jamesq: (genius)
I'm trying really hard not to beat myself up mentally now, and I'm largely failing. No self-deprecating comments coming from the demons of depression... I hope.

So anyway, Today was the day that I was going to fly back to Canada. Short version: that didn't happen. What did happen was a combination of problems small and large that conspired to keep me from the airport in time to make my flight.

My flight was to be at 6:50, and I aimed to be at the airport by 4:30. I was a little late getting to King's Cross, where I had stashed my luggage. Getting my luggage killed about 15 minutes of my leeway. No problem, I still had plenty of time.

Next up was trying to find a stamp for one of the postcards I needed to mail. Post office was across the street from King's Cross, so that blew another 15 minutes. Getting on the train, I still had 90 minutes to go, which is more-or-less what they tell you to do.

The train lurched out of the station and a 77 year old lady standing about 5 meters away from me fell backwards onto the floor of the train. There was immediate screaming and she was clearly in a lot of pain. Also she was immediately surrounded by people offering help. At this point she was in major distress and someone hit the train's emergency button. The train immediately came to a halt between stations and the driver used the intercom to ask what the problem was. Once he got an answer from one of the helpers, he slowly proceeded to the next station and asked the other passengers if there was a doctor or someone with first aid on board who could assist. A young lady arrived to help and showed the train officials her official "Me Doctor" card. She was quickly followed by another doctor, who opted to let her be the primary while he just hung around to run interference for her.

"Running interference" turned out to be pretty accurate, as the train officials really wanted to push the train to the next station for some reason (I'm guessing to route other trains around better). They really wanted his or her blessing to do this, and neither were having it (The old lady had apparently had spinal injuries in the past, and you don't just shake and rattle a possible spinal injury. The phrases "As a Doctor we're telling you to not move this train", "That's against our recommendation", and "If this was your mother, you'd agree with us". They eventually 'compromised' by driving really slowly to the next station.

At that point they announced that the train would be here for at least a half an hour, so if you wanted to exit and find other transport methods, to do so. It was at this point that I should have high-tailed it to the surface and grabbed a cab. I didn't, reasoning that - even with a half-hour delay - this was still my best bet to get to the airport in a timely fashion. I settled in to see how this all turned out.

First thing was that it took a really long time for the medics to arrive. I'm wondering if they arrived at the correct station, since they moved the train. The lady doctor stuck by that old woman the whole time, slowly making a prognosis. I fell a little in love with her. A random bystander was helping make her comfortable. Eventually a group of three showed up and took over from the two doctors. They stuck around in the background, just in case.

Next, a second set of medics showed up, so there was now a total of six. They repeated a lot of what lady doctor did, but also used more equipment than she and her stethoscope had. After much assessing, they administering of some kind of pain killer gas (and eventually, a shot of morphine). The gas and the morphine got her laughing towards the end. Then they finally got a back board under her and they were off. The male doctor took off and the lady doctor sat down and, after several stops of people swapping on and off the train, resumed just-another-commuter status. I should have given her the box of chocolates I had for bribing the flight attendants.

Now at this point I was fucked, but didn't know it. I was still in central London and it was 5:30. I had an hour until my flight. Unbeknownst to me, they won't issue a boarding pass after T-45 minutes, and security won't let you through at T-35 minutes. There was no way I was going to get to Heathrow from central London in 15 minutes. To add insult to injury though, they switched the train's destination from terminal 5 to terminal 4, saying that the earlier destination was "in error". NO IT WASN'T YOU COCKSUCKERS, YOU MADE THE DECISION TO CHANGE IT. That cost me another two minutes as I had to get off at a station and wait for the next train to terminal 5.

I got to the airport and ran to the departures level to print my boarding pass. The machine wouldn't let me, and I was directed to the British Airways agents.

"My flight leaves in 25 minutes. Can you help me get on it?"
"Short answer is no, but I can try to help you in other ways."

I explain the problem and she eventually concludes that there are no more Calgary flights that day, and she starts looking at other alternatives. I notice that she's frowning at the screen.

