Sunday, September 19, 2010

London Diary

I've decided to keep a diary during our little British holiday. Then I'll post it at the end. It might be fun. Well, it's a good thing to work on when I have insomnia, wake up to play, and find the Internet isn't working. I need SOMETHING to do….well, besides scratching mosquito bites.


ENTRY 1

London Time-1:50 am (Sunday)
Texas Time-7:50 pm
Sydney Time-10:50 am

I'm awake with jet lag insomnia stuff. Hopefully, I'll be able to fall back asleep eventually.

So far, our London time has been dominated with trying to get our phones working so Tim and I can contact each other while roaming about this lovely city; and figuring out how to get our clothes dry. I had this brilliant idea of packing light. I figure we'd bring just a few outfits for each of us, and then do laundry. It turns out there's no real dryer at the Allen House. I had actually seen a guy complain about that in a review the place, but I guess….Well, I tried to believe things would be different for us.

It's a weird set up. The washing machine is supposed to turn INTO the dryer. It's like a washer and dryer in one. I think what it does it simply spin your clothes without water. It seems like it COULD work. Right?

The reception folks put a sign up suggesting that it helps to dry half a load of wash at a time. Okay, so we put one pair of child's pajamas, one pair of child's jeans, and a pair of underpants. Is that not a small load? We spun them for about an hour, and the clothes were all very damp afterward.

Tim tried hanging them in the bathroom on the towel warmers. Towel warmers. That is something I haven't seen before.

It's a few hours since he tried that, and I don't see much progress happening.

The online guy who mentioned the dryer thing said he came up with some solution. That's why I wanted to go online….see what worked for him. But the internet is not working. I've taken all the clothes, and I have them draped them over chairs in the main rooms. Maybe that will work?

At home, we're ugly wasteful Americans, and use dryers. But I do end up hanging SOME stuff after each wash. I usually hang up my hand-washed stuff outside. The dries VERY fast. I hang up don't-put-in-dryer stuff in the closet. That dries….Well, I've never timed it, but I'm guessing it would dry within 3-6 hours.

I think it's a matter of humidity. Fort Worth is dry, and helpful in getting clothes dry.

Our London apartment is NOT dry and helpful in getting clothes dry.

I don't have internet access to play with right now, but I have saved iGoogle page. One of my little widget things has Aussie news. It says Wong is now going to be for finance in the Gillard cabinet. Interesting.

I wish I could see the rest of her chosen bench folks. Well, I'll look when Tim gets the Internet back on.

Anyway, our apartment is pretty big. There's a kitchen, two bedrooms, a LONG hallway, and two bathrooms.

The size is nice. The location is nice.

I'm a bit unhappy with the amenities. The sheets are those awful stiff starchy ones. The blankets are super itchy. The toilet is hard to flush, and once you manage….it's loud and frightening. ANY use of water at this apartment is pretty damn loud.

I'm finding it hard to form a positive relationship with the loud and difficult washing machine. The shower is very small.

The chain lock is hard to work. Tim managed to win that battle. Last night, I tried it, and thought maybe it was broken/unusable.

I thought, well maybe London is one of those places where people don't need to lock their doors. Then I remembered….NO. London is that place with a major criminal history. Remember? They shipped a bunch of the criminals off to a mysterious continent in the south?

Plus, there's the whole Jack the Ripper thing.

The elevator here is small. No, I mean it's…SMALL. I've never seen such a small elevator. We tried it once. The reception man showed us into the coffin, and it would have been too embarrassing to say "No thanks!" and rush off. But since then, we've decided to walk up the four flights of stairs.

It's good exercise.

All the crap things about this apartment are kind of cute and adventurous. But I'd be more enchanted by it, if we weren't using up our Disney Vacation Club points to stay here. Those points are expensive. It's not like I expected a four star hotel. But I guess I expected something a little more…..

I'm not sure of the right word.

It IS charming. I'll say that. It feels like a real British apartment. I've never BEEN in a British flat though, so the feeling is a bit meaningless. Maybe British people would stay here and say this is SO not a British thing.



ENTRY 2

London Time-8:20 am (Sunday)
Texas Time-2:20 am
Sydney Time-5:21 pm

I ended up having a good sleep! I'm happy about that.

