“Is this going to Battersea?” Asked the elderly gentleman. I’d seen him earlier on my walk, and he looked like he was having trouble walking.
“Uh, let me – yes, it is.” I replied. I looked towards the direction the bus would come from.
“Oh good. The other one had been waiting awhile before, and it looked like…” The man proceeded to tell me a very long story with a premise that the bus wasn’t actually waiting and left when he got to the stop. The next bus couldn’t get here soon enough.
I was determined not to waste the only full day I had free in London. Wednesday had been just a giant mess of travel, and Thursday had been the wedding. I could have gone out for a little in the morning before the wedding but my lazy ass didn’t get out of bed in time. Saturday would be Paris (then of course it wasn’t Paris but I didn’t know that at 7am Friday morning), and Sunday was Stonehenge and Bath. So, Friday was the only day I’d have to hit up some London wandering.
For the last few weeks I had had golf on the brain. I set out to find some random driving range, and I didn’t care if it had historic value or not. A Google search later, I found one that was open at 8am, and I hopped on the nearest train, and then another train. Getting to the second train was a little creepy. I had to go down some winding stairs for about four flights, and I was one of two people going that way. It seemed like I was headed towards some kind of dungeon. I found the platform eventually and was fine, but again, getting there, creepy.
While I like the fact you don’t need a car to get around, I dislike the humid, overcrowded, airless ‘tubes’ you have to sit in – sometimes stand – for possibly hours. The maps are slightly confusing, but if you twist your brain a bit you can finally determine what is what, and what goes where, when and how. Literally it’s where, when and how because you can use the same card, at various times, at all locations for buses, that you do regular trains, and subways, and the other type of over grounds, which are trains but different trains. Example, currently I’m on a regular train, but I came from the subway, and later I’ll be on two buses. Weird.
Back to the driving range adventure. I found myself somewhere near Tootle Bec. Ya – I don’t know about these names, they’re all so random and I’m pretty sure I could come up with some dirty joke for all of them. I started out going left at the top of the underground station, but that was wrong, and then I tried right, and my phone still said that was wrong. So I just picked a direction and ignored my phone. I chose…. Wisely. I soon found myself wandering through some residential area. The houses of course, the connected town homes I’d seen in Ireland and on Doctor Who for years. I continued down, trying to ignore the smell of trash, since people had it all out on the sidewalks. I was momentarily grateful for the trash systems at home – even though it costs an arm, and a couple of legs.
I went around some corners, and found some cottage houses, just slightly larger. Maybe it was suburban Tootle? Who knows. There were a lot of people walking in the direction I was. Well, it seemed like a lot, it was really only about eight, but for such a residential and quiet neighborhood, I didn’t really think there’d be anyone around. I soon realized it was because I was headed on a path that led through a hospital area. I guessed it was a common shortcut but the amount of people on it, and how easy it was to follow without using my phone or any signs around.
I went through some parking lots, and a lot of grassy knowl-ish spots. Seriously, our hospitals at home are nothing like the ones here. They’re tall buildings that make you feel like you’re not a person. I kept walking along the curving path. I passed an old man who had an..arm cane/crutch/thing. I’ve seen a lot of those in my wanderings on this trip, even in Dublin. I haven’t seen the type of crutches that are collecting dust in my room at home (or did mom get rid of those..). He wasn’t very steady on his feet, and seemed to have a hard time even with the one crutch.
I continued down, passed a bus stop. I figured I’d be using that later on so I made a mental note of where it was. I went down a small hill, and just on the other side I saw the greens. They’re unmistakeable even from an airplane. The flat, circular areas, sometimes double or triple colored for hole designation. All golf courses look the same – but all golf courses are not the same. The place definitely wasn’t a historic site. There were large banners for family or kids’ events, and the driving range didn’t look too large. I heard some kids voices in the back. I crossed the parking lot, empty, and passed their also empty cafe. Stepping into the golf shop, which was just as small and cheesey as you can imagine., I smiled at the guy at the counter.
” So, what’s the rang cost?” I asked.
“Well, 5 pounds for the 50, and 7.50 for 100. ” He replied.
“5 should do it.” I said, “oh, and a club of course.”
I paid, and he handed me a token, change, and a club. The club seemed smaller than I was used to. I’ll let you pause a moment and have yourself a small chuckle. Okay, that’s enough.
“Oh, and you might want to go to the farther end, there’s a group of kids at this one.”
