Because I had done so much of my shopping the day before, and our plan had gone from "shopping in Covent Garden before meeting up with Simon and Steve at noon" to "wandering around Covent Garden".
Which was why we didn't get up quite as early as we normally do on a holiday, which was good because sleep is awesome. And in the hotel there was no annoying Loa cat to start jumping on top of us and/or whine and meow semi non stop from 6.30am onwards.
The hotel breakfast was alright. Aside from the toast, the toast was vile. The rest of the breakfast buffet was fine. The staff was super friendly too. But the seating could have been organised a little better. But hey, it was fine all in all.
Before going out, we also reported at the desk that our sink was clogged, and the girl at the reception got our room completely mixed up and thought we were someone else checking out. I found that most of the reception staff was very friendly, but it often did take a while to get them to understand what you wanted. This was no different. But we managed so all is well :)
I found out from a super friendly member of staff during breakfast (the breakfast staff was MUCH more competent than the reception staff), that the Picadilly line was once again in working order, so that was great news as we needed it to get to Covent Garden.
There is no other line connected to that station, so if it had been down, we would have had to go to the stop nearest to the National Gallery and walk from there. Which would have been ok too, but a massive roundabout, so I'm glad it didn't come to that! Especially considering that the tube was pretty much packed, even though rush hour should have passed already, right up to Green Park. In theory there is priority seating for people with disabilities, but in reality, that's more not available than it is XD. I'm glad I didn't end up feinting in the tube, I came close a few times though, but luckily it didn't happen.
We arrived in Covent Garden just before 10am, and popped into Boots to see about sunblock. They only had 2 of the ones I was looking for, so I got those. After that we were one of the first people to amble into the Disney Store. I got a postcard book of 12 postcards for £ 10, which was probably the cheapest way to get London postcards. I also got a Mickey Mouse water bottle, because it was £ 2,something in the sale. It was on a massive discount. Bert got a Frozen bath towel with Anna and Elsa, because it was also on sale and he liked the print. The girl at the register was convinced he was getting it for me, and seemed very confused when I told her it was for him. As if guys can't enjoy Frozen or something.
After that we just wandered around Covent Garden, exploring the area,
London Transport Museum
Disneyland Paris should set up fun mirror fences like these!
and we ended up in front of Freemason Hall,
which really is a rather impressive building. I understand why it's so often used in films and tv series. We decided to pop inside and have a look. Because: why not?
We didn't stay long, because in the first room another attendant came in, who started asking just a little too much personal information of people (it all felt very much as if we were going to get sucked into something even though we just wanted to look around) and in the second room they were asking people to write down personal info. So we decided to go to Forbidden Planet early and browse before meeting up with the guys. At noon Simon showed up, without Steve, who sadly had to get more surgery on his knee (get well soon Steve!) and we split up a little again because we weren't finished looking around yet.
After we had found everything we wanted and had paid for it, we went to a nice pizza place Simon knew. Bert and I both had pizza margherita and it was very tasty! We had a lot of fun hanging out and talking about geeky stuff :). Simon also gave me his new books: Doctor DOA and Dead Man Walking. Thank you Simon!
I've already reviewed the second one on The Gatehouse here.
When we finished lunch, we went to a local comic book shop Bert and I hadn't been before, so we were really happy Simon showed us where it was. He had to leave early to catch his trains home, and so he'd still be home at a decent hour, but it was super neat to be able to hang out for a bit.
Bert and I had been to the dinosaur section of the Natural History Museum a couple of times before, but we had never managed to see the rest of the museum. Well no ok, we had also seen some of the gift shops and the larger cafetaria. Having not seen the rest yet and liking museums, we decided now was as good a time as any, and took the tube to South Kensington. Because that museum was also holding extensive bag checks, but with much friendlier staff that didn't bitch about medication at all, it was a bit of a queue to get in. It was also getting quite warm (it was dreary before and had even rained a little all day) so Bert and I were parched when we finally got in, and went straight to the little café right by that entrance/exit point to get drinks. I got a half a liter bottle of fresh lemon juice, which was nearly £4! London prices are seriously ridiculous. We sat around for a bit to relax and then went into the earthquake and volcano section.
Stegosaur skeleton, because it's unavoildable that you run into dinosaurs and fossils in the NHM, even if you don't go there for them per se. But that's cool, because I like dinosaurs and fossils!
After that we went to Human Evolution,
If this replica is anything to go by, this is how the dodo supposedly looked.
saw the fossil marine reptiles and other fossils and skeletons in the Hintze Hall and Dippy! I really wanted to see Dippy before he goes away end of the year, so I'm glad I still managed.
Clearly it wasn't a great idea to try to take a photo of Dippy with the analog camera.
Of course we also checked the museum shops as we came across them. But, even though we saw a lot of things we liked, they were either too expensive or not stuff we'd wear/use enough to justify buying them. Pictures were taken instead to remember them by.
