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Staycation: Update 3

Following on from Staycation: Update 2

Thursday. The plan for this day was to get up at a reasonable time, get ready in girl mode, and then head over to London to do whatever in the morning and then meet up with two girl friends for lunch, and then after that do whatever. Various options were available for the two “whatever”s including the V&A museum, shopping, and the like.

My make-up area

My make-up area

I set my alarm for 8.45am but woke just before. I can’t say that I tore around in a hurry getting ready, but I didn’t overly dawdle either. In truth, though, had I really applied myself I could have left the house earlier than the time that saw me finally out the door. If I’d planned the journey the night before, I’d have had a better idea of the hard “leave by” time that I had to aim for and would have got my skates on. As it was, I thought I had more time in hand than I did because I was relying on past experience rather than journey planning. Also I really should have planned my outfit the night before (I had a rough idea what I was going to wear), and also got my handbag ready the night before too – I usually use a brown handbag and I knew that my outfit would need a black handbag so I really should have done that. But at least I did my nails the night before.

Another thing I had not planned for on the day was ripping the seam of my dress as I put it on, and having to sew it up again. I also spent ages on my make-up and wasn’t totally happy with it – I felt I put too much eyeliner on and that it was a little wonky.

So, anyway, I set off at just gone 11am with a view to parking up at Westfield Shopping Centre (since it is convenient for me to get there, and also is £6.25 for the whole day to park there), and Google Navigation immediately told me my ETA was 12.07pm, which was a bit of a shock as I was estimating 40 mins. Considering I had to be at L’Anima Café on Appold Street, EC2 for 12.30pm, I immediately knew I had a really big problem on my hands. There was nothing to do but press on as swiftly as possible, and I arrived at Westfield at pretty much bang on the ETA – Google Navigation is scarily accurate on that. The plan had been to get on the Central Line at Westfield (Shepherd’s Bush) and go to Liverpool Street Station, then walk. Because I was running late, and I am a complete rube (or, rather, it has been far too many years since I lived in London) I thought it would be quicker to hail a cab. This was a MASSIVE mistake. As the time counted down, and the money ticked up, I alerted the girls as to where I was via Facebook. At about 12.25pm, as I was nearing Paddington in appalling traffic, Beth phoned me and told me I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting there any closer than Christmas (ok, she didn’t *actually* say that – she said it would take me another 45-60 mins), and that the restaurant were chuntering them to order already. I told her that I realised that and was getting really stressed about the whole thing. She asked if I wanted to abort and reschedule, and I thought it was polite if I said yes, but told her and Jay to go ahead and have lunch without me since they were already there. I then told the taxi driver to just take me to the nearest tube station.
The taxi driver, bless him, told me that he would take me to Baker Street tube station and I should take the Metropolitan Line to Moorgate, if I still wanted to make my lunch date. He also said that he would only charge me £12 (the meter was already on £18-odd). When we got there, the meter was showing £19.80 and he still insisted on £12, so I gave him £14 and thanked him for being so sweet to me.

Baker St.

Baker Street.
[Public Domain image]

I had a bit of a cock-up at Baker Street and ended up on the Circle Line rather than the Metropolitan Line (it was confusing as to which Metropolitan platform was which, so I asked a Guard and he directed me to the signs for Moorgate, which took me to the Circle Line platform). And, whilst that did take me to the same stations, it was a slower train with more stops. In the meantime, I’d alerted the girls via Facebook that I was still coming, if that was ok, if only to catch them as they were leaving in order to say hello, and Jay responded that I should get off at Liverpool Street rather than Moorgate, and that the Metropolitan Line was definitely better. However, I was already on the Central Line train by then, although the info about Liverpool Street was definitely worth having. Anyway, finally Liverpool Street Station came up and I got off.

Now, if you haven’t got a clue where you are and have no GPS signal due to being in a station, Liverpool Street is a bit difficult to exit on the correct side and, in keeping with my run of cock-ups, I exited on the complete opposite side to the one I was meant to be on and it took me a while to orient myself, during which I initially headed off in the wrong direction (*sighs*), losing yet more time.

Finally, at around 1.30pm I arrived, and explained to the Maître d’ that I was meeting friends there. He naturally wanted to know if I was sure I was at the right place (there are two L’Animas), in whose name the reservation was, and the like. I knew Beth had booked the table, but he couldn’t find her name, so I phoned her but the phone rang out. I was just wondering what to do, when Beth spotted me and waved and the Maître d’ was happy for me to go over to them.

