Sunday was a baffling mix of creepy and SENSORY OVERLOAD. It was a nice day out, so we walked from our place towards Leather Lane to pick up some coffee for friends. We had been in London for a week at that point, and had gotten more or less used to being surrounded by all of humanity – which is why we were so weirded out by the completely deserted streets and faint echoes as we walked. There were no traffic noises, no voices, no crickets; just our footsteps and the occasional British tumbleweed whispering a ghostly ‘pardon me, so sorry’ as it rolled by. Also, there was no leather at all to be found on Leather Lane, which was HIGHLY disappointing. Still, we managed to find our objective with no more trouble than a mere wiggins, and after finishing the quest (for 4000 xp and a scone) we walked out of Leather Lane and towards civilization to find ourselves a tube: it was time for CAMDEN MARKET.
.. where we were promptly squished, trampled, squashed, breathed on, and eyeballed. Camden Town is a very popular place to be on Sundays, and while logic would have us go on another day when there weren’t so many people about, we had yet to stumble upon Logic Lane (because it’s in Oxford) so off we went. We drank freshly squeezed orange juice, bought some trinkets (and – you’ll never believe this – a BAG), then made our way to the Stables so I could experience Cyberdog first hand. It gave Ed a headache, but I found it utterly brilliant – chaotic, loud, ridiculous, and riddled with tourists; much like myself on a good day. It was great! Exhausted by the sheer number of people and things to look at, we had a late lunch at Frog and Hound and Cock and Whistle and Fox and Trout and Olive and Horse and Swan and Hare before heading home. Sunday was supposed to be our “take it easy” day, but we still rolled back to the hood well past dark and too tired to think straight.
Unfortunately, the second week of our trip hasn’t gone as smoothly as the first. On Monday after we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, I started to feel kind of sick. I tried to shake it off as we soldiered on, discovering that our London Passes only allowed us access into each venue ONCE – something that vastly decreases the usefulness for me, and a fact I wish I had known prior to purchasing. When we visited Shakespeare’s Globe last week, we were unable to see the theatre because it was only open until 12:30 that day. On Monday it’s open all day, so we thought we’d go again to see the theatre in all the rebuilt glory while we could. It was then we learned of the not-at-all-mentioned condition on the passes, which sort of killed our other plan for the day (revisit the Tower of London). Disappointed, we did the only thing we could .. go shopping. Ed’s been on a bit of a rampage this trip, and bought himself more shoes. I stumbled upon the Kid Robot shop, and managed to make it out without buying everything in stock. We headed home afterward, because I was still feeling sick – truthfully, I felt like hell but I was determined to keep going.
Tuesday was both awesome and an utter fiasco. Our plan for the day was to take a coach up to Oxford, to visit Jen Neil and Isaac and go to the Mini Plant there for a tour. I was still feeling like crap, but didn’t want to miss out on the fun so I cleaned myself up as best I could and we (eventually; it was hard to find) hopped a bus to Oxford. We met Jen and Isaac, who showed up around the town – Oxford is much larger than I thought, and totally beautiful. Jen showed us some awesome places such as Blackwell’s (which makes Powell’s look like a cute little corner bookshop) and the original Alice in Wonderland shop, as well as pointing out all the colleges that I am not smart enough to get into, and some of the town’s history. We met up with Neil and went to their place (which has enough room for EVERYONE TO VISIT but me first) to drop Isaac off with the sitter and get some love from Sasha before heading out: it was time to go on a Mini Tour!
.. at least, that was the plan. We couldn’t actually FIND the tour, and not for lack of trying – J&N graciously offered to give us a lift there, which saved our asses because we would have been even more fucked on foot than we were in the warm dry comfort of a car. Even with GPS and printed instructions, we couldn’t find the right gate – oh, we found gate 10, as an extremely helpful windshield installer told us, but he didn’t know of any other gates, because he only went to gate 10, which was this one right here. We drove around some more, found ourselves in the yards of a different company entirely, then headed back to gate 10 to try to find someone with a little more smarts than the gentleman who worked at gate 10 and clearly had not attended any of his town’s famed colleges.
We did get some directions which had us going the right way, but we found ourselves in another yard with a slightly (but just barely) more helpful security guard who sent us one yard over .. which was completely and utterly deserted. There was not a person or reception area in sight that was open or looking in the least bit welcoming for a tour. I did find the building our confirmation emails told us to go to, but it was under construction and completely locked up with no one around.
It was raining quite hard and we had been looking for the tour for almost an hour at this point, so Ed and I decided to throw in the towel and go for dinner with Jen and Neil instead. This turned out to be a riotous affair, with our getting shushed in a pub because we were being too hilarious for the general public to handle, and almost getting into an imaginary brawl with berobed quiz masters in powdered wigs and elbow patches.
Also, Isaac kissed a snail and then hit it with a stick.
A short while later, Ed and I got on a coach to head back to London. It was great seeing the Watkii clan, who have settled into the English countryside quite nicely. Their place is great, Isaac is awesome, and (stupid Mini Plant side) it was a fantastic way to spend a Tuesday.
Unfortunately, throughout all of this I was still feeling relatively awful. I am nothing if not a trooper though, so today Ed and I headed out towards Marble Arch to find a statue we saw from the bus on our way to Oxford:
We also stopped at the Mini dealership in the ritzy part of town to scratch our itch and fall in love:
We walked past all the fancy car joints (the Mini place was the only one we felt comfortable going into) before going to see what all the Primark fuss was about. I had been seeing people with big Primark bags all over the UK but had never heard of the place, and there was one close by so we went in: imagine H&M, Forever 21 and Topshop all mashed together and only open on Boxing Day, and you’ll get the gist of Primark. It was intensely chaotic, but I did managed to find some cute and ridiculously cheap items before we escaped by the skin of our teeth – it was a fucking madhouse in there.
I had planned for us to walk towards Trafalgar Square, but Ed started to feel kind of sick too and it rapidly got catastrophic, so we nixxed our plans and hopped the tube back to our flat where we both promptly became sick as fucking hell. That’s where we are currently; alternating between lying in bed moaning pitifully and going to bathroom to throw up in a fantastic and disgusting display. I have no idea what’s wrong with us: when it was just me I assumed it was something I ate, but now we’re both sick and the symptoms are coming hard and fast. This bloody well sucks – we have two full days left in London and a list of things we want to see (including the damn V&A; we haven’t gone yet and if I have to miss it I will be the SADDEST GIRL EVER), but we feel horrible and barfy. There’s not much we can do but lie here pathetically and hope whatever we have leaves our systems as quickly as it arrived, because I have plans before our flight on Saturday and not a single one of them involve being in bed clutching a bucket.