Monday, May 3, 2010

leave my door open just a crack

I forgot something important that happened before I went to sleep on Saturday night. Jack knocked on my door and said that he had a present for me. Surprised and curious, I opened the door - and he presented me with this:

I was very shocked and very happy.

The next day was Sunday. Jan was still in Greece, but Jack and I went to church with just us. We were early because Jack was a greeter so I helped put the teacups out.

The singing was very happy. I think our church should sing Lion of Judah.

And I got candy.

Then we went home and I pretty much blogged all afternoon. Except for going out to the butcher’s to get a pork pie for tea. Except they didn’t have pork pie, so we got ham instead.

The picturesque bread I told you about before:

Some yummy puddings:

A beautiful Gorefield garden:

We stopped at the Post Office store to buy tomatoes and cucumbers.

It's funny to watch people posting things when you're parked on the street, because the postbox is so close to the overgrown bush that it looks like people are posting things into the bush!

Monday morning was packing, so we could leave for me to take the bus to London at 2pm. This time I didn’t forget anything.

I had a bit of trouble finding the platform the bus for Victoria Station was leaving from, but it turned out okay because the bus was really late anyhow. So I waited in the station for what seemed like forever, and then finally the bus came, and I put my backpack in the under the bus storage, and got on the bus.

There weren’t any window seats left, so I chose a seat next to a lovely woman with long white hair. It was a good choice – we chatted a bit and then she read and I listened to music, and she was very familiar with London, so when we got into town she told me all about what everything was.

It was so nice because I always want to know what all the buildings are, and we went down Baker Street and I saw the Sherlock Holmes museum.

When we got to the Victoria Coach station, I searched out maps. I knew, thanks to Jack, that the closest underground station to the hotel was Paddington. But the lady on the bus had told me about how much cheaper it was to use an Oyster card – you put money on it and use it like a ticket, for both the bus and for the underground. So I found an information desk and asked the man to tell me about Oyster cards. They’re brilliant. You pay a £3 refundable deposit, and put money on the card, and then you pay about half as much for any ticket as you would if you paid cash. I also found out from him that the bus costs less than a third as much as the underground, so I found a bus map and figured out how to get to Paddington by bus.

The station was very full of people all running about in a great hurry.

I didn’t have much trouble – it helped that there were several buses that went to Paddington.

It was strange when I reached the station to suddenly realize that this was, of course, the same station where I had come through when I was taking the trains to Oxford. I had come in through a totally different way, and the sudden swirl of reorientation was really weird. And it was thrilling to know that this time, I was staying here.

I went out, and with a lot of map-looking, figured out how to get to my hotel.

I checked in and got my key card, and followed his directions to my room. The hotel is a tall, narrow bit of building, and my room was at the very, very top, in the roof. I was most pleased. I love curved ceilings. But there were a LOT of steps.

Almost every time I go up them, I think "That's the trouble with castles! Too many bloomin' steps!"

You can't actually see the window of my room - it's above the windows that you can see - but that black rail is just to the left of my window.

I did a bit of unpacking, got online and said hello to some people, and eventually grabbed a peanut butter sandwich I had packed and an orange and set off for the Kensington Gardens, which were quite close to my hotel.

The Kensington Gardens are the place where Peter Pan lived originally. Fairies live there and come out at night after the gates are locked, according to The Little White Bird, a book by J.M. Barrie. (Oh yeah, that’s the other thing I did in the hotel – looked up those chapters and read them.) I was afraid that it would not be the same any more, that it wouldn’t look like Kensington Gardens, that it wouldn’t seem like fairies.

I went to the gate that enters at the Broad Walk, which is where the characters in the book walked. There were lots of people, though very few children as it was past eight o’clock at night.

I wandered over to the Round Pond,

and then past it – I wanted to get to the Serpentine because if you make a letter into a boat and put it into the Serpentine, then after dark it will float to the island where Peter Pan lived, and I expect that the fairies there know how to get him his post in Neverland.

I walked off the path between huge trees. I have never had so strong an impression that trees were alive. It reminded me of the part in Prince Caspian where Lucy tries to wake up the trees.

This young man stood just there, looking intently into the distance, hardly moving, the whole time I could see him. His only movement was shifting his weight from one foot to the other. I wondered if he was trying to catch a fairy off-guard.

I found the Serpentine.

and walked all along it,

and then over the bridge, and as close to the edge where the island was as I could, and then when no one was looking I put my paper boat into the water and blew on it to make it move away from the shore.

It was getting dark quickly now, and I walked fast through the gardens to the gate and out toward my hotel. I made it back before it was quite dark, and went up the million steps to my room.

Once there, I discovered that the mattress was not very well padded and you could feel all the springs, so I piled all the spare blankets and the blanket from the other bed on top of it. That sorted it.

I left the window open – a nice advantage of being on the fifth floor is being quite safe even with the window open – and tied my purple tights to it so that Peter would know it was my room, if he came. And I did some research and thinking to figure out what I wanted to do the next day, with some help from my mother. I knew that I wanted to go to Stonehenge and to see Les Miserables, and had to figure out what day to do what. In the end I got it all figured out – the next morning I would go see the Tower of London, and walk along the Thames to Big Ben and Parliament and Westminster Abbey, and then I would go to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, and then to tea with Eleanor, and then to Les Mis.

And then I went to bed.


lois said...

I am so happy you are in London. I mean, I know you aren't really at the moment, but I am so happy to be at this part of the story. How very sweet of Jack to get you such a nice present. :)

I anxiously await the next chapter.

Shan said...

Awww...yay! A new iPod. :D

And, awesome. I have always wanted to visit London...and now I get to...sort of...LOL :D

Hannah said...

I love all your pictures! they're so pretty(: especially the ones of you.

Hannah again said...

Well I know there are none of you specifically in this blog, but you get what I mean. I hope.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, I had a career all mapped out just so I could live in London. Sigh. Lovely to visit vicariously through you. Very kind of Jack to get you such a nice present! jen

Joe said...

New tech, sweet. Also thanks for the pic of the mini Cooper, though I don't think that is why you took the oil they are just my fav car. I am also a bit jealous that you get to go to stonehenge. Hope you liked it.