October 15, 2011

Bueller?...Bueller?

That's right, today I took a day off. I still went to class in the morning, but during my walk back to my place, seeing the weather looked like this outside:


I decided I'd best make the most of it, and making the most of anything rarely involves responsibilities. To be fair, I don't have any of the "titles" (that's what they call prompts here -- so confusing!) for my essays yet, so any work I try to do at this point may prove useless anyway.


The sun had that quality of overtaking the whole sky -- like everywhere you look you had to squint. I'm sure I'm going to jynx it saying so, but London has yet to live up to its reputation for providing miserable rain 24/7. I'm sure those days are coming; my hopes are that this weather will persist at least through Halloween. Judging from the clear skies outside right now, as well as the weather report for the next few days, I might just get my wish!!




I had wanted to go to Kensington, but that's several tube stops away, and my craving for ice cream called for at least a little walking. So I strolled past Russel Square (above) and down:

Represent! Oh wait, I was a Capulet...
which curves around toward the British Museum...



...and lets you off again on Tottenham Court Road. Tottenham turns into Charing Cross, by and by, which I have found is a zany suture of a street blending the commercial atmosphere of Oxford St with the quirkiness of Soho and the charm of Covent Garden. It houses a variety of bookshops, instrument stores, and affordable international restaurants. It's crazy to think that much of this area, until the 17th century, was agricultural!

I'd left in search of a specific pastry/ice cream shop but, as is often the case with my adventures, I got distracted with whatever scenery was happening when I should've consulted the map (I think it was the British Museum, actually) and had traveled 5 blocks away before I even thought about it. I tried to retrace my steps, then got distracted again by this:


I already knew about the Matilda musical in theory, but it was exciting stumbling into it like that. This area -- a little roundabout in the Covent Garden area -- has some of the most adorable shops I've ever seen...

Candy Cakes Cupcake shop (Google images)
Mistress Poste (Google images)
Freed pointe shoe shop -- I've always been a Bloch girl, myself... (Google images)
I pranced right in here (Google images)
Pop Boutique, where I bought my tangerine beret (Google images)

there's also about 20,000 shoe stores, including two brands I'm currently obsessed with -- Fly and Dune (respectively).


On my way out of Covent Garden and back onto Charing Cross I passed a bookshop called "Any Amount of Books." "Any" is an amount of books I have always agreed with (like I said, library limits are sinful in my eyes), so I decided to pop in and have a look around.

The store owner caught me in the Shakespeare section thumbing through a 1915 version of Henry IV. "We have more plays downstairs, if you don't find what you're looking for up here." Downstairs didn't turn out to have much more Shakespeare, but it did have a some-on-else's-basement-style array of boxes, musty-smelling reference materials, and old hardbacks which I adored. I probably spent 15 minutes or so down there (it was kind of crowded) looking for absolutely nothing, but unearthing all sorts of treasures anyway. On my trip back upstairs the bookseller looked a little let down that I hadn't found what I was looking for (I felt bad telling him I wasn't really looking for anything, after his help), but he asked if it was Shakespeare in particular I was interested in. "Well, I am fond of him..." He smiled and climbed up a ladder and brought down a 1996 Norton edition of the folio, bound in emulation of the 1600s one, and told me about how at Eton College he got to see one of the originals. It turned out he'd lived in Vancouver, Canada for some time, and we had a nice chat about the Northwest. In the end, I bought "On Ten Plays of Shakespeare," a critical book from 1905, with an inscription in the front to a Miss Gladys Seymour, Sussex, 1930 (I am an absolute sucker for inscribed books...)

Quite happy, I turned out of the bookshop and ran right into another version of the pastry/ice cream shop I'd set out to find in the first place. Life's funny sometimes. On occasion it can hand you what you thought you'd lost right when you least expect it, but at the exact right time nonetheless.


And serve me well it did.

I headed down to the fountain at Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar is one of my favorite spots in London -- it's always bright and a-buzz, and connects my favorite shopping areas with my favorite lounging areas, St. James Park and Kensington Gardens, and on the way takes you through some really great statues and museums. At times I get frustrated with London's labyrinthine avenues, but it's actually pretty hard to get lost here -- and on days when you're just wandering you begin to realize with what divine inevitability it's constructed.



I found a little bit of home outside the National Gallery.

It's easy when you travel -- and really when you live anywhere -- to sort of forget where you are and all that place has to offer. I'm going to try and make sure to get off campus at least once a week from now on, cause some of the best bits of the world are literally just beyond the mile radius that is my day-to-day. I've even gained a new perspective on Seattle -- there's a lot going on there that I don't take advantage of, and it's probably something I'll come to regret when I move away. It's easy to get sucked into the land of school and work and responsibility and think that you don't have time to enjoy a double chocolate ice cream cone on the rim of a fountain, but I promise you DO.

You always do.

 

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