I'm planning to wear jeans today. I'm nervous about that. I've never liked wearing them, but I realize that although they're uncomfortable, they're more comfortable (maybe) than my black knit pants.

Hopefully, they won't ruin my day.

The clothes dried fairly well by leaving them out in the main rooms. I put them back in the dryer to finish them up…fluff them a bit. Tim and I are both worried, we're doing it wrong and re-wetting them. Then we'll be back to square one.

I painted my toenails before we left America. They look a bit awful. I hope no one notices.

ENTRY 3

London Time-4:35 pm (Sunday)
Texas Time-10:35 am
Sydney Time-1:36 am

We've had a busy day.

I called Tracey (our Tassie/Hawaii friend) this morning. We had a brief chat. Hearing her voice made me a little sad. I miss her. But sometimes you don't realize how much you miss someone until you hear their voice.

We took a bus…rode through Notting Hill. I really did that only to make my sister jealous. She loves the Notting Hill movie. From the bus, it didn't look all that exciting.

We went to King's Cross and saw the Platform 9 3/4. That was nice. You know though…it's kind of disappointing and depressing.. It's like calling your friend who lives on a whole other continent. You think it will make you happy, but it just ends up making you a bit sad. It's nice to see the trolley stuck in the wall. I'm touched that they made this tribute to Harry Potter. BUT then it's really not that great, because you can't magically go through the wall and travel to Hogwarts. It's kind of a slap in the face.



We went to Covent Garden and bought goodies at the Australia Shop. That was fun. They actually had a fair amount of stuff. We didn't buy a lot; we got a variety pack of Shapes, and some Arnott's cookies. I've never seen them before. They're 100's and 1000's. I'm not sure if they're new, or I've just missed them in the past. It's kind of like fairy bread in a cookie form.

We didn't need to get a lot because we can order Aussie food almost anytime from Texas. And I figure we should spend our calories/money on British food.



After the Australia Shop, we headed over to The London Eye. Tim already opted out of that program. When I saw it, I wanted to opt out too. But I already promised Jack, so….

I offered a big allowance bonus instead of The London Eye. He wasn't interested in the trade. That kid is keen on going.

We have reservations for tomorrow. I'm hoping since it'll be a Monday, the line won't be so long.

I'm going to go eat a cookie now.

ENTRY 4 (Sunday)

London Time-10:44 pm
Texas Time-4:45 pm
Sydney Time- 7:45 am

Right now I'm not happy with London or the Disney Vacation Club. I think this Apartment is probably one of the worst places I've ever stayed at.

Hopefully…maybe….something will happen to change my feelings.

We shall see.

We're having a good time, but not good enough to make up for the 8-9 hour plane ride.

ENTRY 5 (Monday)

London Time-3:46 pm
Texas Time-9:46 am
Australia Time-12:47 am

I survived the London Eye. We did good. We got there right when it opened, and there was no line.

It wasn't so scary. You're enclosed in glass. I sat there thinking back to the bridge climb. THAT was scary, because you're not enclosed in glass. I'm not sure how or why I managed to get through that experience.

I was thinking today. When we talk about temporary insanity, we're usually referring to bad behavior. But I think temporary insanity can also explain brave behavior.

My sanity has returned. I shall not be climbing more bridges anytime soon.

I did some online reading on these washer-dryer combo things. Apparently, they're fairly popular in London. From what Lord Wiki says, it seems they don't dry as well as a tumble dryer, but they DO dry. Ours doesn't seem to be drying at all.

I really don't know if our dryer/washer thing is working properly, and these things are awful in general. Or do we have a defective machine?

We went back to the Australia Shop. It wasn't my idea. I promise. Jack kept asking over and over to return. I told him if he loved Australia so much, we'll take him to the shop. But that also means we have to move to Australia. I was joking…sort of.

It turns out he wanted a Milko candy. I forgot to mention that purchase yesterday. We had bought one Milko for each of us. I guess they left a very positive impression on Jack. He wanted to return for more.

We went to some used book shops. I got a Janette Turner Hospital book.

ENTRY 6 (Monday)

London Time-4:19 pm
Texas Time-10:19 am
Sydney Time- 1:19 am

I just watched an iPhoto slideshow of our London photos. For music, I used "Here Comes the Sun". Anyway….

