Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Longest Day (not just because of the Solstice...)

I never like to open with a cliche but this really was the day I had been waiting for for far too long now. I had arrived in Dundee the day before and spent a good 6 hours packing for all possible occasions: working at one of the poshest events in London this summer after the jubilee, climbing up a mountain that goes from +30°C to -20°C, for a safari and for a beach resort. Somehow I managed to fit all of this into a rucksack and small suitcase, still the thought of navigating London on the tube means every bag is a step closer to getting lost in a strangers armpit.

How often does this happen?

At 9 o'clock my taxi came to whisk me away after my fleeting visit to Dundee and after a quick train to Edinburgh, caught with minutes to spare, I was off to London. I have fond memories of East Coast trains as there is usually something good at the end of them.  I got a taste of what London might be like when I was trying to find somewhere to put my bags in the horrendously packed luggage racks. I wish people would realise that they can fit their tiny handbags in the overhead storage rather than clogging up the main racks. One of my travel pet-peeves! However after some pushing, shoving and impatient people I got everything in, alas at opposite ends of the carriage to the other. Opposite me there was an old woman who had been on since Perth and she barely said a word for the whole trip, but I constantly saw her peek over to nose at what everyone else was reading or doing. Next to her was your standard business man who had probably just rolled out of a meeting to head back home, both of them had excellent faces for a caricature and when I find the time to recreate them I will! As much as I was attempting to read what my fellow passengers were like, I am sure they were judging me as being a waste-of-space-gap-yah-kid too.

After York the train was non-stop until Kings Cross which meant we arrived a mere 4 hours after leaving Edinburgh.I like to think I have got to know this piece of track quite well and I look out for my favourite sights but there are the occasional new ones I have just missed completely like a huge stretch of forest after Dunbar that made me think I was back in Austria and the massive ferris wheel in York I have somehow missed over the years. I also like to look out for rail side artwork, for example the mileage signs on either side if the track pointing to London and Edinburgh but they are very blink and you'll miss it though making them all the more special when you catch them. As soon as I stepped off the train in London I knew that trackies and a hoody were a bad call as the temperature had increased, however Kings Cross was surprisingly empty as I had arrived before rush hour so my luggage wasn't going to be too much of a problem, as was my pertistant perspiration. For my time in London I was staying at my friend Heather's flat, she used to be my babysitter many moons ago so this is just going to be advanced babysitting for her!

Her flat is out in Lewisham found in South East London in a nice typically London-y area, then again there isn't really a "typical London" it is all so pick and mix architecturally speaking. I spent the evening getting to know the area by walking between the two Overground stations we were slap bang in the middle of. Having lived in Scotland all my life I never thought there would be that big of a difference between us and those across the border but I had only been  in England for a few hours and there was a quite a different look and feel to the place. I don't mean just in that "london smell" and the hustle and bustle, there were little things like the way people went about themselves, the fact there are off licences and there are flags everywhere. In Scotland, other than the Royal Mile on Edinburgh, we aren't really a flag waving bunch (contrary to popular belief) but in England, my god are they proud of old Jack. Maybe it's just because it's the Jubilee/Olympics, but still; I doubt I'll be forgetting what country I am in anytime soon.

As I was out on my walk it was getting rapidly darker and darker, something I was not used to at all. By 10pm the sun had already set on the longest day of the year and as my body clock forced me to head to bed I thought of my friends back home sitting on a beach watching the sun flirt with the horizon. Nevertheless, there was no time to be jealous as I have one impressive itinerary for the next 5 weeks and I will need my sleep.

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