It's not a perfect metaphor.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Like baby, baby, baby, ooh...

I am so, so sorry for the title. It's just that I want my blog to be an accurate representation of my time over here and the reality is that I hear that song a lot at the moment and it's totally stuck in my head. That's one thing that I can travel 24 hours on a plane and still have to put up with. The other thing is my hair. Ugh.

I don't remember where I left off with my last entry and I'm too lazy to go check. Perhaps because except for my two favourite readers (I send you love and, if you're lucky and I remember, postcards) everybody is too lazy to comment. But mostly because I am just too lazy myself.

I am currently staying about an hour or so out of London, near Peterborough, with a friend of a friend who is just lovely, and I am currently completely Zoe-less. But I'll get to that. Oh, oh. I just had an idea. I'm going to write this like a terrible Hollywood "thriller" where you all have to try and figure out from the out-of-sequence fragments I give you what the hell is going on. And there will be a twist at the end where Bruce Willis is dead. Anyhow...


A woman sits in a dark room in the north of London. She tries not to disturb her roommate who is sound asleep in the top bunk in the corner. Despite the fact that they just met, she would feel a certain degree of guilt if her desire to read about the Netherlands resulted in somebody else's sleep catch-up being, well, cut frightfully short. Tiptoeing around the room in an attempt to find several different belongings, she cannot bring herself to turn on the light and wake her companion. She slips into bed and is still.


A young woman wearing a colourful woollen jumper sits outside the station next to a very large green backpack. She tries to ignore the copious amounts of smokers she is positioned near and focus instead on the train of taxis lining the carpark and their middle aged, overweight drivers all shallowly in conversation as they eye off people and hope someone will be their next fare. A small silver car pulls hurriedly into the carpark and honks its horn at the woman. She looks around, startled, before realising the driver is waiting for her to get into the passenger side of the car. A few words are exchanged before the door is slammed and the car speeds off.


Two women stagger around the busiest train station in the city before boarding a train bound for the edges of town. They check into the cheapest hostel they could find before immediately setting out again for the Museums they had heard about for so long but had yet to discover. They spend hours in the British Museum, eat lunch in the rain and practice their inside voices in an inner city library where the internet is free. One woman decides to go in search of half price tickets to the famed London stage shows while the other wanders the back streets of Soho. They rejoin each other and head home, one destined to make herself beautiful- as though any additional work is needed- for the night out ahead and the other for an early slumber.


The woman in the technicoloured jumper has explored, with her new hostess, the villages of the surrounding area and the largest Tescos she's seen so far. They have talked for a long time, drunk innumerable cups of tea and watched the worst British TV they could find. Now she is told to sleep if she wants to, and she does. She sleeps until 1am, where she reads by flashlight for an hour, and then she sleeps until 7am the next morning.

So the crazy, unexpected denouement was that the girl in the jumper was me. Oh, wait....

I kid, I kid. I hope that wasn't too dull for you all. Basically Zoe and I hung out on Saturday and on Sunday I got the train out here. The italicised stuff is the day I spent with Deb, the other stuff was the day previous. I know, I'm an enigma.

I'm having a blast, just looking out the window here is incredible. Today we just bummed around inside and had fish and chips for lunch (deep fried mushrooms are a thing to behold). There are a few amusing things I'm having to get used to. For instance, I may not get to eat vegemite again after I leave here (the lady I am staying with is Aussie) for a very long time and it saddens me. Oh, and I am layering basically my entire wardrobe on top of itself because I am so unused to the cold (but I absolutely love it. I would take this over Aussie summers any time). And dear gawd, I cannot afford to travel anywhere ever.

'Til next time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why can't the English learn to speak?

The girl sleeping in the bunk below me at the hostel told me I sounded "like you're from around here" this morning. But more on that later.

Here are some actual details about the "so far" part of our journey.


We found our way from Heathrow to our hostel, somehow, at around 3pm. After showering, emailing home and eating some really terrible canned beans; we went to sleep at around 6pm.


I woke up twelve hours later feeling terrific, Zoe not so much. I forgot that while I previously went thirty hours without sleep and have the ability to fall asleep anywhere, other people were not necessarily in the same position. The poor girl had been awake from 4:30am. We bought a makeshift lunch from Tescos- where else?- and headed off for the day. In Zoe's words; "we saw sights". We weren't always sure of the importance or beauty of what we were seeing but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

We started with Trafalgar Square and then walked along/through St James Park. Along the way we saw squirrels and horse guards and tall, black hats (not in that order). Then there was Buckingham Palace. I don't think we even took pictures, we were so underwhelmed. We saw Parliament Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, walked across le bridge and then just wandered for a while. Past the London Eye and amazing street performers that seemed both unique and a dime-a-dozen.

There was a man in a suit and sunglasses who grabbed a passerby and painstakingly moulded his body so that it looked like he was midway threw throwing a punch. Then the suited man took his pose in front of the man so it looked like he was midway through receiving the punch. They both just stood there for a while, I assume until the quota of coins in the cash hat was reached. There was a Charlie Chaplin impersonator, a blue man playing the electric guitar... it all felt so unique and manufactured, simultaneously. Like the entirety of London, really. This falsified tourist playground that is nonetheless fascinating.

