London, Day 3… ouch!

I bet you thought this was never going to come. The final part of the London trip, or what I can remember of it, because after all, this was three months ago now…

The final day was upon us quicker than what you could say “Soft, supple, Hartlepudlian feet”. Day 3 was to tie up the loose ends of the places we hadn’t been to, and places we’d want to revisit. Of course, we had to vacate the room by a certain time (10AM), and the train back from King’s Cross wasn’t until 8PM. Thankfully, the hotel, again, let us leave our bags there until we were ready to pick them up.

We left the hotel behind, and headed to King’s Cross tube station. A place we were now very familiar with. The first stop was Greenwich, most notably the O2. The plan was to go there and see if anything had changed since we last visited, and then head off to Greenwich town centre to see what was there. It was before 11 at this point, so there wasn’t really anything open at the O2. One thing I did remember from our last visit several years ago were strange circular LED advertising hoardings. They were basically one row of LEDs spinning at such a speed that they’d give the effect of going all the way round. Slight problem was, they were getting old now, and the LEDs were certainly past their best.

the greatest thing for me, however, was an advertising display made entirely of old media, such as videotapes, records audio tapes and CDs. I spent most of the time looking at this, slightly gutted that a large amound of perfectly good records had been entombed in this display, and would never be played again. For your viewing pleasure are photos of this hoarding, and you too can see if you can see a classic in there. You can, of course, click the images to get a full-size verison. There’s 9 of them, so you might have to scroll if you’re not interested. Sorry, not sorry.










I’ve already spotted “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, which is possibly my favourite album of all time, also “Something Else” by Inspiral Carpets, which features the words “Binsy Smith Meets Monobrow” on the spine.. nope, me neither, but I do know is, apart from an obscure Google Books entry, that previous line the only mention of those words anywhere on the internet. Cor, eh?

So, the plan was to head to Greenwich Village to see what was there. Despite our complete failure with the DLR, were to try our luck again, as apparently there isn;t a tube stop there.

We headed to Canary Wharf. A place that had changed immensely since I’d first visited in 2003. It was no longer the dominant sight on the capital skyline, other buildings had taken that mantle many hears ago. Still, the DLR station was still there. Accomplice had reliably informed me of where we were going to depart, and the train went in completely the wrong direction. Whoops.

Still ,all was not lost, as no matter where you go in London, you’re going to end up close to some attraction, and where we ended up was Cannon Street, just a short walk fromThe Great Fire of London monument.

If my feet weren’t on fire by this point, I still think it’d have been a bit pointless climbing it. The buildings nearby simply dWarfed it. Twenty years ago, it’ll have been something worth climbing, like the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, but when they charge you to stare into someone’s office window, I’ll give that bit a miss.

It was coming up to lunchtime by this point. I needed to knock some Glucophage down my neck, and Accomplice was in full agreement that food needed to be taken on board. I don’t think I mentioned how much the menu at the Brewdog in Camden appealed to both of us. I seem to remember it was on the same underground line we were currently near, so, despite the fact I’ve never seen a bee fly in a straight line, we made a beeline for Camden, and the Brewdog establishment. We arrived there at a little before 12PM, as we knew that was when Brewdog was going to open.

CEX, no matter where you are, are exactly the same. Sometimes you’ll get different stock. Sometimes they’ll sell CDs, sometimes they won’t. Most of the time there’ll be shelves marked with yellow headers full of DVD. This was the latter. All of them seem to have a simple price bracket, and that’s “ridiculous”. Everything I’ve bought from a CEX has been either ridiculously expensive, or ridiculously cheap. As this particular store didn’t have a music section, it was of no interest to me, and I left empty handed.

So, with CEX taken care of, we went for some lunch. Accomplice had been drooling at the thought of a Brewdog burger, and I had my mind set on a nice, big plate of chips. Last of the exotic eaters, eh? I can safely say neither of us were disappointed (except for the price, obviously, as they were pretty extortionate). My chips were really nice, and there’s no exaggeration in saying that Accomplice’s burger was about half a foot tall. While we were in there, we paid close attention to a van that had been stopped by the police, and was being thoroughly looked at. A little part of me was expecting the side panel of a Mercedes Sprinter to be blasted through the window, but thankfully this didn’t happen.

After about two hours, we finally left Brewdog. Unfortunately, sitting for that amount of time didn’t do my feet or legs any good, this was the part of the day when I really started to suffer. While we were in Camden, we went our separate was for a small amount of time. Accomplice had a comic shop to attend, and I had a record shop. I ended up buying 6 singles. None of which were pretty exciting. I just felt like I had to buy something while I was there.

On the subject of comics and comic based goodness, Accomplice was aware of a large Forbidden Planet store, somewhere in Covent Garden, so this was to be our next stop, and really, the last planned stop of our adventures. After going through the back alleys of London, eventually, we ignored Google Maps, and just headed onto the street, and there it was, right in front of us. And there was a seat, thankfully, so I could rest my throbbing hooves.

Unfortunately, the GPS recording goes a little haywire for a time after this, but I distincly recall wanting to go to “The Elephant and Castle”. I didn’t really know what was there except for a shopping centre, and seeing how well our last visit to a shopping centre went on the previous day, I was hoping it was a bit more touristy. All aboard the underground, then, and onto what must have possibly been the oldest train still in service. The illusion that we were heading out of the touristy part of the city was heightened with every flash of the train’s internal lights, leaving us in moments of complete darkness. I expected to hear a woman scram and then find a dead body on the floor, like some Agatha Christie novel.

