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Before | After

Home, where my music's playing

Got home Wednesday night. It's taken me so many days to post because I've been walking in a fog since then. It's weird, I'm back relatively close to my time schedule, but I still feel really weird and sludgey, and when I sleep at night I sleep really really hard, which is pretty much unheard of for me. I can't remember ever sleeping like this for so many days. I'm hoping I get some energy back soon.

The last couple days in London were really great, despite the weather. On Monday I met up with a colleague from the copyediting-l list at a super posh restaurant atop the Royal Festival Hall for lunch. I wanted to go to it for the views and mostly because it was a midcentury modern style place and I was dying to see how it was decorated -- it did not disappoint in that regard. It was very pricey, though, and made me feel a little bad because I was splurging in other areas, and I shouldn't have added that on top. Afterward I walked over to the London Eye and took a ride on that -- it was totally worth it, and I was just awed by the views on that thing. I'm going to have to ride the Seattle knock-off soon, even though it's smaller. But you could see so far down the Thames, it was really wonderful, although limited in some ways because it was a very foggy, misty day.

Tuesday I mostly stayed in at the hotel -- I'd had a swim the night before in the amazing pool at the hotel and wanted to go again since it would be my last time. It's chlorine-free, and lit all over with these blue lights, and they play a constant film of undersea life on the giant wall above one end of the pool and music is piped in underwater or in the room. It's hands-down the most wonderful place to swim I've ever been and I really didn't want to get out. I also had a massage, which was wonderful, but it still didn't help my back, which was in pretty bad shape. I'd hoped the two things might make me able to tolerate my evening out with [personal profile] webcowgirl, but it didn't.

We met up for dinner on this little street near the Charing Cross tube station, and were done early enough that she took me to this place called Victoria Embankment Park, when the sun had finally come out a little bit for us as we strolled its tulip-lined banks. It was just lovely and I took a ton of pics because I was so enchanted with so much of it. Then we went over to the Trafalgar Studios to see the play with John Simm and Indira Varma, The Hothouse. We had seats on the stage, which were just these random chairs they'd assembled from all over the place, and my back was excruciating throughout the first act. Fortunately, the people next to us hadn't shown up, so I was able to shift over a seat and the second act was a lot more tolerable.

It helped to have someone knowledgeable about the play tell me some things about it, because I confess some of it was lost on me, though I don't know if that was because of the pain I was in blurring my brain or not. But it was pretty incredible watching John Simm so close up -- at one point he was waiting in the "wings" on a staircase and he was so close I could have reached out and touched him. Wild. And Indira was absolutely stunningly gorgeous and sexy -- she is even more beautiful up close and personal than she is on TV.

Afterward, webcowgirl took me to this AMAHZING bar called Gordon's Wine Bar. We walked over there via these really cool streets that were more like pedestrian byways, some of them covered, and it all felt incredibly Dickensian. But the bar was even more Dickensian -- it was this subterranean brick and stone place with casks of port and sherry on the bar wall, and all these cubby hole areas with low ceilings and ancient, wine soaked tables, where you felt like you were making plans to overthrow the government or something with Guy Fawkes. It was dungeonesque and claustrophobic and super super cool. I'm glad we only stayed for a while though because I probably couldn't have taken the closed-in ness of it for too long.

I went back to the hotel and repacked, and in the morning finished up everything while I ate breakfast. I was very glad I hired a car service back to the airport -- there is just no way that I couldn't have handled public transport with my back at that point. It was a terrifying drive at some points, but I got dropped at the check-in gate instead of having to schlep bags through the terminals. I stupidly did not take my Nook color out, though, and they wanted all tablets or reading devices, so I had my bag hand-searched, which was embarrassing and annoying. They go through every shred of lint. They were nice about it, compared to American TSA dickwads, but still...

