Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Busy bees

Exhausted Jen is exhausted! I have had a very eventful week showing the delightful Kat around town. She was visiting from Germany for a week, so I took a couple of days off work so we could hang out and soak up some culture. And we got up to all sorts!

We kicked things off with a visit to the Science Museum which has a brilliant interactive area for kids, aka us. Magnets and electricity and water are all waiting to be messed with. We timed it well, getting in there just before the school groups arrived so we could try out a whole bunch of things. I was quite pleased with myself as I managed to get us tickets to Twelfth Night at the Globe, with Stephen Fry. It’s been sold out for weeks and it was pure whim that managed to get me the tickets. I admit, I was very chuffed. It was for the Wednesday matinee, which luckily stayed rain-free (apparently it was pouring for the evening show), and the production was riotously funny. Made even more so by the loud, booming laugh of one of the audience members.

It was all luck that day - I had also managed to leave my bag at Wagamama at lunch but they still had it when I went to retrieve it some five hours later. Inadvertent free cloaking service! The ever wonderful Abbi and Paul very kindly had us over for dinner that eve, and I think it was a great way to kick off Kat’s London adventuring.

Of course, there was plenty of shopping to be had and we spent most of Thursday trawling Oxford Street, Soho and Covent Garden looking for the perfect pair of winter boots (and we found them too, when we’d all but given up.) We quickly discovered that we’re both quite fond of finding pubs to just loiter in for hours – but then, as my foursquare will attest, I am overly familiar with the pubs of Soho. Makes me feel vaguely like an alcoholic. Pubs aside, I couldn’t resist introducing her to one of my favourite places, Yumchaa. Tea goodness!

Hmm, Rooibos, king of the teas.
Kat went exploring on her own and I headed off to see Killing Them Softly at a charming old theatre in Notting Hill. It was actually very good, quite brutal but with some funny moments. Interesting juxtaposition of themes and tone. But hey, I do love an assassin film and Brad Pitt was great.

Friday we decided to get out of town and so headed off to Cambridge. Despite every single person we came into contact with suggesting that we go punting, we didn't. Frankly, it was too cold. Instead wandered the winding streets, dodged cyclists, ventured into antique stores and op shops and sat in pubs/coffee shops when we needed to defrost. As you do.

T'is very picturesque.
Most of the colleges were closed to the public but we did take a stroll through the small but gorgeous Clare College. Oh, and we visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, housed in a frankly stunning neoclassical building. The town was beautiful and well worth visiting. We were both knackered by the end of the day though and did not appreciate the torrential downpour awaiting us on the return to London. But nothing some good Italian food can’t cure!

Despite the ominous rain of the previous evening, Saturday was a beautiful clear, crisp autumn day and so we went cycling in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park. Absolute brilliant idea! We rented a couple of Boris bikes, lacking in all manner of suspension and a general desire to remain upright, and set off all over the park. It was really good fun and a great way to get around. There was ice cream and cider and watching squirrels climbing on tourists. Fun times!

I believe the word is autumnal.
Following lunch in Chinatown, I thought it my duty to introduce Kat to the manic, sugary goodness of M&Ms World – even though it was like the tourist apocalypse in there on a weekend. We then got so distracted by shopping and trying on dresses that we ran horribly late to get to Abbi’s for the start of the girls night out she’d planned. But never mind, we got there in the end, and proceeded to have more cocktails than was perhaps wise and danced until our legs ached. We got home on the wrong side of two am, clearly the sign of a good evening.

Blood & Sand. Very Game of Thrones, I thought.
Needless to say, things were a bit dire the next day and mainly involved sleeping and avoiding loud noises. When we finally emerged, all plans to go to Greenwich had been abandoned and instead we traversed the streets in search of a dry cleaner and pizza. We nearly saw Lady Gaga outside Harrods (couldn’t be bothered waiting) – if you do venture out towards Knightsbridge, check out Harrods’ 007 inspired window displays. They’re pretty swish.

My brief holiday was over so it was back to work again yesterday, where complete chaos and mayhem ensued, but Kat did meet me for dinner though (Thai! We’ve covered all the Asian cuisines during her visit), followed by a trip to Foyles. I got nostalgic over the stack of critical and philosophy books they had on display. That’s right, I was getting sentimental over Foucault and Bordieu. I am that lame. Just made me miss uni a lot. Oh uni, my one true love. I think we also made the cashier’s day by cooing over one of their bags (it has a monster on it) as apparently most people don’t really like it – “I always liked them,” he said. The bags are cute. People should stop being so literary all the time and indulge in a bit of cutesy fun every now and then. It’s good for the soul.

And that was it! I had to farewell Kat as she headed off to Scotland this morning to continue her UK sojourn. It was a really lovely week and it was so nice to have someone around who sympathised with me being cold all the time, rather than just rolling their eyes at me. I’m really hoping to make it out to Germany to visit her at some point (It’s times like these that I really appreciate how small the world really is.)

Next up – Belfast this weekend! Excitement!

Music: Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National

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