We alighted the train, and walked up something like 100 steps (117 and 11 depending on which way you’re going, thank you Wikipedia). There are lifts, but Accomplice has a fear of them, so we took the pedestrianised route. Yeah, I could have got the lift up, but I really didn’t feel like getting separated, especially with zero mobile signal XXX metres underground.

We reached the surface, and it was quite clear we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Maybe 3AM on a Thursday afternoon was not the best time to catch it, but it became clear this wasn’t really any type of tourist attraction, and the view I had of it, in part thanks to Jim Davidson’s unhilarious sit-com “Up The Elephant And Round The Castle”, turned out to be completely incorrect. A quick hobble into a nearby Tesco to stock up on much needed sugar and liquid, and we were back down the hundred-and-odd steps faster than what you can say “Slow down, me feet are fucking killing me”.

So, the three days away were coming to a close. We’d exhausted the entire tube map. There was time for one last look at Marble Arch…

… and then we were off back to the hotel. Unfortunately, this involved a walk from Marble Arch to Great Portland Street. On a normal day, this would have been a piece of piss, and I wouldn’t have whinged once, but when I had two red hot balls of lava shoved into size-10 Karrimor boots, it wasn’t a pleasant journey.

One last tube ride, and then the final excruciating walk from King’s Cross to the hotel, and then from the hotel back to King’s Cross. And, with a further train ride from King’s Cross to Darlington, and then from there back to Partypool, the three days were over, but yes, my feet…

And, for those of you who haven’t had enough of the photos, the full collection is here

Nottingham! It’s in Nottinghamshire! (Part 2)

So, I awoke on the 2nd day at about 8AM, after a perfectly acceptable nights’ sleep. This was surprising, as I’m not a fan of hotel beds. I seen to recall my sleep was disturbed by a passing police car. Despite being on the 7th floor, and quite a distance from the road, the building next to ours reflected the sound into the room, and by the time the car had headed along Maid Marian Way (no, seriously, that’s that the road was called), I was awake, bright as buttons. Gah.

Chris slept through it, so I amused myself by abusing my phone and uploading all sorts of garbage to Facebook. I gave it until 9PM before I decided to surface and risk waking Chris up. 19 minutes later, while in the middle of a shave, my phone started going nuts, it was Chris’s dad. Amusingly, Chris slept through approximately 20 seconds of my annoying shopping centre yet there were two charity shops in there, a particularly bad YMCA shop that had literally 10 CDs in there, and a much better shop, where I spent under £7 on CDs. I could have spent more, but I didn’t realise the singles were “Buy one Get one Free”…

By this time, Chris’s boredom threshold was being tested to its limits, so we went in search of the now removed railway, and found it entirely by chance…

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The closed tunnel entrance in the centre of the picture, the unmistakable blue brick to the right forming the entrance to what was once a railway tunnel, now a car park.

By this point, the effects of the Greggs Pasty were wearing off. I was hungry, and so was Chris. I had a bag of CDs to drop off at the hotel. It suddenly dawned on us. Where the fuck was the hotel? I knew one thing, we were near this building…

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In hindsight, this building was visible from the hotel window, but we were lost enough for me to break out “the technology” – bring up Google Maps on my phone and make sure we were heading in the right direction. We were! Eventually we returned at the hotel, I dropped my CDs off, and headed in the general direction for something to eat.

Three days consisting of nothing but curry would probably be a bit too much, so we gave the curry houses a miss and headed off back into the town, eventually resorting to going to the Wetherspoons we’d went to the previous night. I settled for the “simple” steak ‘n’ chips, while Chris had some type of Panini thing. I always thought they just made sticker annuals…

Food was consumed, and the day was still young. The only tourist attraction either of us could think of was the castle, as Nottingham, at one point, had a large fortification overlooking the city. It was £5.50 in. Unfortunately, there’s very little remaining of the castle itself, except the walls. Inside, is a large museum and art gallery. There’s also a fair amount of gardens to walk around and admire that thing where they make shapes out of plants… erm… can’t remember its name…

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The highlight, for me was the fact that the museum actually contains the very football shirt Maradonna wore during his infamous “Hand Of God” incident. Now that’s not something you see every day.

We left the grounds just as a horde of foreign students invaded the place. Perfect timing! They all seemed like proper twunts. We made or way to “Ye Olde Pube”. I can’t remember its proper name, but it’s set inside the cliffs that Nottingham Castle stood on. While me and Chris were enjoying a quiet pint in the “beer garden”, the hordes of students had apparently left the castle and headed to our quiet little inn. None of them were over the age to drink, so they just stood outside and took photos of the place. In pure “Jamie is a complete dick” style, I tried to photobomb as many as possible. There’ll be some kid, thousands of miles away, wondering why there’s a bearded guy with a pint glass on his head.

At this point, it started to get cold, and the time for food was fast approaching. We headed off back to the hotel. After remembering how bad the beer was in the free bar the previous night, we stopped off at the Tescos and picked up essential supplies…

Amusingly, there were signs on the hotel entrance that “No food or drink to be consumed in the room”. I’m sure they’d try and stop me.

No food or drink in the hotel....

After a quick change, we headed out of the hotel and, after a quick walk round, decided that our next meal would once again be consumed at “Chutney”. After all, their service and food was superb last time. It was even better. the staff were friendly, and even gave us another discount because we’d been there the day before. Ten, no, eleven points for service.

Once again, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the night’s festivities. I say festivities, I really mean drinking some of the world’s most watered down lager known to man. It’s not even worthy of the “Making Love in a Canoe” joke…

We returned to the room early, pouched the cans, and I attempted to take some long exposure shots out of the hotel window. I’d show you them, except it would appear that Flickr has eaten them. Grrrr.