Last day

2010-Oct-04, Monday 00:09
mindstalk: (Enki)
Threat of rain and pampering my foot and doing laundry on the slow slow slow domestic machines in this country meant doing little today, Though I did finally investigate going to Paris. I was going to whimper about how the $2000-4000/week sticker shock might cure me of my procrastination, but when I moved from booking and tripadvisor to airbnb, I found something reasonable anyway. Well, reasonable for central Paris at the literal last minute, I wouldn't want to pay that rate for a whole month ($3600/month). But I even had choices! Once again, life conspires to keep from me from having to learn planning.

Though here I like to think of it not as being lazy but as making my plans based on the latest possible data.

Tomorrow perhaps I'll commit to actually planning the further week or two ahead (Amsterdam and Berlin?) but I don't wanna think about it now.

I'm on an island. Tomorrow I'll take a train to Paris. This still amuses me.

The "efficient private sector": I had trouble buying my train ticket, and when I call the card company I got handed between departments and I had to give them my information all over again.
The efficient private sector: the second department was indeed able to solve my problem quickly.

Quicksilver: still good.

Man, I haven't seen anime in months, not even the Noein on my phone. Though reading WhereIWatch/Read threads on Tutu and FMA and the Robotech novels give some vicarious pleasure.

Haven't seen Doctor Who either but that doesn't bother me. :p
mindstalk: (atheist)
That's what today kind of felt like. Kind of, I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself, but foot pain will do that.

Went out after noon, ran into the Saturday Broadway Market market I'd forgotten about. Had some Vietnamese street food, then a ribeye sandwich courtesy of the Argentine place. Tip: I probably prefer medium rare to rare, and anyway medium rare is easier to eat without a knife; the rare beef didn't want to fall apart. Went toward the train station, and rain! Part of the reason I haven't done more this week is that I keep staying up too late and thus sleeping in late, but another part is that the big things I've wanted to do are outdoorsy and it's been raining fairly heavily almost every day. Between rain and line closings, I swore off Kew again, and went to British Museum again. Or tried to: first the station was very packed, so it took a while to get out, and then the museum gate was blocked by a clot of people. False fire alarm or something, I heard. By the time I got in, I was antsy, flinching away from all the classical/Asian stuff I'd seen before and racing to Europe. Which turned out to be painting-free, it's all objects. Not what I'd expected... fortunately, what I first stopped for was neo-classical jasperware, which soothed my troubled soul. Explored that and related stuff, then a bit of early Persia, including an animated reconstruction of the palace at Perspepolis, and then the Japan section again...

But my now my right foot was really hurting and twinging, crimping any palace grounds plans, and just making me unhappy. Stopping in a restaurant seemed to make it worse actually, whereas my final limp home was better. No idea what's up with it.

I think I'm getting tired of feeling rootless, both physically and lifewise, and not talking to anyone close. Plus planning and moving every few days, or week.

Hostess is off in Paris having, heh, driven there. Two new sets of guests managed to get in somehow anyway, a couple I barely talked to, and a Frenchwoman between flats in London.

Dropped into the London Review bookstore, and saw mention of a couple of interesting books on inequality. I'd mention them if my phone weren't upstairs charging.

I've finally started Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, after years of avoiding "oh my god it's the giant backbreaking trilogy of doom". No weight as an ebook, heh heh. It's been pretty enjoyable, actually.

Oh! I saw my first drinking fountain in the UK. In the men's bathroom of the British Museum, so I must have missed it before. Had crappy pressure so you'd have to kiss the faucet, but it was there. First and only one.

Bleah day

2010-Sep-29, Wednesday 20:39
mindstalk: (Default)
Argentinian restaurant for dinner last night. Expensive but tasty.

Walking along the canal around lunchtime today, I saw a bunch of schoolgirls in colorful plastic kayaks on the canal. PE classes in boating? Cool. I noted that the one white girl seemed more sedate than the rest, which reminds me of the one in my high school music class. I attach no significance to this.

(Rest of the day)
Meh. By the time I was done with Vietnamese lunch, it seemed too late to cross town and pay for the Kew Gardens. Walked, bussed, finally took a train toward the British Museum, but on impulse decided to ride on and explore stops like White City and Marble Arch. I should probably just have gone to the Museum. Dull areas, or tons of clothes shops, leg that hurts, getting hit by other people's luggage, PDF book that turned corrupt near the end, rain.

