Saturday, 13 April 2013

I went up to that there London

I had to go up to London earlier this week. I had to renew my passport, and the appointment had been booked months in advance. So I had to leave my injured little Chestiechops and my lovely little Albiepops to the care of my ex. Chester recently cut one of his toe pads and has taken to wearing various fashionable protective socks of late.

Here is Chester wearing a sock his 'daddy'
left behind when he moved out.
That blue area in the background is
a cloudless sky. Amazing but true.

So I took the train up to that there London. I like to explore on foot, so I decided to walk from Paddington to the Norwegian embassy, which meant crossing Hyde Park.

There were flowers in Hyde Park.
And about a thousand French teenagers,
but I didn't photograph them.

And there were cute birds on The Serpentine.
Anyone know what type of bird this is?

When I got to the embassy, I quickly realised I was the only Norwegian there. Then I realised I was in fact the only European there. Then I realised this was because they didn't just renew passports, they also issued visas. Yup. I'm not very quick on the uptake.

I had to wait for ages, because they kept calling some person named Lane, who wasn't there. When it was my turn, they took a horrific photo of me (I didn't ask them to retake it because I figured passport photos, like driving license photos, are supposed to look awful, aren't they? Aren't they??) and then they took my fingerprints. Darn those new-fangled biometric passports. I have managed to avoid being fingerprinted by Big Brother so far. Oh well.

After I was done at the embassy, I arranged to meet my friend Binky at Whole Foods in Kensington. According to the map on my phone, that just meant crossing Hyde Park again, lengthways this time. As I could see cars driving past in the distance, I knew it wasn't very far. I didn't realise that the line that cut Hyde Park in two on my map was a proper busy road, and not just some cute little path. Again with the slow uptake. So it took me a while to get to Whole Foods. It was totally worth it, though.

You'll pardon my exuberance, but I was a
Whole Foods virgin and I had never
seen purple taters before. Wow.
Shame about the peas, or I would
have bought some salad!

I was ecstatic. I may have made a social media update to the effect of "I think I'm in heaven!". Well, I'm just a girl from a small town in Norway, who has been living in an even smaller town in Devon for the past decade. I have no training in acting all blasé about big city wonders such as purple taters. Or the raw food aisle. I mean, this was like a regular shop. Like a supermarket. With lots of organic yumminess. AND a raw food aisle. I started contemplating whether Whole Foods was reason enough to move to London. Then I reminded myself that London has twice the population of Norway. And that I'm not overly fond of crowds.

After such ponderings as mentioned above, I met up with my friend and we had dinner on the third floor. At Saf. SAF!!! My friend Kari had told me to treat myself in London and go have a meal at Saf. And I really wanted to, but I remembered how difficult it was to get there. And now there is a Saf right at Whole Foods Kensington. At this point, I started contemplating whether Whole Foods was reason enough to move to London. Again, I had to remind myself that London has twice the population of Norway. And that I'm not overly fond of crowds.

My dinner at Saf. Lasagne Verde. Yummmmm...

After dinner, we went home to Binky's flat so I could drop off my bag. It was getting heavier by the minute, and not just because of the raw food yum-yums I had bought at Whole Foods. I had carried it around for hours at this point. Binky's flat is soooo lovely. I was surprised by how quiet it is, even though it's right in the middle of The Big Smoke. And the colour scheme is so relaxing, and she has even got a little back yard to herself, and it's right by the river and a posh little harbour and everything. At this point I was so exhausted that I nearly asked Binky which river she lived near. Yup. Slow on the uptake.

We relaxed in Binky's flat for a while, and then we went to see Oz: The Great And Powerful. And when the film was over it was well past this small town girl's bedtime, and I had walked so far, and had such a long day, that I'm afraid I wasn't very good company at all. So when we got home, I went to bed in Binky's guest bedroom (didn't I tell you she had a great flat?) straight away. I am used to a quiet cul-de-sac and was worried that I might not sleep very well with the window open, but all I heard was a cat miaowing somewhere before I fell asleep. In the middle of London!

