There are two places in the world where it is always, perpetually, raining.
One is Auckland Airport.
The other is New Windsor, which is itself a suburb of the aforementioned Auckland.
If that sounds a mite unfair, then consider what so many of my Auckland friends must by now believe about the weather in London. When Rob came over, we were frozen in a gale. When Kiwi Steve did, he got soaked, not even wearing a coat.
This week it's been Brett's turn, along with 70-80 other guests at the World Methodist Council. It's been a constant downpour all week. Fortunately this Friday afternoon, with the conference over, Brett and fellow attendee Wayne joined me for a much drier wander about London... under the ground.
And, despite our being only one floor down, during World War 2 you couldn't get much further away from London's sky than by going down into what are now called the Churchill War Rooms. (or by tunnelling to New Zealand)
I recently found myself watching some of a TV show about this place, presented by Doctor Who author Mark Gatiss. As soon as I set foot in it however I was struck by a wave of recognition... this was where his episode Victory Of The Daleks had been set, but not filmed, although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Afterwards it was time for a very quick tour of nearby London landmarks, albeit only those within squelching distance.
Alas, Wayne departed at this point to nip back to America for an umbrella, leaving Brett and myself to attend Evensong in Westminster Abbey at 5pm. (Phil enjoyed much better weather with me here in 2009) On the way out, Brett was struck by the presence of a memorial stone for Churchill again. Well, I guess it maybe takes a visitor to pick up on these things.
After that we caught the tube to Tottenham Court Road, waded down Oxford Street shopping, took a left at Oxford Circus for Regent Street, and half way down Shaftesbury Avenue finally headed into the dry for a rather tasty meal at Jamie Oliver's Diner. I think Brett's pork dog (I had the vegetarian 'happy cow') was his post-church evening's highlight, although admittedly the rest of our trudging wasn't offering much competition.
Finally, after a circuit of Leicester Square, we sat down for an hour for a farewell coffee/hot chocolate/large square cookie at the Caffé Vergnano 1882 coffee shop on Charing Cross Road. I knew I could recommend this place - this was where I had taken a load off last year with our old friend (and Wayne's too), the aforementioned Rob.
I always seem to have a lot of things in mind to ask Brett / tell him about. In the event however we both seemed to spend most of our time on auto-pilot, which was no less valuable.
Did we catch up? No, not really.
We more just continued.
(Brett's account of the day is available here)