lonely in advance

I’m going to London next week, for two weeks. I’ll be working for half the trip, and exploring the city/revisiting favourites the rest of the time. As you can probably imagine, I am excited. I may already be packed, even. I could leave now!

As excited as I am (don’t let the lack of exclamation points fool you), I am presently allowing myself to wallow in the sads. I figure if I can get the sads out of the way now, when I’m in London I’ll have nothing but happy excited silly times because frankly that is what I do best.

Here’s why the sads: I’m going to be lonely in London. I’ve realized that while I love exploring and seeing things and experiencing Diet Coke in different time zones, it’s a thousand times better to do those things (and more) with someone else. I asked Ed if he would come with me for even part of this trip, and he didn’t want to – rumour has it he wants the alone time so he can have affairs – so I’m going to be all by my lonesome and that is making me sad. I am a selfish creature: I want to have excellent adventures, but I want to have someone to share them with. I have the “someone” part down, but he’s not interested in accompanying me (for a variety of reasons). I reluctantly get it – not everyone is cut out to hop on a plane for 9 hours to go to a repeat destination just because they weren’t kidding when they said they didn’t want to be in North America on inauguration day – but I’m still sad about it.

Clearly I’m just going to have to save more money between trips, and pay someone to be my travel friend.

Okay, off to be sad for a bit. I’ve got a few more days to be sad, and then I will make a list of Things I want to Do while Adventuring.

happy place

happy place



Everything about my trip was great, but obviously some things were super ultra great and stood out above the rest. Here, then, are the absolute highlights of my trip to the UK:


I really liked Shoreditch. Being from Vancouver, gentrification is comforting and familiar to me. Also, one of my favourite things to do is wander around with my camera and see what I can find, especially when there’s awesome graffiti about. Shoreditch had this in spades, and I wish I had spent more time there taking it all in. It’s a major art destination in London, so there’s a really cool vibe about the place that was only slightly intimidating – but mostly, there was lots to see. The picture below was taken on my first full day in London, and is probably one of my favourite shots from my trip.

o most holy patron saints of urban culture

Secret Cinema

I’m trying really hard to branch out of my shell and do new things, so when my friend asked if I wanted to go to Secret Cinema, I said “okay!” before stopping to find out what exactly I was agreeing to. This is a good thing, because I probably would have balked hard at the price tag (£70 holy shit). That being said – it was totally worth it. It was a crazy experience, and I loved every minute of it. No cameras or phones were allowed, so I have nothing to share .. but if you ever get a chance, go to a Secret Cinema production. Especially if you love the movie being shown. You won’t regret it.

Brompton Cemetery

I had planned to try to go to Highgate Cemetery, but a friend suggested I check out the cemetery along Old Brompton Road. It was really close to my home base, so I went for a walk on a gorgeous fall afternoon. I find cemeteries to be peaceful, reflective places, so as I walked I admired the crumbling headstones and mausoleums, thinking about the lives of those contained within. I didn’t catch the name of the old lady ghost who yelled at me, because she was sitting on her tomb and I didn’t want to get too close what with the danger of ectoplasm transfer and all, but she (and her forbidden fox) did add a lot to my experience.

not shown: ghosts, mean old ladies who may or may not be ghosts, foxes

Tate Modern/Bankside

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really “get” modern art – but my love of the Tate Modern has little to do with the art within, and more to do with the location. There’s a cafe on Level 3 with two balconies that overlook the river, and there are some great views of St. Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge. On this particular day, I was feeling pretty homesick and sorry for myself .. until I got to the Tate. There’s a busker in the picture below who was just awesome, and if I didn’t have to pee so badly I could have stayed outside for hours listening to his rock n’ roll stylings. I looked at art, tried to find penises (there weren’t any – last June the Tate Modern had some Mapplethorpe prints, but not this time), and went to the cafe to hang out on the balconies, where I instantly fell in love with everything all over again.

rock n’ rooooooll

*happy sigh*

Sky Garden

I’ve already written about the Sky Garden and why it was amazing, but it was truly one of the highlights (no pun intended) of my trip. I had no idea this place existed, and literally found it on a Buzzfeed list or something the day before I went. It was pretty incredible, and something I would drag people to over and over again. I actually tried to go again before the end of my trip, but I specifically wanted an evening visit and none were available.

so fancy!