Spent some time in a department store, got to look at 4-digit price jewelry and watches. The ones covered in gems are obvious, but I'm not sure why U-Boat brand watches are supposed to be worth £2000.

At an Indian evening buffet for £6.95. How exotic. Good food, good deal. Highlights of today are school kayaks and meals. Could be worse.

Girls have left, and so has the other guy. Just me and hostess now. Will get more sleep?

Back to the Hive

2010-Sep-28, Tuesday 19:02
mindstalk: (Default)
London 27-28 Sep

Train to London, taxi to my last minute AirBNB lodging, which seems pretty cool. The taxi had a TV for passengers. Lodging is right by Regent's Canal and Broadway Market, an area I know from my first week and the houseboat trip. It's pretty lively just now, with 5 lodgers, thoygh 2+1 girls will leave tomorrow leaving me other guy and hostess. The +1 girl is pretty fascinating, though I don't feel like talking about someone much in public. Last night I went for a long exploratory walk, down to Liverpool Station. There's an area where Vietnamese restaurants are sprouting like mushrooms, yum.

I felt at home again right from the taxi. Places to go! People going to them! Ways to get there! Hail the Hive!

I was up late talking to one girl, then listening to two of them talk. Today/Tuesday/28 I figured I'd look at London from the Overground line. This is being hampered by the line not being all that over, part subway and part recessed ground level, and when it is the views aren't that great. Well, now I know! The cars seem wider than usual. But I'll finally leave zone 2. 23 minutes from Haggerston in 2 to Honor Oak Park in 3 on the other side. 31 minutes (total, not additional) to Penge West in 4. Train keeps pausing mysteriously at these outer stations.

Approach to final station. Longer distance, and train is crawling past depot. Making it 42 minutes to West Croydon, zone 5.

End of the line is still pretty urban. Actually east of the station is a nigh endless shopping arcade. Found a Surrey street market, by Royal charter from 1276 according to a sign. Found some pale pomegranates, bought one for 30 pence. Another stand sold huge bowls of small Pink Lady apples, oranges, and cherry tomatoes for a pound each.

A lot more Africans here than I've seen elsewhere.

Station connects to National Rail and Tramlink, so I suspect this is all more urban than some earlier stops. Actually, going by my older maps, the Overground going here is less than 10 years old.

"Mecca Bingo" seems like a bad idea.

Gaggle of 8-10 year old schoolgirls boarding public buses on their own.

Hopped onto a Southern line to Victoria. Whee! Off again at Norbury. Station view looked dire, but outside was busy urban.

Transfering to another Overground, to loop around the west and north on my return hope. Almost didn't due to an alleged 30 minute delay, but then the train came... Wait, I guess we won't be clear until the train leave on time, but surely we can't sit in at the platform for 30 minutes? ...And we didn't. Don't know what the screens were on about then.

...Recommendation: don't take the Overground as a scenic train around London. I didn't see much more, it took 1.5 hours, and despite avoiding city center it got increasingly crowded. Feh! Oh, and the incredibly cheap apples and oranges turn out to not be very good, at least at first sample. Tomatoes seem okay.

A Bevy in London

2010-Aug-29, Sunday 19:20
mindstalk: (Default)
I really should try to get to Whipsnade Zoo while I'm in Britain. I grew up with Gerald Durrell's A Bevy of Beasts about his experiences there as a young zookeeper. But it's like a couple hours away by bus. Today my sleep still sucked, but I managed to make it to London Zoo, in Regents' Park, by 2 - and it closes at 6!

I didn't take any pictures, but I did take a lot of videos. Will take some effort to label and upload them. A couple might trigger phobias. I assuming I can reasonably post them at all, the longest is 120MB.

It's a nice zoo of moderate size. I saw most things in my 4 hours, not all. Ring-tailed lemurs are diurnal and loud, to my surprise. There were multiple aviaries, though only one really struck me. A Nightlife exhibit had lots of rats and some bats. Another exhibit had more brown rats, in more light. I saw a mock kitchen covered in cockroaches (one in front of a magnifying glass) amd a case with lots of locusts.

Afterwards... Social thing fell through. I found myself at Camden Town again, and Camden Lock; a whole bunch of shops stretched above Regent's Canal. Including food shops offering mixes of their stuff for only £3. Edit: Had an Indian mix-up, tandoori and chicken korma and land curry. Not bad, though hardly spicey at all. Wandered around, saw yet more food shops, including "Brazilan hot dog". So many Chinese stands, all offering the same free sample chicken, I suspect they're all related, like the Amish Olde Lane Orchard mafia at Bloomington Farmer's Market. But then I saw a *Peruvian* stand, 4 pound mixer, I had a bit of 6 different things. Good. They also had Inca Kola, a drink John and I discovered years ago in LA, though they didn't have any right then.