I thanked him, and went around the right side of the counter, and out towards the very small range. The net was very low, and the space didn’t extend as far as most of the ranges I’m used to. It seemed designed for kids for sure. You have to laugh at that, at least for me anyway. I started at one spot, second from the end, but it didn’t have a tee and that was annoying, unless I was left handed. I moved over to the last one, with a tee, but it didn’t have a spot for the golf balls, unless you were left handed again. Whatever. I went back and put my token in the machine – I almost forgot the basket. That would have been hilarious.
I took my place on the plastic green square, remembering everything I used to be told. If I went too fast, I could hear that voice in my head telling me to slow down and take my time. Yessir…
I continued to hit off the basket, listening to the kids screaming and yelling behind me. I saw a few of them hit it theirs straight, and some commented how they hit the guy’s eye in the banner on the back (that’s not straight, just so you know…) There were some purple targets just below the top of the netted area. I hit those a few times, had about 4 really stupid hits, but for the most part I was hitting the ball straight and into the net above, which was annoying because they would have gone far. Towards the end I realized I had a ladies club. I have never used a ladies in my life. I don’t even think I had a kid’s club when I was a kid, except for miniature golf. I started to think that maybe I was doing well because using my Dad’s and Grandpa’s clubs made things more challenging. Well, don’t think this means I’m getting women’s clubs, I’m just saying, I’ m pretty good with the men’s.
After I emptied the basket, I picked it up and put it back among the pile. I walked back into the shop and handed the guy the club as I thanked him. I left and head back towards the bus. He and the guy teaching the kids in the back probably thought I was crazy, or weird. I’m probably both.
At the bus stop, I found the old man from before. He said a few things, asked me a few things and I responded in kind. There was a woman next to him, sitting quietly. I kept watching for the bus, and luckily it didn’t take too long. It came up through the the very narrow down next to the course, and at first it passed us. It went up to the upper parking lot, went around and through so it could come back to place at the bus stop.
I let the old man and the other woman on, and showed my day pass to the driver. He waved me on. I kind of feel like I could ride free with the same pass because they don’t check at all. The rest of the day of buses would just be acknowledging head nods or waves, no one actually looking at the ticket. I sat down in a side, raised seat and waited. The bus would take me straight to the station I needed to get back to the London center where I was staying.
During the bus ride, many people got on and off, but the most notable person was the quiet woman from the bus stop. Suddenly, and then frequently during the ride, she’d start singing some random words or talk to herself in a very high pitched, cartoon-like voice. I wasn’t sure if she had headphones on or not. She started singing something very…. there are no words really for this, but just imagine the most uncomfortable song phrase you’d want to hear someone sing like a chipmunk on a bus and that’s about the situation I was in. Thankfully my stop came, and off I hopped to cross the street to Tootle Bec.
Down the stairs, around a few corners, trying not to avoid people I finally had my ticket through the gate machine to the subway. It went through the slot, and out the other slot, I pulled it and the gates opened – like they do in every station. Since my experience of my ticket not working at the stations in Ireland, I always pause for a moment to make sure the ticket worked.
This time I had to stand, and I had 15 stops to go. I stood at one of the center bars, wrapping my foot/ankle around the pole so I didn’t fall. It probably looked funny, like I was some kind of pole dancer, but whatever. It worked for me. ( I bet my Aunt Kerry is just laughing at that image right now, while my mom would be reading it to my grandma, who would probably question how I did that and then roll her eyes at my comparison. She might laugh. Emphasis on might. HI GRANDMA.)
Right now we’re barely past 1030am on Friday. How are you holding up? There’s still a lot more to go. Pace yourselves.
I got off the train at Moorgate, and headed to the Museum of London. I just barely saw the sign under a tunnel, so I knew I wasn’t far. I took kind of a weird way, I guess, stopping at a coffee shop. I was thirsty and hungry, but I didn’t get any food. I went down passed more construction, and found my way into an odd business center. If there’s one thing that I’ve noticed about my location or most of London, it’s that every man is in a full suit or half suit and there’s a lot of them. I mean.. A LOT. I know I haven’t written about the day of the wedding, but when I was walking back from the train station that day, I passed this bar, and outside, I swear… It was like the ant situation back in Dublin but in the form of business men. I couldn’t SEE the bar title or window or anything for that matter in the giant crowd of men standing around it. I also didn’t see many women. They were standing in the street and some had filtered across the street to where I was. It was a corner bar so they were filling spaces everywhere around it they could. And now, walking to the museum through this business lot, I could see groups of 2 or 3, and again no women. I think I also forgot to mention that back in Dublin whenever I went into this market for food, I was also the only female. I once stood in a like of ten people, only to realize they were all tall business men. Is this a European thing??? I mean, I’m not complaining, I guess, it’s just totally weird because back in LA – it’s all crazy women in 4 inch heels, or hipster glasses. Or both.