The Shard’s Bathroom

Yes, the Shard was very nice and pretty and technological, but the epic bathroom view was a sheer delight to stumble upon and utterly made my evening because I have a dumb sense of humour.


an exciting place to pee!

bridge! hi bridge!


The Roman Baths were cool and all, but it was the town itself that really wowed me. I had no idea the extent of the buildings until we were on the bus and driving away – next time, I’m going to explore the hell out of those hills. I’m truly sorry I only got three hours in Bath (and 2 of those were spent looking at old water), because I loved it there.

the hills are alive with old houses and shit

Portobello Market

I’m still not thrilled about the guy who stroked my face and I was grumpy as all hell when I got there, but once I settled into the swing of things I had a really good time at Portobello (and surrounding) Markets.

hey it’s that place that it is

Savile Row

I’m a little sheepish about this one, because I am way too cool to fangirl – but I love love love the Kingsman: The Secret Service movie (mostly because it’s so very British but also for many reasons: the male stars are lovely to look at, the female lead isn’t just a love interest, and it’s just so very British), and one day in London I wandered down Savile Row to find the tailor shop that stood in for the Kingsman in the film. I took many pictures of the place, ignoring how dumb I felt – and was totally rewarded for my nerd ways when I saw the Kingsman logo on the windows of the shop as a nod to fans. SQUEEE! I actually watched the movie on the plane home, and was giggling at all the places I had just been. Totally fun.

fangirl squee!

manners maketh man

Gladstone’s Owls

OWLS! I held owls. They were awesome. More owls please!



Loved it, as I was fairly sure I would. Still, my new goal is to get Ed to Scotland and explore it some more. Two days was not enough.

so pretty!

and OLD!

Camden Market/Canal Boat Ride

Another first. Loved it, except for the annoying and loud hen party happening at the rear of the boat. Still, would definitely do this again – total highlight.


Platform 9 3/4

This was fun, if weirdly commercial. In 2011, King’s Cross was under some heavy pre-Olympic construction, and Platform 9.75 was relocated. It was tucked away in a random corner, and much less of everything:

2011: no owl, no queue, no professional photographer, no nearby store to sell you all the things

2015. not shown: me

Museum Night

Look at this shit right here:

It was a good, good trip.

london in numbers

I’m home! I love home!

  • Number of days away: 26
  • Pictures taken: several thousand, but 1517 made the public album
  • Movies watched when I gave up on plane sleep both to and from London: 7
  • Awesome days had: 22 (minus 2 for travel ((I hate flying)), one for the day I was sick, and one for the day my insomnia was so bad I was unable to function)
  • Amount of time spent in Bath: 3 hours
  • Amount of time I wish I had spent in Bath: 3 days
  • How much I had to spend to get all my extra luggage home: $300
  • Public urination witnessed: 2
  • Alcohol consumed: 1
  • Diet Coke consumed: lots and lots, but tempered with equal amounts of water
  • Tea towels purchased: NONE
  • Lapel pins purchased instead: 13
  • Museums visited: 7? That doesn’t seem right. I think it was more than 7.
  • Shoes purchased: None!
  • Cardigans purchased: 6 (damn you Primark)
  • Number of days by which my trip was too long: 10
  • Secrets whispered into the wind: 23
  • Time I had been officially back in Canada before I started bugging Ed about going to Scotland with me: 14 minutes
  • Number of items waiting for me at the house that I had no recollection of ordering before I left: 3
  • Total number of fun had: 17.53 million

My entire trip was one of those “once in a lifetime” things, and I’m so so so grateful I got to go. I solo travelled! To strange and exciting new places (as well as strange and exciting old places)! I saw things and did things and it was all so great and fun! And now I’m home!