Beth and Jay had eaten by now, and had just ordered a pot of tea to finish, and I had no appetite. So after greetings, I just asked for a bottle of water. We chatted for a short while, during which I briefly recounted yesterday’s failure to find open Antiques shops and Beth told me that I really needed to go down to Old Spitalfields Market. In no time at all (it seemed, but was probably 15 mins or more), Beth very apologetically said she really had to get back to work as she had meetings, which I quite understood – I knew she was at work that day. Jay too had to get back but wasn’t under such tight time constraints. So she and I were able to talk for a little more after Beth left, and then she walked me down to the market and we parted.

Old Spitalfields Market

Old Spitalfields Market
[Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0]

I had a lovely time wandering round the stalls there. As Beth predicted, they had exactly the kind of stuff that I was hoping to find at the Antiques shops the day before. I found a couple of things I liked, but they were too bulky for me to want to carry them all the way back to where the car was on the other side of London. I also found a lovely Art Deco style necklace that I really agonised over buying but ultimately didn’t.
There were also some really interesting and eclectic people there – all sorts of dress styles including hipster, gentrified, rockabilly (I confess I’d love a rockabilly dress), Bohemian, and the like. But then, it’s close to Shoreditch so this isn’t entirely unexpected. But it was all new to me as I don’t really get into London much these days and certainly not into the hip areas.

I was getting pretty hungry by now, having not had a thing to eat, and the market had loads of little kiosks selling all sorts of food. One did oriental and I noticed they did Singapore Noodles which I absolutely love. So I ordered that and they were some of the best Singapore Noodles I have had in ages – all the ingredients I like, none of the ones I don’t (I find that many people put way too much onion and Pak Choi in, since they are cheap ingredients, but there was little or none in this one), and a decent portion too. Outstanding. Sadly I completely forgot to take a photo.

After that I wandered round the market some more, and the surrounding shops, but eventually decided it was time to head back.

In keeping with my day of navigational cock-ups, I headed for what I thought was the nearest tube station but which turned out to be an overground station – Shoreditch High Street. In fairness, Google Maps on my phone did use the underground symbol rather than the overground symbol. That’s my excuse anyway. I couldn’t see any way of it taking me anywhere near to anywhere I wanted to go, so decided I should walk all the way back to Liverpool Street Station. Still, at least it let me browse the popup stores of the Shoreditch Boxpark, I guess. And it was good exercise.

At this point I should mention that I was starting to get the impression that I appeal to older guys. I was getting checked out a lot – and I don’t mean in a smirking “look at the tranny” way, but genuinely checked out. But only by older guys (as in 50+). One oriental guy in a van stuck in traffic gave me a good look, which I saw. I looked away, and then I looked back, and he gave me a big friendly appreciative grin – I was half expecting a thumbs-up too from his grin. I have to confess it kind of made my day a little. I was getting pretty much ignored by younger guys though. I noticed a number of girls look at me, then look me up and down, before looking away. I don’t know if I passed whatever test they were submitting me to though.

Broadgate Selfie

Broadgate Selfie

Eventually I got near to Liverpool Street Station, passing under the amazing Exchange House at Broadgate. I love the architecture of a building seemingly built into an iron span bridge. Whilst under it, on the edge of Exchange Square, I took several selfies, none of which I am particularly happy with, but this one is the best of a bad bunch. As I walked on to the station, a guy in a yellow High Vis jacket stopped me and asked me if I’d taken good pics. When I looked at him quizzically, he said he’d seen me taking my selfies and that he’d have been more than happy to have taken the photos for me. Which was very sweet of him. Although he must have seen me from quite a distance, though, as where he stopped me is about a quarter of the way down the building on my left shoulder (on the right-centre of the pic), past the trees you can see.

So, finally, I got down onto Liverpool Street Underground and a train arrived. And it was rammed. I stood for part of the journey but eventually got a seat and in not too much time arrived at Shepherd’s Bush, thus confirming what I should have done in the first place when trying to get to my lunch date – Central Line from Shepherd’s Bush to Liverpool Street. In fact, with hindsight (and knowing where to go), I doubt I would have been more than 15-20 mins late for lunch if I had done that. That’s hindsight for you.

Westfield Selfie

Westfield Selfie

I wandered round Westfield Shopping Centre for a little, but really my heart wasn’t in it and I was tired, so I decided to head on home. Although not before taking another selfie. 🙂
It was about 5.20pm by now, which I knew was probably the worst time to be setting off.