Alright, back to this museum walk, sorry. I get distracted. Once I got to the tunnel/bridge area, I realized I had to go upstairs and across the street to the museum entrance. I went up some winding stone stairs that were clearly very old, with some moss. It was like I was going up a castle tower or something. I made it across and into the entrance. The museum shop was clearly in the opening, and a larger cafe on the left. I looked for a trash can to toss the empty cup of tea. I had to go around to the other side of the cafe.
When I came back to the front, an older welcoming man asked me if I knew where to go. I replied, I didn’t, but I would just wander and see where I ended up. He then said instructingly, to go to the right and around the corner. Well alright then, I will…
The museum was very well done and very well laid out, and very well lit – not in the bright white way that is most of LACMA, but in a mysterious, dark and pleasant way. Time period-wise, it started in the BCs, and ended up in 2010. The exhibits were well thought out and explained a great deal about the UK and London areas, bringing in Romans, Greeks, etc. It was one giant visual timeline, and there were some written timelines in great design as well. I’m going to skip to the two cars..the taxi from 1919 (I think) and the ’30s Ford. So. I’m just going to leave that there for a second. Ya….
They had a lot of interactive areas for kids – this museum just puts LACMA to shame. Seriously. Later, on a spur of the moment idea, I’d find another museum that REALLY puts LACMA to shame. But we’ll get to that.
The museum started at the top and wound down around the entire block it had. There were signs that they were growing and needed to move. I could believe that given the way the exhibits were set up. They had fake Victorian walk and garden, and if you add in the cars, and places for kids to play, with the projected interactive displays, it seemed like they had a lot to show. Have I mentioned the original 6 horse carriage in the window? That had its own room.
At the end of the timeline, I found myself in another cafe, surrounded by a giant round light board hanging above. It was a larger area, with plenty of tables and even a few intimate cubbies with computers. The museum had free wifi (woo), so I had some tea no sat down a bit to chill and plan the rest of the day.
I finished my tea, and went out the right side exit towards the next gallery area, only to be stopped once again by the old man from the front entrance. I guess he’d been moved to this side to stop people from going into an exhibition that was not open yet. He said if I wanted to go in, I had to go back upstairs and pay 5 pounds. Well, I wasn’t that interested at the moment, and I was about ready to head back to the flat for a bit and let my feet rest. I was still fighting the problem of “which shoes will hurt the least?” Currently I was in my boots again, and they seemed much better than that first day back in Ireland. I wasn’t wearing socks, which you would normally think would be worse, but I’ve decided that the socks were want had pinched my toes before.
While I had thought I’d go home, I didn’t. I ended up deciding to wander in the opposite direction. I went down a hill and through some more alley ways, across some tiny busy intersections with about 4 buses all trying to go different ways but blocking each other. As usual people were just crossing the streets without waiting for the signals. It’s become a habit now. I’m patient, but if the buses are blocking everyone and every car anyway… Why not join in?
I continued down in a south-east path, and found myself near some busy, touristy shopping center. More giant groups of suited up businessmen having a beer in the middle of the work day, and also everyone smokes. I’m gonna die from lung cancer, I know it. Just watch, and then I’ll blame this trip to London.
Still going southeast, and then straight, it was getting pretty warm. Yes, I was of course in my usual fully covered, all black outfit, with boots. I’d figured out I’d walked between 1.5 miles and 2 miles from the museum, because I came upon a sign that read “London Bridge”. Oh. Well then. There I am.
In second grade I tripped over a classmate who was lying on the ground, after playing the game ‘London bridge’ when my other classmates had raised their arms to let me out. I broke my left arm and had a pink cast because the doctor didn’t have any other color. At that time, while I hated pink, I embraced it for Halloween and was a pink pirate. Sigh.
I went over the bridge, and found another alley path to a river boat that would go to the Tower. Anyone else having Day of the Doctor flashbacks? I certainly was, given that the national archives were nearby too. It was a very touristy area, not something I enjoy, so I grabbed a ticket and got on the boat for the shortest boat ride ever, but hey, I was on the Thames – which btw is very brown, in case you were wondering.
Well, the busy and family-full boat was so noisy, I was glad I had a short trip. I got off at the Tower dock and headed up towards the Tower. I didn’t go in, I just wandered around the still very touristy, crowded area and took a few photos. By this time, which was about 90 minutes after the museum with all the walking, waiting, and people, I needed some peace and quiet. Now was when I headed home. I walked around past a church, up some steps, and down through a huge garden section. It was clearly business lunch time because there were tons of people in suits, sitting and eating. I crossed and found the Tower Hill station. It was under some construction so I had to follow a detour around two more corners and down underground.
