Day 8 - Friday March 5th 2010
Back to London
Today is my last day in Hatfield, well last day in the hotel there, I guess I might have to go back there for work during the day next week, but from now on I will be staying in London.
Weather is still fine and looks like staying fine, so I should be able to do lots of interesting things during the week after work.
This morning was however extra cold, there was ice on everything and the ground was crunchy, I am sure people thought I was weird jumping on grass and stuff to listen to it crunch.
Frost on a car, people scrape it off with spatula things
Last day of work out at Hatfield was a bit boring, but I did go to Morrisons to get some lunch, this completes my visits to all the supermarkets in the Hatfield/St Albans area.
In the afternoon I caught the (extremely crowded) train back to London and to my new hotel, its a hotel I stayed in last time and its great because it has wired free internet, a microwave and a fridge and costs about 50 pounds a night on average, which is currently about $80 Australia dollars, far cheaper than a hotel in Adelaide and yet its in Earls Court central london, 100 metres from the tube.
I am on the top floor and even have a small balcony.
Heres the view from my balcony
And here is a picture I find amazing, planes go over constantly all over the sky, look at all these criss crossing vapour trails
I set off in the early evening, and remembered that in London the museums are open until 10pm on Fridays, which is pretty awesome. Remembering that last time I failed to see all of the Victoria and Albert museum I headed there, since its very close to my hotel and Harrods.
Museum was great, especially because I was the only person around, theres something great about being in a museum on your own, once I got up to the top floor there was really no one there at all.
Here I am in front of a huge pillar thing, its 6 stories high, I have no idea how they got some of the stuff into the museum, or how they convinced the locals wherever it was stolen from to give it up, probably they shot them I suspect.
Some glass things in the glass section of the museum, this picture did not come out as cool as I might have hoped.
After the museum I had a look around Harrods and surrounding shops/houses. The usual display of expensive cars parked in the street were there, but there were also a bunch of big security guards and someone came out of a house into a van. There were also 2 identical vans and they left in different directions, decoys perhaps. I have no idea who got into the van, but the guys had earpieces and I think they were Russian.
Inside Harrods was also mainly Russians buying things, the food hall is great, I wanted to eat some of the meat in there raw it looked so good, instead I headed home to my local marks and spencers.
Seeing as though my hotel has a microwave, I can now eat the large selection of 'ready meals' which require heating.
The work I do makes front page news, I seriously am supposed to transmit the data in those bins back to servers to work out how to rip off home owners based on how much stuff they put in their bins.
Heres a selection of my food things, vegetarian lasagne (really nice! and from the low calorie selection), side salad, fruit salad, pepsi max (best drink ever invented)
Day 9 - Saturday March 6th 2010
London for the weekend
Today I can do whatever I feel like, the weathers great, I have no plans....so why did I wake up more tired than when I went to bed?
I decided the best thing to do is to look on the internet for ideas, its not an issue of having nothing to do, its that theres so much to do and I dont know what to choose.
I settle on a plan to go to the Royal Air Force Museum (yes, another museum, I like them and they are free and warm).
The Royal Air Force Museum
The museum is quite a distance out of London, but still on a tube line at Colindale, the total journey takes about an hour after changing etc. I was literally falling asleep on the train even though I am pretty excited as planes are my favourite thing.
Some guys trying hard to be cool got on the train near me and had a fake argument about where the best jazz clubs were in London, it was clear even to me that they knew nothing about jazz but had decided its cool to like jazz so they had better pretend to be experts in order to be in the club. This became more apparent when they couldnt think of the first name of the jazz trumpeter whos name is Coltrane (even I know its John Coltrane and he played a sax, Lisa Simpson would be appalled at these idiots.)
The museum doesnt dissapoint, it actually has a lot more modern planes than I thought. It is however quite dark which makes taking photos quite difficult, but I did my best.
Strangely they have basically no cafe to speak of, just a bored looking girl by an automatic coffee and tea machine, Im in need of coffee to wake up, I think im addicted to caffeine now.
Eurofighter Typhoon, the size doesnt translate, im amazed how big the thing is.
Messssschersmidiiditiimemdit ME 262, I think the most succesful jet engined plane of world war 2.
A harrier, the British made pride of the United States Marine Corp.
A huge world war 2 bomber, forget what but its not a lancaster (they had those also), strange thing about this one is it was presented to the museum by a Pakistani guy who seems to have owned it after the war.
A tornado, the black thing I think is one of those cool cluster bombs that are used to destroy runways, which was the best mission on the Tornado simulator game for PC in 1990.
A buccaneer that appears to have been sandblasted.
Heres what I managed to do to their touchscreen kiosk thing.
