No pudding! Ice cream, coffee!

This post was actually written on June 5, but when they pertain to a specific date, I’m backdataing them.

Sunday the 30th we took a long walk around London, starting with a ride on the Northern Line of the Underground into Embankment. From there we crossed over the Thames by foot and walked up to the London Eye. I quickly learned a few things:

  • Copyright of Disney characters is pretty much ignored. We saw a number of Donald Ducks and at least one Mickey Mouse in costume in the path along the Thames entertaining. (We also later saw carousels and a number of other random objects with Disney characters airbrushed on them.) Let’s just say anyone who took their Donald Duck mask off in front of the public at Disney would be fired, but it wasn’t at all unusual on the streets of London.
  • Dressing up as a silver statue and standing on a box on the sidewalk is an acceptable way to make a living, apparently.
  • The London Eye is extremely busy on the first Sunday of half-term.

We walked up to the National Theatre in London, past the Blackfriars Bridge, and stopped at the Tate Modern art museum. I enjoyed the museum more than I expected to, not being a big fan of modern art. I still stand by my statement that the most beautiful thing I saw at the Tate was the view from the restaurant at the top, where the sun was shining on the Thames and making London look amazing.

From there we walked down to the Globe Theater and took a quick look inside, crossed the Thames back to the north side at Millennium Bridge (which is awesome by the way) and took a look at St. Paul’s Cathedral on our way up to Chinatown.

We got totally distracted by St. Brides Church, where the crypts were open for touring. There are few things I’ve experienced as awe-inspiring as standing in a crypt where I could reach out and touch (though I didn’t) the walls of a church that were dated to the 11th century.

From there we hiked it to Trafalgar Square, popped into the National Gallery for about 5 minutes, and finally made it into Chinatown.

We found a great little restaurant offering an 8-course meal for 9£ a piece, ate ourselves full of duck and chicken and shrimp, and laughed ourselves silly at some of the antics in the restaurant.

Behind us, a table kept asking about dessert. They kept asking for pudding. The waiter kept saying, “No pudding! Ice cream, coffee.” It took about a minute for everyone to agree on vanilla ice cream, but we’ve been chanting “No pudding! Ice cream, coffee!” ever since.

When we got our ice cream, by the way, it was as much chaos, because the waitress forgot about us, then seemed annoyed we’d asked for dessert, then didn’t know the term for vanilla ice cream, then finally delivered 3 bowls of ice cream, where each scoop was about the size of a ball of butter.

Thoroughly exhausted, we made our way back onto the tube, and home again.

Filling in the gaps: How do you say “I blew a fuse” in British?

This post was actually written on June 5, but when they pertain to a specific date, I’m backdataing them. Also, in the tradition of protecting my family’s privacy, as usual, Internet aliases are used instead of names.

Just as I gave up on staying awake on the plane, they started raising the lights. We were less than 2 hours out of London and it was time to feed us breakfast. I don’t remember what breakfast was, just that I was thoroughly disinterested in it and wanted to be off the plane.

We landed in Heathrow without incident and walked through what I still swear were the employee entrances (lots of long skinny corridors of plan wallboard) until we were finally herded into passport control.

Passport control was a loooong line that terminated in someone asking us why we were here and when we were leaving. It wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I’d somehow worked myself up to it being, and by then I’m not sure if anything could have terrified me anyway. I was too tired. We collected our luggage and met up with Viv, who handed us a bag of soda and water and weird British candy and led us to the car.

An example of weird British candy

Because we couldn’t check into the hotel until 2, goatfiend took us back to the flat, where we enjoyed unlimited Internet, soda and snacks, a delicious breakfast bread, and wonderful wonderful naps. We were out so cold that Viv went out for a bit, returned, and had to get the neighbor with the spare key to let us in because despite the fact that the flat is 800 square feet and I was less than 5 feet from the door, neither of us heard her knocking to be let back in.

When plantnerd returned home we feasted on huge huge salads, chatted and caught up and drank tea, and then finally checked in at the hotel.

The room was nice, if small. Two beds, a bathroom larger than plantnerd’s kitchen, and a window that actually opened. We promptly went about the usual tasks of choosing beds, setting up (and paying for) internet access, and trying to figure out how to charge 2 laptops, an iPad, and 2 phones on one UK power converter.

Here’s the wrong answer: power bar. I’d packed an old 6-plug power bar from the house, figuring that we could plug that into the wall and then plug all our stuff into it. When you plug the converter-laden-powerbar into the wall, hear “FFFT!” and smell something almost exactly like gunpowder, you rethink your ingenious plan.

The right answer turned out to be twofold: borrow a second converter from the cousin, and change hotel rooms. That’s right, I said change hotel rooms. You see, everything in the UK is triple checked to make sure that it’s electronically OK to plug in, so they almost never blow a fuse or circuit breaker. When they do (as we did – none of the plugs on the desk now worked, including the TV), the hotel staff don’t know how to fix it. There’s no breaker box in the hotel room. There’s nobody on staff certified to go find the problem on a Saturday morning. The only solution was to switch us to the next hotel room down the hall… which is exactly what we did the next morning.