A ticket swipe and a few eye rolls later at some loud girls, I finally was on the train back to the nearest station for my flat. After the station, the way back home was easy. It was straight up…whatever street I was on. Seriously, street signs on every corner would be nice but that would just be too easy, wouldn’t it? Sometimes there’s a four way-directional sign that points to landmarks, and building centers. Those are nice. I don’t always see a sign on the buildings, and even then I’m not sure if they’re referring to the horizontal street or the vertical street, because sometimes it’s both! WTF, London, WTF.
So, up the street, passed the bank, more construction, the only market nearby ( or so I thought ) that was going to be down until the 27th, passed two Italian places, and home, to the little green door between the one Italian restaurant’s windows. Seriously – I’m staying above a restaurant. Part of me thinks “why am I in the city? I hate cities…” And the other part of me thinks “well, this is how people in London-London live. Full experience.” Whatever.
A few hours later, I was getting bored and felt like getting out again. I was just randomly glancing at the map to see what restaurants I could go to, and then I saw a landmark dot with the words “The British Museum” next to it. WAIT – I missed a museum?? I checked the time, and surprise! It was open until 830 on Fridays. HA! See… This is why you don’t plan everything on a trip, but I’ve explained that before, no need to be a broken record.
A short 20 minute bus ride later, I found myself in another strange part of London. If I thought the Tower was busy and touristy, holy macaroni with a side of vegan sausage was the British Museum busy. I mean, BUSY. It was also huge. LACMA – seriously, up your game people, because this shit takes the cake. Very Roman & Greek influenced, which was super obvious and not just by the ridiculous amount of Roman and Greek pieces they had inside. I mean, the halls were endless of Egyptian artifacts, Roman, Greek, Medieval. There was not enough time to see it all. Then I saw the two banners – one, about Sicily, and one about a lost sea city from Egypt.
So, I’m doing that. I maneuvered my way around the giant bright white round hall that was the center to the ticket area and bought my tickets. I followed the signs, and went up the Roman marbled stairs that went on for days and up to the third level or so, to the entrance. I was super excited to see this Sicilian exhibit. I had wanted to add that to my trip here, but it seemed a bit too difficult. The exhibit wasn’t as busy as the rest of the museum, mostly because you had to pay. That was my guess any way. Mostly it was just me and a lot of old people reading about some pretty awesome facts, and looking at old books, stones in four languages. There’s a lot I don’t know about my own heritage on that side. I know a bit more now, like how I’m probably more Greek than I think. One day I’ll figure it out.
As exciting as the Sicilian exhibit was, the Egyptian one was almost more so because of the gigantic statues – I mean, gigantic, and not just because I’m short. If you ever saw the mechanical art at LACMA years ago, “The Man with a Hammer”, it was my favorite, that’s how large these statues were. Mom knows.. She’ll get it. There was so much more information about Egyptian beliefs and Osiris, and Isis in this. The collection they had was pretty amazing. If you’re ever in the British museum until November, you’d better go. Worth it.
I tried to see more of the museum but I could barely move around. The different halls were so crowded with students and tour groups and families, I was getting restless. I managed to get a few snapshots for my dad of the mummies. TONS of mummies. I went through, about three rooms full of sarcophagi and mummies. Big rooms. I also randomly found myself in ‘The hall of clocks’. Yes, clocks, histories of clocks – grandfather, pocket, cuckoo, etc. It was awesome. I can take these all home with me right?? I didn’t see one clock that looked like mine at home. Ya, it’s mine, I said it. Deal with it grandma.
Alright, well I had put on the flats before I left, and they have no cushioning so I was damn ready to go back to the flat. I high tailed it out, eventually. I had to go through about four more halls of Roman artifacts, a coin section, and more Egyptian mosaics, down two sets of stairs, before I finally made it back out in the giant great white hall of great roundness, to the tiny entryway.
Outside, people were still coming in. It was only 715, so they’d still have an hour to browse the museum. I went back out the front gates, down the touristy shopping center, and back to the bus stop I needed to return to the flat. I’d had a long day, and had spent a total of probably 50 pounds between rides, and a few postcards, and one necklace at the museum. It was time for bed because my Paris trip was starting at 5am – or was it?
Later that evening I’d get an email saying the tour was off due to security risks in the city. Hopefully I can get my $$ back but I think at the moment it’s, not a refund, just a credit. Bah. Sad way to end Friday, but then I’d get to have a random trip the next day.
Stay tuned Same bat channel, same bat time. ( This will be funnier when I add a photo of the next day..)