It's been a busy week - I've paced myself though. Today I was supposed to be going to Durham for the day as I snagged a cheap 20 pound (return!) train ticket back in November on a seat sale. I thought long and hard about it and didn't know for sure until my alarm went off at 5:20 this morning. Nope....My knee has been bad the last few days and I didn't think it would take kindly to being walked around Durham for almost 8 hours...it looked to be much too cold to sit on park benches so I would know every coffee shop in the city, Then there was the three hour journey each way. With the prediction of snow in London this evening and the chaos they have predicted I decided to be sensible and stay here. And I've no regrets. I will get to Durham someday...and in better weather.
So what have I been doing since Monday? Well after my laundry was done Monday morning I headed over to Croydon on the bus (about 30 minutes) and got my hair cut. For some stupid reason I couldn't find the hair salon I have been to previously but stumbled on another one (there are at least three in the shopping centre there) and found a great hair dresser. I will likely go again before I go home so that I don't have to worry about getting it done again until March. I picked up a few things I needed such as shampoo and toothpaste. I am based in London now until I go home on the 8th of February.
That evening Claudia (my airbnb host and friend), Alessandro (her ten year old son) and I headed into Soho for Japanese food. The tube was on strike that day and it was absolute chaos. We got the train (they were running that day for a change) into Victoria and got a bus that was to take us within a block of the restaurant. Well....to add to the bedlam it was raining...we were able to get a seat on the bus but it soon filled up and we slowly, very slowly moved forward. We had allowed lots of time but at nearly 6:30 (when our reservation was booked for) we were still too far away so along with others we got off at the Horse Guards Palace and walked. Alessandro kept his eye on me as I hobbled behind! When we got to the restaurant Kylie, the other guest here was waiting. I must say I haven't eaten a lot of Japanese food as it's not one of my favourites but it was nice for a change. I ordered my first Bento box...
Rice, terriyaki chicken, tofu, salad and sushi. Alessandro is obsessed with all things Japanese and he was so excited to show me "his" restaurant. He and his mum are going to Tokyo at the end of May.
It was a nice get together as well. Going back to Streatham went much smoother than getting to the restaurant. The lift at the Streatham Common is broken so I had to walk up stairs and Alessandro said "don't worry Laurie, I will help you" and he held my arm as I went up the stairs. What a sweetheart!
Tuesday at noon I headed out to visit the Hunterian Museum which highlights the grisly history of surgery with gruesome instruments and specimens. I found some of it quite interesting (skeletons and learning of the history of surgery - surgeons weren't required to have a medical degree in the UK until the 19th century. Before then they studied anatomy and worked as an apprentice to an existing surgeon. The executed bodies of prisoners were a popular "item" to work on. Of course they didn't talk about body snatchers! (this museum is in the Royal College of Surgeons) I admit I am squeamish and I actually felt a bit queasy at some of the displays - I didn't even look at the specimens and let's just say I didn't watch the video of a surgery. No photos allowed in the place so just imagine jars and jars of "things" and display cases full of torture...er..surgical instruments. None the less it was interesting and I am glad I went. It is closing in the Spring for three years while they refurbish it so it was another thing ticked off the list.
From there I walked over to Covent Garden which was about a ten minute walk away.
I did a double take when I saw this "sculpture" on the side of a building on Kingsway.
The market hall in Covent Garden
I had a pot of tea and a Portuguese tart at the Covent Garden Grind coffee shop. The food and drink were great but man give that music a rest. They were playing David Bowie when I walked in - being as it was the first anniversary of his death fair enough; I was cool with that. Then they started playing horribly loud music with bashing drums - well I'm old what can I say. If you were with someone I don't know how you could carry on a conversation. Oops...how silly....the young people it would appeal to would be too busy on their phones texting each other rather than talking to each other. Silly me.
I wandered around some more and popped into one of my fave places Stanford Books....a mecca of travel books galore. I never tire of that place...I should lurk around there at closing time and hide in the toilet so they lock me in for the night...kidding!!! Then I did my usual peruse around Marks and Spencers...I really want to get myself a nice sweater...oops..jumper there but just haven't been in the mood to clothes shop.