Photo of the day: 27.7.2016 (day 209)
Before braving mad hordes in the toilets (seriously, some people should be banned from going out in public, they're a menace) and leaving the main building to go to the butterfly garden, which was set up outside.
It was quite overpriced for what it was, the butterfly garden at the Antwerp Zoo was much nicer. They also made a big deal advertising their atlas moth online, but then it turned out they didn't have one at the time. But you know, we had fun looking at pretty butterflies and moths so it's not a total loss. Even though it was quite expensive (nearly £ 6 per person for the regular adult ticket), it was nice to see the butterflies. There was one advantage over the Antwerp garden: it was much easier to photograph the butterflies here than in the Zoo.
Eri moth, sort of a smaller version of the atlas moth.
Butterfly feeding frenzy. Both Bert and I were under the impression that the butterflies in the Antwerp Zoo were much better taken care of than the ones here.
Because when the museum closed, rush hour had started, and we really did NOT feel like being stuck in that madness on the tube, we decided to walk back to the hotel. It was only a half an hour walk, and it's a really easy one too. Especially because there are tons of maps set up along the way. I took some (analog) photos on the way.
Both these photos are of the Natural History Museum.
We passed by the South Kensington area we stayed at during our previous trip, and that Boots shop DID have all the sunblock I wanted. I also got a bottle of Ambre Solaire aftersun (because it is much cheaper there than in Belgium, less than half the normal price). And a free Finding Dory beach ball which was something you got with 2 or more Soltan products. I'm not a fan of the Finding Nemo/Dory franchise, but I have nieces so free beach balls make excellent gifts for the kids :D. I got another one the next day too, so each niece has her own.
They were very happy with them, even though they had no clue who Hank the Septopus was. They've not seen the movie yet (neither have I, I'll see it when it's on Netflix).
Obviously these beach ball photos were taken AFTER our trip, when the girls got theirs.
And half the bottle of lemon juice I still had of course came in handy to stay hydrated on our way back to the hotel, walking in the sunshine. When we got to the hotel,
Apt photo is apt, because we went to the Natural History Museum! The light wasn't quite strong enough for the colour to come out nice, so I grayscaled the photo, just like I did with the analog Dippy one.
we first dropped off our bags. And discovered the sink was fixed (yay!), before going out to find dinner.
But first we finished the roll of film on some photos of us in the street outside of the hotel. The area was a little strange, the part of the street with the hotel was really nice looking and pretty up scale, but the beginning of the street, less so. It was still a safe neighbourhood I'm sure, but the junxtaposing between both bits of the street was rather strange. The area right outside the tube station was also pretty ok, so I think the neighbourhood is smack in the middle of being utterly gentrified.
This is as close to an outfit shot for that day as it's going to get! Photo by Bert.
Hat and pin on hat: Disney Store US (Star Wars merchandise)
Black top: Forever 21
Top: Friendly Oak
Bag: H&M with a variety of pins from all over the place
Totebag: British Museum (Book of the Dead expo from a few years ago)
Skirt: made it myself
Accessories: Veritas, Roxy, handmade, Disney, British Museum, Annso's art
We had a look at the local M&S food (which was pretty sad), and then checked the local pubs.
We ended up having dinner in the one nearest to our hotel, because we found the menu the most appealing. The food was great, seriously, no bad word about the food. But the waiter was really rude, and even grabbed Bert's drink off the table even though it wasn't completely finished. So we figured that if was going to be like that, we were going to go back to the hotel. Not all of the staff were jerks of course: the waitress was super nice, but the other guy really needed an attitude adjustment.
Bert's dinner: fish and chips with garden peas and salad.
My dinner: jacked potato with cheese and bacon and salad. I also had a side dish of sweet potato fries (or chips as they call fries in the UK) but that's not in the photo. As I had left my cameras in the hotel and I had run out of film (not that the Click would have done well in the low light of the pub, mind) I had to use my phone to take food photos. They could have come out much worse really.
Back in our room Bert got the wifi to work, so I quickly checked my e-mails, and then Bert spent some time playing an online game he likes before we decided to grab an early night.
Glorious, glorious uninterrupted sleep!
I love my cat but he's a total pain when it comes to letting us sleep!
Part 1 of this 3 day trip is here.
All my London photos (of this trip) are here, if you want to see literally ALL my London photos, check this collection on my flickr for more London sets.
If you just want to look at more photos of the Natural History Museum, click this link.
All the analog photos in this post were made with a vintage medium format camera: an Agfa Click 1 with 120mm film: Kodak Ektar 100. I wouldn't recommend this film because it is extremely security scan sensitive AND very light sensitive. If you use a no flash camera, like me, it's more hassle than it's worth sadly. Although, I think my Agfa cameras may just not be made for colour film.
London haul, day 2.