I have so much to write about that I barely know where to start.
First of all, turns out my laptop is completely dead. I am quite sad about this, and as I remember things that are on it that are important I will no doubt become more sad. Photos aren’t too much of an issue because most of the photos I’ve taken are either on my camera, Luke’s computer (which I’m currently using) or a memory stick that I transferred a bunch of albums to a few weeks ago. Not everything will be there but the very best are on flickr too so hopefully not too much is lost. When I think that I have less than 10 photos remaining from my whole previous two year trip to the UK I have to admit that really things aren’t that bad.
Andrew has very kindly ordered me a new hard drive and he and Luke will install it when it arrives tomorrow and I swear I will be more diligent in backing everything up. For at least a month or two.
So, to catch up on the things I’ve missed recording so far.
About a week and a half ago on a Friday Luke and I drove to London to meet up with Rowan and Kerry, friends from Melbourne. We had our first decent drive in Van Falen and it went pretty smoothly. As we’d be picking up Mum from Heathrow on the Monday morning and parking in London is crazy, we left the van at the airport and then caught the train into the city. We met up with Rowan and Kerry without incident and our first stop was Camden Markets.
If you’ve never been to Camden and you like alternative clothes, art and counter-culture then definitely go. The shops sell everything, from cheap t-shirts to vintage dresses (I bought a dress that looked like it would belong in an Austin Powers movie), there’s hippy clothes, both classic and classy, amazing leather bags, goth and lolita, moroccan glassware, nepalese furnishings and my old favourite, cyber-rave wear.
And the mecca of cyber clothing is Cyber Dog.
When I’d been there 10 years ago it was a big store with a dj and dancefloor in the foyer. These days it’s even bigger. The shop assistants still dress like Bladerunner extras and there’s dancers on podiums in the foyer too. There’s also a queue to get in. It was kinda nuts but fun to check out. Lots of uv stuff and novelty items. I’m not sure who’s wearing all this gear these days but there’s lots of people looking at it in the store. We weren’t supposed to take photos but I got some sneaky footage which will eventually make it into a video.
We wandered around some more shops then headed to the British National Gallery because Kerry was keen to show Rowan and I was happy to go. The BNG is one of my favourite galleries ever. Brilliant collection, gorgeous building, free… what’s not to like? We walked around fairly quickly, stopping at favourites, then met Matt outside.
Matt had come down from Nottingham to meet us and we’d planned to have a night out partying. I suppose the lesson we learned was that, if you’re planning a night out in a city and none of you actually lives there, a bit of planning is in order. None of us had really checked out what was going on and so we had dinner, dropped stuff off to the hotel room and then headed out into Soho. By the time we got out the pubs were closed and the clubs were full. Despite this just walking around was fun and it was great to catch up. The hotel room was big enough for us all to sit comfortably so we ended up having a bit of a party there.
Rowan and Kerry caught a night bus back to her parents’ and Luke, Matt and I got a decent amount of sleep.
The next morning we walked back over to Leicester Square. Matt knew a great Malaysian restaurant, nothing fancy but great food. I wished we’d gone there the previous night instead of opting for mediocre Italian. Then it was M&M’s World, which is just around the corner.
We hadn’t really planned to go but it was right there. Plus I like chocolate a little bit. The staff at M&M’s World were super-dooper-almost-frighteningly friendly. I took lots of photos and, miraculously, didn’t buy myself any chocolate. I did buy some for other people though. Which I haven’t sent yet. So it might be for me.
As a reward for not buying any chocolate I bought myself several Fry’s Chocolate Orange Bars in a newsagent straight after. These are the best chocolate bars in the world and, while you can get them in Australia they are never perfect – always broken and sticky or with that white fat bloom on them that you get when chocolate heats then cools. I got to eat these ones sitting in the sun by the Thames surrounded by tulips. Probably the best place ever.
After that we walked along the Thames and checked out what was going on, which was quite a bit because it was the weekend. Lots of buskers and people being statues (god knows why anyone would do this out of choice), pretty carnival rides and interesting things to look at.
Soon enough it was time to say goodbye to Matt and then head back to the Heathrow Hilton where, instead of having an early night in preparation for meeting my mum at 5:30am the next morning, we stayed up til late watching a terrible movie on the tv. It had Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman in it and it was about 3 couples who go to an island to repair their marriages. When I read that sentence back I’m not sure why we watched any of it, let alone the whole thing til the end. I can only claim, in my defence, that after 15 years of not owning a television I find them hypnotic. Trust me, it’s a thing.
The next morning, since Mum’s flight got in at 5:30 we thought we’d get to their airport at 6 since customs takes a while and baggage takes a while. Well, turns out they don’t take a while. Waiting for someone who has already gone through takes ages, however. Eventually we worked out that she was already back at the hotel and met up, me feeling quite flustered that I’d messed up the first hour of Mum’s trip. Mum didn’t mind at all – she’s pretty much unflappable – and then we hit the road and headed for Wales. The rest of the journey is recorded in a previous post. Suffice to say, we saw lots of amazing countryside and made it to Ireland largely without incident. Unless you count a flat battery as an incident. Which I do.