As mentioned above, the pics I took are online in Google Photos for lookin’. I will inevitably be posting some here and on Instagram in the upcoming weeks, but if you want to see several hundred pictures of the Tower Bridge taken from different angles, go hog wild.

edinburgh is made of leaves and rainbows

yeah, ali.

boadicea is going to kick your ass.

right on schedule

This isn’t exactly how I wanted to spend my last few days in London, but I suppose it was inevitable – I’m sick. It hit hard and fast, and I’m hoping it leaves the same way because I still have some things I want to do before I leave. I’ve resigned myself to spending today in bed, and hoping some rest and Advil cures what ails me (seems to be a cold, altho I’m a bit feverish with a sore throat). I’m not going to lie, this does suck – I don’t have much by way of food available, and nothing close by I can pop out to. I can likely order some food in a bit later, but right now I am all kinds of petulant and self-pitying with no one to take care of me and cater to my fevered whims. WHINE! I want to feel better!

Since I can’t do much else but upload photos (happening now, gonna take a while) and write, here’s the post I intended to put up tomorrow:

I’ve now been in the UK for three weeks. That’s enough time to form some habits, so here is a list of thing that are now second nature to me:

  • Calling people cunts
  • Paying to pee
  • Eating fish that isn’t halibut or salmon
  • Using a transit card system that works
  • Dodging selfies and selfie sticks, to a point – if you take too long to get the perfect shot, I’m moving into position
  • Drinking all the water ever
  • Wearing a tiny backpack
  • Getting around more by bus than tube – this is relatively new, thanks to Google Maps having the entire UK transit system integrated into the app. Often times the fastest or most direct way of getting somewhere is by bus, so I’ve spent much less time on the tube than usual.
  • Uber, for when I can’t possibly walk another step and/or my pre-booked cab doesn’t show up (or claims they did show up and argues with me in an illiterate fashion – full saga to be posted later)
  • Hanging my laundry to dry (still not a fan of crunchy jeans, tho)
  • Walking until I can’t feel my feet
  • Chorizo in everything. It’s awesome.
  • Whispering secrets into the wind
  • Going entire days without speaking (except to whisper the aforementioned secrets)
  • Sleeping with the bedroom door closed, to block out the impossibly loud ticking of four clocks in one small room

Some of those are good habits I hope to keep when I return to Canada, others I could live without.

I need to lie down now.

Here is a picture.

leadenhall market

leadenhall market

that time i was in scotland

Edinburgh was amazing. People had been telling me that since I planned to make the side trip, and now I know why.

When I arrived, the weather was beyond gross. This worked out rather well for me, as I was absolutely destroyed by the lack of sleep and the horrible experience of getting to the train. My room was ready early, so I gladly went upstairs to my delightful room to dry out and recoup from the morning’s travel (I am a delicate flower who can’t handle much; shut up).

I stayed at the Regent House Hotel, which was just a few blocks from the train station. If you’re ever traveling to Edinburgh, I highly recommend Regent – the room was small but adorable, the bathroom cavernously large, it was warm and dry and cozy, the staff were great, and there’s a very tasty continental breakfast available in the morning. Oh, and free wi-fi which is very important. My two-night stay was £100, which is crazy reasonable for a hotel in Europe. There are tons of food options nearby, including a Tesco Express and every kind of restaurant imaginable, so .. was pretty much perfect.

After I recharged, I went wandering. The weather was still awful, so I didn’t go very far – just enough to get some provisions from Tesco, and to find a place to eat (a small fish n’ chip joint that had cheap, delicious, and plentiful food). Since it was dark and wet and the aforementioned delicate flower-ness, I decided to go back to the hotel and crashed pretty early because I had a lot to get done the next day.

The rain blew over in the night, and I awoke to crispy blue skies. After quickly showering (okay that’s a lie – I took a very, very long shower because it was the first time I had any kind of water pressure since I left home) and dressing, I went downstairs for some food before packing up my daily necessities and leaving for the train station, which is where the bus tours leave from. I had purchased a 48-hour tour ticket, which meant I could hop on and off buses at any number of touristy stops, to my heart’s content. I ran into a fellow Canadian (he recognized my RBC Visa), then got on a random bus for the first of many, many bus tours I took. I absolutely love seeing new cities on these open-topped double decker buses, because it’s a comfortable, informative, and easy way to get around. There were four different tours running, and I think I took them all but one – I didn’t really care where I went, I just wanted to see stuff. I rode around for a couple hours to get my bearings, then got off on the Royal Mile to do some exploring on foot.