The next day Binky and I went for a lovely stroll by the river and harbour, then I took the overground and then the underground into the city centre for some more exploring on my own, since Binky had to work. I had decided that it was time to visit Tate Modern for the first time, so I got off at St. Paul's and started walking down to the river. You know, the Thames. That river.

St. Paul's in the morning haze.

I also wanted to visit St. Paul's, which I never got round to doing in all the years I lived in Surrey, but the thousand French teenagers that were in Hyde Park the day before were sat on the front steps of St. Paul's today. I didn't know if they were coming or going, so I decided that I was going. I'm sure there'll be other opportunities of visiting St. Paul's.

After finally figuring out how to cross the river (why didn't the Millennium bridge show up on my mobile phone map?), I saw a signpost to The Globe. That was all it took for me to change my plans for the day.

Art is art, but bard is bard, and the bard is also art.

You may quote me on that if the occasion should ever arise.

I have always felt an affinity for Shakespeare, even though I have yet to read all his plays. Maybe it's because he was born in April, like me. Being born in April does something to a person, although I'm not quite sure what.


Or maybe it is because Shakespeare made up the word linguist. You know, because that's what I am. That's what I do. Forsooth, it is!

I make up words, too.
Forsooth, I do!
I doubt any of them
will end up on a poster,
but you never know.

Two young actresses honing their sword fighting skills.
As you do. I mean, as you like it.

The exhibition was good, but the best thing was the tour. Our tour guide, Glennis, was brilliant. If you ever visit The Globe and book a tour, ask for Glennis. I know what I'm talking about, you know. I used to work as a tourist guide every summer for years.

Shakespeare's "wooden O".
Well, not quite Shakespeare's.
But kind of. You know, in theory.

The atmosphere in the theatre was amazing. As soon as I stepped inside the heavy wooden doors, all I wanted to do was sit in the audience during a performance. Glennis really sold the 'groundling' experience to us. A groundling is a person who watches the play from the round on the ground, where there is standing-room only. At first it didn't appeal to me so much, because I'm not too keen on standing for ages (a lesson learnt the hard way during various looong choir performances), but I hadn't quite realised how steep the seats are up in the galleries. I am not good with steep, so I guess groundling it is.

A groundling's view of the stage.
Wouldn't it be great if still cost
a penny, as in Shakespeare's days?

After the tour, I went back inside the exhibition centre, which is actually underneath The Globe, and moseyed around some more, until I realised that I was running out of time. I had to get back to Binky's flat as we had arranged to have dinner together before my train left. So I may have missed out on some Elizabethan minutiae, but the tour of the theatre was the most important thing to me, anyway. The play's the thing, you know (ooh that makes me want to watch David Tennant as Hamlet again. And David Tennant as The Doctor with William Shakespeare in The Globe, quoting J.K. Rowling.)!

Binky and I had a yummy dinner together and then it was time for me to leave. That's when things started to go awry a little. Here's the facebook update I posted at the time:

Got lost in the London Underground system and feared I was going to miss the train back home to my doggies. Cue full panic, crying in the tube station, legging it to Paddington, getting there with 2 minutes to spare only for them to tell me the doors had closed (shouldn't happen till 40 seconds before departure), went to the ticket booth and managed to get tickets for a later train with only 40 minutes to wait, cue tears of relief in the train station and then a few more in the Ladies' Room. Oh and guess what? THIS train is delayed... ;-)

I got home around 11.30 pm, and the dogs were very happy to see me. There is no welcome quite like that of two over-excited springer spaniels, is there? ;o)

One of the first things I did when I got home was to chuck my shoes. After all my walking in London, they looked like this:

You haven't seen London properly
until the soles of your shoes have
cracked from wear and tear.

And that pretty much sums up my experiences up in that there London.

Love Neens xx