The photos have convinced me that we ARE having fun.

It's not yet one of my favorite family holidays. But we're definitely having an enjoyable time.

ENTRY 7 (Monday)

London Time-9:17 pm
Texas Time-3:17 pm
Sydney Time-6:17 am

We went to Buckingham Palace at night. It was a very nice experience. I usually hate touristy experiences like that, but night made it different. It was less crowded…kind of eerie, but like in a magical adventurous way.



Entry 8 (Tuesday)

London Time-4:11 pm
Texas Time-10:11 am
Sydney Time-1:11 am

One thing I have to say for London…..They seem to be over their bad food issue. We've had really yummy stuff here.

Today we shared a Knickerknocker Glory sundae at Harrods. Jack picked it out, because he remembered it from Harry Potter. It's not what I would have chosen, but it was REALLY good.

This morning, my bad feelings about the apartment diminished a bit. I went to talk to the reception about our dryer. They asked me a few questions and then concluded our dryer IS broken. It's supposed to get warm/hot, and ours doesn't do that.

I had thought I was just one of those spoiled Americans who wants quick drying.

Well, Tim just went down to talk to the reception. They can't fix the dryer in time for us. But they were VERY nice, and said to give us our wash, and they'll dry it.

I like nice people.

I talked to a nice adorable British child on the bus. He was so friendly….VERY cute.

Yesterday we were on the train, and I kept myself busy by periodically glancing at the women sitting across from us. They looked indifferent and unfriendly. Blah train people….the kind you see in NYC. I'm sure I was one of them.

Then I thought, wait! Maybe they're not indifferent and unfriendly. Maybe they're minds are churning away….coming up with the next literary sensation! British folks seem to have talent for writing children's books.

Then one of the women started watching Jack and I play a silly game together. She smiled as she watched us. I felt warmed by this. She seemed to find us cute and entertaining. Then later I thought….crap, what if, by watching us, she lost her train of brilliant creative thought?

Speaking of books, I found another Australian book today; a Patricia Shaw thing.

ENTRY 9 (Tuesday)

London Time-11:36 pm
Texas Time-5:36 pm
Sydney Time-8:36 am

Here's a question…

Let's say there's a person who's an artist. He thinks his work is a lot like Sidney Nolan's. He has the same style as Nolan. Then he goes to the museum with his partner. The partner sees a Nolan painting, and says he doesn't like it. He says he doesn't like that style of painting.

Does this mean the partner also doesn't like his significant other's paintings? He won't admit to that directly, but he'll admit to not liking a successful artist who does similar work?

Or does it mean that the partner doesn't see the similarity between his lover's paintings, and Nolan's? Could he like his partner's work, and not like Nolan's work…even though their style is so similar?

Anyway, ponder upon those deep thoughts…..

We went to the Tower of London tonight, and saw the London Bridge. I didn't enjoy it much because I had to pee. Having a full bladder makes things a bit less enjoyable.

ENTRY 10 (Wednesday)

London Time-9:19 pm
Texas Time-3:20 pm
Sydney Time-6:20 am

We went to Canterbury today, and LOVED it.

I'm wishing we stayed there instead.

But a waste of time to regret stuff.

London is nice too.

Canterbury is full of thrift stores and book stores. Plus, they have some nice candy stores. What more could I want?

AND it looks like Harry Potter land.

We went to a haunted restaurant. I've always wanted to go to a haunted place. I've been too scared to really pursue the plan. This was nice because we didn't know it was haunted until we sat down and read the story in the menu. I didn't have to mess with figuring out if I wanted to go there or not.




ENTRY 11 (Thursday)

London time-8:04 am
Texas time-2:04 am
Sydney time-5:04 pm

I wish Australia had high speed trains. I really liked riding on one yesterday. It ends up taking you there FASTER than a car. I've looked at trains in Australia, and from what I see…it takes longer on the train (vs. driving) I don't want to spend 11 hours in economy on a train….not after super long flights.

I hope America gets high speed trains as well.



ENTRY 12 (Friday)

London Time-7:19 am
Texas time-1:19 am
Sydney time-4:19 pm

Yesterday we returned to the natural history museum, and later Tim dragged us down to visit the shrine of Abbey Road.

