One day in Ye Olde Londonton done. After being picked up by my cousin, I was whisked away to his palatial accommodations in the made-up-sounding area of Buckinghamshire. If anything sounds like nonsense British gobbledegook, Buckinghamshire certainly does. I was surprised to not find gnomish illusionists and dwarven artificers roaming the suburb, but it turns out not all fantasies can be a reality. Fortunately my cousin’s place had all the comforts of home, including a robot shower that can fluctuate temperature and pressure at the press of a button. He said the blue LEDs had stopped working, so points deducted, clearly. It’s a lovely place to stay, but holy hell is it ever far out of London proper. He’s been insistent on giving me rides to and from the station, which has been a massive help. Otherwise the commute can take upwards of two hours.
Oh, commuting! The tube is as amazing as everyone had said. It just works. So many lines that interlock at various points in each route. There’s a tap on/off system that has a maximum daily limit, so once you hit that you’re no longer charged for transport that day. It’s an expansive network that’s not difficult to navigate. Everything is explicitly signposted and colour coded for ease of use. Hell, even the seats are comfy. Full marks, London, full marks.
It is, however, much colder here than I’d been expecting. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d brought my minus 20 degree jacket, but I simply brought its outer rain shell, assuming the whole thing would be unnecessary roughness. I’ve got a winter coat, but necessity led me to H&M for a warm, fluffy scarf. So I guess I unintentionally now have a souvenir. Good thing I brought a pair of those silly winter cellphone gloves, so I can keep you all updated even in this harsh climate. Don’t say I never do anything for you.
So how was my first day of exploring? I kept things simple, knocking out a bunch of the touristy sights, spending a solid minute at each. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye. Various monument things in Green and St James parks. To be honest, sightseeing isn’t really my kind of thing. I accidentally hadn’t eaten in about 8 hours, loaf sandwich being naught but a fond memory. I walked around the Thames river (I think that’s what it was called. I wasn’t paying attention) to kill time until I could catch up with my friends. I found a New Zealand coffee chain and paid an embarrassing amount for my first can of L&P in over three years. I got lost in alleyways looking for my friend’s workplace (well fuck, Emily), before realising that of course, she was at the big PWC building.
We strolled through Soho to meet up with other friends and in doing so, caught up. We’re grabbed a beer at a pub upstairs from the Bao restaurant where we were gonna dine and waited for the others to show up. The most remarkable thing was how quickly we shook off the fact that it’d been three years and just hung out. Joking around like no time had passed. We reminisced about dumb high school stuff and the kind of embarrassing shit we all did in our 20s. Chatted about how the transition of moving had been, what we’d left behind. It was organic, easy. Exactly what I’d wanted out of this trip.
At the end of the day, I’m of course here to explore the city. Really though, I want to spend quality time with people I’ve missed in an all new environment. I want to have the experiences I left behind, but with all the excitement that time, growth and perspective bring.
Also to eat a Yorkshire pudding. That feels obligatory.