Saturday, July 9, 2011

Parks and buses and bears, oh my!

Well, actually no bears. No squirrels either.

There are two helium balloons stuck in the tree outside my window, bobbing back and forth in the dusk. One is white and one is blue, and they look like friends. The moon is just peeping out from the clouds and the light is getting to that stage where things seem to glow. Twilight is a lot longer in the UK than in NZ (that'll be because of the latitude...) - even at 11pm at midsummer you can see a soft glow on the horizon.

Small anecdote of my week: I replaced my toothpaste yesterday. I spent a good while in the toothpaste aisle, staring at the different brands and products, and finally decided on one that seemed as near as possible to my current mint toothpaste. I tried it this morning and discovered it is the wrong flavour mint - not the nice mint, but the mint that tries to kill you. I may have to get another one.

I went to a writing group on Wednesday and had a really good time, and I attempted to go to Tai Chi this morning but failed. I'd forgotten most of the western tube lines are closed this weekend (or rather, I'd never really taken it in... I vaguely remember posters?). It wasn't until they made us get off at the last stop that I realised I'd have to catch a bus, and then another bus, to get to Richmond Park.

Buses are slow. Very slow.

I was a little over an hour late, so I decided to give up on the Tai Chi idea and just wander through the park, which promised herds of deer with babies. I took the main route across the top of the park, which comprises a road with pedestrian walkways on either side, and runs through quintessential English fields with oaks and foxgloves and other pretty things. Lines of cars promenaded down the road at low speed, some flashy and some not, and I thought it was a bit like people dressing up in their best clothes and strutting around a century ago. Cyclists shot past at much higher speeds, looking very fit.

At one point you could see the whole London skyline in the distance, nothing more than dusky silhouettes. I took a few photos before my phone died (I wasn't having a particularly good day, looking back on it. But I made the best of it). About halfway through the park I came across a herd of deer munching away at the grass and giving all the pedestrians suspicious looks. They're bigger than I thought, and some of them had impressive antlers. I stayed on the opposite side of the road and ate my lunch, which was difficult as I had to hold an umbrella in one hand whenever the rain came. There were some fawns prancing about behind their mothers, and they really did look a lot like Bambi.

Further on I saw a man with a windsurfing kite, fighting to keep his footing on the grass, and I sat down to read The Secret Garden with my back against an oak (I thought it was appropriate). Sitting under the oak meant I was out of the intermittent sun, so I had to wear two jerseys. A spider and some other creepy-crawly thing became interested in me, so I decided it was time to go and made my way to the gate.

Since I'd had so many transport changes that morning, I'd realised that my return journey would put me over the flat-rate day pass where your Oyster automatically stops charging you. I caught a bus to Hammersmith, tried to think of ways to use public transport to go places I hadn't been, and decided on Greenwich. At South Kensington, however, I changed my mind at the last minute and got out - the lady said 'alight for museums' so I did.

They have a very long pedestrian subway that I took to the Victoria and Albert museum, which I really enjoyed. I think I remember going once before and seeing an exhibition on Art Nouveau, though I may be imagining it, but I hadn't realised that the V&A is an art and design museum. I spent a happy few hours wandering around gazing at statues and Mughal costumes and samurai swords, climbed a ceramic staircase and found a gallery filled with gold and silver ornaments, and further on another filled with incredibly ornate snuff boxes, some studded with diamonds and rubies and others bearing micromosaics, where the pieces are so small you have to use a magnifying glass to see them.

Next I found a 20th century gallery, and saw some very famous chairs (a glass one, and one made out of resined rope, and some Eames chairs, and a Panton chair and some others I can't remember) as well as some bookcases and furniture I recognised from somewhere.

My feet were getting sore, so I emerged from the V&A into sunlight (sunlight!) and walked in the opposite direction to the tube station, partly because I wanted to see the Royal Albert Hall. On the way I was sidetracked by the Science Museum, which has things like the Rocket steam engine and a Model-T Ford as well as one of the first missiles (Gigantic. Didn't quite fit in the 20m high gallery) and the actual model of DNA by Watson and Crick. It's a huge museum, and I came across it about 15 minutes before it closed so I didn't get to see much of it.

I did get to see the Royal Albert Hall, albeit briefly, because I hopped on a double decker bus to King's Cross that happened to be there. Originally I planned to visit Platform 9 and 3/4, but got bored of sitting in traffic so hopped off.

So began my journey home, which involved another two tube rides and a bus ride. London transport is fine as long as you don't need to get anywhere on time...


  1. Chris loves your last sentence (being from North London himself!)

  2. Lol it's true!!! I did enjoy the other week though, waiting for the tube and hearing a woman arrive on the platform and say "Ten minutes? TEN MINUTES?" in a horrified tone. Try waiting for the train in Auckland... Hope everything's going well! I need to get SLT Girl on Skype :)


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