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Posts Tagged ‘Transport’

Photo not mine.

I have two modes when it comes to making it to the airport for a flight. I am either extremely early or barely make it. The other weekend I happened to be extremely early.

Husband and I went to our usual Gatwick pub for a pre-flight beverage and sub-standard reheated frozen snack. I approached the counter and made my order. The bartender squinted. “Um, can I see some I.D?”

The legal drinking age in the UK is 18. I am no longer anywhere near 18. I call bullshit on anyone who wants to tell me I look younger than 18. Nonetheless, I’ll take this as a compliment. I know bartenders in the UK are trained to I.D. anyone who doesn’t look 25. I like to believe that I can pass for 25.

I go to retrieve my passport and make it back to the counter. “Ah, American” he says when he sees it. “You know, I love some American accents. Some of them are really nice. Yours is really nice.”

“Thank you,” I reply. This is a nice surprise. I usually get told that American accents sound like a British person with a mouth full of bubble gum.

He feels the need to go on. He’s compensating with friendliness for having asked for I.D. “Some of them are really bad. Like Texas accents. I hate Texas accents. They are awful.”

I thank him again as I grab my beer.

“Where in the U.S. are you from?” he asks.

“I’m from Texas,” I reply as I prepare to walk away.

His face goes blank and he lets out a stutter.

Awkward.

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Last weekend Boyfriend and I got a text from Flora asking us if we wanted to go on a boat ride down Regent’s Canal to celebrate Jam’s 30th birthday. The weather had been amazing all week and I had been dying to do something like this. Unfortunately the weather nose dived just in time for our Saturday outing. It was cloudy with sparse sun, but at least it didn’t rain.

We rode the Boris bikes up to King’s Cross area, which ended up being a bit of a nightmare. The first docking station we tried didn’t work at all, we got lost along the way, and we ran into trouble when we tried to hot dock the bikes at 30 minutes. Apparently you have to wait five minutes before taking out a new bike. I was beginning to regret waxing lyrical about the scheme on a previous post.

We finally made it to the canal with groceries and cider on hand. After a bit of putting around, we had a boat full of people and were ready to take off.

The journey begins.

Our location required us to go through a lengthy tunnel. This was at first very exciting, but after a while turned very cold.

A chilly tunnel

What a relief to literally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tunnel's end.

A canal trip provides views and perspectives otherwise not seen. Check out the reflection of the industrial buildings on the water and the contrast of the greenery draping off the tree.

Along Regent's Canal

But it wasn’t all about the views. There was much conversation and baby passing too.

Tania and Rowan (Flora and Jam's adorable son)

As our journey continued, we all got a crash course in canal lock operation. I imagine this is a really tough journey to make with one or two people. The locks aren’t hard to operate, but they are heavy. Transportation via canal isn’t the quickest way of getting around. It’s pace, however, is part of the charm.

Baby in one hand, lock operation instruction with the other.

Lock operation

Keiran

Onward through the lock

With lock operation skills under our belt, we continued along the canal. We saw lots of people out fishing. I’m not sure I’d want to eat anything I caught along this canal. Any thoughts out there on that?

Think he catches any fish?

My love and fascination for gas holders as dramatic backdrop continues.

Gasholder

Other random things you see along the canal? How about a pimp and his banana. No I’m not joking.

Oh you want to get to Victoria Park? Just pass the gasholder and around the corner from the guy pimping the banana.

There was some slight drama as we approached the last lock. We didn’t have the right key to get through. The crowds had thinned so we couldn’t ask for help from fellow boaters and phone calls to friends who might have a spare were futile. I think someone ended up purchasing a key from the lock keeper. Don’t ask me how he was tracked down. In the meantime, we moored up and passed the time easily.

Ahoy, matey.

Good times.

An afternoon’s trip down the canal left us on the east end where Boyfriend and I had the boat pull over so that we could jump out, wave goodbye and catch public transportation home. It was all in good timing, as Rowan and I were at the same energy level.

Rowan's Boat Life

Thanks Jam and Flora for a fun trip and Happy 30th Jam!

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Barclay Cycle Hire Station

I’ve been watching the Barclay’s cycle hire stations around town very closely. I had a great time riding a bicycle and sightseeing around Paris last year. I was very excited to have a similar system in my own city and neighborhood. I ordered keys from the TFL website and after a few phone calls to try and get my keys activated, we were finally able to use them.

You aren’t required to order a key from TFL as long as you have a credit card with a chip in it, which American credit cards don’t seem to have. The key cost a one time fee of £3 and it makes the process quicker and easier to hire the bike. The hire cost is £1 for a day’s access. Any number of journeys under 30 minutes are included in that price. If you keep the bike for more than 30 minutes you are charged additional fees. So if you are coming up on 30 minutes, you simply locate a bike station, return your bike and check it back out again. It’s important to note that you do not have to return the bike to the exact location of rental. There are bike stations located all over central London and you may return the bike to any of these locations as long as there is an empty space on the bike stand. Make sure the area you are traveling to is within the zone before you set off. TFL is extending the bike hire area but right now there is not very good coverage south of the river, west of Chelsea or in areas north like Highbury.

We set off on our bikes towards Covent Garden. Unfortunately, we arrived just as the shops were closing. All in all that was OK as the purpose of the trip was to try out the bikes and get some exercise and buying a new pair of blue trousers was secondary.

We stopped in to have some frozen yogurt at Snog, a psychedelically designed shop that’s just a little bit too proud of it’s suggestive name. A small cup with 1 topping will run you about £3.50. You get to choose from three flavors: plain, green tea or chocolate and loads of different toppings. We went with granola on green tea. The frozen yogurt was nice, but after a while the loud music and colors really got to us. Heading back out to the street seemed very calm and relaxing in comparison. I did like the lighting concept at Snog, however, if  I were the interior designer I would have gone a little easy with the bright pink wall. There is such a thing as too much.

Snog in Covent Garden, photo courtesy of Snog website

Bottom Line:

Barclay’s Cycle Hire –  Best way to get around London when the weather is nice.

Snog Frozen Yogurt – Decent FroYo in an overstimulating atmosphere.

Snog Pure Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

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