"That's a look that suggests there are no good options."
"Very astute. The only flight I can get you on is the same one, but tomorrow."
"So what's the problem?"
"It's very expensive."

She looks at a few other things and finally decides they're even worse.

"Normally I'd charge you the difference in fares and then £180 fee on top for changing a booking. Seeing as how missing the flight wasn't your fault, I'm going to just charge you the £150 because the system won't let me not charge you something. Is that OK?"
"It sounds better than the alternative, do what you have to do."

She didn't have to do that, so I gave her the box of chocolates, even though I still think lady Doctor deserved them more.

I left to find a hotel room. Heathrow has a kiosk where that's all they do and after some WTF moments ("I have a room for £350." "No!"), I finally got a room at the Marriott for £260 that included supper, breakfast, and wifi. When I told my tale of woe to the front desk clerk, he upgraded me to an executive suite. Note that an executive suite in UK parlance is a standard North American hotel room. Still, after two weeks of sleeping in broom closets, I'll take it.

I'm finishing up the night writing this, and dwelling unhealthily on alternate scenarios that are in the past: What if I had decided to get that stamp at the airport - then I'd have been one train ahead and would never have heard of this or old lady. Hell, maybe she wouldn't have fallen. Maybe I should have grabbed a cab - I'm sure even the most expensive cab would have been better than the near £500 pounds missing my flight has cost me so far. It's unhealthy and depression-inducing, and yet I can't find a way to stop it. Oh well, it's late, maybe if I sleep. Still, I was really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. I just want to go home.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
This is just a catch all for random thoughts about this trip. No real theme or nothing. Just ponders, observations, and other goodies.

random pictures, and random stories, ho!... )
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
[livejournal.com profile] othelianna and I went to see four shows while I was in town.

The Book of Morman

We weren't planning of seeing this, but we were in the West End, and opted to put our names into a "£20 for a front row seat" lottery that BoM does. Rosie won and we ended up going. This is the second time I've seen it, and it was uproariously funny both times. Despite having front row seats, we had a decent view of the stage (we were near the centre, which is good).

A clueless teen tried chatting up Rosie during the intermission. He gets points for working on his game, but lost them all for making a lame beaver joke upon learning we were Canadians.

Matilda

A musical based on the Roald Dahl book, with lyrics by Tim Minchin? Yes please.

Fun play, with just the right combination of catchy songs and decent plot that makes me a believer. The kids did a great job, and I think I may have fallen a bit in love with the character of Ms. Honey.

Of all the shows I saw, this would be the one I recommend the most. It was just a lot of fun.

Let It Be

This was a good show that suffered from me thinking it would be different from what it was, and because I was hoping for a great show. What I was expecting was a jukebox musical about the Beatles. What I got was a Beatles cover band that performs in character. I liked it, but others (Rosie for example) might not.

As for being a cover band, they were certainly a very good one. Looks, mannerisms, and most importantly - the music, were all really good.

Go see it if you're a Beatles fan, and you can get discounted tickets.

Gypsy

Our last play was probably the best acted. Gypsy is the musical about Gypsy Rose Lee and her toxic relationship with the woman who gave all subsequent stage moms a bad name, "Mama" Rose.

Of note, Mama Rose was played by Imelda Staunton. This was the bulk of the press for the show. And she is very very good as a dramatic performer. Her singing is technically good, but lacked the passion I hope for in a musical. I thought Lara Pulver (you'll remember her from playing Irene Adler) was the real stand out performance. Not that there was a shortage of good performances in Gypsy. They got a well-deserved standing ovation.

Tickets for this were a bit more dear than Matilda, but it was still worth it (especially since I didn't buy them, Rosie did).
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I went to lots of museums this trip, and didn't even get burned out like last time. It helps that I was often with [livejournal.com profile] othelianna, and it also helped that I was there for me, and not anyone else. If I wanted to leave the museum, I could do so any time. Not that I actually did that. I was often the last person out.