2010-Aug-28, Saturday 23:09
mindstalk: (Default)
Just stayed in today and re-read Beyond This Horizon, followed by Cryoburn. I wonder if I'm traveled out already. I'm introverted, but not a total isolate, and haven't really talked to anyone since last Saturday. Oh well, probably an RPGnetter Sunday, then a new city and people Monday.

Didn't help that I had another night of poor sleep, this time exacerbated by the screeching of power saws at 8:30am on a Saturday.

Mainstream market (Tesco) carries falafel (meh), microwave spaghetti carbonara (didn't buy), and microwave spaghetti bolognese (not bad, 2.50, and ingredient list consisted of food, not polysyllabic chemicals.)
mindstalk: (Default)
54 pounds for train to Edinburgh. There are cheaper flights, but at sucky times; many flights are more expensive. Bus is cheaper, but slow -- 1 hour flight, 5 hour train, 9 hour bus. 1 hour train to Glasgow; I put in for airbnb there, but given limited choice might have to resort to a hotel. Or try Couchsurfing.

Different cultures: ingredients lists on store-bought food often have actual percentages, though in an inconsistent manner. E.g. my current hummus is "chickpeas (46%), sunflower oil, tahini (14%)..." Speaking of which, I have yet to see any store hummus made entirely with olive oil. Some advertise "olive oil!" but this turns out to mean rapeseed (canola) 14%, olive 5% or something like that. Lots of Bloomington hummus used non-olive oil -- only Athena is 100% olive -- but still.

Tropicana OJ came in 1.5 L or smaller, vs. 64 or 96 oz. Still tastes good. Tesco Express had a fresh squeezed OJ that was even tastier. Tesco extra filtered milk tasted sour, though it's had two days to make me sick if it was going to. Goat milk was cheap (well, seemed like it; also not that much of it) but not very dramatic, though it turned out to be semi-skimmed. It's semi-skimmed and skimmed here, not low-fat and nonfat. Skimmed notes that it's 0.1% fat. Cheddar cheese is 'mature', not 'sharp'.

In restaurants you have to ask for water, and tap water else they'll bring bottled and charge; you also have to ask for the check, otherwise you can sit there forever. My last Italian place brought a whole plate of hard sort-of-minty things, it seemed rather excessive, especially since you can't chew them until they've softened up a bit. Or at least I was afraid to try.

More London

2010-Aug-26, Thursday 22:26
mindstalk: (kirin)
Nnnng need to get to bed/up earlier.

Tuesday: walked north to the giant green thing on the maps. Turned out to be Hyde Park. London has LOTS of great big parks, it seems. A bird sanctuary was on the local maps, but either I never found it or it was locked up. I guess an actual sanctuary wouldn't let many humans in. Neat little water area, probably Albert Memorial. Emerged out the north, Paddington area? Had my first Italian food here, a decent bolognese (well, half-decent by my standards; I'm addicted to cayenne. I have no idea how the alleged carrot manifests in the sauce, btw. Sauce was better after I salted it) and weird garlic bread, more like breadsticks with garlic and butter on top. Had the house red wine, unnamed but described as medium dry, not too bad for me. Walked to Notting Hill, took tube to Earl's Court -- yes, because of Neverwhere -- nothing fancy there, just busy urbanness and restaurants. On the brain some old and possibly drunk guy was talking to young German women, and ended up harassing them about the war.

"1940 was our finest hour, we defended ourselves, and in the end Hitler was DEAD!" Try to imagine it in drunk/crazy drawl + English accent.

I don't get the laundry machines here. First one needing babysitting to wash. This one worked ok the first time, I think, but went nuts today. Hours of soaking, not enough spinning, my whites are now pinks, I've given up and put things up to dry.