But first, owls! There’s a place right next to the tour stop called Gladstone’s Land, which is a restored 17th century home you can go in and visit. Right outside Gladstone’s was a group of people with birds – three owls and a falcon – that you could photograph for a donation, or actually hold for £3. All the money goes towards further conservation of birds in Scotland, so I quickly emptied my wallet of coins into their coffers just so I could hang out with birds for a while. I took a zillion pictures (which will all be uploaded somewhere later; there are just too many to post here), and held a barn owl with a name I forgot and a small owl named Amish. They were awesome. I love birds. I would like to hold more birds.

Castle time! I took my time walking up the road to the castle, looking at everything along the way. It was definitely worth the visit, because the location of the castle offers up amazing views of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. I explored the grounds, took another zillion pictures (I ran through 2.5 camera batteries on Thursday alone), ate a scone with clotted cream and jam in the cafe, and had myself a great ol’ time. The castle was very rugged and old as balls – very different than exploring the more contemporary castles in the UK like Windsor or Buckingham Palace.

When I had worn myself out in the castle, I wandered back down the hill to find another tour bus to get on. This one was a different tour than I had started on, so I sat back as we traveled through various parts of Edinburgh. I rode the bus until the tours stopped for the evening, then made my way back to the hotel to drop stuff off and find some dinner.

My food spending on this trip has largely been groceries, so I treated myself to a relatively expensive dinner at a place called Treacle, which was right around the corner from my hotel. I had an awesome meal with a delicious and surprisingly strong drink, which knocked me on my ass. Thoroughly drunk, I went back to my room to warm (and sober) up before falling into a happy sleep.

On Friday morning, I checked out of my room and took a cab to the train station with my bags so I could store them with the luggage service. Then it was right back onto the buses for more touring, this time on the Majestic Tour which hilariously took me through industrial Edinburgh (which isn’t really that exciting, let alone majestic). I’ve come to discover that I much prefer the recorded tour audio, for two reasons: 1) there was a large group of Swedish? dudes on my tour bus who, whenever the audio broke out into a lively Scottish tune, would all bob and sway in unison and it was fantastic, and 2) the tour guides on the bus did not. stop. talking. at. any. point. during the ride. I don’t think they even stopped to breathe. The woman was by far the worst, she talked so much I actually recorded a couple minutes of audio to share with Ed. There was no way to drown out her non-stop talking, and it was actually pretty irritating.

I got off the bus at the National Museum of Scotland, and spent a couple hours exploring the country’s history. I had some lunch at a pub, then did some shopping for myself and Ed’s mom. Visited the Museum of Childhood, saw the owls again, bought all the things (but not really – Scotland is big on whiskey and wool, both of which I am allergic to), and basically crammed as much Scotland as I possibly could in the few hours I had remaining.

I got back to London just after midnight Saturday morning. Edinburgh was awesome – I’ve already told Ed that we need to visit that part of the UK together, and check out Glasgow while we’re at it. I’m almost (but not really at all) sorry that I’ve focused so much of my time (ten weeks in total) in London, because there’s so much more to see. Hopefully I’ll get to see it all, and hopefully with Ed. Traveling solo is great, but I want someone to share my excitement with. Next time, Gadget.

Six more full days in London. Time to make it all count.

amish the little owl

amish the little owl

edinburgh from the castle

edinburgh from the castle


I’m officially at the halfway point of my vacation – 12 days down, 12 to go. I’ve done many THINGS in those 12 days, even on the days (such as today) where I did nothing at all (more on that later). Still, I’m starting to feel the panic of “oh god I’m running out of time”, which is pretty ridiculous .. but when I look at the list of things I still want to see/do/accomplish/stare at, I’m daunted. There is daunt. So much of it. It doesn’t help matters that I’m taking off for three of those 12 days, either – I leave for Edinburgh on Wednesday morning. I’m very excited about it – I’ve never seen Scotland – but that leaves only 9 days to Do Things. And that’s really just 8 days, because I included the day I leave. NO TIME! AHHH!

