After managing to sleep on the plane for about two hours - my seat was a double right next to the stewards kitchen that I had to myself, but which kept getting lit up each time someone wanted a cup of coffee - I arrived at Heathrow at 7am their time, 2am my time. Got to see my name on a card as the taxi driver ordered for me caught my eye. Got used to his accent on the hour plus drive to Portsmouth (extravagant university expense account) and managed not to fall asleep in the B&B before putting in for a wake up call at 4pm. Called Pete and arranged to meet him in the hotel lobby at 7pm for the train ride to Southampton and a night out at the Dungeon. He's a cute little goth man and very easy to talk to. Train ride took about 40 minutes and then we took a taxi to the club. Pete likes taxis... Met Gabby and another Pete, danced a bit and enjoyed my first cider of the trip. Small club, tiny dance floor, but friendly. Pete was called in to consult with the DJ's about equipment problems - apparently I picked the right person to tour me around! The dj only had two FLA albums but played me a song anyways. Got a ride from the other Pete to the train station and fended off an overly friendly ex-goth sailor.
Work day. Had the breakfast on offer - a bit of a sad selection (which turned out to be standard for English B&B breakfasts). Got picked up by my contact and driven to the university to see an inverse hovercraft climbing robot called Big Foot. Had some divine Belgian chocolates brought back by one of the professors. Driven to the main Portech site, saw the nifty legged climbing robots, had lunch at a pub. Got dropped back at the Ibis and began the search for supper. After a fairly long tour of the area, found an Indian restaurant and had an amazing meal of chicken kasmir and naan with sultanas in it.
Slept off the jet lag until 1pm. Walked out to do touristy things - toured the HMS Victory - had a very bloodthirsty tour guide. Found out the origin of the phrase "three square meals a day" - the sailors ate off of square plates. Saw the spot Nelson was shot at, and his dying place. He was preserved in a large vat of brandy and returned to England for burial. Pete's father will pick me up tomorrow and let me sleep there since my hotel runs out tonight. Wanted Chinese for dinner, found some substandard stuff. Went out to Scandals nightclub where Pete was dj (on the guest list). Very low ceiling, little place to stand, music slanted towards the indy kid crowd. Met Simon and Katie, and their friend Simon. First one in a band and I got a demo tape (Violet Times) and instructions to write for the new release when I get home. Other Simon chatted me up all evening until I politely declined to go to his place for a drink, then two seconds later was mouth to mouth with a girl he asked the name of across me. :) Also met briefly the guitarist for V.T., James. A punk mistook me for Scottish when I said my name. Very crowded, bumped a lot, but I enjoyed talking with the people I met. Pete was caught in the booth all night, unfortunately. Walked back to hotel.
Called Fross and got settled my trip to Cambridge. Found out my cousin's phone number is ex-directory so I won't be able to get in touch with him. Phone system is screwy - no change, and charged for local calls. Mr. Salmond picked me up and gave me a scenic drive to his house. Had lunch with him and his wife (tried marmite for the first time - not bad, but not particularly good either) then he took me out for a walking history tour along the shore. Been a long time since I've smelled sea salt. Had dinner, did dishes and then took a short nap. Took a taxi to Images. For some reason the taxi back was more expensive. Saw Gabby, Simon and Katie again. Drunk indie kid paid my way in and was a bit upset when I told him (he didn't ask first) that I was on the guest list - eventually whined enough to get his money back from the door person. Pete was djing again, so didn't really get to talk to him. Did meet Zara his gf, and she gave me her London address for when I got there. Had a chance to talk more with James - very nice, and horribly cynical. Had my first dance floor injury - a NINny hit me on the jaw and made me bite both sides of my tongue. Katie chewed him out for it and he came over to apologise. The Salmonds offered to put me (and my sister) up if we ever were in Portsmouth again. Very nice people.
Caught the 8am bus from Portsmouth to London's Victoria Station. Read and ate packed lunch while waited for bus to Cambridge. Fross met me at the stop and we visited his mother at her work place of Kings College Chapel. Got to tour the site for free. Saw the graphitti that King Henry's men scrawled over the walls and many beautiful stained glass windows. Went to Browns for eats then began the quest for a room for the night for me - YHA booked, got a list of B&Bs from them and called - finally found one with free rooms, but a bit more pricey than I had hoped. And farther away. Fell asleep around 8pm.
