoulders of this random guy who had been sitting down beside us, and they took off into the middle of the crowd. Stacey just looked back saying "who is this guy"? We simply replied "no idea!". She gave back a look of utter confusion mixed with "of my god, where's he taking me". After laughing for a few moments we raced after Stacey to save her.
Not being traumatised by the first shoulder ride, Stacey jumped onto the Hoof's shoulders to get this image - trying to see the Haka. We couldn't really see anything, and didn't hear anything - and then everyone started to break away. It was over.
So everyone just kinda mingled, milling around - not able to get anywhere due to the combination of a ton of kiwis and now even Westminster tube station having been shut! Crazy.
Having decided it was time to bail - but with Westminster Tube station closed, the Hoof'ess decided to try and negotiate her way in - again. I'm not sure Mr Officer was convinced, especially with the Hoof'ess waving her bottle of booze at him.
He nicely informed the Hoof'ess that the nearest open station was Waterloo - over the river and a short walk. I still can't believe a bunch of kiwi's can shut down tube stations on the pre-text that there were too many people and it was for public safety. You can't tell me they have to shut down half the stations around London on a Friday night, stations like Covent Garden, due to Friday night revelers. So 5000 kiwis in a city of over 10 million can cause this much public transport chaos - the stations weren't closed just to pub crawlers but everyone.
Having got to Waterloo I was still happily intoxicated - and nothing like Mr Happy on an escalator! It's like surfing!
With beer drinking munchies we decided that we needed some greasies - and it doesn't get any greasier than KFC. So we stopped off at Kings Cross to top up on some chicken, chips and drink. Having laid a good, booze absorbing layer in our stomachs we headed back up to Harpenden - very content.
So home we came and crashed out for a good sleep in on Sunday!
Next up we're back on a plane to East Berlin.