This is what I’ve done in my 12 days of London:

  • Day 1: Visited Shoreditch, looked at graffiti, wandered through Old Spitalfields Market, outfitted myself in gear for the Secret Cinema at the RebelX pop-up shop, did some groceries (nothing but pudding), topped up my Oyster Card for travelin’
  • Day 2: Went to Covent Gardens where I stumbled upon all the sheep, walked each of the Seven Dials, found the theatre district, spent too much time in Primark and bought all the socks
  • Day 3: Nothing. Brain shut down. Did laundry, caught up on sleep.
  • Day 4: Made my way down to the waterfront, took many pictures of Big Ben, then went to the Secret Cinema which was amazing and I would totally attend another. How do you instil awe over a 34 year old movie? This is how.
  • Day 5: Piccadilly Circus (omg I miss my cats), Chinatown, Trafalgar Square, National Portrait Gallery, and walked Brompton Cemetery, where the old lady ghost yelled at me.
  • Day 6: Went to the first of three lookout rooftops, wandered the Millennium Bridge, partook of some art in Tate Modern, walked along the river until I was sore and frozen. Did some constructive vandalism at a GBK by fixing the spelling on the billboard.
  • Day 7: All the pictures! Went to the Sky Garden, Leadenhall Market, and the Shard!
  • Day 8: Bus tour! Went to Stonehenge and Bath, where I found giant Diet Coke. Both were cool, but Bath was awesome. Wish I could have spent more time there.
  • Day 9: Slept in, then went out in the evening for late night at the V&A. Spent a long time sitting in my favourite spot in the courtyard, then had some cake in the cafeteria while eavesdropping on a loud pretentious jerk explaining politics to his trapped friends.
  • Day 10: Spent much of the day at Portobello Market. Was grumpy at first, but settled into the rhythm of the night crowd and had some fun. Had less fun when a strange man stroked my face and called me beautiful. Was wigged out for a while, felt better after spending money. Had a major epiphany about said money while sitting on a curb eating pizza: money is snacks.
  • Day 11: All the walking. Found a actual, factual hell on earth – inside an American-chain pizza restaurant. It was 3 floors down, dark and oddly foggy (it looked like smoke but didn’t smell like fire or cigarettes), cram-packed with people stuffing their faces with 100 more milling about the entry way, trying to get in. It was sweaty, loud, chaotic, and all together horrible. There was a “salad bar” in one corner, with almost empty vats of mayo-based salads for people to ladle onto plates – nothing green in sight. I don’t shock easily, but this place totally shocked me. You could have told me it was a Dismaland exhibit, and I’d have believed you – it looked like someone miming what they thought American culture was all about, and it was hideous.

    After I escaped (I was there to use the bathroom), I went to Marble Arch (where all of London pees). It was Sunday, so Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park was in full swing – there were people on ladders and crates yelling things, with crowds gathered to listen and debate. All of the yellers were men. Most of them were yelling about religion. I really wanted a soapbox of my own so I could yell things too, but someone was already yelling about Diet Coke so I don’t know what I would have yelled about. Probably some nice vague Canadianesque things, like “THE WEATHER IS BEAUTIFUL TODAY!” “RECYCLING IS GOOD!” “IT’S NICE TO BE NICE!”, etc.

    Walked the entire Hyde Park, which is really big. Spent some time sitting on the shore of the Serpentine, making friends with swans and geese and a little Muslim girl whom I shared bread with for bird feedin’. Found the Diana Memorial Fountain, visited the Serpentine Gallery, and found the Serpentine Pavilion, which sadly wasn’t that great. Much more impressive was the Albert Memorial, which was right across from the Royal Albert Hall.