We kept walking along the Thames, saw the Tate Modern (a hideous brick wall of a building) and the Globe Theatre. The theatre didn't look real, just like something that was painted onto the sky. All the pavement bricks had names on them and we weren't quite sure why, or who many of the names were. But the place was brilliant and we resolved to go and stand in the theatre and watch a play the old-fashioned way sometime.

We kept walking and decided to go to the Clink Museum- yes, the jail that proved the namesake for all others. It was fascinating, depressing and warm (after a day of feeling so deliciously cold. Oh, love the cold weather). Just another disgusting reminder of the things people are capable of doing to each other for the most arbitrary and ridiculous reasons. Plaques on the walls of this hell hole of a building said things like "This woman and her five children- she was also believed to be pregnant- entered the jail in ___. There is no record of them leaving." The amount of times I read the words "whore" and "brothel" used in relation to the inmates of this prison made my skin crawl.

After we left, we found a supermarket and finally bought some water after being parched all day. Yeah, that's right, we were cold and thirsty in London. Touristing is such a drag. We could see the Tower Bridge from where we sat, slumped, drank and refused to move from for a while. When we did get up and go and see it, we weren't disappointed. It really is magnificent. After that we headed off to Zoe's family friends' home for dinner and found our way there after only getting mildly lost. The horrible thing about London is that getting the wrong trains or missing one can't actually delay you very much because the damn things run so frequently. You're destined to be on time, unflustered and satisfied with your journey. I think the British people need to come to Melbourne and see how it's really done.

The dinner was lovely, our hosts were the most generous, interesting and passionate people who made us an incredible meal (full of butter and cheese, in spite of which- or perhaps because of- it was perfection) and talked to us about everything under the sun. Our hostess told us about owning bricks and straw at the Globe and that the pavement I was so confuzzled by was in fact partly owned by all of the people engraved on it. She advised us about restaurants, markets and travelling and gave us gifts ... it was amazing. Both husband and wife were so genuine it just, well, it's obviously shone through my usual sarcastic facade that I had a good time so let's just leave it at that. They drove us back to our hostel and wished us well and thus ended Friday.


This morning I ate dry cereal for breakfast washed down with black tea while I wrote this. I think I'm leaving London tomorrow so today is probably going to be a day to see the Museums and perhaps a matinee.

Oh, oh, the accent thing. So at around a quarter to six this morning I was awoken by the world's loudest snorer. Seriously, a more alarming sound cannot be found before dawn, I'm certain. I lay there, awake, for a while before exclaiming "Oh my God!" and before I knew it the person in the bed below me said exactly the same thing. I eventually gave up on sleep and got up but when I went back to pack my bag later the girl who had shared my frustration started talking to me and we must have spent minutes just blasting the guy sleeping in the bunk next to us who was, of course, still snoring. At this point she said "you sound like you're from around here". It's a sad day when Aussie twang can pass for British accent. All I can say is; sorry, Professor Higgins.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life on Mars.

Didn't sleep on the plane on the way over. 'Nuff said. After what felt like an entire lifetime of non-vegan food (my meals were marked No nuts! No vegan! ... so I ate croissants. Ugh. Tummy hurts). and neck cricks, we arrived and got suitably frazzled on the way to our hostel.

I was pretty upset to find out that we were sharing a room with people of other nationalities who don't speak English. Like, this Spanish girl I was talking to had me thinking "this is so not what I had in mind. I thought I could travel and just see other cultures". This other stuff is an unpleasant side effect if there ever was one.

I haven't seen much of London yet, just what was visible on the train and the short walk from Kings Cross station to here. And no, Harry Potter fanatics, I haven't seen platform nine and three quarters yet. However, there is a dog-eared copy of Order of the Phoenix sitting on a coffee table in the hostel. Same diff, right? Oh, shut up, you freaks.

I miss everyone already. Today I will properly discover London. And some of my clothes, I am convinced, will always smell like aeroplane.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

You only have to look behind you.

I've been cleaning out my room in preparation for leaving the country and, weirdly, regardless of how useless an object is; I can't throw it out. I have this idea in my head that Future Me will come back and have these wise ideas about what is worth keeping and discarding. I guess it's this hopeful concept that travelling and living independently will teach me what is and isn't necessary because right now I have no clue.

I finished up at work on Friday. Oddly enough I don't feel like I'm going back there when I get back. I don't know what I would do instead though so I'll blame this current feeling of mine on the turmoil of emotions that accompany the lead-up to going on a long sabbatical from regular life.

My "goodbye" party was last night and it was good. Difficult to sit through for many reasons, but good. It really did help me get my head together about what is going to happen now. People put up with my insane mood swings and I really am lucky to have them in my life and saying they'll miss me. Plus they like my baking.

Today I intend to put the last of my things in boxes and start packing. Blah! The realness is kicking in now. I have this list of things to do that jumps from "buy high-waisted denim shorts" (I think I really have gone crazy) to "check everything on travel documents". Oh, the joy of panicking.

I've felt numb and exhausted for a while now, so much so that I feel almost annoyed that going overseas is interrupting my worrying about life and my future and the people in it. I'm sure it will pass though.

I hope this wasn't too much of an irritating first post on what I hope will be a slow-starting but eventually vaguely interesting travel blog.


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