Sunday, December 8, 2013

Days 34 & 35: London

Day 34

Had a slow morning while my brother enjoyed a free breakfast downstairs (the hotel stole my face washer the previous night so this was recompense). I ate the brownie he gave me for my birthday - the mead is now mine too, as he can’t take home.

We checked out at 11:30am. He waited for his taxi while I put my luggage into storage. I hugged him goodbye then miserably walked to Southwark alone. I’m in Fratelli writing up the last two days.

I did that and returned to the hotel to catch my 3pm taxi. I was conveyed through moderate traffic around sharp bends (I had to rescue the Celtic Mead at one point!) and odd sculptures hugging Hyde Park’s perimeter. 

I arrived at my swanky hotel and my friendly taxi driver lifted my suitcase up the steps. I gave him  £20 for the £19 fare and entered, whereupon I was given the news that I had been upgraded to a better apartment. Plenty of natural light, heaps of room, epic purple lighting in the bedroom, washer/dryer, other stuff...just bliss. A birthday treat!

Wonderful blissful sleep awaited me when I curled up on the double bed.


Day 35

I woke leisurely at 8:30am and turned on my phone, glad I had switched it off as Cazy had texted me from Dubai an hour earlier. I did some washing then I burst out into the sunshine (well, I was beneath a sky with large patches of blue).

I headed for Hyde Park. It is large, insanely so. I snapped copious photos of flowers and structures after exploring only thirty metres of path. As I passed foundations on a bridge-type area, I spotted a cute photographer through my viewfinder. He was aiming his camera right at me. I discreetly edged closer, taking photos all the while - we seemed to have very different eyes.

Water, water everywhere.

I then followed him at a casual pace up to some trees and thought about introducing myself but it was just too weird. I bailed along the path where I came across two shady men. One appeared to echo my footsteps so I went up to an ugly brick gazebo on a tiny path - he followed so I hurriedly rejoined the main path, walking behind a female photographer for protection.

More monuments appeared as I continued to walk - and then I was gleefully taking photos of water and swans and squirrels!! 

I ambled to a tree mosaic marking the death of a noticeboard tree and rang Mum while I took photos. I continued our conversation as I walked towards the Marble Arch - it should have been easy but many paths were closed off with fences clothed in green fabric. I bade farewell to Mum (so much wind was disrupting our conversation!) then happily noted the entrance to Marble Arch tube station.

I immortalised the area with my SLR, beginning with the Marble Arch itself before working my way past a giant horse head statue (was it meant to be eating grass, being upside like that?) and three fountains in a row which were dirty but some guy was nearby cleaning the area.

I returned to the Marble Arch and confirmed the information in my sketchy memory (that it was indeed taken from Buckingham Palace in the 19th century when the new facade was built) by reading a sign. Tourists nearby were feeding pigeons and staging photos of the act. I shook my head, eyeing the white splatters of poo everywhere, then descended to the tube.

Marble Arch

I caught the Central line one stop over to Bond Street and changed onto Jubilee (one train did not open its doors to us and left without any more explanation than the electronic wording “out of service”). 

Off I came at London Bridge, back into Fratelli for it pleases and calms me. There are many others here working on laptops as I write this. It seems odd to want to retire back to my apartment already, before 2pm.

Ha. It’s my “retreat”. I may do as I please!

Happily, I managed to alight at Green Park and returned to Buckingham Palace for some non-telescopic photos. Somewhere towards Trafalgar Square a band must have been playing for I heard the music and felt the drums dancing in my heart. I am still uneasy about the lax attitude when it comes to crossing the roads to the Palace. It’s chaos!

A quiet hour outside Buckingham Palace.

Took the tube back to Lancaster Gate and only got slightly lost on my way to the apartment. I continued my regime of clothes washing, reading books and watching TV shows.

Gosh, I need to pack properly but the jeans are not 100% dry.

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