Wednesday: at last, the Natural History Museum! Or not, the line is HUGE. Wait, there's a fast track for ticketholders, maybe I should just buy a ticket. Hey, I've seen live butterflies before, but Deep Sea sounds cool anyway. 8 pounds... "what's concession?" "Students. Are you a student." "Uh, sort of a grad student." "Do you have an ID?" *checks* "Not on me." "I'll give it to you anyway. 4.50"

Definitely got in faster. It's nice to have money and be willing to spend it. As for the Deep Sea exhibit... no aquarium stuff, like I naively imagined, which is fair enough given the problems. Lots of neat facts to learn anyway. Trieste was a manned dive into the Mariana Trench, 10912 meters down. I hadn't known that. There was a thing on how a sperm whale corpse gets eaten; 8 tons of bones may have 5 tons of oil. Bone borer worms exist. Japanese giant spider crab has 4 meter legspan. There's a tripod fish, and a Census of Marine Life which should be finishing up any day now.

After that I ended up mostly looking at geology stuff, especially gems and minerals. Shiny! I love the opals they had on display.
Some comic book writer made up a formulate for kryptonite (with no actual krypton); years later, a mineral with that formula was found, now known as jadarite.

I found kaiten-zushi. It wasn't very busy, but I went for it anyway. Free tea!

Thursday: went back to the sushi place for breakfast. Perhaps not the best idea: dead at 3:30pm, not even moving the tray until I went in. Still, don't think it's made me sick. Then off to the V&A again, as the most efficient use of limited time. Took a lift (elevator) to the 6th floor, which is given over entirely to ceramics. They've got introductory cases on the walls, and central "study collection" cases. Just tons and tons of ceramics. I wandered around stunned, snapping photos, then spent some time in a section on the making of ceramics. 4th floor had a somewhat smaller glass collection, with its own study cases, and an eh architecture section. 3rd had metalwork, which didn't move me much, apart from the weirdass keys. Then they closed.

Found a different kaiten-zushi, Kulu Kulu, which was much busier, though not necessarily better. Tea was free but with teabags, didn't seem very good. Tamago was excellent. Went by Keiko, they still weren't very busy even at 6pm. Went to an Internet cafe with free wifi but they closed at 7 so I wasn't there long. Pot of British tea wasn't very appealing. Haven been 'home' since.

It's been wonderfully cool for me. At Earl's Court I noted it was 59 F, and I was happy in a T-shirt. It's like what I wanted San Francisco to really be! Except SF actually has a dry season -- most of the year -- despite the cool fog; London's been very rainy. And humid or something, so I sweat a lot despite the cool. That or my body's started sweating a lot in general.

I've finally started looking at transportation to Edinburgh. EasyJet air is 35-60 pounds one way. East Coast Rail is at least 270 pounds, though that's with an open return. I'd like rail but geez. Will look for other lines.
mindstalk: (Default)
So what was I doing with my sick week, if not exploring London? Partly being online in some of my traditional haunts, mostly LJ FB and RPGnet. (No Krugman or blogs for a while.) But also reading a lot, 6.5 novels in the past week. None of them physical and needing to be carried, all being Baen e-books, on my eee at home and on my phone in restaurants. Nothing very deep, mind you: five Liaden books (two being story collections), the Leinster collection, and Flint's 1632 as the half. But hey.

Tangentially, I'll probably finally leave London next week. I hadn't heard from the family friend in Edinburgh, so simply called her last night. She says she'd e-mailed me, which I didn't receive, but anyway I'm likely to go up next M-F. I want train, though I haven't looked at travel times and costs yet. Don't know about afterwards, fly to Dublin or Scandinavia?
mindstalk: (Default)
No complaints about the Taiwanese tea. £1.20 for what felt more like a two-person pot. Cup after cup until it got really bitter near the bottom.

I was totally wrong about Chinatown being just a couple of streets. That's the area with Chinese gates, but the Chinese area is a lot bigger. Probably bigger than Boston, not sure about San Francisco, nothing like NYC. Not that I'm an expert. No crowds of actual Chinese people - though a lot in the right restaurants - but then it was after 9 pm. I saw pocky and frozen siu mai and fans, and bought a couple of pretty Chinese style coin purses. Probably not silk. A little girl was playing with a balloon in that store. "I'm a penguin!" as she waddled with it. Hybrid Chinese/English accent.

Theatre district nearby. Avenue Q, Les Mis, Wicked, Chicago, Priscilla.

Passed an Ugg store.

Corean Chilli.

Lots of pedicabs? Bicycle rickshaws? Also lots of Thai massage places, looking herbal and holistic and not sexual at all... At 22:30 in Soho and with "male tonic" signs.

