Three quarters of the way through the year, I find I still have just under three weeks of holidays left – and that does not include the productivity black-hole that is the last week of December when all and sundry truly grinds to a halt. Once again, in spite of my plans to not be in this situation, I have ended up hoarding holidays again, the plan being to use them as a make weight in lieu of notice as my plan to swap cold, windy, Aberdeen for the slightly warmer, but more rural climes that are Kirkland Lake. The BossMan has made it clear there will be no carry overs this year, and he has made sure to ping the appropriate warning email in my direction in addition to the automated ones sent by our holiday tracking software. All told after one too many reminders, I log on to Teamseer and fire off holiday requests for an extended weekend.
Newcastle, for all the right reasons, (NCLC, landmarks, relatively low costs and the friends I still have left there) usually comes up trumps whenever I have a few days to kill but the prospect of attending a buddy’s night out ends up being the final push that swings the pendulum firmly in favour of London. That, and the chance to catch Hillsong London for the first time since my all too brief appearance at the 10th year anniversary in 2010. With the luxury of a week to plan, I promise myself the mistakes from last time won’t be repeated. I book a flight to Heathrow with plenty of time to spare, and get a hotel in the Heathrow area to make sure I am well rested and primed up by the time the party gets swinging by 10pm. What I don’t bargain for is my topsy-turvy relationship with milky weak tea landing a sucker punch, one where I ended up passing so much gas I am doubled over in bed by 8pm, running to the loo every so often. Needless to say, all thoughts of partying fade to a distant memory as I try to wait out the diarrhoea. I wake up the next morning fully rested with a faint rumbling the only relic of my night of pain consoling myself at missing what arguably was the core reason for heading to London with the prospect of catching Hillsong London at the Dominion Theatre. Morning ablutions done and dusted, I plot my route on google maps and commence my eighty minute rigmarole via foot, bus and tube to Tottenham Court Road.
Hillsong – I arrive at 11.20am, shake hands with one of the welcome team dressed in black with dreads and a hint of an East African accent in the greeting he lobs in my direction through a plastered on smile and make my way up the flight of stairs to the back row where the remaining seats are. The kids are just heading off to children’s church and I squeeze myself past two women chatting excitedly oblivious of the goings on in front before I plod down besides them. The service is all I remember and have missed – rockish music, lights, great visual effects, MacBooks and iPads proudly displayed and jeans and t-shirts all round. Glyn Barrett from Manchester’s Audacious church brought the message on The Promise of God, somehow managing to throw in an anecdote from City’s sensational title win from last May and kissing a stranger’s sweaty, bald head.
Post Hillsong, I call up my friend O, and we arrange to meet up in the vicinity of the O2 Arena – another poignant place as it was here that the Hillsong 10th Anniversary was held. We grab lunch – I am famished and nearly dead on my feet – and watch Arsenal rip Liverpool to shreds at Anfield in the league. Again, not since Newcastle have I watched a game in a pub.
I never got to see the buddy on whose account I came to London in the first place, but a bonus was running into one of the guys from my old Nigerian job. We got to swap stories about who was still with the company or not and all the shenanigans and hassles of being the Corrosion Engineer in a firm whose primary focus is producing oil and gas.
It is only a quick two day break, but the joys of no dishes, chillaxing and chocolate fudge cake have no compare, at least in my opinion.