The flight home was as tolerable as could be. This was where I really splashed out, flying business class, and thank god I did because I could not have handled 10 hours sitting up. As it was I couldn't wholly lie down since I'm too tall, so there was still a soreness to contend with, but overall, it saved my life. Also, the food was really good, which was completely unexpected since, you know, airline food, and they kept me topped up with water all the time, and that was good. What wasn't so great was Shuttle Express at the airport -- after 20 minutes I went in and asked what the hell was going on, and considering canceling my reservation to take a taxi home, and they said it would be soon, but there were NO vans and none coming in. So I finally went in to cancel and they said they'd put me in a town car, which I still had to wait more minutes for. I was just livid that after 40 minutes I was still standing there, and it was like 4:30 in the morning for my body clock, and I just wanted to go home. I usually love Shuttle Express but they're going to get a cranky letter from me soon.

The kitties wouldn't even come out for me at first. I couldn't find them anywhere. They must have been hiding under the couch or something because after searching and searching, they finally appeared behind me and I cuddled them against their will for quite some time. I'm super glad I went, but wow, that was a long trip. Two weeks at this age felt so much longer than two weeks when I was younger!

Highlights of the trip: - Watching Judi Dench expertly try to pick up a dropped bracelet during the play without breaking character

- The incredible conversation with the cabbie on the way to Paddington Station about football, especially back in the '70s, when I was a huge fan here of the Seattle Sounders. I asked him who he supported and he told me "Oh you wouldn't know them," and I said, "Try me" and he said, "It's a team called West Ham," and I was very excited to tell him that I knew lots about West Ham. We reminisced about Bobby Moore, Harry Redknapp, and Geoff Hurst and he just could not get over the fact that I was old enough to know all that stuff. He swore I wasn't a day over 35. I even could converse with him about England's last World Cup win, which was mostly because of West Ham's players. At the end of the ride, he told me he wished I didn't have to get out, that he could just drive me around all day and talk about football. I'm quite sure that when he went to the pub that night, he was telling his mates about the strange Yank woman who knew all about football in the '70s and '80s. Best thing about my trip.

- Going past a pub called the Sherlock Holmes. I took pics for my friends.

- Stumbling on a sculpture outside a new hotel that was like nothing I have ever seen before (no worries, pics coming). If I hadn't taken a shortcut on a whim, I never would have seen it, and it turned out to be one of my favorite sites.

- The scones with clotted cream and jam that [personal profile] lithiumdoll made for us in her room the first night of Vidukon, with real Cornish clotted cream. That really hit the spot.

- Walking past a giant mural for Merlin every day on the way to the hotel the first week, because their production offices were just down the street, not to mention the gay men's sex shop window I went by as well.

- Standing on the spot where Susie killed Jack and Jack killed Susie in the Torchwood first episode.

Comments

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anoel
May. 28th, 2013 04:49 am (UTC)
That sounds like so much fun!! I am vicariously living through you :) So bummed I couldn't make it. But I'm glad you had a great time and got to go to plays and have cool English experiences. The cab ride sounds great! I once had a great chat about The Wire to a cab driver in Scranton when I went to The Office convention and it still reigns as my favorite taxi experience. It's fun when you make those random connections.
trepkos
May. 28th, 2013 07:00 am (UTC)
Sounds like - back problems apart - you had a great time! Remind me what hotel it was - I want to swim there!
I remember deciding to support West Ham while watching Match of the Day at my grandad's in the early 70s because they were the only team in the first division with a black player!
And site visits are fabulous aren't they?
kerithwyn
May. 28th, 2013 11:54 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing all of this up--what an amazing trip! So glad all went well, aside from hiccups.
brynnmck
May. 28th, 2013 05:18 pm (UTC)
It sounds like such a wonderful trip overall--I'm so thrilled for you! It's been lovely to read about. :)
webcowgirl
May. 28th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
A woman walked past me today and she was tallish and as she passed, out of the corner of my eye, I kind of thought it might be you ... and then I wished you were here and we could go out and have a glass of wine and talk about life.

It was great meeting you. I'm sorry it was a painful evening; you were a real soldier.
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