Ok, here are some stories about assorted museums in London.

British Museum

A longboat full of vikings, promoting the new British Museum exhibit, was seen sailing past the Palace of Westminster yesterday.  Famously uncivilized, destructive and rapacious, with an almost insatiable appetite for rough sex and heavy drinking, the MPs nonetheless looked up for a bit to admire the vessel.

I love that the British Museum is a bunch of buildings they put another building over. A friend of mine bitched that a Western Canadian totem pole was put in the food fare, but it would be more accurate to say that they put both the totem pole and the food fare in the atrium, as that was the only place large enough to hold either.

Canadians have the most impressive erections

It was rather cool in the museum.

This isn`t the only nipply statue in the museum - just the least arousing.

There were ten thousand people crowded around the Rosetta Stone. There was a 1:1 replica in the next room that you could touch, and there was no one there. everyone loves authenticity I guess. I licked it.

Everybody must get stoned.

I want this for my house as a bathtub. Don't worry, I'll clean it out first.

A tub so relaxing you`ll spend millennia in it

The British Museum has a purpose-built area for the Parthenon Marbles. Lord Elgin is mentioned exactly once, in an out of the way plaque. What they did have was a lot of propaganda suggesting how having the Parthenon marbles in London, and not Athens, was good for everyone, and that it complements the remaining marbles in Athens. It's a big reason why no one who asks for their stuff back is ever going to get it - because if they say yes to anyone, the Greeks will be there saying "Now that we've established that you should give people's stuff back, give us back our marbles."

If anyone ever destroys the British Museum, the loss to the world will be immeasurable.

Well-displayed looting

A lot of the marbles concern Humanity's wiping the Centaur scum from the Earth.

Allegedly, the last centaur`s last words were `aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh`

National Portrait Gallery

Apparently, one of Rosie's favourite activities when waiting for a play to start is to wander around the National Portrait Gallery. Not to be confused with the National Landscape Gallery. She took me there when we were wandering around between two show.

St. Sebastian, patron saint of archery targets.

penetrated by multiple shafts.

If everyone looks like Putin, it's Van Eyck.

Seriously, they really do all look like Putin.  Apparently it`s all the same family.

I just really like this one. She's gorgeous.

Countess va Voom

Horniman Museum

If the British Museum is the cool older brother, the Horniman is the little brother that just tries in heartbreakingly inadequate ways to be cool too. It's closer to what a Victorian would think was a museum, then what modern museums strive for. That is to say, it's more look at all this cool shit I found rather than the British Museum's Here is a collection of historically significant antiquities displayed in a manner to educate.

They're famous for their stuffed walrus, so they put it on the cookies.

mmm - Walrus shortbread - delicious.

The walrus itself is significant because all they sent back to England was the skin, then they asked a taxidermist, who had never seen a walrus before, to mount it. I've heard taxidermy described as akin to getting a set of ballerina's tights, and trying to fill it in a manner that will look like a ballerina when you're finished. That's actually really difficult to do. Example one of how difficult is the Horniman Walrus:

Sad, dead, overstuffed, Walrus.

Lots of stuffed things. Including a Dodo!

Caucus race, anyone?

Kiwi! Strangely, it looks nothing like a giant scaly green testicle.

I`m an apteryx, a wingless bird with hairy feathers

The Cowardly Lion. Killed, stuffed, shellacked.

what is this, I can`t even

Science Museum

I was especially looking forward to The Science Museum. It did not disappoint. The exhibit I most wanted to see was, of course, the Difference Engine they built for Charles Babbage's 200th birthday.

I was geeking out left and right seeing this. I may have accidentally splashed Rosie.

I offered to explain the method of differences for solving polynomials.  Strangely, she didn`t take me up on it.  What the hell?

It was a kick in the nuts to see a computer that I once owned (well, not this one specifically, but the same model) in a museum. Damnit, I'm not that old yet!