Unrelatedly, my area of South Kensington feels rather odd at 6pm. Lots of shops, all of which are closed or closing. Some number of individuals dashing through. Dimming light (clouds, and sunset in 2 hours). My first thought was some Doctor Who episode where most of the people have vanished, but a better match is the alternate universe Buffy episode where vampires rule the night. That feel of "it's lght out but close up and scurry home before it gets dark".

This got ruined when I passed the restaurant with flaming gas torches above the entrance. Ah well, the World of Darkness was always best answered with fire.
mindstalk: (Default)
Wow, haven't posted in five days. Well, haven't done either. Short form, including disease progress:

Monday: lower energy, vague throat sensations, already recorded
Tuesday: leaked like BP with a definite cold; Science Museum; already recorded
Wednesday: less dripping, much less energy, stayed in except for food.
Thursday: beginning of cough, otherwise ditto. Missed a message from Wren.
Friday: more energy, also phlegm-productive cough, could have gone out more but didn't.
Saturday: enough energy to run up stairs two at a time. Met Jill L from gale at Liverpool Street, got taken to a row of Indian restaurants on Brick Lane, had tandoori lamb chop. Then we walked to the old Roman wall of London, then to St. Paul's. Jill took off, I poked my head in but didn't feel like standing in line to pay money to get in. Walked around some, finally stumbled back onto Holborn. Went to Samurai Sushi, a chain with individually wrapped pieces of sushi in a fridge. Got to try a lot for not much, but none of them were much good.

Sunday: went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, went around at a decent pace to eyeball things. Wondered how big pieces of ivory art get made (probable answer: elephant tusks are bigger than I think, can be cut for panels or statues; bigger works have obvious joins and panels), saw what looked like a giant warded key in a tapestry, saw a claim that a square meter of high quality tapestry takes a month to weave, saw two giant courts of plaster casts of sculptures. Apparently colored to match material and stains?

Then tubed over to Westminster, saw Downing Street (gated off), Horse Guard Parade (a plaza, not an active parade), walked around St. James's Park, saw Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.

Today/Monday: got caught up in phone doctoring, so only got out in the evening. Tubed to Piccadilly Circus, found the Soho sex district, then Chinatown which is what I was looking for. It seems rather small, just a street or two. Lots of dim sum places but none late. Ended up in Taiwanese restaurant, Leong's Legend. Had a funky version of dim sum they did have and made, Siu Loung Bao, 8 round pyramidal pork dumplings, with a lot of liquid inside them too. Good. Also pork belly rice, just rice with medium slabs of juicy pork belly pieces, served with awkward plastic chopsticks and a spoon. I opted for spooning up a piece of pork belly, knawing off some fat and meat, then getting some rice into my mouth too.

Have gained 4 kg in the past week, exactly. :( Eating out a lot and lying in, I guess.

Found a cheapish Japanese restaurant right by S. Kensington station, had duck bento for 5.50. Tea is 1 pound per cup; I miss Tokyo, where it was typically free.

Notes as I went:
Jill and I passed a self styled necrobus,

Thai restaurant didn't have Thai iced tea.

Samurai Sushi and Bento. Can buy individual pieces. 8.35
gyoza ok
softshell crab maki meh. Softshell means leave the shell on, I guess.
Pepper yellowtail good
beetroot marinade salmon ok
eel meh, ditto tandoori salmon and tamago, texture of which was all wrong.
Staffed by Indians.
No tuna available.

Mr. Simms Olde sweet Shoppe is sadly not very olde in its ingredients.

Waterstones closing at 5.

Holborn 6:30 crowded, with the testiest ever male announcement telling us to move down the platform. "People cannot get onto the platform because you are blocking the entrance."

Why do I smell chemicals on the train? Because the woman next to me is doing her nails on a crowded train. I thought about saying something but didn't.

Science = technology

2010-Aug-18, Wednesday 14:33
mindstalk: (Default)
Still sick. Managed to get about 8 hours sleep. Want more.
Went out yesterday. Ran into the Victoria and Albert museum first, didn't know what it was, went inside. Another giant art museum! Guess I don't need the British Museum anymore. (Later looked at the wikipedia page; it really does seem impressive.) Felt marginal utility was best served by science, moved on. Natural History seemed to have long line and bag checking. Science Museum had checks too. So did British Library. The two art museums don't. I don't get it.

Most of the stuff in the Science Museum is what I'd call technology. Steam engines, space probes, plastics, household goods, locks, Dan Dare And the birth of hi-tech Britain! History of computing, next to history of mathematics. Agriculture.