David showed up as I was packing up to meet him. Visited the botanical gardens and talked for ages. Walked slowly since he was getting over glandular fever. The monkey puzzle tree was the strangest - very sharp leaves. I did feel at home under the pines though. Ate pizza at Don Pasquales and talked a bit about the time David spent in Italy (until he was 16). Very quick tour of the Fitzwilliam Museum (saw the arms and armour) then to the Chapel for evensong with the world famous choir. Caught the 5pm bus to London. Called the Hampstead Heath Hostel from Victoria and got directions to it after reserving a room for the night. Survived my first tube experience. Liked the room and reserved for three more nights - fourth full. Had a room to myself for the night.
Bought an all day travel card and took off to do the sight seeing thing. Visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (got there before it opened so wandered about a bit - saw Harrods, actually went into Past Times and did some serious browsing) for 2 hours - did the dress exhibit, the arms and armour room, the wrought iron gallery, the stained glass corridors, and the ancient instruments room above the dress gallery. More that I can't recall. Walked up Exhibition Rd to Hyde and Kensington parks and visited the Albert Memorial - shrouded for reconstruction work. Found Kensington market and the Black Rose - heaven! Found Directions for half the price it is in Toronto (Tulip). Got my hair cut - first time an electric razor touched my head - feels neat. Took the tube back to the Natural History Museum for the free hour and a bit - braved the arthropods room - very interactive. Took the tube back to the hostel - the tube was very crowded since it was rush hour, but I navigated the line changes okay. Got room mates, and a cold. Tired from walking so went to sleep early.
Infestation of school children woke me up after the two German (?) girls settled in last night and again this morning. *sigh* No voice left to tell the kids to be quiet. Called Doktor Joy and arranged to meet Friday at the Electric Ballroom and go to Slimelight the next night. Call back in the evening when it's cheaper! Took the tube to the Monument to the Great Fire, walked along the Thames, past the Tower and over Tower Bridge. Wandered past London bridge, saw the Clink and the London Dungeon - very pricey. Couldn't find the Globe site. Walked back to the Tower and paid admission and managed to join a tour group led by a beefeater/yoeman warder with lots of evidence on his face of a fight. Saw the crown jewels - they herd you past right quick - and the armour exhibit - ditto. Walked the walls. Could have had more detail in the pamphlet but I guess the tour guides need something to do. Tube home, more kids about, so ate in garden. Dok will meet Zara and me at E.B. Couldn't get in touch with Zara - left message. Called sister and checked phone messages in a fit of home sickness. Tried to sleep with kids being loud *again*.
After a horrible nights sleep (or lack thereof) due to my cold and the children being up at 7am, I eventually got up in the afternoon, ate a very little bit, and paid for my night at the Golders Green Guest Hostel. Then set off for a walk on the heath. Got rained on a bit at the start, but the rest of the time was overcast and windy. Got a bit lost a few times, but made it home safe. Started off walking down North End Road (got asked for directions *again* - I guess when you meander, people think you'll be more willing to stop and talk to them) and turned onto the Heath at a likely looking spot. Missed the ponds I was aiming for and used a bus poster to orient myself. Found Highgate Cemetery (didn't mean to walk that far, but as I got closer, decided to continue on to it) and wandered through the vine covered graves. Many stones were toppled, but Karl Marx's monument was squeaky clean. A shy goth boy took pains not to walk towards me at any point. The inscriptions that stated the occupant of the grave "fell asleep" were new to me - don't get that in the other cemeteries I've seen. The stones themselves were fairly plain, but the greenery made it beautiful. Found my way out of the cemetery and climbed some very steep and narrow streets, and eventually got back onto the heath at the point I had originally wanted to come out at. Climbed Pariliament Hill and talked with a stunt kite flyer. Nice view of London from up there. Came out of the heath on Spaniards Rd and got a bit lost trying to get back to the hostel. Now the door wouldn't lock - receptionist was surprised at this. *sigh* Out for groceries and back to the kitchen to prepare it - no kids! Talked with some Australians, a New Zealander, a American. Got directions to a cheap supermarket (Sainsburies). Skipped going to Outpost, stayed in and crashed after playing a game of scrabble with Shirley (NZer) after leaving a message for Zara again.
