Tuesday September 6, London
I’m always a bit frantic on the last day of a vacation. Did I see everything? Did I do everything? Did I get everyone a souvenir? Do I need to?
I had it in my head to go to a real English hardware store. There, I’d find some amazing only-in-England thing. I didn’t know what. Maybe a keep off the grass sign, or some interesting nails. Or seeds for a flower I’d never heard of.
I found a well-rated one not too far from the hotel and headed north across Blackfriar’s bridge. I had fresh eyes after all the mud and was really appreciating London. I found a tiny, charming pedestrian alley and zig-zagged my way to my goal.
Unfortunately the hardware store was lame. Barely even a hardware store. They sold small appliances, a few pots and pans, what you’d find in the hardware section of a supermarket.
Not to worry–my next destination was a real British toy store. “More a museum” the Internet said. Well…it was in Camden Market and was about 10 feet square.
The London Transportation Museum was right across the square so I decided to go to that…and discovered it was overrun with children! While it wasn’t specifically geared towards kids they were allowed in for free and there were lots of full-size buses and trolleys and tube cars they could play on and in. No disrespect for the kids, just the atmosphere was more playground than museum.
There was a special design exhibit about signage etc. for the tube, and it was the most badly-presented thing I’d ever seen. Every sign…explained by more signs…everything on top of each other. Crazy!!
I was near the British museum so I decided to visit the Egyptian exhibits. Always great! I don’t know if this cool ceiling was there when I last visited but it is really nice.
It was getting late so I took the tube to St. Peter’s, which the nearest stop to the hotel I could get to without making a big circle and changing a bunch of times. Our hotel isn’t well-located as far as tube stops go. I peeked in the church but they were getting ready for mass so I didn’t stay long.
My cell phone was having trouble with the map (lots of high rises?). I asked for directions from some construction guys–who pointed me in the wrong direction. I walked many blocks before realizing.
That night we had a fun event. A friend of R’s is opening a vinyl-centric, audiophile bar and cafe in King’s Cross, and was having the soft opening Monday and Tuesday nights. We were really excited to be in town for this. The area is very interesting. A nearby canal, and old grain silos (?) and other buildings being redeveloped.
We got to the cafe to find that it was under construction. Nowhere near being done. Boxes everywhere, sawing and hammering, workmen screwing tabletops onto bases. No party. : (
While I wish he’d have let us know, I didn’t regret going to that area. We got dinner around the corner at a great place called Grain Store. We were seated near the open kitchen and it was like watching a reality show, the French chef yelling at the sous chefs who were frantically cooking and plating food. They did everything with their bare hands, serving and arranging the hot food. They must be permanently burned!
I went to bed tired but still worried I had more to do.