Friday, June 19, 2015

London Day 4 – In Which There are Messy Top Knots, Chewable Toothbrushes, Shopping, and a Steam Train.



Do not litter in London, you FILTHY creatures.


But you can do all these things. So refreshing to see a sign like this at the entrance to an open air shopping area.

For our last day in London, I had of course planned far too much, but I had high hopes we would accomplish at least most of it. I had especially been wanting to make it to Portobello Road and the Notting Hill area in the hopes of seeing either Paddington Bear or perhaps a few Hugh Grant lookalikes. Unfortunately for me, it turned into a day of shopping instead, which was great for the girls as they are so hard done by in their lives, the poor things have hardly anything to wear (insert eye roll here). At least I walked 15 kms in the process, which was something anyway. I kid you not, my and Zoe’s pedometer both read nearly 22000 steps for the day.

We started out on what has to be one of the most beautiful streets in the world, Regent Street.


These city planners knew what they were doing, back in the day. I could probably go off here with some sort of pithy comment about how the curve of the road on such a grand scale represents the forging ahead of the English Empire, the unwavering and consistent strength and beauty of a nation bound for Hope and Glory, but I think I’ll skip all that for now.

We made our way to Hamley’s Toy Store, of course, as Zoe must go there. We bought our requisite cup of candies, Terra purchased presents for what seemed like everyone she knew, while I marvelled at the marbles. I love marbles, and having lost most of mine some time ago, am always on the lookout for more.


Replacement parts. (Maybe my writing will improve now…)

Anyway, we called in at what felt like every store along the entire street, stopping only for a diversion into Soho for lunch at a super-cool noodle house. Zoe and Terra have been making fashion observations along the way and have determined that the messy man-bun is not just for men anymore. Woman everywhere here in London have their long locks artfully drawn up into a purposefully messy top-knot. Not to be left behind, Zoe and Terra were both top-knotted up in no time. I suggested I could also pull off this same look, but was met with such a look of incredulity, shock and horror, that I quickly withdraw my suggestion and went back to my noodles. Maybe one day, when they least expect it.




This area of London is very appealing, but it is also so busy it makes yesterday’s Tower of London crowds seem like a walk in the park. And in the midst of it all were a group of Hare Krishnas, doing their thing. I am not sure exactly what their thing is, but they are quite coordinated at it either way.


We fought our way through the crowds to get to Oxford Street, and to Selfridges, just to see what all the fuss was about.



It was, as expected, a large expensive department store, but it did have a nice cafe on the top floor where one could (and did) do some pretty good people watching down to the street below.


Our next stop was King’s Cross station as we had tickets to see a production of The Railway Children that evening, to be staged at a theatre built around a set of unused tracks at the Station. We walked in to the concourse area and there it was: Platform 9 3/4. There was a huge line up to have your picture taken with Harry’s trolley and Hedwig and his cage, with a bonus Gryffindor (ahem) scarf wrapped around your neck, but we opted just to stare at other people instead.


We also found a few gems in the public washrooms there, including this beauty:


The most disappointing thing about this notice is the use of the word ‘underwear’ instead of ‘pants’. The English call their underwear ‘pants’ or at least they used to, so I am not sure what is going on here. I also don’t like the concept of a toilet’s ‘diet’ as if they are being fed. Yuck. Clearly this sign represents the decline of Western Civilization in more ways than one.

Fortunately, there is always the ‘Fuzzy Brushes’ chewable toothbrush available right in the washroom, to put things back to rights.


Just look at all those uses!


Yes, that says ‘in intimate situations’. I can just see how that would go:

Melissa: Ken,kiss me, kiss me now!

Ken: Err just hang on a minute…

Melissa: Now, Ken, Now!! Kiss me now!

Ken: Mnnng ahhn. Uhv ggot tcho tcheww thish thinnnggy.

Melissa: Have you got something in your mouth? What is that?

Ken: Itsh a shewble toofbrush gfingy. umost dung…

Melissa: But what is it? Ken spit that out.

Ken: Shust a minit. Ah need tcho finish the bankg wungs.

Melissa: That’s disgusting, Ken. Forget it, Just forget the whole thing.

Ken: I’m done now! Melissa wait! You’ll want to smell my minty-fresh breath, won’t you? Melissa? Melissa

Before the show we walked the neighbourhood looking for some dinner and happened upon this huge slip and slide that was being installed.


They are marketing directly to commuters on their way to or from the station as a way to liven up their commute. It was set to open the following morning at 7:30am! No big deal, just a huge slip and slide!


Just around the corner was the campus of the London University of the Arts, Central Saint Martins (I hope I got that right…). The building is in an area of converted warehouses which are named after their former purpose. There was an excellent restaurant called The Granary and we felt very lucky to be there and enjoy the beautiful evening with some great food.


The play was a fantastic production (with no singing!) and featured a unique set built on either side of the train tracks, with moving platforms that were pushed or pulled along the tracks by engineers as needed.


The bit with the chair on it could be moved either way as needed. Very clever! But the real star of the show was a working steam engine that steamed its way onto the set twice during the performance. Later, this afforded us an opportunity to talk about trainspotters, which confounded Zoe almost as much as the tiny shoes for Chinese women with bound feet. Things either do make sense to Zoe, or they do not.


By now it was way past our bedtime to we tubed it home to fall into our beds. This was our last full day in London, with the next day being a travelling day to the tiny village of Shutford, in North Oxfordshire for a week of, as Zoe puts it, ‘Travelling around the English countryside to the Right’. Tune in as I battle it out with Kate, the voice of the Sat Nav system (otherwise known as GPS) who ever so annoyingly tells me to ‘Turn Right’ every two or three minutes. I think I may change her up to Narveen, from India, or maybe Colin from the USA. That’ll teach her. You wont want to miss this one, my friends. Riveting drama.

More tomorrow – thanks for reading.



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