london times (days 11-12)

Day 11 was a complete write-off: Ed and I were sick like parasitic donkeys flailing helplessly in a pool of disgusting fluids and self-pity. Neither of us really started to feel human again until this afternoon (and if I think about it for more than a second I could probably throw up another eight times or so), which has been a sad end to an otherwise amazing trip. Getting a stomach flu 4500 miles from home: not at all recommended.

We did drag ourselves out of the house today though, and hit up the V&A. I had wanted to do this last week, but the timing never worked out so it was, like my last trip to London, left until the very end. Ed and I spent a good 6 hours in the V&A today, and we saw maybe a quarter of all the exhibits available – there’s simply no way to do any of London’s museums in a day, but we gave it our best shot (with our weakened conditions taken into consideration).

A quick dinner and we were back at the flat, desperately trying to fit all our stuff into our suitcases. I’m more or less resigned to the fact that my suitcase is going to come in far heavier than allowed, but it’ll actually be cheaper to pay the fine than to send a box back home. I’m sad to be leaving, but intensely excited about going home – I MISS MY CATS and my bed and my job and my bathroom and the paycheque waiting for me at the office.

London, with the exception of the two days we spent sick and the massive header I took in front of the V&A this afternoon, you were amazing and beautiful and a wonder to behold. I will miss you madly, but I know I will be back again some day. I am delighted I was able to share you with Ed, who finally got to see what I’ve been talking about nearly non-stop for the past year.

Until next time, you gorgeous city you –


london times (days 7-10)

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:

awesome scooter art is awesome

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.

i’d tell you not to look her in the eyes, but SHE HAS NO EYES


london times (days 2-3)

My feet hate me, I want to buy everything with the Union Jack on it, we’ve been soaking in culture for two days and we keep doing pubs wrong, but London is amazing and I am in no great hurry to leave.

Tuesday’s plan of Up and At Them was a success. We’ve been unsure what the weather plans to do on any given day, so we’ve been playing it somewhat cautiously – that being said, Tuesday turned out to be quite nice with the sun making a special guest appearance in the afternoon. The first order of business of the day was to find me a SIM card already so we’d have at least one device with a data plan, and after visiting four different carriers (of the 5 main ones) we finally were able to get connected. Feeling slightly better about our chances should we go off into a dark corner seething with thongs, we set off in a mad dash for .. well, shoes. Ed’s been looking for a pair of Vision Street Wear shoes like he had when he was 12 for about 3 years now, and after a wild goose chase and an accidental descent into Sports Madness, we (okay, he) hit the shoe jackpot: the rare, sold-nowhere-but-Japan-and-not-online kicks, in his size, in two colours he wanted, for squiggly-L 18 a pair. We quite literally spent the better part of a mid-afternoon walking between Oxford and Piccadilly Circuses, looking for shoes .. but it was a nice day out, Ed was delighted at the find, and now I can make him come to Harrod’s with me (“but I helped you find your shooooooooes”).

We ate some lunch, then hit up the waterfront to gawk at the Thames. We crossed the river (twice), then walked over to Big Ben, the Parliament building, and Westminster Abbey. The sun was setting and the financial district was all deserted and creepy, so we headed home to bathe and eat and work for three hours for some reason. 

Our mutual uneasy sleep was slow to shake off, but we walked to the British Museum and spent four hours there. We didn’t even make it past the first floor; there was so much to see – we’re planning on going back again next week, because we were unable to see everything we wanted to before food was required.

From the museum, it was off to Covent Gardens for food and more wandering. We stopped at M&S for tights, more lacy g-strings for my mother (goddamnit), and food before collapsing onto a train full of drunk football fans. I barely made it home in one piece, my feet hurt so bad .. but we’re cozy in bed, internetting in a variety of exciting ways, and planning to spend most of tomorrow on the back of a tour bus: no walking required.

Tomorrow is not written in stone, but Friday night we will definitely be going to the V&A and I bloody well can’t wait.

Here are some pictures!

london times (days 0-1)

After spending the better part of an afternoon fully immersed in amazing works of written art, I feel as though I should produce something with a bit more weight than what is essentially “What I Did on My Vacation” .. but that’s what you get, so here we go.

The flight to London was long, but fine. The only real complaint we had was the delay prior to take off, landing us in Heathrow just after 3pm local time on Sunday. We found our flat easily enough, and settled ourselves in quickly before braving out into the elements to find a grocery store. We were only half successful – the nearest Tesco closed twenty minutes before we arrived, so we instead went to a Pizza Express for some really, really good pizza. Sated, we headed back to Home Base  and the little corner store across the way to stock up on some breakfast items.

I very quickly fell asleep after an eventual hot shower (the water took 10+ minutes to warm up to something other than “ice ass cold”), but the level of pleasedness I felt with myself for getting more or less on schedule so soon was my downfall. I did sleep, but awoke promptly three hours later – my body thought I had taken a nap. I tried crazy hard to fall back asleep, but I tossed and turned (and ate Pringles) until 5am, and then slept until noon. Oops. Ed had done the same though, so we agreed that Monday would be Time Zone Catch Up Day: starting tomorrow, we shall be up at at them bright and early to explore all that the city has to offer.

Once we had rid ourselves of most of the travel grime, Ed and I set out for our first London Adventure. We decided to keep it simple as the day started out wet and gloomy, so we headed to the British Library (on purpose this time) to see the Writing Britain exhibit. It was incredible to see the origins of some of the best-known works from the UK – a drawing by Tolkien, first drafts of Alice in Wonderland written in pen, the original manuscript for the first Harry Potter book, and so much more (hence my chagrin at this post). We also explored the Treasures of the British Library as sort of a precursor to the British Museum. We could have stayed in the library until they kicked us out, but I hadn’t eaten yet and was feeling pretty faint so it was off to show Ed just why food in London is so depressing*. We stopped at Pret a Manger (which is as delicious as they are common) and had a fantastic meal that gave us more than enough energy to move on .. to an M&S, where we picked up meal items for the flat. From there, we wandered through the grounds of the University and generally headed in the direction of home to drop things off and rest our feet. That’s where we are now, but we’ll be going out again in a bit to explore the neighbourhood in the other direction.

The first couple days of our trip were exhausting, but we’ve acclimatized to the time change just in time for the forecast to brighten up for the week. The skies have already blued up considerably, and the sun isn’t far off now. Tomorrow we’ll break in our Oyster cards and head into town (and also get me a SIM card for my phone  – we’ve had to rely on spotty free wifi, but we’ll have 3G access soon enough), and if the forecasted sun for tomorrow is for realz, it may be time to hop on a Big Bus and show Ed London from the street.

Man, I love it here.

*: Food in the UK is kind of amazing – fresh food is literally available on every corner, for crazy cheap prices. It’s frankly depressing, because everything at home is full of chemicals and fakery and corn syrup and here it all seems to be just good stuff. We spent 40 squiggly-Ls at the M&S, and have a fridge full of fruit, salad, chicken, juices, treats, wraps .. lots of stuff, and all with real ingredients. Why isn’t food at home like this? Boooo.

tolkien words

considerably nicer than our hastings street

secret picture of a ridiculous hand drawn map of liverpool – the whole thing was enormous

secret science book from 1440 (!!!)

gandhi shrine in tavistock square