Turned up to meet Georgie about five minutes early. Sat in the sun on the hot steps outside her workplace. Amazing how many people leave their Covent Garden offices on the dot of 5.30 - I never did and nor does Georgie (she normally works 'til around eightish and is usually the last to leave - bonkers). Mind you, it was Friday, the hottest day of the year and I suppose most offices don't have air-conditioning, so fair enough.
Had a quick chat about where to go and what to do. As usual, inconclusive. Georgie mentioned 'The Summer Exhibition' but I didn't fancy it. Too hot and sweaty. And probably overcrowded. So we just started walking. Ended up in Soho (again) where we joined the merry throngs enjoying after-work drinky-poos in the late afternoon sun. Place was packed. Even more tables and chairs seemed to have appeared on the pavements and all of them occupied. Headed towards 'The French House' (again) for a French cider and another gobful of free garlic and tomato olives. Turned the corner and saw a huge crowd standing outside. A clear case of no room at the inn. Walked past and headed for Chinatown. Bought a couple of superb ice creams from a tiny Chinese shop. I had a little chocolate cornet (which disappeared almost immediately) and Georgie had a special mixed whopper wrapped in a soft sort of pancake thingy instead of a crispy cone. She was still munching it when we arrived at Trafalgar Square where we simply sat and did nothing apart from watching the crowds enjoying the sunlit, open space. Ice cream finished, Georgie washed her sticky fingers in one of the fountain pools and suggested visiting the nearby National Portrait Gallery and upstairs bar. Sounded good to me.
Exhibition was staggeringly brilliant (if you get a chance, go). Then, having been on my feet for what seemed like hours, the prospect of sitting in a bar/restaurant with a view and a cool drink grew irresistible. So we went upstairs. Georgie had apparently been there before (company outing) so knew what to expect. But I hadn't. Again, staggeringly brilliant. Poshish without being snotty, with a marvellous rooftop view over Trafalgar Square looking out towards Big Ben and beyond. Bit pricey (two ciders, ten quid), but to a hermit recluse from the backwoods of France, most things are. Once again, if you get a chance to visit this bar/restaurant, I recommend you do so. Especially on a sunny summer's evening with a beloved companion. An experience not to be missed.
Suitably refreshed, we slowly ambled over the Waterloo bridge walkway and vaguely headed towards the station. Joined the crowds on the South Bank in the shadow of the Big Wheel thingy. Great atmosphere. Very relaxed and summery. Loads of people lazing on the grassy area watching the sun descend through the riverside trees, while others stood entranced by a street entertainer as he arranged individual volunteers into statuesque poses on the wide walkway. All very odd but fascinated the crowds. My particular favourite though was a copper in a tutu.
About half an hour later we were on the train to Putney, catching glimpses of the orange sun as it dropped below buildings on the London skyline. Then a short walk home via the fish'n'chip shop (apparently they'd been working there all day, in that heat, on the hottest day of the year, poor sods), followed by a large scotch, feet up and telly. So ended a long but immensely enjoyable day.