Kinda wish I still had one.  But not this one, my old SE/30

Victoria and Albert

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A was between the Horniman and the British Museum in tone. I.e. it had a lot of pretty stuff, but they did try to put it in a historical context.

What I loved about the V&A was that they had a movie-making exhibit. It included stage models, props, and costumes! You could even play with some of the costumes!

Stripes are slimming, right?

What's the point of playing dress-up if you can't dress-up as a pirate!

A pirate, or maybe Sargent Pepper!

A 100% accurate depiction of how a Viking woman would have dressed:

Valkyrie needs food - badly

And a final picture for this entry: A girl and her fish.

kiss kiss
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
The plan was to spend my weekends with Rosie, as she works for a living. The weekdays were to be spent on my own. One of my favourite parts from my last trip to the UK was my time on Skye. So much so that I decided to have my SCA persona be from Skye. Having a few days to kill, I found a three day bus tour of Scotland that included two nights in Skye. The whole tour was less than booking a hotel room for two days in Skye would have been (and a tour meant I could see stuff other than Portree while I was there). Naturally I booked it.

lots more, including pictures, behind the cut... )
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I checked out of the Finsbury Apartments, happy to see them behind me, and made my way to King's Cross station to catch a train to Southampton. Here's the thing about being a tourist who's entire knowledge of London consists of stuff he's seen in fiction - you're assumptions are often wrong. I went to buy my ticket only to discover that all rail traffic in/out of London do not go out of King's Cross - How was I supposed to know that? Hell, I can get to Hogwarts via King's Cross station! Anyway, they kindly gave me proper directions to a different train station (they still sold me a ticket though) and I made my way there. What followed was a pleasant 90 minute train ride through the gorgeous English countryside.

After a few hops and skips, I was in Southampton. The train station was close enough to my hotel that I could have walked, but I opted for a bus instead. I checked into the Dolphin Hotel, which is noteworthy for two things, 1) Jane Austin had her 18th birthday party here, and 2) It was not turned into a smoking crater by the Nazis - a fate neighbouring buildings did not share.

Not mentioned: her epic rap battle with Jane Porter.

This was one of the nicer rooms I stayed in while in the UK. It was huge, had a wonderful bed, and a nice view of the High Street. And staying there felt like having a week's worth of claustrophobia drained from your psyche.

The point of the side trip to Southampton was to get my Titanic geek on. I'd found a brochure online, and I had a copy on me. Everything was stowed in my room. It was time to explore.

A great walk on a beautiful day - it was, and it was.

A quick note: I'm presenting this in the order on the brochure, but what actually happened was: lunch, museum (before it closed), work my way the sites on the map from north to south.

I couldn't fine #1 (the Postal Workers' Memorial and Book of Remembrance) since they were in buildings that had closed for the day. I did find #2, Titanic Musicians' Memorial. It's seen better days, being limestone that's been exposed to 100 years of pollution.

Titanic Musicians` Memorial

The Titanic Engineers Memorial was easily the most impressive of all the Titanic-related sites in Southampton.

Titanic Engineers Memorial

There were other memorials that weren't Titanic related. Some for notable people, some for events. There was, of course, a cenotaph. But the oddest of these was the remains of a tree in Palmerston Park (I think - there's five contiguous parks and I can't remember which one it was in). It was wrapped in rope and there were numerous photos attached. It had the ad hoc feel of a roadside memorial, but if a recent disaster had taken that many people, I'm sure I'd have heard about it. It remains a mystery to me.

Mystery Stump

Holyrood church was next to my hotel. It was the nailed-in-the-blitz building I referred to above.

This is the view from High Street:

Holyrood Exterior - High Street

And this is around the corner, on Bernard Street:

Holyrood Exterior - Bernard Street

It being after hours, I couldn't get inside to get a decent photo of the Titanic Crew Memorial.

Holyrood Titanic Crew Memorial

I also saw a pair of gargoyles that reminded me of Labyrinth.

But which one is Statler and which one is Waldorf?