Then it was time for pie and mash! I went to The Sun pub which features "Pieminister" meat pies. I ordered a Sid and Nancy - which was steak, kidneys and ale. Very yum! I will be going to see "School of Rock" very early next month which is playing across the street from the pub so I think a repeat performance is in order! The main floor had high back chairs which I hate but I was told there was "normal" seating upstairs and so there was...and I was the only one. So I sat and wrote in my journal while I waited for my meal then enjoyed my wine afterwards. I'm sure I could go another night and the upstairs could be crowded but I certainly enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Next I was off to see "The Lion King" at the Lyceum theatre. Now this musical is one that has never been high on my priorities but I've heard so many people rave about it that when I got a deal through "Get Into London Theatre" I decided to try. Sometimes your gut instinct was right. I appreciated the animal costumes such as the giraffes, zebras, etc. but the rest? Not so much. Then again it was based on a Disney movie and I haven't really appreciated a Disney cartoon since "101 Dalmations" and "Lady and the Tramp". I debated leaving at intermission but thought "damn it Laurie you paid 40 pounds for this" so I stayed. Enough said.
While the tube was back in business today the trains took the day off so I had to get the tube to Brixton and then the 118 bus "home". Well...first of all I got out of Brixton station and hear David Bowie - directly across the street from the tube station is the Bowie mural. There were loads of people with candles and flowers so I crossed over to pay my respects (I was never a huge Bowie fan but I appreciated his uniqueness and talent) and take a few photos.
When I got back to the bus stop I waited forever it seemed (okay at least 20 minutes) for a 118 bus to show up and finally had to take one to Streatham station and then another one back here. It took me nearly two hours to get back from the show!
Wednesday morning I decided I was going to visit West Norwood Cemetery - this was the sixth of the seven Magnificent Seven cemeteries. One more to go!!! Just after I got on the bus I realized I had forgotten my wallet. I had used my purse the night before and now I had my backpack - and I hadn't transferred it over. Errrrgh!!!!! However I still had my oyster card (transit pass) and house keys and my cameras (the important bit) so it was all good. I still kept thinking "I DON'T HAVE ANY MONEY" the whole time I was out and hoping that I wouldn't lose that oyster card as then I would be well and truly screwed!
It is still an active cemetery - there were two funerals while I was there. I'll be writing more about West Norwood when I am home.
This was a memorial to a 7 year old girl.
I wish my knee had felt better (it felt like someone was busy drilling my knee cap most of yesterday) as I walked around and there was a nasty wind so I only stayed an hour. Perhaps when I come back someday with a new knee I will be able to take one of the tours that they do the first Sunday of every month. You learn so much more on a tour that wandering around on your own but right now I just can't keep up with anybody.
Back here on the bus and an M and S ready meal...(I was in Waitrose today and they seem to have some tasty looking ones so I'm going to branch out!) And last night I finally binge watched Coronation Street until I am completely caught up. Now to watch "Call the Midwife" Xmas special, the "Last Tango in Halifax" Xmas special, the Unforgotten, etc. etc. etc. Pressure!! And let's not talk about checking out British Netflix.
Late this morning I headed out on the train (working today, back on strike tomorrow) and went to Battersea Dog and Cats home where I visited some of the dogs and the gift shop. They have closed a lot of the kennels to viewing due to stress on the dogs and I have decided that this is my last visit...I feel guilty causing any stress to these poor sweeties. I have visited every time I am in London and always talk to each dog and call them by name. My own dog was a rescue and to me they are the best kind.
Meet Jenson - a bouncing bundle of love
Of course due to the easy cross infection of kennel cough we were instructed not to touch the dogs. Being such a huge dog lover my heart melts...it's hard to see these beautiful dogs without the love of a forever home and family.
Yes they are (mostly) chick lit and so what?
So it's snowing outside now...well slushy snow/rain and I can only imagine what the morning will be like. I feel for the commuters. Me? I will have a lazy day if it's too crappy to go outside - maybe a blog post on Seville! It had better smarten up on Saturday though as that's market day - new markets to explore!