For whatever reason I got the most out of the locks exhibit. Informative placards plus somewhat useful cutaway models. Nacient Egypt had something like modern pin and tumblers, but world mostly used low-security warded locks after the Romans invented them. China had even lower security barb padlocks. Chubb invented detector locks which would freeze up if someone tried to pick them.

Postwar Britain section introduced the notion of a mobile dental unit, from back in the early days of the NHS.

There was a really bad future of energy exhibit, including hysteria about animal-eating robots.

Computing exhibit had lots of analogue computing, Mills would be happy. Including a harmonic analyser that somehow extracts Fourier components of a recorded graph.

Had more expensive Indian food, lamb balti, which seems to come with naan instead of rice. I had no idea and had ordered rice. I ate all my food anyway. Thinking I should try something really hot, see if burning out a cold really works.

Kitchen cold water had stopped working last night. Seems to be back. Working on pipes? Feh.

Supermarket Thai fish cakes were not very good.

No service

2010-Aug-17, Tuesday 14:46
mindstalk: (Default)
Ah, apparently my particular room is a private one, being sublet, not a serviced one. So things like soap or more toilet paper are my responsibility.

The world has standardized on so many things. Why are shower controls still this land of wild creativity? And why does no one bother putting some sort of instruction on them, such as "twist this normally immobile part to make water come forth"?

Well, I'll see if I can stagger off to the Natural History Museum. Or find it.

Traveler's bug

2010-Aug-17, Tuesday 13:56
mindstalk: (Default)
Yesterday was part changing lodgings, to studio in South Kensington, part realizing I've got a cold.

I'm paying the same for my own space in a more central location; I eventually guessed that might mean this studio would be about the size of my previous loft room. Yep! Despite being in a 9 story building. It's a "serviced apartment", basically a hotel with a kitchen in the room. Wi-Fi turned out to be charged for; I now know to ask more questions.

Had some expensive though good Indian food last night. Ran across my first movie theater here, a 2-screener showing Inception and something. My phone's GPS really got to shine, guiding me through the mazes. Made my first real groceries trip, at a Waitrose supermarket on King's Road. They had a dozen varieties of cheap pate, a bunch of cheddars, frozen dim sum, pomegranate seeds in a bos, and frozen Thai fish cakes.

One penny coins do exist, I found that out a few days ago. So do two pound coins.


2010-Aug-15, Sunday 18:53
mindstalk: (Default)
I'm still getting used to the "wrong side of the road" thing, even as a pedestrian. Doesn't help that there's no stop signs and the pedestrian walk signs can be slow. It occurs to me that I've rarely needed the road-crossing skills on display here. E.g. where I grew up the main road was lethally busy, there were plenty of stop signs, and no reason for me to not just walk to a stop. San Francisco was similar - quiet side roads, controlled main road.

Roads are twisty, which makes it hard to navigate on the fly. Grids, you can drop down a block for your return leg, but here who knows where that might end up, or so I feel. So I stick to main roads, and just reverse my trajectory, that being the only composition available in this mess.

At Victoria Park now. Nice big lake and fountain, and enticingly mysterious island in the middle. I always loved those as a kid, and never got to visit one. You can fish in the lake, but just for fun: no barbed hooks, immediate return of any caught fish, etc.

I wonder if Boston has a big park like this. It was cool living next to Golden Gate Park like I did in SF. And without an obvious premium, unlike Central Park in NYC. Sometimes I wonder why we all left.

I forgot to mention: Liverpool Street station last night had a mouse on it. Not for long, it scurried into a hole. How does a stone and concrete wall develop mouseholes? A century of thermal cycles and settling, I guess.

Rather weird Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking Fountain, with no actual water.

Passed a couple of women in full eyes-only cover, speaking in full English accent.

Found and walked through an "old English garden". Not a full hedge maze, but the intimation of one. Also two girls being intimidated by pigeons they'd overfed.

Nice day. Actually hot in too much sun.

Not too much else exciting. Just walked a lot, passing lots of row houses with bay windows, "estates" meaning large apartment complexes, pubs, Indian takeaway, a Vietnamese restaurant, another Caribbean one.

My new shoes and sole insets seem to have paid off; I'm not getting the rapid foot and posture pains I was a few weeks ago. But right now, my feet sure hurt...