Outside the hotel, unrelated to Holyrood or Titanic, is one of Queen Elizabeth II's anchors:

Note: It`s the *ship*`s anchor, not the Queen`s - her anchor is cleverly hidden.

This building is noteworthy for being the last place a lot of Titanic's crew slept before leaving port.

Former Sailors Home

And this is the Grapes. Noteworthy for being a good enough pub to save four crew members from death, because they stayed a little too late that day. Chantelle told me I should lift a pint here. Instead, I went out and had really awful Chinese buffet for supper. I should have listened.

You know, the pub where Leo and his Italian buddy won their tickets.

There was a whole cluster of Titanic-noteworthy locations at the south end - pretty much all of them related to the day to day business of running an ocean liner. Here's the old railway terminal:

Photos would be so much nicer without all the crap that gets in the way.

The hotel where the 1st class guests stayed:

It`s condos now.

And the building housing White Star's local operations. This was were relatives gathered to get news about their loved ones.

Canute Chambers exterior

The last of the southern memorials was actually within the entrance to the docks. As this is a working shipyard, I needed to ask permission from the guards to go in and take a picture. I think this was more to acknowledge that there's heavy truck traffic, then anything else. Anyway, I took my picture, thanked them, and left.

I`m surprised they simply didn't move it ten yards so that it was outside the gate.

SeaCity museum included a large Titanic exhibit, but also went into lots of detail about Southampton unrelated to Titanic.

All Titanic museum exhibits require a painting of the ship.

I want to say this is by Ken Marschall, but I`m just not sure.  It`s the safe guess though.

Marble Titanic clock. The one it corresponded to on the ship was wood, so looked somewhat different.

SeaCity Clock, sans clock

Finally, the SeaCity Museum urinals. I took this picture so I could forever marvel just how robust they are. Seriously, these things could be the last artifacts of humanity, they're that solid.

Truly, the palace of urinals.

My tour went into the twilight hours, and after supper I retired to my room, exhausted, and a little melancholy due to dwelling on a tragedy. Next morning would be my flight to Edinburgh.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Day one was really one and a half days, since it began Tuesday morning, and aside from a few fitful hours of sleep on the plane, ended late Wednesday night.

The flight was uneventful, my seat was good (and I hold out hope of getting a similarly good seat on the way back) and British Airways does a fantastic job treating the second class customers. Heathrow was not as nightmarish as I’d been lead to believe (possibly because I was only in Terminal 5). I made a few mistakes though. The first one was buying a sim card at the first vending machine I saw. I should have waited for a shop, then I could 1) get a good one and test it, and 2) use Heathrow’s free wifi to look up my unlock code, which I seem to need every time I use a new sim. (2015-06-09: stumbled on a Three store and the tech fixed everything in less than two minutes - all is forgiven).

Instead, I’ve had to endure several days of spotty internet because I can only use free wifi. That was easier ten years ago when wifi was new and people didn’t understand wifi security. Now, there’s wifi everywhere, and it’s all locked down.

Then I had to take the tube to my hotel. Good: Only one tube line, Piccadilly, from Heathrow to the neighbourhood I wanted. Bad: Even so, it was a 70 minute trip, followed by a fifteen minute walk. Ugly: No room.

I get to the Beaconsfield Inn (Recommended by [livejournal.com profile] othelianna with a solid “I still have my kidneys!”) only to find that they have no idea who I am. Thankfully I have a confirmation from Expedia. The staff vanishes into their secret lair – seriously, it was a secret door behind the door that was only four feet high – for a half an hour while they tried to figure out who’s fault it was. They claim Expedia never sent the confirmation to them.

All of that was moot as far as I was concerned, I just wanted my room. Problem was, they were booked solid, they had no rooms in the hotel. They did, however, have a second building a kilometre away with microsuites that they rented. They insisted this was an upgrade. I’m not convinced, since the upgrade consists of a kitchen I’m not using, and 50% more walking to/from the tube station. Still, I’m impressed that my suite includes a double bed, toilet, shower, kitchen in the same square footage as my bedroom back home. And allegedly free wifi. I could connect to the wifi network easily, but the wifi router couldn’t talk to the internet.