Front of a Vulcan bomber, you can see how big it is if you enlarge the picture and see the dummy standing by the landing gear.
The rear of the Vulcan bomber, the wing area is ridiculously huge, I cant work out how they got it in there, theres no airfield nearby.
Canberra bomber, Australia named thier capital city after this mildly succesful bomber, which is fitting.
A crappy angle of a lightning, for many years this was the fastest fighter going around, capable of over mach 2, strangely the drop tanks were above wings, im not exactly sure how they jettison them
White City Shopping Mall
After the museum I decided to head west, to the biggest shopping centre in London which is of course a Westfield, yes the Australian company run by the ruthless Hungarian Jew Frank Lowy also bribes other world government leaders to be able to knock down houses to build malls (he also owned the basement shopping mall in the world trade centre).
On the way back to the station I finally found a coffee, and I felt much better immediately, which is mildly concerning.
The journey over went via Tottenham Court Road, which is where all the dodgy electronics shops are, so I exited the tube to have a look, but none of the shops were dodgy enough to even be mildly interesting, I will have to save my Panafonics/Fony/Hamsung shopping until I get to Hong Kong.
The mall is located in Shepards Bush and it is by far the nicest mall I have ever seen, very upmarket, with a huge selection of indoor and outdoor restaurants with a big cinema complex at the top (showing nothing of interest because apparently Alice in Wonderland is more boring than Lord of the Rings).
I had a great salad for lunch from 'Tossed' where all the workers wore t-shirts saying 'Im a Tosser', I wanted one of these t-shirts, where can I buy one?
The best thing about this mall is its about a 40 minute walk from my hotel, through upmarket Kensington, and open late during the week, so I shall probably go back after work for dinner and walk home after, if I am not too cold.
Heres the inside of a tube train, they are quite small, but come every couple of minutes.
The outside of the mall, along here are the outdoor restaurants, including the meat and wine co. which also exists in Darling Harbour and Crown Casino
Random mall shots, Galleria in Hatfield is jealous.
OK, no more mall shots.
Here is my lunch, a very nice salad, it had chicken on mixed leaves with cranberries, apple, grapes and cashews (sounds a bit weird but was really nice).
On the walk home, I spotted a Lancia, remember when Lancia made cars people liked? This is what they make now.
For my dinner I had a chicken and mushroom meal with roast vegetables from Waitrose, the real bowl I purchased to eat my microwave meals out of is the best idea I ever had, which says a lot about the quality of my ideas.
In the evening I walked around the west end and Soho, through chinatown and back along oxford street etc. - it was damn cold and there were over 9000 million people.
Day 10 - Sunday March 7th 2010
Southbank and washing day
Im going to go out of order chronologically.
I hate the idea of the laundromat. To think that theres millions of people who every week go and sit in a laundromat for a few hours to watch their clothes slosh about reading whatever stupid magazine.
My laundromat experience lasted the whole day, with some brief interludes of doing things.
I dutifully noted the evening before that the local one (which I used on my last trip, and which was my first laundromat experience in my life) opens at 9am.
So at 9 I head down to it, theres people waiting in the street with their clothes in bags waiting for it to open. I waited until 9:25 and gave up, and walked further down the street to the next one, which opens at 10. I go back to the first one, it must be open now, no.
So I take all my clothes back upstairs and decide to go out instead (read below).
After my days adventures, I arrive back in the afternoon and yes, its open, im excited, race upstairs and bring my clothes down.
A single load costs 4 pounds (double this for Australian dollars, close enough). The washing powder vending machine costs only 70p, and only takes exactly a 50 and a 20. So I ask the girl for change. She tells me theres a 1 pound charge for giving change...ok then.
Now the washing powder thing eats my 50p coin I just paid a dollar for. So I ask to change for some more...that'll be another pound thanks. I told her no, and to open the machine now and give me my 50p or im opening it myself. She actually asked how do I plan to open it! I remained silent and got another 50p without paying for it.
Washing powder in hand, I load up my machine, and insert 4 pounds, it still needs another pound, I guess it ate 1. I insert another and it fires up...and stops. I tell the girl the machine stopped, she told me it does that, just wait.
5 minutes go past, still nothing, I tell her again, she says 'did you try putting in another 4 pounds?' By now im seriously considering murdering her. I open the door to show her that theres a tiny bit of water thats come out and wet my clothes, but its gone nowhere since that, she puts in another 4 pounds and its still busted. So she turns off the power somehow, turns it back on and it starts going.
The actual washing lasted like 15 minutes, in a front loader? Last time I was here it took over an hour, I enquire, apparently thats the full cycle.
