London, Part Two
So, I've now been back nearly 48 hours. As my body didn't actually get the chance to adjust to London time (and I think I did pretty well, although I tended to fade around 10pm each night) it doesn't need to readjust now, so I'm just a bit tired but not as much as I'd expected. However, I could have done with not going straight back to work, especially as now I have period pains, feel bleurgh, have a flat that looks like a bombsite (it was a little bit messy before I went to London, now it also has the post-holiday mess) AND one of my favourite people in the world, Zandt, is coming to stay tomorrow. (Okay, I have many favourites, but he's one of my favourite favourites).
Back to London then: Thursday I went to Epsom to hang out with Ben and meet his sprog. The last time I'd seen Ben was at my leaving party (funnily enough) when he'd just started going out with Gaby. Now they're married and have a nine-month old kid. It's all just a bit too strange to get my head around BUT it was lovely relaxing with them and the baby is just too lovely....
Getting to Epsom was fun and produced another of my 'I hate London' moments that I had a few times in the six days. This one was caused by trying to get an extension to my Oyster Card (travel card thingy - the one that the upstart at the Heathrow Airport underground station had raised his eyes at me when I'd asked about). I explained to the guy on the gate at Waterloo - I have a zone one and two Oyster card. I'm going to Epsom. I need an extension. Can I get it when I get TO Epsom? [Blank look]. I repeated. I spoke slowly. The guard looked bewildered. (This was England. I was talking English. Just to clarify.) The words eventually seeped into his brain and he pointed at a machine and said: No. Machine.
I walked to the machine. I queued. I eventually got to the front. The machine didn't do extensions.
I queued at the information desk to ask about the extension. I got pointed to another much longer queue. To be precise, the much longer queue had about 70+ people queuing at a 27 window area. THREE OF WHICH WERE OPEN.
I got my sodding extension.
In Tokyo we have 'fair adjust' machines. This means it doesn't matter if you don't have the 'correct' ticket to travel on as you don't run the risk of dealing with incompetent staff or ridiculous queues or of risking a big fine, you simply pay the difference to another machine at the other end.
It works. It stops ME from getting pissed off. There's a very thin line between anal and efficient, as far as I'm concerned, but Tokyo has it. London doesn't.
Anyway, back to Epsom. I had a lovely time hanging out in Epsom, and then Ben and I headed into town, met Lesley all-to-briefly for a quick bottle of wine (thanks for that, Lesley!) before Ben and I headed off for some food in a pub.
Me to waitress: Bla, bla food, a bottle of [this] wine please and some tap water please.
Waitress: We don't do tap water.
Me: [confused] Sorry?
Waitress: We don't do tap water.
Me: You HAVE taps?
Waitress: Yes. But we can't give tap water.
Ben ordered a bottle of water before I was able to lose it!
Anyhoo, lovely evening, thanks for treating me Ben and sorry I wussed out so early!
Friday, went back to Oxford Street (and it was STILL cold and STILL raining), bombed it around more shops. Spent a LOT more money and met Nikki for a nice relaxed lunch (thanks for that Nik! It was very kind of you.) Rushed back to Oxford Street to do even more shopping and headed off to Covent Garden to drink/eat more with Paul, Kate, Gemma, Rob, Val and Iain. Lesley and Anshul both got way-layed somewhere.... but I'm forgiving ;-)
It was a lovely evening and really nice to see everyone again.
Saturday (still cold and still raining), Sarah and I headed to Borough Market (Yay! I love Borough Market) and had a wander along the South Bank (my favourite area of London) before meeting up with Andrew and Katya for some coffee, food and catching up.
It was lovely talking to Elaine on the phone but a shame we couldn't hook up. Well, if you WILL go to Portugal the week I come to London! I'll forgive you when you visit me in Tokyo!
Saturday night Sarah and I went to the cinema, wandered around (in the rain) and ate felafel. YUM!
And that was it. Sunday I came home. I have never been so happy to get to Narita before.
Let's make this brief. Briefish:
- Got to airport early.
- Went to check in.
- Airport staff got confused about who was meant to queuing where.
- Expected them to be nice.
- Was disappointed.
- Was suffereing PMS.
- Could just about manage to life suitcase onto belt. (Well, I'd been shopping, hadn't I and a lot of the stuff I would have carried in hand luggage I now can't)
- Expected the same kind of leniency ANA had given me when I'd first come to Tokyo.
- Got charged about £350 for excess baggage.
- Threw a fit.
- Continued throwing a fit.
- A lot.
- Continued ranting.
- A lot.
- Cut finger badly on lock that had been broken by airline on way out.
- Went to toilet bleeding badly.
- Came out with finger wadded in bog roll.
- Continued arguing.
- Refused to leave anything behind.
- Refused to send anything.
- Refused to pay £350+ to airline.
- Refused to shut up.
- Finally paid £110 and carried ALL my shoes onto the plane with me.
- Flight was packed.
- Got to Kuala Lumpur.
- Airport had just changed over to a new system.
- They were doing on-the-job training.
- NO transit passengers had onward tickets before getting to KL.
- 100s of people were queuing. Mostly for two+ hours.
- Can you imagine an airport FULL of angry people?
- With most flights being delayed?
- I looked at the queue.
- I asked if it would be smaller later or if there were lots more flights coming in.
- I got an answer and went off and played on the internet, sat and had lunch, went and looked around the shops, wandered around....
- and got back into the queue behind the people I would have been still waiting behind if I'd stayed put.
- I was unfrazzled. They weren't. I waited about 20 minutes.
- My flight was hardly delayed. It was also about 150 people short of being full, so lots of space.
- Slept most of way back on train.
- Got a shock at my station - it'd grown an escalator and a new platform in the six days I'd been away.
HAPPY TO BE BACK!