I explored for a bit and eventually returned to my room when I realized that I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s when the anxiety attack hit. I was exhausted, but could not sleep. I had no internet to distract me from my jerk brain. So I laid there in the dark, slowly gnawing on all of my failings, on how the trip was going to go horribly wrong, on how I’m going to die a miserable lonely failure, etc. Basically like I spend two minutes every night, but when my filters aren’t all down I just answer with “maybe so, but don’t dwell on it today” and move on. That night, I didn’t move on – instead, the demons feasted. And of course, I couldn’t even fall asleep.

I think they only thing that kept me from simply packing everything back up and catching the next flight back to Canada was 1) Disappointing [livejournal.com profile] othelianna, and 2) having to look in the mirror afterward.

I did have an amusing reprieve. Around two in the morning, I heard a car pull up and a couple got out. They proceeded to have a conversation for five minutes outside at full volume. Not yelling, just making no attempt to be quiet on a residential street during the wee hours. They went around the corner and I heard the door to my building open and close, then the door to the apartment immediately below me open and close. And the full volume conversation continued. They also played with the yappy dog for a few minutes. You know how when you play tug of war with a dog and they make that growling/savaging sound that sounds like they’re trying to shake a smaller animal apart? Lots of that. That stopped and the dog started making these really odd noises I couldn’t identify. At least, until I realized it wasn't the dog making the noise. Once I realized it was the woman making moaning/gasping noises it made a lot more sense. Did I mention that they never once used their inside voices? Yeah, that continued during the sex. Also, it was a hot night so we both had our windows open. Ugh.

They went on for an acceptible amount of time and sounded like they both enjoyed themselves. Also, it didn’t go on forever, so that’s all right. And then, five minutes after it ended, something odd happened. He left. I heard the doors open/close and he got in his car and drove away. A fuck-and-run, buddy? Really? Later, I got to thinking, if her room is anything like my room (which is likely) there’s really no other way to entertain anyone than screwing. My room doesn’t even have a chair, or a place to put one. The only place to sit is my lap.

That escapade didn’t help my “forever alone” vibe. I continued to have my anxiety attack. Eventually, around 4 am, I heard birds singing. That gave my brain something to latch onto and I fell asleep.

Preview for later postings - this was the worst of it, and I've been enjoying the trip aside from that first night. More details as I write them.
jamesq: (Don Quixote)
Well I just attempted to add assorted folks from my Scotland tour to my facebook. We'll see how that goes.

In other news: SQUEE!
jamesq: (Default)
Some observations:

1) Navigation is really stupid. I was supremely frustrated yesterday after getting my account because I kept getting these "so-and-so updated how they met you" messages. I had no idea how to check this information. People where talking about me and I didn't know what they were saying. It was driving me completely bugfuck-insane.

Someone I know (who doesn't want their LJ identity linked to their FB identity, which is why they're not being named) was kind enough to tell me how to check this after I had a whirling-dervish of a rant on our chat program.

2) I've found most of the people from my Wild-in-Scotland tour. Debating whether to friend them or not. Probably I will after rereading the assorted entries to make sure I don't inadvertently say something stupid about them.

3) Either FB is down this afternoon, or the site is blocked from work. Being blocked from work might mean I don't get fired for surfing it constantly. Anything that keeps me from getting fired is probably a good thing.

4) It was a little alarming getting a friend-request from someone who's real name I didn't know. At first I thought "swell, there's cam whores on FB." Then I saw the picture and realized it was someone perfectly normal looking. Looking at the geographical location I realized it was [livejournal.com profile] ladyerwyn! I'm sorry I thought you were a cam whore. Also sorry I called you "normal looking".
jamesq: (Default)
The trip has been uneventful for the most part, but I did have some serendipity. I got to Glasgow Queens Street station and was trying to find directions to the airport. I was pretty sure it was the 905 bus, but I wanted to make sure. I asked at the ticket counter (where they confirmed that I was right) and the woman next to me (Rita from Saskatoon!) suggested that we should share a cab. Turns out she was on the same flight as me.