Got up at 8am courtesy of the children. Had breakfast in the kitchen, checked out before 10am. Hauled pack to new hostel - icky icky icky. No locks on cupboards, dirty shelves, bathroom a horror. Next time will look at a room before I pay for it! Left pack packed and stuffed it on a shelf hoping it would be there when I got back. Caught the tube to Camden Town and wandered the market. Some nice goffy stuff at good prices that I just didn't have the money for. Got pulled into a store on the street and the counter girl painted my right hand's nails an assortment of colours (blue, black, silver, purple, mauve) - bought the black for a pound, should have got the silver as it lasted longer. Took tube from Chalk Farm to Euston and got on a double decker bus to see the shopping circus on Oxford St. Got off at Albert Hall, walked through Kensington and High Parks, wandered past Buckingham Palace (no changing of the guard for 2 days, ah well) and saw an inspection of cadet guards going on at the guards museum/barracks. Walked to Westminister Abbey and then along the Thames again. Attempted to catch a bus but got carried over the Thames a couple of extra times and gave up and hopped the tube. Certain trees were shedding all over the place and making my eyes itch like crazy. Went to the Natural Science Museum and explored the birds and dinosaurs exhibit - saw a man dressed in a scouts uniform that reminded me a lot of RCMP dress. Tubed back to hostel, then out to shop for dinner at Sainsburies - told sharply that I can only use the kitchen there for breakfast. Had fun trying to buy two and a half pounds worth of food with a hundred pound travellers cheque (thought that the bill would have come out to a lot more than that). Cleaned the room and the bathroom a bit and had a shower without touching the floor. Ick. Called Zara and David to arrange things. Slept in the sleeping bag on top of the covers.
Got up at 9 and braved the icy atmosphere of the kitchen for breakfast.
Packed back up and got out of there quick. Tube to Picadilly Circus to
see the Museum of Man - the guard wouldn't even let me in the door with
my pack - had wanted to spend the day checking it and wandering museums
but scotched that idea there. Spent the afternoon in Hyde Park - nice
little rose garden hidden from sight. Was amused at the antics of the
pigeons - the males kept driving off the females with their mating
displays. Was hoping for someone interesting to sit down and start
talking to me to help me pass the time, but oh well. Wind picked up and I
got cold so I headed deeper into Hyde park, walking to keep warm. Stopped at
a cafe for tea, got a pot of Earl Grey and stretched it to 1.5 hours, then
got a refill of water. Watched the birds on the Serpentine being fed - saw
some ducklings and quite a few Canada geese (can't escape them!!). One
kid with her grandmother was feeding birds and grasped the concept quite
quickly for one so young.. The swan and the geese fed right from people's
hands. I wasn't asked to leave the cafe at all, though the bus boy made sure
that I was done before taking the tray.. nice balance to rude museum guard.
Wait staff had some problems with my accent, though. I *like* the way the
female pigeons react - wish I had wings to fly away sometimes. Ducks seem
to have it best - can swim, dive, fly, walk. Hmm, haven't seen very many safe
sex/AIDS posters here - guess it's the British "ignore it and it will go
away" attitude. Wandered down into a little hollow to write this - wind is
still a bit cool. For five more positive degrees and the wind to die out
would be wonderful - a gardeners sign said that spring is three weeks behind
schedule. The sun is out though. Don't think that I'll try for the Nat.
Sci museum though, they'll probably refuse me with the pack, *sigh*. Picked
up a pocket guide to London - it mentions book stalls near Charing Cross so I
might try there later - wouldn't mind seeing the actual cross erected there,
either. The nail polish I was assaulted with is coming off excpet for the
silver, the one I should have bought. Have a feeling the clerk did a shuffle
on me and gave me a different brand of black from what she put on my finger.
Want to sketch a few of the dresses and such I found in Camden Market. May
get Jane's Addiction video for Ryan - not sure if he has it already or not
Sketched clothes for a while - wonder if I'll have time to sew this summer. Dress is still waiting to be finished. Squirrels are also brave here. One came right up on the bench but left when no food appeared. I see the occasional horse on the sandy paths. Cold again, and hungry.
Bussed to Baker St. - walked past 222B - Sherlock Holmes memorabilia store. To Regent Park. Watched more birds and painted nails. Remembered had to call DJ - no phone! Caught bus to Warren St. and after a false start found Gower and Zara's house. She was in and glad to see me. Had tea, a shower, and left to go to World's End pub (listened to her copy of Simon's VT demo) - very large pub. Had a 1/2 pint of cider. Talked non stop with Zara for 1.5 hours then over to the Electric Ballroom. Checked our coats - left pack at Zara's so that DJ would drive us back there. Bought her a pint. Looked and asked a lot of men if they were DJ - no go. Danced quite a bit - lots of industrial played. She and I gossiped and talked. Ended with This Corrosion and left for a pizza and the night bus home. Slept on the floor of her room.