We ate at a random italian restaurant. There were two other tables of people upstairs with us. Very loud and slightly drunk Americans or Canadians. One of the groups left without us finding out what they were. We chatted with the second group. They were Canadian.

Today I'm hoping to eat more scones.

ENTRY 13 (Friday)

London Time-10:36 am
Texas Time-4:36 am
Sydney Time-7:36 pm

I finished reading the Steven Toltz book. I thought I was ready for it to end. It turns out I'm wrong.

I think I become more emotionally attached to novels than people…sometimes.

Jack and I finished reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone the other day. It's a big deal to me because I've wanted so badly for Jack to read the books. And now it's finally happening.

We finished it on a train back to London (from Canterbury). I thought that was cool…reading Harry Potter in England. Well, I guess a bunch of British people did it. Still, when you're not British, it's a pretty cool thing.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention….

They fixed our dryer!!

ENTRY 14

London Time-3:30 pm
Texas Time-9:30 am
Sydney Time-12:30 am

We went to a cute little restaurant called The Muffin Man. There we got scones, crumpets, tea, and cheese and date sandwiches. It was all delicious.

I'm a bit full of bread though. On top of that, I bought rock bread. Why? I remembered it being mentioned in Harry Potter. I think it's what Hagrid served to the kids. But now I can't find it in the book.

Going to London when you're obsessed with Harry Potter can turn you into a total geek.

Our big excursion of the day was Liverpool. Jack wanted to go to a random place we knew little about. So we hopped into a train, and headed to that stop.

I know Liverpool is important for something? Maybe Paul McCartney's from there? Daddy Warbucks?

We have limited Internet access left, but maybe I'll quickly look it up.

Well, the Liverpool I was thinking of was probably the town/city. We were just at Liverpool STREET. Lord Wiki says Liverpool is highly associated with The Beatles. If I was a music geek instead of a Harry Potter one, I would have already known that.

Let me look up the rock cake thing….

Yep. I'm right. It's the cake the Hagrid served the kids. It was described as being awful…probably because Hagrid is at my level of cooking skill. But the one we ate today was actually quite delicious.

ENTRY 15

London Time-7:54 am
Texas Time-1:54 am
Sydney Time-4:54 pm

We're packing now. This morning we have to move to a new hotel. With Disney Vacation Club, they do week by week reservations for their RCI exchange thing. But the plane tickets that Tim found needed us to stay an extra night. So he found us an hotel.

We're going south towards the river. I hope the area isn't too nice. Otherwise, I'll be sad that we're only spending a day there.

Here's the thing. I've spent a week in London. I still can't distinguish British accents from Australian ones. In my eyes (ears) there's very Aussie accents, and very British accents. Then there's a bunch of variety in between, and I think there's a lot of overlapping. When I say very British... To me, that's people who sound like Jude Law or a Harry Potter actor.

The Pope is here now.

Exciting. I hope his visit doesn't mess up the trains too much.

ENTRY 16

London Time-4:22 pm
Texas Time-10:22 am
Australia Time-1:22 am

We are living in LUXURY.

Tim got a very good deal on a hotel room. I think it's a 4 star type thing. He used points to get it for about $130 dollars. On top of that, they upgraded us to a suite.

The location of the hotel isn't too exciting. You have to walk a bit of a way to get to shops and restaurants. Or maybe we went the wrong way.

There's a train station near us….the overground one. And the next stop is Clapham Junction. Lord Wiki says this is where JK Rowling was traveling to when she got the Harry Potter idea. I'm not sure if that's accurate information, or not. But we decided to visit.

We walked around a bit. I found a thrift store, and we bought a Harry Potter trivia book. It was only 1 pound! Then later we went to a costume store, and Jack bought an overpriced Harry Potter wand. 9 pounds for a stick. Oh well. It's his allowance.

We found an Aussie restaurant. Unfortunately, we had already eaten lunch, and were not hungry.

It seemed to have actual Australian food, and not ridiculous stuff like Texas Aussie restaurants.

We might go back for dinner. I guess it depends on everyone's energy level and mood.

I hate last days of holidays. I get this sudden feeling that we missed stuff.

I feel crazy saying this, but I already miss our old neighborhood.

And even though we're staying in this fancy hotel, I'm kind of missing the apartment.
It was sort of awful in some ways, but I guess I formed a bit of an attachment.