Being in the underground car park, I had no GPS signal so I set off whilst Google Navigation was still waiting for a lock (you can see where this is going, can’t you?), and promptly turned the wrong way and hit solid traffic. I had to queue all the way down to the roundabout, round it, and back up again, before I got back to where I’d been (which took a good 20 mins) and then picked up the A40, then the M40, then the M25, and finally the M3. The traffic cleared pretty quickly once on the A40 and I had a good run home.

I had a quiet evening and an early night.

There’s not much to say about Friday. Despite the weather seeming to be fine, when I called about the gliding I was told that the Chief Flying Instructor felt the clouds were closing in and he was cancelling my flight. The rest of the day I spent pottering around, including writing the previous blog post, quite a bit of this one, and also watched the film Edge of Tomorrow, which is like Groundhog Day but with guns and Exo-Suits. I love Exo-Suits, Gear, Power Armour, Mecha and the like, so it was right up my street.

I don’t have any more plans for the rest of my time off.

Anyway, sorry for the length of post. I hope it wasn’t too boring.

 

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Getting Friendly

I had an absolutely fabbo day on Saturday!

I was going up to London anyway as I had another Voice Training session, but about a week or so ago I started corresponding with a really nice guy and since it seemed to be going well, we agreed to meet up after my session. We both agreed we’d just play things by ear and when one of us had had enough, we’d part.

Well, 7 hours after we’d met up we were still together, so something obviously went right! But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

The Voice session went really well. I can really feel a change in my voice, and have a lot more control over it now. I still think I need plenty more training but my teacher thinks I am getting to the stage where I could start attending group sessions rather than one-to-one all the time. It would certainly reduce the cost.

Somerset House

Somerset House

So, after the session was over I walked to where we’d agreed to meet and we soon spotted each other. And no wearing of Carnations or anything like that necessary. Isn’t the modern internet age wonderful!

After a nice coffee / tea (respectively) and a good chat, which lasted a good 45 mins or so, we decided to go for a walk which took us through Somerset House where he very kindly agreed to take this lovely pic of me. I’m so vain. ha ha.
As you can see, I’m wearing that sweater dress and boots I mentioned in my previous post.

Much of the rest of the day was a bit of a blur really, but I do remember doing an enormous amount of walking and although the boots are really comfortable and are made for walking (ooh I think there may be a song there!) they were pinching my toes a little and could do with being slightly wider. A pair of boot stretchers may shortly be on order I think.

It turns out I’m not allergic to the Angora in the dress, but boy is it insulative! Despite it being quite thin, I was absolutely boiling whenever we were indoors, even with my jacket off! I think Arctic explorers should be issued with them!

Things were still going really well, so we decided to have some dinner together. Whilst there I noticed from Facebook checkins that some of my friends were nearby so we agreed to meet up with them after, and my friend took us all to the most amazing bar. It was The Friendly Society in Soho and is all really kitsch with much of the ceiling covered with Barbie dolls and Sindy dolls, all attached to the ceiling with screws through their tummies (bit gruesome), and with disco balls everywhere, and wallpaper that looks like it should be in a child’s bedroom. I loved it!

kitsch kuddles

kitsch kuddles

After a while, my friends moved on, and my companion & I managed to grab a table.

I tried to take a nice selfie of us, but with that a really nice guy sitting next to us with his boyfriend leapt up and offered to take the pic for us. He was so nice. In fact everyone was really friendly there – I guess the place lived up to its name!
He took a pic both without the flash and with it, but the one with the flash came out really badly so this is the non-flash one. Please excuse the fuzzy pic; I did my best to de-noise, sharpen and lighten it, but there is only so much you can do.

Anyway, it was now getting on for 10pm and although I was having a really wonderful time, I really was wilting and I desperately needed to go as I was a good hour or more from home. So my friend, ever the gentleman, walked me to the tube station so I could catch the tube to where I had left the car and I started my journey home.

I had such a great day. As I mentioned at the start, we did a lot of walking. In fact, my feet were pretty sore by the end of the day and when I got home and got the boots off I discovered that one of my toes on my left foot was numb and half the big toe on my left foot was also numb. The next day it still was, and even today (Monday) it is still a little numb so I think I will need to invest in those boot stretchers. But the boots are very new and definitely need to be broken in.

On Sunday I spent most of the day pottering round the house, feeling sore and achy from all the walking on Saturday, and ended up watching a lot of telly. I’m such a lightweight!