So we shared a cab, as well as some stories of our trips. £10 for the cab was a little more expensive then the £4 for the bus, but it was also a lot less aggravating.

I found the whisky I wanted before the gate. Didn't buy it there though because there was a duty free shop in the restricted zone. Of course, the duty free shop didn't have it (they carried it, but it was out of stock).

One of the in-flight movies was Astronaut Farmer, which I've seen before. I'm a little surprised to see it on the flight though, as there is a crash sequence in it and I thought airlines didn't like movies with those. They ended up cutting about 90% of the sequence out, leaving just enough to string what happens before to what happens afterward.

Virginia Madsen is one sexy woman. I will take that away from this otherwise fluffy movie.

I will occasionally look out my window and see something strange. On the bleak Greenland landscape of white ice and grey rock I will see a splash of electric blue. This isn't the natural blue of glacial ice, I suspect it's the blue stuff they put into chemical toilets. If that's the case, then there's some airplanes out there with leaky toilets.

Missed one of my mission101 goals - didn't actually have a deep fried Mars bar while I was out there. In the grand scheme of things, I should probably mark that in the "win" column.
jamesq: (Default)
I didn't just want to see Scotland while I was in the UK. I had to go to London too. And if I was going to be in London, then I had to check out some West End musicals!

Getting there involved a train trip from Dundee to London. This took six hours. If I had the whole thing to plan over I'd have flown instead. Charming as the Scottish/English countryside is, I'd have rather had a shorter trip - even if it cost a little more (and frankly, domestic flights can be very cheap in the UK). We got there on time and then had to brave the tube. This was relatively painless as was checking into our hotel. The room was wee, but we weren't going to be using it for anything other then sleeping, so that's OK. Thankfully [livejournal.com profile] zapgun4hire doesn't snore.

I did have a few moments in and around London that I likened to being a hillbilly on his first trip to Kansas city - like when I gawked at the nuclear power plants, or saw someone wearing an honest-to-Allah burka, or saw something related to the Royal family (like Buckingham Palace). I felt a little silly about my reactions when that shit happened. I was jaded by day two though.

We didn't have much time before Wicked started though. And it was actually south of the Palace (rather then in the actual West End, assuming I've got my directions right). Couldn't get any cheap tickets for Wicked so we just bought them right at the front. Well worth it though. Wicked was, well, wicked. The lead, Shona White, was normally the understudy for the role of Elpheba, the Wicked Witch of the West, but this was her West End debut. She's got a helluva set of pipes and did a great job. The look on her face at the end when she got the standing ovation was worth the price of admission all by itself.

Afterwards, I wanted to explore. Having a map, we decided to walk back to the hotel (about 4K). Brain briefly expressed concern that we might walk into the bad side of town. On the map the route we would take would take us past Buckingham Palace (Probably one of the safest places on Earth as far as muggings are concerned) and the West End. We had no problems.

London is a girl-watcher's paradise I discovered.

The next morning we went to the British Museum. Spent a few hours just grooving on that. The bad news is that I hit a wall. I had had my fill of history. I stopped trying to absorb what I was seeing and just looked for neat junk. After awhile I couldn't even do that. I needed a change. We had a few hours to kill before our next show, so I talked Brain into checking out one of the double-decker bus tours. One left from our hotel, so it would be easy to check out. Plus, the day had (despite the natives' predictions of rain and gloom) turned out rather nice.

We got onto the bus with one girl whom Brain started chatting with. Turns out she was from Calgary too! So Karen from Southwest Calgary, traveling to (ultimately) Belgium, here's to you. You were a fun, lively girl and it was pure pleasure hanging out with you for three hours.

