UK: “If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’.”

Jenn and Katia’s (London) Day of Fun! (said like this)

Pillow Princess Diana looking down on Pillow Prince William and Pillow Duchess Catherine from Heaven

Monday, May 28, 2012
The day did not start off well. About 20 minutes before my alarm was due to go off, I woke suddenly to buzzing around the room. Katia woke with a yelp as well as we tried to determine what was going on in our sleepy states. We had left the windows cracked overnight as it had been SO hot in the flat when we’d returned the previous evening. It appeared that a large SOMETHING had come into the flat, done a lap and was now perched on the window behind her sheer curtains. After some hushed, tense discussion, Katia bravely opened the window all the way in the hopes that the SOMETHING would fly out. We tried to get ready for the day, while keeping on eye on the window and its SOMETHING. Finally, about 10 minutes before we had to leave the flat to catch the bus, the SOMETHING left her flat via the open window! I suggested that we leave all the windows totally closed all day because I’d much rather come home after a long day in London to a hot flat than one invested with SOMETHINGs. Katia agreed and we checked all the windows and surrounding areas for flying/buzzing creatures before locking up the windows and heading on our way. I had not been looking forward to another early morning, but that incident definitely got my blood pumping!

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UK: “The truth is sometimes things aren’t exactly what you always imagined… they’re even better!”

This day’s itinerary originated from a Pin and grew from there. It was also the first day since my Cambridge day that Katia and I would be spending the day together, which was lovely! We can actually travel well together – huzzah!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fields of ‘rape’ – seriously, that’s what it’s called!

I only hit snooze once this morning, rising about 0715 to get ready. As it was Sunday, we decided the best course of action was to call a taxi to take us to the train station. It was outside Katia’s flat almost before she hung up the phone! We got to the train station about 0800, which was brilliant and gave us time to get a snack for the many trains we’d be taking on our journey. The 0828 train to Kings Cross was fairly empty, but that was not an experience we’d have during the rest of our trip.

From Kings Cross, we ventured across the street to St. Pancras, which is a beautiful old station. As we waited for the train to Brighton, it became very apparent we were the only ones not dressed for a day at the beach! The train filled up to standing room only and it felt like the British equivalent of a train to the Jersey Shore. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the weather, but we exited the train station in Brighton to bright blue skies and warm sunshine.

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UK: “Yes — happiness wouldn’t be happiness without a violin-playing goat.”

How did June go by so quickly?! It’s been a month since I got home from London and I still miss it! With the Olympic team trials going on right now, the pull to go back is stronger than it’s ever been. I’m also reading the official biography of the Queen Mother, and it’s fun to visualize the castles, landmarks and locations mentioned as I read.

Saturday, May 26, 2012
This morning, I really started to feel the wear of the breakneck pace I’d set for myself in creating this trip’s itinerary. It took me a little longer than I wanted, but Katia and I were able to make the 0830 train to Kings Cross as planned. Katia was once again going to work at the British Library while I ventured off, with plans to meet up in Notting Hill later in the afternoon. I dashed off to the Underground when the train pulled in at 0930, grabbing the Victoria line to Victoria station. I transferred to the District line, which luckily was running smoothly, despite previous troubles, to Westminster Station.

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UK: “That… chair… is the seat on which every king and queen has…” “It’s held in place by a large rock. I don’t care about how many royal arseholes have sat in this chair.”

Friday, May 25, 2012
Having showered the previous night, Friday morning went much smoother for me. Despite the lack of sleep, I was up and ready to go in record time. Katia was coming with me to London today, though she would be spending the day working at the British Library while I was having my adventures. We planned to meet up for dinner before our theatre plans.

We caught the 0839 bus to the train station in plenty of time. Here I have to stop to remark about the marvelous bus drivers in Cambridge (and also London). The city buses are all double-decker buses and they maneuver through medieval streets with the greatest of ease! When possible, I would sit in the front row of the upper deck and I was always amazed at the way the bus driver would take some of the tight turns and narrow streets. I wish those drivers would give all of our Muni drivers a lesson or two! (Especially when I see a Muni bus taking up two lanes just to drive down the street!) The drivers are patient in waiting for all to board and make their various payments (perhaps a function of the drivers dispensing passes as well as regular fares) and the ride is quite smooth. In addition, at least in Cambridge, the bike lanes are frequently the same as the bus lanes and given the propensity for biking in Cambridge, I was impressed by the care given to bicycles (and given by the cyclists as well!) when these large vehicles inevitably bear down upon them on narrow streets. I very much enjoyed taking the bus anywhere we had to go!

St. James’s Park Lake

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UK: “London, baby!” “That’s not going to get annoying.”

First, I have to say that it’s hard to believe it’s been an entire month since I was in the UK! I know I’ve been back to work, on another trip and back to work again in that time, but still! I spent much of the early part of this year planning and looking forward to this trip and it’s a little surreal how fast it went by and how far in the past it is already.

I’m very grateful I made myself do a detailed “what I did today” log every time I had any downtime (mostly at lunch and on the train home) because it makes writing up these blog posts so much easier. Thanks for indulging me as I share my vacation with you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012
I woke up later than I wanted to and had a fight with Katia’s shower that it mostly won. For all the things I love about the UK and the British, plumbing is not their strong suit. Bee infestation not withstanding, Katia’s accommodations were perfectly lovely, except for the shower. It only had (minimal) water pressure on the “double hot” setting (it’s electric, which I’d never seen before), and even with the temperature dial turned all the way to cold, the water was scalding. Not being overdramatic when I say I thought I was going to have skin peeling off before I could get my hair washed. Anyway, we decided that since the water pipes were on the outside of the building, the sun was also heating the water in the hours before we got up, making it unbearable. So, after that first day, we started showering at night and it was much more tolerable.

All that to say, I was running behind that morning. Katia got up with me and dutifully walked me to the bus stop, and showed me how to flag it down. Turns out you have to hail the bus like you would a cab, even while standing at the bus stop. I came to enjoy this system and for the first few days after arriving back home in San Francisco, I’d get irrationally annoyed when my bus would slow down or stop at a bus stop and no one would get on the bus.

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