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Social

 

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Deeper Underground

Notting Hill Gate

Yesterday I went up to London for another Voice Therapy lesson. As usual, I drove to Hammersmith and parked up, then jumped on the tube from there to continue the journey. It works well for me as I know the Hammersmith area and also the street parking is free on the weekend.

I got to my appointment with  plenty of time to spare, and the lesson itself went very well indeed. I can really feel and hear the beginnings of a change in my voice. We still have a way to go, of course, but there are encouraging signs. Having said that, when she recorded me and played it back I totally cringed and thought I sounded awful and camp, but she reassured me that this is normal and just part of the transition.

After that, I walked down to Oxford Street as I needed a replacement MAC eyebrow pencil, and I know there is a MAC outlet in Selfridges. Gosh it was busy in there! You could barely move for people. I managed to snag an assistant to find the correct pencil (as I’d forgotten to bring the old one with me), and then queued for ages to have it fetched for me and to pay. I have to say they were a little disorganised and had only one girl on the tills with loads of other assistants seemingly milling around at random. I realise that the tills aren’t very interesting, but in order to get customers’ money you have to give them the opportunity to pay. Certainly I seriously considered just leaving it as the wait got longer and longer, but I stuck with it and got my eyebrow pencil and also a white eyeliner pencil. Total cost of £27. Ouchies.

After that I wandered round Selfridges for a little more, ending up in the food hall because I knew there is a branch of Yo! Sushi there. Another long wait in a queue, made all the more frustrating by the fact I was on my own and could see at least two single seats at the bar. Eventually a member of staff realised the same thing and called me out of the queue to one of them.

Following the sushi, I looked for the loos in Selfridges and eventually found them in the basement (I thought that it was a requirement to have toilets near to eating facilities? Evidently I’m wrong on that), took one look at the enormous queue and thought “I’ve just about bloody had enough of queueing in this bloody shop” and decided to hold on.

Emerging onto Oxford Street into light rain and full pavements, I decided I had had enough of all this and just wanted to go home. So I hopped onto the tube at Bond Street to make my way back to Hammersmith. This was a poor choice of tube station as it put me on the Central line. But I figured that I could hop onto a District, Circle or Picadilly train and get across that way. So I changed at Notting Hill Gate (which was where I took the photo) but once on the train realised it wasn’t going to Hammersmith and I had to change again at Earl’s Court. But finally I got myself to Hammersmith.

By now I was completely fed up, so made my way to the car, tired and footsore, and drove home.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Diary, Out & About, Shopping

 

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Return of the MAC

Last Saturday I popped up to London again for another session of Voice Coaching, and also to meet a friend for lunch.

I got up there in good time, met my friend, we had a light lunch, and then we went to the Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush. It’s huge!!!

After what seemed like no time at all she had to dash off for a singing lesson, and I had a little time until my appointment, so I navigated myself to the MAC store because I needed a foundation creme compact. I’m not joking when I said ‘navigated’ as Westfield is so big I needed to use a touch-screen information kiosk which then gave me directions!

After a little more wandering around I suddenly realised that I had only 25 mins to get to my appointment (not a hope!) so set off as fast as my wedges would allow me (more on them later) and found the tube station, then began my journey to my appointment. At the other end was a bit of a walk and my feet were getting more and more sore. Also my wedges were trying to kill me as I went over on my ankle at least twice. I’m usually really stable in heels but wedges can be a bit tricky on uneven ground, especially on paving slabs that don’t line up. Eventually I got to my appointment 15 mins late, hot, flustered, stressed and out of breath. Fortunately she was running late and I was able to have 10-15 mins to calm down, cool down, and relax. Then we started the lesson and it went really well. At the end of the lesson I made another appointment, this time for a double session. I figured that if I am going all that way to London I may as well make the visit worthwhile.

After that I wanted to call in on another place, which ended up having a lot more walking than I expected (one of the tube changes was one of those stations where the two lines are separated by a really long walk) and there was more of a walk at the other end too. By the time I got there I was in agony and didn’t stay long. Then it was back to the tube station, onto a train where there were no available seats (I needed to sit down so badly!), a change, another train that was standing only, then even more walking to get myself back to where I had left the car (I went over on my ankle again too). I had blisters by the time I got home.

Anyway, it was a good day despite my wedges trying to kill me and my feet are starting to recover now.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Diary, Opinion, Out & About, Photos, Shopping, Social

 

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