I’ve just entered essay season so most of my time is going on attempting to reach my deadlines. My blog is definitely going to feel the impact of this as it means over the next six or so weeks I’ll have significantly less time to dedicate to blogging, meaning fewer posts on this blog. I thought I’d quickly type out a post in order to avoid a total barren desert situation happening over on this blog and since I recently enjoyed a day out in London yesterday (Monday) I’d share it with you all. I have to say, it was not the most spectacular visit I’ve had, and ordinarily I probably wouldn’t have written about it as it’s not really that exciting. But it’s easy and it’s kinda fun (which makes for a welcome break from academic writing) and hopefully you’ll at least enjoy my sparkling wit and dazzling personality (ha. yeah, I know what you’re thinking but I have to try and Mae this post seem appealing somehow) and it’ll make up for a lacklustre bunch of experiences.
My sister had an open day thing at UCL which she had to go into London for because, well, that’s where the university is. Since she was already heading in and would only be there a few hours we thought we’d made a day of it. We travelled into London by train- we’re fortunate enough to have a line that takes us straight into central London… no train changes, wooo! I had a nice little nap on the train. The engine was so soothing and I had an early start so I was quite sleepy. I’d like to say that I woke up revitalised from said nap but unfortunately I was groggy for a good ten minutes of waking.
Once we reached Waterloo we took a tube over to Goodge Street as that’s where the meeting point was for the open day. It might also be kind of where the university is based but I’m not sure, I think it’s quite spread out. It was a fairly quick and uneventful walk over there. I was reminded of just how chaotic the whole traffic situation is in London, it’s insane! Aggressive hooting. Tailgating. Indicators seemed to be a foreign concept. God forbid you’re crossing when a vehicle is on the road, they will not stop. Or slow down, for that matter. I will never drive in London.
Having seen my sister off, my mum and I headed over to Camden. Camden’s pretty cool, I’ve been there a fair few times and I do try and make it a point to go if I’m visiting London. The markets are really where it’s at, that’s the coolest area. Before we had a nose round the markets, however, we went on the look out for some toilets. A major downside not only to this trip but to general visits to London is the lack of toilets around the place. It’s a nightmare trying to find a toilet that you don’t have to pay for, and even those that you do are often pretty disgraceful. We decided to hunt down a McDonald’s, even though the risk was there the conditions might be shocking. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination but it was definitely less disgusting than I had feared! I also ordered some medium fries, a McFlurry (Oreo for anyone who was curious. I love Oreos) and a small Coke Zero as I was both peckish and parched. It also gave us the opportunity to have a bit of a sit down and rest our feet.
Once we’d recharged and were decently fed and ‘hydrated’ we headed towards the market area. If you plan on going to Camden, this is the area you want to visit. It is, essentially, a huge maze of stalls selling everything from jewellery to clothing to food to super cool art work and so much more. It’s so cool because a lot of the things on offer aren’t things you’d find in a conventional shop. What I really like about it though is the atmosphere- it’s tricky to describe but I’ll have a shot. It gives me real holiday vibes, with music playing around the place and the smell of delicious food (and, depending on the area you’re in, incense, which can be unpleasantly over powering). I really just like going for the atmosphere, I rarely ever actually pick anything up, and I didn’t on this occasion.
Having finished perusing the market area, we wandered down the high street. The tube station is in the middle of the high street, so we kinda had to. BUT we did also have a bit more time to kill. We had a quick browse of the H&M there. The clothing selection was really good. I find H&M can be a bit hit and miss, but I honestly wanted to buy the whole store here! It was with great pain that I managed to force myself to leave the store empty handed. There was an American candy shop a little further down , and naturally my feet just kinda led me in there. Nothing to do with the temptation of sugar. Nope. I find these types of American candy stores fascinating as the range of sweets in America is really broad (or so it seems at least). This is another time when I could have bought the whole store, there were so many sweets or flavour variants (birthday cake Oreos. Red Velvet Oreos! CINNAMON BUN OREOS!), but the store was really bloody expensive and, as I said, I’m a student so I really have to consider my budget so had to resist. Another interesting observation from this store is that they sold weird British merchandise at the back. That in itself is odd considering it marketed itself as an American candy store. What’s even weirder is that they had a biscuit tins with the faces of Meghan Markle and Price Harry plastered all over them… they’re not even married yet. How odd.