  • Day 12: Nothing, again. I had some wicked insomnia last night, and didn’t fall asleep until 6am. Also had some weird kidney pain that had me worried and awake. Slept until the afternoon, when I got up and moved to the couch and promptly slept some more. I ordered pizza that is quite delicious, did some work, and now I am writing words.

That’s a lot, right? I shouldn’t feel as guilty as I do for taking two whole Nothing days?

I miss Ed and my cats and TV and water pressure. Still many adventures to have and they will be great but I could use many hugs and someone to bring me icy Diet Coke and cats all up in my business.

my favourite kind of art (by jimmie durham)

my favourite kind of art (by jimmie durham)

getting high in london

Places that are not Vancouver are all weird and flat, so if you get up really high you can see for miles. There are a number of places you can go for a great view, and seeing as I am now an expert in great views (having seen three in as many days), I thought I’d share my findings with y’all.

One New Change Place

Perfect if you:

  • Are mildly afraid of heights
  • Hate queues
  • Don’t trust x-ray machines
  • Are on a budget
  • Can work an elevator yourself, thank you very much
  • Really like St. Paul’s Cathedral and want to admire it from different angles

One New Change Place is free and self-service all the way. It’s also the lowest rooftop terrace I went to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. Located directly behind St. Paul’s Cathedral, people are free to take the elevator up to the roof and have a look around. There are a couple of cocktail bars up there if you’re fixing for a sky drink, but you aren’t obligated to purchase anything. Great views of the Tower of London and St. Paul’s can be had here, and if you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll encounter a class of ESL high school students on a field trip to read their essays on London’s notable sights aloud.

Sample views from One New Change Place:

P1040955 P1040962

The Sky Garden

Perfect if you:

  • Love greenery
  • Want to try some fancy cocktails
  • Love waiting in line
  • Could walk through full body scanners all day long
  • Prefer to spend your pounds on the aforementioned fancy cocktails instead of admission

The Sky Garden is another free viewing platform, and a much fancier one than One New Change Place. It does require booking a ticket online in advance, as it gets very busy during the tourist season – I arrived well before my 2pm entry time, but still had to queue up with the masses. There is a security checkpoint to go through with an x-ray scanner for bags, but once you’re through that, you take a fancy elevator some 36 floors up and walk into – wait for it – a garden in the sky. There’s a couple of restaurants and a bar serving snacks, drinks, and fancy (aka expensive) cocktails. Again, you’re not obligated to spend any money while visiting the Sky Garden, but it’s really tempting to get a glass of wine and admire the view while daydreaming up a fabulous backstory for yourself. I highly recommend visiting the Sky Garden if you’re in London, because just look at this place:

look at this majestic shit right here

this is some majestic shit right here

I am tempted to return to the Sky Garden in the evening before the end of my trip. It was really cool.

The Shard!

Perfect if you are:

  • Rich
  • Proposing to your girlfriend
  • An annoying Italian tourist having a very important, very loud conversation
  • A rude woman who refused to stop taking pictures of the sunset (on a piece of shit camera, with the fucking flash on) for even half a second so I could get in and grab a shot for myself, even though her husband asked her 4 times to move for me
  • In love with heights
  • Really into amazing views

The View from the Shard is expensive – £25.95 per adult ticket. However, it’s also the tallest building in Europe, and offers a one-of-a-kind view of London. There are three levels to view from – the 68th, 69th, and 72nd floors – a couple of standard bars offering snacks and champagne, and no limit to how long you spend gazing out the window. The Shard is something I’d always wanted to do on previous trips, but it can be prohibitively expensive if you’re in a group and/or have to choose which things to skip due to time or money. It was the perfect (if a little lonely-panged, especially during the surprise proposal with all of her friends in attendance) thing to do by myself, and I timed my visit so I’d arrive with plenty of pre, during, and post sunset viewing. The views were amazing, the exhibit and audio tour were cool, and the staff was very friendly (one of them brought me a chair when I plopped myself down on the floor so I could stare at the Tower Bridge without being jostled) – but don’t go to the Shard for any of these reasons. Instead, go because of this:


All the bathrooms are on the 68th floor, and along the exterior of the building. They’re each a self-contained unit with toilet, sink, dryer, etc.


