Waitangi day Circle Line pub crawl
5 Feb 2006
|Waitangi day closely follows Australia day. Last year I was in Canada and it sucked compared to the amount of celebrating the Aussies had managed to pack in in Colorado. So it was with some trepidation I approached my first Waitangi day Circle Line pub crawl.
Interesting, outside of the many walk-about pubs in England, Australia day seemed quite quiet. This was not the case with the Waitangi day pub crawl 2006. The relevant tubes, tube stops, pubs and streets nearby pubs were full to the point of madness with tens of thousands of kiwis. They came from everywhere - we met some of Korina's ex-flatmates that had come down from Bristol for the big event.
The crowds were so big that even considering entering a pub was somewhat forlorn. So most people took advantage of the numerous 'off-licenses' to purchase a few 'travellers' and drink on the footpath with their countrymen/women.
Prior to the day itself, we had been made aware of the concept from the TNT magazine and various other more experienced London-ites. Basically, the Circle Line pub crawl was scheduled to kick off at Paddington at 11am, pause at each stop for a beverage, and proceed on to Westminster for a mass haka at 4pm. From there, the hard-core would continue around the circle line, in total making 27 stops.
Korina and I had been at a travel show in the morning, so we started a bit late at Notting Hill Gate at around 12.30pm. Before long we had found Gabs (dossing at our flat) and Crystal (Gabs' friend) and were well into the swing of things.
The tube rides themselves were crowded and alcohol infused - but good natured, with many Split Ends, Dave Dobbyn, and Crowded House songs sung, in addition to some very poor renditions of the national anthem. Other than kiwis, it would appear that no one else in the UK was particularly aware of Waitangi day, much to the surprise of the various non-kiwi London-ites that got caught up in proceedings (like the toffee nosed lady on the train, or the lady that decided to drive around Westminster at exactly the time several thousand NZers decided it was time to start the haka).
There were some very funny costumes - including the guys dressed as sheep (of course), the sumo wrestlers and some fellas dressed up as NZ cops. The sumo wrestlers decided to have a bout in the middle of an intersection - much to the annoyance of passing traffic and buses!
We reached Glouster Rd at around 2pm, and narrowly missed being stuck there as they were trying to close the station completely. Korina had to duck the tape to avoid being separated from the rest of our group. But our luck was not to hold, and we were eventually caught out at South Kensington.
Having lost our primary means of transportation, we then resorted to jumping on a bus. Unfortunately the bus would not go until everyone that was drinking got off it. As this was pretty much everyone, the bus had to be reloaded around 3 times before the bus driver got sick of it and we started the next section of the pub crawl.
The bus we were on got us as far as Victoria station, but by this stage it was getting dangerously close to 4pm, so instead of getting another bus, we just legged it to Westminster. We arrived just in time for the haka, and being somewhat lagered by this stage, I decided it would be a good idea to join in. The haka was strictly an all-male affair, as is the custom, but the actual ability levels within the group varied from extensive to completely hopeless (like me). Luckily in such a big group I was able to hide in the middle and not look like a complete fool.
The haka had to receive special dispensation from the new anti-terror legislation over here, which can be used to stop people from protesting around parliament. As it was, there was a heavy Police presence - but this was more about keeping traffic moving and just keeping an eye on things.
Following on from Westminster, we headed off to the Walk-about in Temple - but upon arriving we found that there was a massive cue. So at this stage, Korina and I decided that we had had enough and headed home. Still, a great day, well enjoyed by everyone. Certainly surprising with that many people drinking that the crowd was particularly well behaved, with no scrapping that I saw. I wondered if this would be the case if you grouped a similar number of kiwis together, heavily under the influence back in the Land of the Long White Cloud!