I arranged with Brian to have the day off to go and get our French visas. When I looked out at 6 a.m. it was cold and misty but by the time I got outside at around 6:30 it wasn’t too bad. I had Jim’s (stolen) bike¹ for the day, a book and lunch so off I rode, across the river and up Victoria Road, heading for South Kensington where the French Embassy is. It was early enough for there not to be much traffic, but even so it took a fair bit of effort to finally locate the embassy at around 7:30.
I sat on the steps in the cold reading and by the time it opened at 9 there was quite a queue. When I got past the security search, I filled in the long form and presented it to the girl at the window and asked if I could apply on Linda’s behalf. She said that the form needed to be signed by the applicant so after I had completed my formalities, I took a couple of forms and went up the road to a cafe where I bought a hot chocolate and sat down to forge Linda’s visa application. On the second go I managed a fairly reasonable copy of her signature and took it back to the embassy. I had to queue for quite a while but they never asked any questions when I presented the application.
From the embassy, I cycled across Hyde Park to Paddington Station to enquire about rail timetables for Wales, then cycled up to Oxford Circus to see if our flight tickets were ready, which they weren’t.
With 3 hours to fill in until the visas were ready at 4 p.m., I went and lay in the sun in Hyde Park beside the Serpentine, wrote a letter, read, and had a snooze. Later on, I was given a ticking off by a policewoman for cycling in Kensington Gardens while trying to find Kensington Palace which, despite its size and multitude of signs pointing down pathways, remained unfound.
I picked up the visas at 4 and then, lacking anything better to do, cycled back to the pub. In the evening Linda and I had pizzas at LG Grunt’s Chicago Pizza Company.
¹Almost everything at The Red Lion – our clothes, our bikes, the sound system, even a lot of the beer – was stolen to order for us by local thieves!