Three Plays, and High Tea On A London Bus

While in London Jess, Luke and I stayed at a flat in Camden that was in an excellent location for two reasons: first, it was only a block away from Camden tube station and second, because it had a huge glass window that overlooked a narrow street where van played dodgem cars – literally ramming each other to make parking spaces. As we watched I couldn’t help thinking how much my dad would enjoy sitting 5ere and watching the mayhem play out below.

The apartment, like all AirBnb places under a certain price, had its oddities. Like 18 halogen downlights in the small lounge/kitchen space and a bathroom fan switch that was so high up it almost touched the ceiling. Weird.

While in London we did a bunch of things! Here they are in a roughly chronological list.

The Play That Goes Wrong

Andrew and Lila came down from Cambridge with us and we bought them tickets as a thank you present for letting us use their house as a backpackers hostel.

We had seen a bit of the play on YouTube and it didn’t disappoint live. Much hilarity, both slapstick and more clever humour. Well worth the ticket price.

High Tea On A London Routemaster Bus

My friend Lorraine and her daughter Rosie were in London at the same time as us so Jess and I joined them for a lovely afternoon tea on a bus!

We arrived a little early and had a chat to the bus driver who was a proper cockney.

I booked an upstairs table and we had a lovely time! They catered for vegetarian and gluten intolerances (Jess and Lorraine) and the food was good!

After we’d eaten the food pictured above the scones were brought out and these were the first warm scones we’d been served in all our UK afternoon tea experiences. We were very pleased!

I will admit that we didn’t pay all that much attention to the commentary and the only thing I really remember is passing the ship front from the movie Kingsman.

Not a cheap experience, at £45 each but worth it for the special treat.

Cereal Killer Cafe

Jess’ friend Erin joined us for the next few days and we all made an early trip to Cereal Killer cafe to see what the fuss was about.

Although not all he ones pictured above were for sale. I had Oreo and a peanut butter cereal mixed together. It was delicious but tasted more like dessert than breakfast. There was literally nothing healthy on the menu.

The decor was neat – very 90s bedroom chic.

A Comedy About A Bank Robbery

At the end of the first play we saw they announced that the same production company was putting on another play in the West End so we went to see that too.

This time it was just Luke and I – Erin and Jess went to see The Lion King – and we LOVED it. It was funny and clever and they set design was fantastic. Go see it if you get a chance! We bought tickets on the day and still managed really good seats. The theatre itself was beautiful- like a wedding cake turned inside out.

My photo doesn’t really do it justice.

The Importance of Being Ernest

We saw this production on our last day and it wasn’t bad. I’ve seen it before many years ago and I like all the Oscar Wilde I’ve read but I wasn’t thrilled by this interpretation. It felt rushed and the two male leads seemed to be shouting most of the way through.

Camden

We all did quite a lot of walking around Camden. We looked at street art.

And I went with Jess and Erin super early to take a photo at… well, you can guess where.

On our last day Luke and I took a walk around Hampstead Heath and looked at all the dogs. I’ve tried to go to HH a number of times previously but my hay fever has always flared up. Autumn was definitely in the air this time so I was safe.

Our last meal in London was a return to Five Guys, a burger chain Luke’s Aunt Sue had recommended. We enjoyed it a lot more this time as we’d been able to read the menu, unlike our attempt in France;-).

Also Oreo shakes are amazing!

So that ends the European part of this trip! We packed our bags and boarded our Thai Airways flight for Bangkok. I spent most of my awake hours on the flight thinking about how I could manage to come back next year to do more hiking in the north of England. We’ll see!

London and Visa Applications.

Luke and I returned from Iceland with altered circadian rhythms, a craving for fresh food and somewhat lightened wallets.

We booked a cheap B&B in West Drayton, apparently home to the kind of people who enjoy spending a sunny Saturday afternoon with their shirts off, large stomachs on display, drinking pints outside a sticky looking pub by the side of a major highway, shouting at each other incomprehensibly. The B&B was a tad dodgy and the room was tiny but we were close to a train station so we could get into the city.
After an unexpectedly dark night’s sleep after the twilight of Iceland, we caught the train (remarking frequently, as I’m sure all Australians do, how amazing public transport is here) into the city. Our current mission was to acquire our Tanzanian visas.

So we navigated to Bond St, dropped off out passports and forms and then went back after 3 hours and they were ready to collect. Simple! All other embassies take note. If there was a TripAdvisor section for embassies Tanzania would get 5 stars from us.

While we waited I had lunch (Luke watched because he said he wasn’t hungry) at a place called ‘Pitt Cue‘, which I’d read about in one of the newspapers. Only about 30 seats and a very limited menu, they served American style bbq dishes. I had the ribs, which were possibly the best beef ribs I’ve yet had (not that there’s been much competition) and a really great potato and (bone) marrow mash. I highly recommend it if you’re in London and like meat. There’s no booking, you just show up about 15 minutes before opening and are seated elbow-to-elbow with strangers. The service was quick and friendly. The prices were high-ish but this is London, after all.

Served in a tin dish, it made up for in taste what it lacked in presentation. Which isn’t helped by me taking the phone in dim light with my phone.

I also spent a bit of the wait time window shopping around the area and found a shoe shop that many of my female friends would love. Insanely colourful, decorated heels, some reminded me of Carmen Miranda, others were like drag queens crossed with Mexican wrestlers.  The prices weren’t bad and I’m sorely tempted to go back and get a pair of the less insane ones.

I don’t know where I’d wear something like these, or what I’d wear them with but damnit, I’d find a way!

The next day we tried to book two more nights at our B&B so we could go in to the Rwandan embassy on Monday but they were all booked out, so we took it as a sign and decided to head back to Cambridge and grace Andrew with our presence. Lucky guy. First though, a trip back to Camden markets for a wander around in the sun. We ate a giant burrito between the two of us, had ice-cream made freshly in front of us using liquid nitrogen (this means there’s no ice crystals and I must say, it was exceptionally creamy and smooth) and I bought a couple of things.

A splodge of heaven.

After this, what with the weather being pretty much perfect, we agreed Hampstead Heath would be the ideal place to chill out. We were oh-so-wrong. The closer we got to the Heath the more my eyes itched until, once we got there, I could barely concentrate thanks to my sneezing and scratching. Curse you, hayfever! I took some tablets… actually I took a lot of tablets… and we headed back to Van Failen. Luke drove home and I semi-slept in the car then crashed out for several hours after Andrew told me I looked like a hedgehog. I’m still not entirely sure what he meant.

Here Comes The Planet 25 – England 01

We finally reach the United Kingdom! During this episode we catch up with Amanda’s old housemate Andrew, and he takes us down to his local pub as well as his local Tesco – Britain’s third largest in fact, and just behind his house! We also catch up with friends from Australia while exploring Camden Market, and our good friend Matt takes us sight-seeing in London.

Also, DICK TURPIN.

London

I have so much to write about that I barely know where to start.

So many pretty flowers in London.

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.

London!

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.

Camden High Street.

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.

London merry-go-round.

Matt and Luke take a break.

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.

Windy days and long hair do not for good photography make.