2010-Aug-15, Sunday 15:24
mindstalk: (Default)
Cuz I can't edit posts handily on the phone... It's a nicely done up place, but I've been the only customer this whole time, admittedly at 3 on a Sunday. And when I asked for the check, there was some searching followed by an admission that he couldn't find his receipt-book. I do not foresee a great commercial success.
mindstalk: (Default)
I believe I left my readers at a skylighted (and, not mentioned, totally vegetarian) Gallery cafe. I eventually set out around 6, getting off the train at Bank, in the heart of the City, the original Roman camp square mile, which is now the financial district. And it is DEAD on a Saturday, just tourists and not enough of us to keep a Starbuck's open. Makes it easier to see and photograph the elaborate architecture though, of which there is quite a surfeit. I have some pics up of the Royal Exchange, whatever that is, and the Bank of England.

Then I found London Bridge. It's not much to look at when you're on it - or any other time. It does have a view of its own, of the Thames and of the rather more ornate Tower Bridge. Lower Thames Road, walking along the Thames, view of a tied up battleship? Finally the Tower of London, which is more of a conventional castle than a wizard's tower, say. Just saw the outside, it was closed. Then off to the Cittie (sic) of Yorke pub to meet more RPG people.

Seems like everyone I meet has been to the US.

Way back, I got out at Liverpool Street, I had the impression it was big. Actually, you come out into a giant rail station - it's one of the big interchanges with long distance rail, like Euston. Outside that things looked dead at first, but nightlife was a block away, along with a ragged woman asking for change.

Outside my home station was a homeless man trying to sell newspapers. "Help the help/homeless help themselves." So there they are.

Today's another late day. I'm having jerk chicken for breakfast at 3, at a Caribbean/Nigerian restaurant. The chicken tastes good but there's a lot of bone fragments, probably from sawing chicken pieces apart.

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That's not true. St. Pancras station had some, but it was slow. The Ocabezi cafe ostensibly had some, but my phone couldn't get an IP out of it, and I didn't think to try my eee. Now, however, I'm at the Gallery Cafe. Phone outside got a web page though not ssh -- maybe I was too impatient; eee inside has both. 5 pounds 50 for pesto linguini, 2 pounds 50 for fresh squeeze orange juice, which isn't the best I've ever had -- not the ecstatic bliss Myfanwy got to laugh at the facial expression for near her home in San Francisco -- but good and definitely better than what Scholar's Bakehouse in Bton has been passing off.

It's more cafe than gallery, but I'm under a skylight with view of a nice garden.

BTW I'd been forggetting to tag my phone-blogged posts, so if anyone's been relying on the travel2010 tag I recommend checking again and going back a bit.

Last night, boat was fun but being in a loud pub with strangers wasn't so much, especially after the German girl left leaving a flirting couple and maybe another one. So rather than waiting for a boat ride back I asked for transport direction. I figure that if I can get to a tube stop I can get home, though the route looked roundabout. The bartender suggested walking somewhere to take the 55 bus, or going to another station for that, but at first I didn't feel up for a strange bus and street system at night. However, at Angel station it seemed that there was a bunch of work and delays happening, of uncertain magnitude, so I rode one stop and decided to take my chances with the bus. And it worked! Very crowded at first. Driver wasn't announcing stops but an LCD screen was, once I got a view of it. London buses are stretchy or double-decker; this was double but I didn't feel like going upstairs. Given how jerky acceleration was downstairs I fear what it felt like above. But I made my stop, and the neon glow of a strip club oriented me as to where I was within the intersection. All hail neon.

Today's plans: not sure. I spent a lot of time looking for places to live next. Got plans to meet more RPG.netters at 8.

It has rained every day except the one I came in on. Be difficult to carry my duffel and an umbrella.
mindstalk: (Default)
Friday After two days of heavy walking and several days of never quite enough sleep, I was tired and got up late and decided to take it easy. Walked north along Regent's Canal to Broadway Market, a quaint little street of shops, with a food market today (Saturday) but it's getting late and raining again. Tried a wi-fi, but it didn't work. Walked through some big park, Victoria? not sure, ended up on Mare Street, and tried an Ocakezi Mese Bar, whatever those are, called Tad's. Or Tap's. Ordered an adana kebab, large, 4 pounds 90 plus some surcharge for eating in, ended up paying 8 pounds. I certainly got enough food for it. I originally meant to take half home, but it was my first meal, and I ended up eating it all over a couple of hours, killing time by reading Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe" and other stories on my phone, courtesy of Baen eBooks. I think it's a free book, even.

