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Enter the burger and chips, it’s London.

April 19, 2010
Penny for my thoughts?

A penny for my thoughts? (Courtesy of Nicky)

There’s something about London that makes my beard grow. It could just as easily be attributed to the non-existent shaving routine of the past 5 weeks, and even influenced by the lack of employment. However, the fact still remains, I’ve been in London for almost 3 weeks and my beard is getting thicker.

Between earthquakes in the southern hemisphere and volcanoes in the north, life has still continued to present its unexpected obstacles including Australia vs Korea in Finchley, the almighty Diane vs Humanity in Hyde park and most recently the clock vs our patience at St. Thomas Hospital. Bare with me here.

“Wait a sec, you’re where?”

I’m in London, UK. I arrived (WITH my partner this time) on a 2-leg, Qatar airways flight which featured a well deserved, chemically induced sleep. We had trusted our STA travel agent who said they were good to fly with. He said they were a “5-star economy” – in fact it was part of their advertising. I guess the look on our faces, and the question of “who are they?” warranted his defence of the airline. In the end I’m happy we travelled with them, I enjoyed their food! Once we were through the gates at Heathrow we were greeted by our sign-waving friend, Mary who escorted us back to her home (for the past year) in West Finchley (zone 4 north of central London).

Meet Shoji; Mary’s Korean landlord. She seemed nice and accommodating. Seemed, until 2 days later when she expected us to leave. Mary had done an amazing job putting up with her for the past year because Nicky and I didn’t fare so well. We luckily negotiated (by throwing money her way) to pay rent for the next week so we could occupy the remaining single bed in Mary’s room and a portion of the floor. Then another 4 days later Mrs Shoji kicked us out, stating to Mary that she wants to advertise the room for future tenants. A last-minute booking into a hostel secured us for a night as we continued negotiations for a flat of our own.

Our Room

Our room in our flat-share

Searching for flats is something I do not enjoy doing. Then, increase the difficulty by searching for 1 flat with 2-3 rooms available and then stalling the landlords whilst you relay the information back and forth between your other friends to see if they wanted the rooms as well; this was a very stressful time. I believe, and I think my awesome flat-mates agree, that we came out with a winner. It’s a 3-bedroom flat on the 3rd floor of an estate in Clapham North, south of the Thames. Newly refurbished and still smelling of the white paint covering every surface (stopping doors from being opened or closed), it became our fixed address for a minimum of 3 months; Nicky and I in one room, Mary in another, and Moods (another friend who is currently travelling) in the third.

Since then we have begun having loads of fun. We’ve been to museums, galleries, markets and pubs and our little Ewok friend, Wicket, has been along for the ride. Then on the weekends we have spent our Saturdays at Camden Town for the wildly eclectic markets, and Sundays in Hyde park for the always-controversial Speakers Corner. There we met Diane; the most openly racist, bigoted, contradictory, narrow-minded person that I have ever heard speak in public. She believes in her blonde-haired, British God who will destroy all foreigners! Whilst trying to comprehend the logic behind Diane, Mary quite rightly advised me that my biggest problem was that I was searching for coherence from a woman who makes no sense, and she’s right, the woman is quite clearly insane. Week after week she pulls a massive crowd who heckle, mock and laugh at her. She is a joke. But the ever-changing audience always bites and grand conflicts erupt. In the end you just have to laugh, it’s entertainment. If you get a chance just google her. It speaks for itself.

The Tate Modern

99m High-light of the gallery.

Furthermore, we have visited the V&A Museum, the Queen’s estate, Covent Gardens, Tower Bridge, etc, but a highlight has been the Tate (WANK!) Modern Gallery. As we laughed our way through the 7 levels of pretentious, effortless ‘modern art’ we couldn’t help feeling slightly offended that so much crap is immortalised in these tall rooms when hard-working artists, sculptors, photographers, etc put so much effort and heart into magnificent pieces of work, only to get an audience as large as their 2 metre wide stall in a market will get them! – breathe Daryl… There were some standout pieces in the gallery that I did actually like and I do understand that art is often about the individual. I was impressed by the building though which was, up until about 30 years ago, a power station designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott; the man who also designed the red telephone booths. Can you see the likeness?

Nick at St Thomas Hospital

Nicky at the St Thomas Hospital

We’re also now registered with a local GP, only a 20 second walk from the flat. As part of the registration we each used a computer to do our ‘new patient health check’ – no doctor necessary, diagnose everything yourself! (hrmmm, that’s odd) It was just protocol for myself but Nicky actually needed to see a doctor. After a quick examination the doctor referred us to the local NHS (National Health Service – public health system) hospital for an operation the next day. What should have been a very simple, quick procedure turned out to be 30 hours of waiting for only 1 hour under a general anaesthetic. Overall, not a great experience but Nicky is recovering well. We’re putting the travel on hold for now; there’s still plenty to see and do locally.

The weather is getting better too, the sun had a bit of warmth to it today. Dr Pepper is still readily available and Pop-Tarts are no longer a novelty – they’re a staple. We’ve already spent plenty of money on pub meals and a bunch of other things we can’t remember, but who cares? We’re unemployed, overseas and enjoying ourselves. We’ve got our sights set on a couple small trips within the UK and then who knows where next (or even if they’ll allow air traffic any time soon). The world is waiting, this is only the introduction.


From → Travel

  1. The Count permalink

    Nice bro, very nice. You’re going to have to elaborate on some of the experiences you mentioned by name. Worth a visit? What’s there? It’s always nice getting a perspective, good or bad, on what’s worth checking out.

    Keep on writing.

  2. Beck permalink

    You have a way with words! Haha, should use your blog in the classroom, teach the kiddlings how to write creatively. Good to hear you’re having a good time now you’ve found suitable accommodation! Yay for London town and all its goodies πŸ˜€

    Encore soon please πŸ™‚

  3. Stompy permalink

    come on you would cream your pants in a second if the Tate wanted one of your works. Good to see you are mostly keeping well and enjoying it over there. Take care, enjoy it and stay safe.

  4. Good read bro.
    Keep it coming.

  5. Nicky permalink

    Mmm… Beard!

  6. Daniel permalink


  7. Ahhhhh how i wish i was back in Scotland! Hope you are having a ball, and i hope we get to see you guys when we start our travels… one day… one day… πŸ˜‰

  8. Steve permalink

    Dude! I only found this by accident avoiding work and t-ing up new guitarists to jam with! Bookmark…add…

    Hope all is well dude and the Mother Land is providing you with your much needed freedom!

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