Up at 10am to do phoning. No voice left though! David won't be coming to London, he's feeling washed out. Doktor Joy will let me stay at his place after Slimelight, and I'll bring my pack to Camden Market to shop today. There's a net.goth meet at the York pub before SL. I'll meet DJ at Resurection Records around 1. He was late, after Zara and I got there late also. She got her Rosetta Stone tix. We all went back to his car to drop off my pack then into the Canal Market. Got some caramel peanuts and ate two bags - yummy! Dok saw a box he wanted (for makeup) while Zara and I drooled over dresses and boots. Over to a bank machine for Dok to get money and back to the Canal market. Zara and he hit it off well. Back to car - only had an hour there so rushed a bit. Drove to near Euston and Zara's house so he could park and we could catch the tube to Kensington. Took over her kitchen, had some more blackcurrent squash (diluted cordial). Took tube to Kensington to meet Jane/Alice (Alice when she's being goth) and Dok didn't introduce us and Zara and I got a bit left behind as she stopped for money and bathroom break (took forever to find the latter). We did figure out Dok's real name when he was phoning for work. Met Loll in the Ad Hoc shoe shop. Zara got a discount in the Black Rose for her pentacle earing since Dok knew them. The two female goths evapourated. We left, got to Bayswater and Dok remembered that he forgot to pick up a belt for a girl. Back to K.H.S. and he took my day pass out and we waited for him. Back to Zara's for tea and then he and I left. I got along really well with Zara and miss her already. Drove to Slough and Dok and I managed to start talking more - we're a lot alike. Had a quick supper of pizza and got ready for the Slimelight. He wore a tight smooth skirt and garter combo and looked good, but he took a lot longer to get ready than I did. Drove down to the off liscence and got cider and sweets. Drove back and then off to York pub for pre-meet. Met Sexbat - he looked downright normal! Not seven feet tall including hair at all. Talked with a lot of Cambridge people - have to let David know about them. David/Kirsty was nice, though I "didn't match his mental image" *sigh* Dok signed in a German after we picked up the cider from the car. Checked my coat and got a quick tour. Stood against the wall near the dancefloor for a while, then wandered to loo and opened the cider and drank and talked more with Sexbat and Christopher Wrigly (got his card for David) and met Bob Rosenberg (! nice). Gave Bob my second cider since i didn't want it and he had nothing to drink. Sat with net.goths for a while then started dancing to Tainted Love. London goths can't dance either. Observed the Slimelight Stairs crowd. Met Adrian (he took Dok's other roll of sweets) and Wendy but Dok took off with Marie before I met her (the one Adrian and Wendy was trying to set him up with). They hit it off well but I didn't feel abandoned. Talked with Bob and David - fanned him a bit w/ a nice fan. Dok came back to where I was sitting in a booth type thing and dozed while I danced again. Christopher W. is not bad. Very smokey. Music wasn't all that great actually. Didn't go downstairs all that much (though bathroom wasn't all that bad - still can't get used to calling it the toilet). Hugged Bob goodbye, missed Sexbat and David kissed my hand (I had on my lace outfit with long black nylon gloves) - he has a cool cape and a Scots accent. Drove home with Dok's coming down tape on. Had beans on toast and then crashed. I lasted until 6am though!
Woke up before Dok (around 2:30) and had a nice hot bath. He got up while I was in there and made tea (had *so* much tea it's not funny). Brit way is with milk. Had a nice long chat with him over breakfast and washing up. Drove to Windsor and saw the castle. The tea shop wasn't open, but we gazed at the goodies and the teddy bears (no Pooh bear). It was 6pm on a Sunday though, so I didn't really expect it to be open. Drove back via the Mars factory - strong cocoa and burnt peanut smell. Wendy and Maria called and came over as he and I started watching Schindler's List - I cried lots. Dok was also annoyed at W and M for chattering during it. Tom (blondish brother) and Toby (darker and cute!) had chicken Kiev with us for supper first though. Went to bed after the movie and repacking my bag - I moved down to the living room though with Wendy so Dok and Maria had some privacy. Did not sleep well.
Woke at 6am and then 8:30am for good. Finished packing and had breakfast (tea and cereal and toast - left them my pineapple jam). Talked with Wendy and Maria then. Tom drove Dok and me to the airport (at 90mph). Hugged Dok bye and got processed in <15 min. Writing this in lounge waiting to find out which gate (boarding pass issuer was friendly). Will sell my last travelers cheque and pounds to Thomas Cook after getting a snack. Ended up misreading the sign and lost on the deal. Used up change on chocolate bars and a good eyeliner. Slept through most of the flight. Felt very very strange to be back home that evening.