I literally took this photo WHILE PEEING.


There are blinds you can draw, of course, but WHY WOULD YOU. WATCH ME PEE, WORLD! I AM LITERALLY ON THE EDGE!

That bathroom was worth the price of admission alone. I highly recommend it.

There are some good views to be had outside the bathroom, too:

just after the sun set (which I did not get a picture of because that woman sucked so hard)

basically the entire reason I went to the shard: tower bridge at night

That bathroom, though. So good.

If you prefer your city views to have a little more history behind them, there are two others I know of: you can climb the Monument to the Great Fire of London (£4), or climb the various domes in St. Paul’s (£18). I have not done these – note the use of the word climb; these attractions are stairs-only and I have a heart condition (and also have walked an average of 8 hours a day for the past week and my blisters have blisters), so I’m skipping these. Plus, I’m kind of all viewed out at the moment. You should see the other pictures.

Do you know of any other must-see vantage points in London I should check out while I’m here? And if you ever find yourself at one of these places because of my recommendation, please let me know – I’d love to know what you thought.

Okay, I need to sleep. Tomorrow: museums! Yay!

one week

I’ve now been in London for a full week, with a great deal of time still to go. It does feel like I’ve been here for quite a while, but that’s likely because I am enjoying a ridiculous life of leisure and walking. Time behaves differently when you have no responsibilities.

I’ve set a goal for myself to do at least one new thing a day the entire time I’m here. The magnitude of the new thing has no rules, so it could be something as simple as ordering a small Diet Coke instead of one the size of my head – it’s the act of something new, not the quality. That being said, I’ve done a great number of things in the week I’ve been here, and even learned a few Life Lessons along the way:

  • It’s okay to be lonely. Truthfully, my first few days here were kind of rough – I was seriously doubting my ability to be on my own/away from home for 25 days. Even now, when I’m thoroughly enjoying myself and am in full-on vacation mode, I get a little lonely when I see couples or groups of friends being all togethery. Pretty sure that’s less a personal failing and more a sign of my humanity (which is good because frankly I was getting a little worried).
  • Don’t take pictures of a fox in a cemetery, or an old lady ghost will yell at you
  • When you’re standing at the end of a tube car to get some air, it is pretty fucking terrifying when the door that separates the two cars decides to open and swing past you mid-station
  • 5am is terribly early, no matter the time zone
  • Egg holders make decent ice cube trays in a pinch
  • European laundry is hilarious. I get the whole “energy efficient” thing and being green is cool but it literally takes 210 minutes for one wash cycle, and another day to air-dry things.

I had more Important Life Lessons to share, but I have to catch a bus to Stonehenge so they will have to wait. I need to do laundry later, so I should be able to write a novel in the time it takes my delicates to be thoroughly cleansed of all my sins.

Slightly westward ho!

sophisticated musings

Random thoughts while wandering around Covent Gardens:

  • There are SO MANY SHEEP
  • The UK doesn’t use a dollar; everything is in pounds. It only makes sense, then, that all dollar stores are pound stores – which makes everything HILARIOUS. Poundland! Poundworld! Poundorama! Heeeeeheheheeh
  • I need more tassels and a cigarette if I want to pass as a local
  • My feet hurt
  • My inability to determine my left from right is really fucking with me
  • Primark is the devil (who sells excellent socks)
  • I am not eating nearly enough for the amount of walking I’m doing
  • Never stop to calculate the exchange. You will be much happier living in blissful ignorance.

It took a couple of days, but I think I’m finally back on track. My sleep brain wouldn’t get out of nap mode, so I couldn’t sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time. That is not enough sleep unless it is Tuesday at 7pm, and while I have no idea what day it is anymore, I am fairly certain is not that. Last night I managed to sleep for a very very long time with only a brief period of consciousness in the middle, so I’m hoping that managed to reset things. Regardless, today is Take it Easy Day – I slept in, I’m doing some laundry, I’ve eaten some damn luxurious yogurt, and I will likely head out to wander London in the early evening.