As for the tour it was a lot of fun. We checked out all the big landmarks (sometimes more then once given the circuitous nature of the roads) and it was very entertaining. The tour guide was a ham and that's the sort of job where being a ham is an advantage. We could have done with less of his singing Queen tunes.

Avenue Q was the best simulated Muppet sex I've ever seen. They had to have an intermission in the middle of the show so you could gulp in some air from laughing non-stop throughout.

That night there were issues, which went away once I finally forced myself to go to bed.

The next day we just went window shopping. We wandered deliberately and suddenly found ourselves in the midst of numerous sex shops and adult shows.
"We seem too have taken a turn into the skanky part of London", I said.
"Dude, it's Soho", replied Brain.
We found some weird little, commercial-avenue-esque shops and I ended up buying some stuff. Among other things, I found a rather scholarly book about the making of Yellow Submarine.

We ran into some trouble when we got to King's Cross station to go back to Dundee. We both thought our train was at 1500. Turns out it was actually at 1400. We were there at 1445. Whoops. Well we did some quick checking and found that there was another train at 1500, but we couldn't use our reserved seats. We had to take what we could find. Thus another crisis was averted. The other problem is that our original ticket was for Dundee and this train only went as far as Edinburgh. Luckily ScotRail doesn't care. We simply transferred to another train in Edinburgh.

On the train trip back we kept seeing these weird ass structures around greater London. There were these columns of latticework that looked like the grills of a silo, but without the walls. They didn't seem to be in a state of mid-construction, so I'm not actually sure what they could be for. Oh well, I'll show pictures to [livejournal.com profile] mallt and see if she knows. She knows the strange ways of the island natives.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
No, I'm not referring to [livejournal.com profile] zapgun4hire. I'm referring to my Brain.

I'm feeling a little depressed. No reason for it really, I should be feeling pretty good, especially since I just watched Avenue Q (which was hilariously funny - I think I only stopped laughing for the intermission.)

Part of it is that my vacation is almost over. Part of it is the fact that I've gained a ton of weight and I've pretty much given up trying to eat right on this trip. Another resolution broken. Mostly it's facing up to my curse, which is never easy.

I'm tired and a little emo. Instead of posting I really should just go to bed. But I'm in London - I want to explore. It'll be a few years before I'm here again.

Can't keep my eyes open though.

Butter...

Jun. 17th, 2007 11:47 pm
jamesq: (Default)
...It's the universal Scottish ingredient!
jamesq: (Default)
Smokies!... )
jamesq: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] zapgun4hire tells me that you cannot get butter for your popcorn in the movie theaters. I haven't quite decided if the people in the UK are crazy or if he's just trying to pull my leg.
jamesq: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] zapgun4hire: If you could bring along one thing on your trip that you didn't have, what would it be?
[livejournal.com profile] quixote317: Courage.
[livejournal.com profile] zapgun4hire: ...
[livejournal.com profile] zapgun4hire: If I were to go on the same trip, what piece of equipment should I bring that you wish you had along with you, but forgot.
[livejournal.com profile] quixote317: Oh. Nothing really, my problem was bringing along too much stuff.

--- addition ---

Later we determined that there was something I needed that he should bring: Thongs (the ones for your feet). There were times when I was wading in cold, rocky water and wished I had footwear that I didn't care got wet.
jamesq: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] garething: So, lots of fun? Had your fill of haggis and scotch yet?
[livejournal.com profile] quixote317: Scotch yes, haggis no. It's surprisingly tasty.
[livejournal.com profile] garething: Who are you and why are you using James' computer?
[livejournal.com profile] quixote317: I've discovered that there are ways of cutting the "burn" of scotch so that it's more enjoyable.
[livejournal.com profile] garething: I repeat the question!
[livejournal.com profile] quixote317: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm your good friend James.
[livejournal.com profile] garething: Lies!
[livejournal.com profile] quixote317: Like all good Canadians I love my government and enjoy watching ice-hockey.
[livejournal.com profile] garething: I am now officially alarmed

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