We requested a wake-up call at 8:45 (plenty of time to make breakfast which ends at 9:30). I woke early, though- 8:00- and decided to go with it. Quick shower, then, having had a look at the beautiful morning sky out the window, decided on a walk around the neighborhood; iPod in place, and some alone time wandering amid those on their way to work; kids being herded off in adorable school uniforms. So nice.
Return to the room minutes before wake up call and Good Morning to Anders. Breakfast. Coffee. Another day awaits, and it is sunny, blue sky.
Today we head north and east, through Regent’s Park and up to Camden, to check out the markets there. Part way through the park we spy the fattest pigeon EVER; he is roosting on a fountain, and we call him “Fatty” and laugh at him. He suddenly takes off in flight, looking so heavy, and we mock him! We make the sounds we imagine he would make were he not a pigeon, at mustering that bulk into the air! Nggghhhhh! We say “he will make a fine Christmas dinner!” We can tell he is not pleased. We joke that he runs the whole pigeon circuit in this part of the city, possibly all of London; that he will send out his minions to get us.
Silliness. But check this– about twenty minutes later we spy him again! And after elevensies of coffee at an adorable tiny cottage with outdoor tables, we spy more pigeons and joke that they are on a re-con mission for Fatty. Then we are walking north once again and holycrap! Poor Anders gets dive-bombed! Fatty had indeed sent his minions and a direct hit on Anders hoodie! HA! So funny. Laughing like idiots once again.
We arrive to Camden. We walk the seemingly interminable markets. They are much like markets here, and everywhere; many stalls having duplicate items as many others. We don’t spend much, but enjoy the walk nonetheless. Along one of the main streets we enter a store called Firefly, wherein the girl working has Gorillaz’ Feel Good Inc. blaring, which we enjoy while browsing (The song DARE was one of many earworms we hummed during the trip). Lunch was enjoyed at a sunny bench seat in a very large pub called The World’s End. Comfort food, and filling. No way to finish it all. Writing in the books, laughing at things previously jotted.
Back into the streets, and heading back south. We decide on a route pretty much down the center between Soho and West End, heading through unknown territories between Camden and those two areas. It’s a long walk; this day’s mileage would outstrip most if not all previous days of trekking. Continued trek to the bankside of the winding Thames- a return to the more westerly of the two Jubilee bridges, and across, stopping halfway for dynamic views of the Eye and the stunning great clouds overhead. Here on the river the sky seemed nearly as big as in the west back home.
We cross and have a closer inspection of the Eye; decide we have no earthly desire to be stuck in a slow-moving glass pod for 30 minutes and continue on. Pleasant surprise of three large Salvador Dali sculptures outside an exhibit; we think about going in but, as it is a traveling exhibit we assume it will arrive in New York at some point so we can wait til then. We head back across the river over the bridge leading to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben. Snap some dramatic shots mid-bridge (the clouds and the sky of this day will prove to be the most dramatic element in any of our snaps).
Walking, walking, walking. So much! Such an immense and spread-out city! We aim ourselves in the direction of Hyde Park to traverse a long diagonal back to Bayswater. As we are halfway through the park, the sky turns dark; thunder and lightning begin to threaten. Though our legs are by this time leaden, we quicken our pace, as we have not brought umbrellas with us today! The park is long, and after Hyde, we must still either traverse Kensington or at least walk its length along the street. We finally arrive at our main drag and I convince Anders to stop for a moment to check email in “En-Crypt”, unfriendly but conveniently on the way back to the square. This would prove a decision Anders would mock me for- after a check-in we head toward the square. A mere three blocks from home the downpour pounds us! Our legs can barely carry us at the slowest jog ever! We get soaked. Anders points out that, had we not stopped, we’d have missed that sprint of drenching! Luckily the heater in our moldy room is controllable so all gets piled on and around so as to dry before final packing later that night.
We dine again at same place as previous night- deliciousness- then a return also to Babylon; we’d made plans to meet up with Kim there. She’d had a runway show this evening somewhere and would be off-duty at the bar. We did connect with her in the bar area after having a most divine and melty chocolate cheesecake slice with fine port in the terraced dining area. (Anders treated me to dinner and desert for early birthday.) So we wind up hanging out with models from the continent, a painter who does commissions for the Prince (William I assume), and his wife, who also works here. So surreal. Kim slips us a small stash of weed before we leave and a wink. A really strange night.
On the walk home we stumble across the Banksy exhibit of mock-representations of famous paintings and a room filled with rats! We’d seen it on the news while in Scotland, and here it was! Lights all on despite gallery being obviously closed- brilliant. The rats were adorable. Onward and up those many steep steps again, and time for the ritual known as the “drunky pack”. we pack, and, having double checked all, decide to indulge in a bit of the green gift from Kim. Insane laughter and giggles again, and we wonder what to do with the remainder of theis green stuff? we roll one more half-and-half with tobacco, for possible use next day, then have a brilliant plan-
We “Further Afield Agents” (who stay and wander in places off the edges of tourist maps) decided to make use of the Hare Krishna book. I set about carving away squares in the center pages in which to place the giift; we would then place it atop the wardrobe, hard to find- out of sight- for some curious hippie to find one day, having been sequestered to “THE ROOM”. So much laughter. So retarded. Man alive.