Not having any kind of agenda is kind of liberating, as well as slightly anxiety-inducing. I keep forgetting that I have a very long time here, and I don’t need to do everything all at once – I can return to places if I wish, and I don’t need to buy all the things immediately. Still, it’s my natural inclination to feel guilt when I am not doing All the Things, which leads to overdoing (like yesterday, when I was unintentionally out until 11pm and wondering why I felt so bloody awful when I hadn’t eaten for like 7 hours of walking).

I have not yet been down to the waterfront, which is why there haven’t been approximately 1000 photos of Large Benjamin and his assorted stately pals. This could also be why it doesn’t *really* feel like I’m in London yet – I haven’t been by any of the iconic London things. Soon, though. Perhaps even tonight. This luxurious yogurt is making me want to explore.


shoreditch chaos

more awake = more words

I can’t sleep, so it must be time to write. I did manage to take 2.5 epic naps though, so I’m almost caught up – it’s actually 6:30 in the morning, which is a normal time for people to be awake (or so I hear). I could try to ignore my loud insistent hunger and try to get some more sleep, but I’m confident that it’d be a futile effort. Instead, you get words. How nice for you!

I’ve discovered that an important part of traveling long distances is having an adult with me so they can handle all the complicated things everything. I do not function well when I am tired and I cannot sleep if I am not comfortable, so sleeping on the plane is out of the question. This ends up in an exhausted Kimli trying to make logical brain statements to border guards, and them not really believing her because she sounds really stupid. That might work in my favour, though – clearly I am too stupid to be trying to pull wool over eyes.

There were a bazillion people at the border, and it was very very warm. I was sweaty and plane gross by the time I made it up to the booth, where I encountered a guard who was highly suspicious of me. There were a lot of questions, and I could see him trying to find holes in my story (which was less a story than the literal truth):

  • He didn’t believe that I was here just to do “touristy things”, saying “Didn’t you do enough ‘touristy things’ during your last trip here?” Dude, there is a famous quote that says “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – which is basically my reason for being here. Yes, I am going to do “touristy things”. You live in a neat place, you see.
  • There were a lot of questions about where I’m staying. One of my coworkers has family in London, and they own a row house with several units in it, two of which do not have tenants. He and his dad were generous enough to let me stay here for a ridiculous price, for which I am super grateful. The border guard thought that was weird – weird enough to ask me if we were “more than friends”, because apparently in his world people aren’t awesome. That makes me sad. :(
  • Then came the questions about what I do for a living. I have these questions myself, so it was difficult to get my point across on no sleep. “I’m a tech writer. I manage things, like servers and apps. Sometimes I edit words, and JIRA is involved somehow, and I copywrite and audit things.” Basically, I’m a tech writer who doesn’t tech write very often but still has the title because it’s better than “no one is really sure but she’s pretty vital”.
  • I forgot how to spell the company’s name.
  • He asked to see my return ticket home. I opened the Expedia app which showed that I have a whole bunch of upcoming trips that go to and from Vancouver, which should have been a good sign that I am leaving when I say I am. He scowled at the app, so I brought up the receipt for my ticket which had my itinerary. It took a while to find, because I purchased the ticket in May. This was also cause for confusion – my god, has he never encountered anyone who plans the shit out of their trips months in advance?! I should have shown him all the lists I have of things I want to do and places I want to go. It’d have blown his mind.
  • There was a conversation about how I get paid – which currency, and which bank. This may have been the final piece of information that allowed me into the country, because no one who earns Canadian dollars can afford to start a new life abroad.

Marginally satisfied that I was not planning to stay in the UK forever having illicit affairs with my coworker and/or take anyone’s job, I was allowed in.

I eventually made it to the flat, got all wi-fi’d, UK SIM’d up, and collapsed in a heap. I’m presently listening to 17 clocks and some rain, wondering if I could stomach the tomato juice I didn’t drink on the plane, and wishing that Pret delivered. Today I am going to explore the neighbourhood, get some groceries so I don’t have to have corn nuts at 4am, and settle into my temporary European life. I am a happy Kimli.