I probably shouldn't have eaten all that, I felt very slow and heavy, and hours later after some cider and bread I was almost throwing up in the tube. But I didn't. That was 4-6pm Friday, it's nearly 3pm Saturday, and since that meal I've had some bread and cider, a banana, a peach, an apple, and a small piece of cake, and I'm not that hungry though it's coming. Food quality: decent, though somewhat greasy or fatty for my taste. Mostly the rice, the lamb I expect to be fatty. I tried cutting it with the onions. The far white bowl was onion cylinders in beet or pomegranate juice? Didn't eat them, but dipped the bread in the juice.

Wandering around I found the Hackney public library. There's one P. C. Hodgell book in the system. A fair collection of graphic novels and manga right across from the SF shelves.

Ah, but the real adventure. So, walking to, I mentioned that canal. It's got narrowboats: note the bike; these are house-canal-boats! really narrow Wind in the Willows! Tea in a boat

Walking back, there were a couple of people crouched by the Willows boat, and I said hi or asked a question -- maybe are these houseboats? -- or something, and fell to chatting, and ended up getting invited for a boat ride. There was the boat owner, a girl from Germany who's working as a nanny and had studied JFK and Adlai Stevenson in school, a painter, a couple more girls one back from studying ministry in Northern California if I heard her right. They were a fairly churchy group of Europeans, though "more spiritual than religious", at least some knowing each other from some non-religious branch of the Anglicans.

What I thought were nice clouds at the time
I was told this was a gas tower, stuff telescoping up within the frame as gas fills it
Lock filling. We went through a couple of locks.
Very dark, but this building seems to have trees on the roof. View from the boat

I took a minute of video with the phone but I'm not sure it's posting, it's pretty blurry and makes Blair Witch look like Steadicam.

Anyway, it was fun, though I was rather paranoid about the narrowness of the boat, especially as we were mostly sitting on the roof! No photos from there, I didn't want to risk it falling out of my pocket. Sorry, haven't been on boats much. A rather slow and complicated means of travel, especially with locks, but a nice experience. And we ended up going to some pub near Islingon, whence the bread and cider.

Oh, part of the reason I got out late was that early in the morning, I'd activated every standard widget to make sure that that wouldn't brick the phone, and discovered that it did. :( I'm trying to be very conservative and scientific now, installing from scratch and testing booting after each new app. Pain in the ass. OTOH, leaving it on 3G all night didn't make a dent in battery... perhaps not having Foreca weather widget installed helps.

Probably will stay another week here, in a different lodging.
mindstalk: (still life)
My legs hurt. I hope I lose some weight/fat on this tourism exercise plan. Walking Bloomington for exercise: boring and dangerous in recent heat. Walking new cities and museums: fun, until one's legs fall off.

Posting from the eee now, so in theory I could have image links, but we'll see. writing interrupted so I could read my webcomics. Being 5 hours ahead of the US means they don't reliably update until the evening, vs. the morning. My routine is all off.

Into the museum! They have some special but free exhibit on money, so I thought to check that, especially as it was right there when I wandered up some stairs. Some of it is stuff I knew, but it was nice seeing coins and shells and more details. I don't think I knew that early China used cowry shell money; the character from treasure even comes from it. China, Africans, Native Americans...

Lots of art photo links )

At 4:50 I switched modes, to something my father used to say: try to eyeball the whole museum at high speed, and pick stuff to come back to later. Note I'd already seen much of Far and Near East Asia. Lykia, Americas, half of the African room, part of Europe... and I ran out of time, galleries were closing at 5:30. That's how big the place is. Though it's not helped by lots of the lower rooms not actually connecting, so you have to backtrack.

Texted about meeting in a pub, walked to Holborn Tube, and found I'd switched off my phone by accident -- that or it's really getting sick -- and, guess what, wouldn't boot. Again. I thought that backup didn't have experimental applications, but I dunno. Tonight I've gone through by hand, making sure I'm only getting approved apps, and testing re-boot ability, making backups of the list as I go. That SD card: totally worth it.

The pub was interesting. I'm not going to try to be interesting about it, but I had pork belly, and bacon and something mash (potatoes), and sauteed leeks, and it was good. Oh! But the lemonade was sprite or tonic water with lemon in it. Not... what I was expecting.

As mentioned in previous post comments, there's not many homeless people around. I haven't seen any, but Proteus says they're out there. Nothing like Reagan's America, I guess.

April 2019

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