London, United Kingdom
Now that my trip with Mum is done and dusted, things are starting to get scary. The view that was obscured by the trip is now, by necessity, coming into focus – the homeward stretch! My race is by no means run but the course is set, or rather reset having changed my itinerary for the final leg.
This invariably involved many hours on the phone to various airlines now that my travel agent in Sydney has closed up shop. All this admin makes it very difficult to maintain the plausible state of denial that we’ve worked so hard to achieve in the Furzedown family home!
But as I said, my time is not yet expired and there are still places to go and people to see. Over the past week, I’ve managed to catch up with Elizabeth a couple of time in a couple of different pubs to plot world domination (for the record, she’s Pinky and I’m The Brain – this matter, though hotly contested, was settled by a very drunk random guy in yet another of London’s pubs many years ago. Of course, if you know Elizabeth, you’ll know that she’s actually The Brain).
I spent a day galavanting about London, taking my laptop to the doctor only to be told it’s normal for it to give me electric shocks – perhaps it’s how it tells me it loves me (I’d rather it sing to me in the voice of Boy George like the computer in Electric Dreams!). I happened upon a big baked bean giveaway in Soho Square – I took full advantage enjoying a free lunch and stayed a while on their baked beanbags to catch up on some postcard writing. Heavily laden with free beans, I meandered on to spend some quality time in London’s loveliest department store – Liberty – before taking in a screening of The Skin I Live In at Prince Charles Cinema. I was worried that I’d miss Almodovar’s latest offering with all my travels but that’s what the Prince Charles (one time porn cinema, now repertory cinema) is there for – a second chance at movies that have left the big screens and it now has a second screen of its own having recently undergone a major refurbishment. It’s not as cheap as it used to be but it’s still a bargain compared to its Leicester Square counterparts.
The following evening, I joined Pete, Vic and her mum, Marilyn for her birthday dinner at The Mayflower in Rotherhithe – the oldest pub on the Thames which claims to be the true departure point for the eponymous boat. Far from resting on its laurels of old world charm, they serve up some seriously good modern interpretations of pub grub. This place seems to have struck a magical balance of being both historical yet contemporary, hidden yet in plain sight, cosy yet comfortable. All up a wonderful night celebrating Marilyn’s birthday and improving health. On the drive home, Pete called me ‘Nomes’ for the first time forcing he and Vic to reveal that they have been referring to me by this pet name between themselves for some time. I was so touched I could have cried!
Over the next couple of days I stayed south exploring more of Balham with Vic. We found a gorgeous little florist in the backstreets and popped into all the little artsy-crafty boutiques hunting for treasure. We found it in spades in my new favourite ‘cafe boutique’ Lavish Habit – upstairs it’s a cafe serving all manner of delicious treats and Monmouth coffee alongside an eclectic assortment of clothes, jewellery and other ephemera. Downstairs, it’s a crazy-crapatorium with recycled and reclaimed kitsch furniture and just stuff! I love it! And although I’m not in a position to accumulate myself, I satisfied my urge vicariously through Vic who liberated a mirror and pleasingly-creepy plaster head of an Austrian man (the photo will describe it more eloquently).
There was also time to catch up with Erin at the uber trendy Brixton Village for a burger and at Vic and Pete’s friends Honest Burger joint. Friends or not, we still had to queue for half and hour but it was worth it for the twice-fried rosemary fries!
Tomorrow, I deflate my air bed for the second last time and set off on my penultimate adventure with both excitement for the trip itself and trepidation at the view from the other side.