So now I transfer my clothes to the dryer, and insert a pound, which gives you 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the clothes are still wet, but importantly its warm. I insert another pound, the thing spins around some more. After another 10 minutes the clothes are no dryer, and are no longer warm. I tell the girl, she tells me to try another dryer.
So I transfer all my clothes and put in another 2 pounds, they are nearly dry after 20 minutes (theres 528 tiles on the floors and wall of the laundromat).
After another 2 pounds they are dry.
Still reading? It cost me at least $25 to do a single load of washing!
In between my washing adventures I decided to go to Southbank. Because of various tube closures, my exact station wasnt available, but this didnt matter, its sunny out and I like walking.
My first stop was the Tate Modern...I love museums but this place was boring. The Salvador Dali paintings were the only highlight, all the large installation art was pretty boring. They also had a terrible cafe where I had a fruit salad.
On my way to southbank, heres the giant wheel thing again.
Best thing at the Tate Modern is the building itself, which is huge, and the view, heres St Pauls across the Thames
After the Tate (which might actually be the last museum I go to on this visit, no promises though, its hard to pass them up as they are free), I decided to walk further along Southbank, eventually I got to an old warship you can go on. OK its sort of a museum, but its not free, I paid the fee and was excited, Its the HMS Belfast and I had heard its great.
Theres hardly anyone else on it, and you can literally go everywhere, down 5 levels in the boiler rooms, in the gun turrets, up to the bridge, through the mess halls and showers etc.
It is quite dangerous, the stairs are narrow and I hit my head 3 times and im not exactly clumsy, I saw a woman actually crying who had fallen and hurt herself, others were helping her so I didnt have to feel bad for turning a blind eye.
I highly recommend this ship, it was fascinating, lots of info on what the ship had been through, and what everything did, they have a few creepy looking wax dummies around the place (as seen below). Its great how there arent security guards everywhere making sure you dont touch anything, you are left to explore the various hatches and whatever at your own pace.
I spotted the ship from afar, and decided I would go on it, it costs about 10 pounds which isnt cheap, but I think it was worth it.
Not sure what this is, but its next to the ship and the roof was pretty awesome.
Inside an aft gun turret.
Map of the ship, its really quite large, about 10 levels in total, 5 below and 4 above the main deck.
Creepy wax bakers.
One of the engine or boiler rooms, you can walk right around all of it, down 3 levels
View from the poop deck
The bridge, I sat in the captains chair for a good 5 minutes, no one else came on the bridge the whole time, as soon as I started giving orders some other people came to ruin my fun.
The tower of London is quite nearby.
After the ship, I went home, had some soup from Marks and Spencer for lunch and went to the laundromat, read above for a blow by blow description.
By the time this debacle was over, I had just enough time to get to Tescos before closing time, London is a ghost town on Sunday nights, theres no shows on, the stores all close, I decided to relax in my hotel room and type all this, I hope you are appreciative, actually I dont care.
My dinner is the low calorie thai red chicken curry tescos meal, which I have transferred to my bowl and which was fantastic, I know im going on about 'ready meals', but they really dont have these in Australia and they should. They arent frozen dinners, they are made fresh daily. The side dish is a pea and bean salad which is also delicious, I had it when I was here last time and remembered that I liked it.
Day 11 - Monday March 8th 2010
Working in Brentwood again
Start of another working week, today I had to head back out to Brentwood. This meant catching the tube to Liverpool street then changing to the East Anglia line to Shenfield.
Now Shenfield is the station you go to as its express to there, and one stop from Brentwood, I have done this before last time I was here. I arrived at Liverpool street and went to the ticket office (due to idiocy, oyster cards dont work on all lines). As I bought my ticket they called out the train to Shenfield was leaving now, so I ran and just made it, pretty pleased with myself I was.
Then the train stopped, at the very next station. And the one after that. I was not on the fancy fast express train, I was on the slow train that stops at every station. I estimate this added 30 minutes on to my trip...fail.
The return journey was quite a bit more succesful, but I was home quite late, around 8pm.
During the course of the day I did come into possession of a beanie, I am anti hat but also realise you lose body heat through your head, so I will just have to suck it up and deal with hat hair, and I have a lot of hair. Also its an irefutable fact that wearing a hat causes you to go bald, and id take suicide over baldness.
Despite being late I remembered the massive mega mall stays open late, so I walked there and looked around at things in the heated mall and then had another salad for dinner.
Yes, another picture of my dinner, theres only 2 pictures today so its either this or nothing, so shut up. This salad was really nice actually.
Behold my beanie, and gloves, now fully kitted out im ready for anything. Or I might get arrested for being a burglar. Either way it should be exciting.
OH MY GOD theres a page 4 now