Anyway, this was the last place we visited round Camden. Having finished up at that store (can I really refer to it as an American candy store??) we headed back to the tube to get back to Goodge Street to meet my sister after her uni visit had finished. From there we walked over to Five Guys on Tottenham Court Road because I’d just had it and was dying to have another Five Guys burger again (and I also wanted to share the deliciousness with my family). Surprisingly it wasn’t too busy, and through some odd stroke of good luck we were able to snag a booth by the window so we could have a little spy on the world outside while we enjoyed out food. I ordered a small burger with cheese, bacon, mayo, BBQ sauce and (raw) onions. I also (very generously) got burgers for my mum and sister, as well as a portion of regular fries and a drink to share. I said the fries were regular but they gave a huge amount, I looked over and not only did the guy preparing our order fill the cup right to the brim, I also saw him chuck another load into the bag. I ain’t complaining though- I love my chips! They also offer an unlimited-refill situation drinks-wise, so one cup was more than enough. The machine they offer for said refills has many an option, which meant I frickin’ got to try strawberry flavoured Sprite, which I didn’t even know was a thing (a very yummy thing, may I add). I was ravenous after all the walking and thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I actually think I could have had another round of burger and chips, honestly.
Having stuffed out faces, we then took the tube over to Oxford Circus. Probably not the wisest decision given how busy it is. An even stupider decision given the fact that I’d been there a fair few times before and knew how totally chaotic it was. The crowds truly brought out my inner grumpiness. Either I was in a mood where I was getting pissed off very easily, or people were genuinely being very annoying. People walking at an unbelievably slow late. People in the opposite direction refusing to look up from their phones and almost crashing into me. People stopping in the middle of the pavement for no good reason. A lot of tongue-biting and deep breathing exercises were done at this point. We nipped into H&M (again) as my sister wanted a denim jacket, which she did, in fact, manage to find. This H&M had a somewhat worse selection of clothing than the Camden one. The purpose of getting off at Oxford Circus was to have a wander round Selfridges, a huge, super fancy but also stupidly expensive department store. Oxford Circus was probably not the best station to get off at as it left us with quite the walk, amongst all the crowds, too. Fun! We didn’t even end up spending long there, this was the point where we’d all cracked and were feeling super tired and were deliberating just heading home. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a great decision going there as we’ve been a fair few times and it’s not like we’d have bought anything from there anyway.
Before giving up entirely, I managed to convince the others to head to Embankment rather than straight to Waterloo as they’re very close and the walk between the two stations is pretty nice. It turned out to be a pretty great decision, even though are feet were aching an unbelievable amount. I’ve walked along the Embankment bridge before (I believe that that’s what it’s called at least) and you get some pretty nice views of London from there. We definitely had a nice time taking in the view (plus the grey skies had cleared a bit so it was framed by a lovely blue back drop). We settled opposite the London Eye for about fifteen minutes to rest and enjoy the atmosphere and the city. We then decided it was time to head to Waterloo to get the train home.
I wish I could say that’s where the day out ended. However, after a few minutes of waiting to see which platform our train was going to arrive at we were instead greeted with the fantastic news that it was delayed. What an end to the day. We waited around twenty to thirty minutes for our train to arrive at the platform in a shocking crowd during the work rush hour (let me emphasise, rush hour in one of the biggest London stations. I’m sure you can imagine just how nightmarish that would be). At least we were granted some entertainment in the form of watching desperate, weary commuters sprint in an attempt to catch their trains.
Honestly, it was an enjoyable day on the whole but it would have been better with a bit of a plan. It was entirely unplanned and I think that led to visiting places we’ve visited a few times in the past rather than discovering something new. Hopefully the next time I take a trip into London I will have something more exciting to report back.
I also wanted to add that I checked my step count in the health app on my phone and it came to over 20,000. 20,000 steps. Quite the achievement for someone who’s daily exercise routine is limited to dragging her arse from her bed down to the kitchen and back again.