Tag Archives: West Brompton

My Travel in London 10 ~ North and South Kensington ~ I’ll be back!

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London 2013 302

     Trees were swaying in the heavy rain and the strong wind. I was having breakfast at the hotel, looking out of the window. Has my luck run out finally? I had not needed to use an umbrella until the previous day since I arrived at London on March 18 in spite of the chance of precipitation being more than 90 % during the week. (The former episodes on my trip are here: My Travel in London 1, My Travel in London 2, My Travel in London 3, My Travel in London 4, My Travel in London 5, My Travel in London 6, My Travel in London 7, My Travel in London 8, and My Travel in London 9) That was my last morning in London. I was supposed to leave for Japan that evening on March 22. The weather forecaster was warning of the worsening weather repeatedly on TV on the wall. London 2013 303

     After finishing my last breakfast at the hotel, I dragged myself back to my room to do my packing. I had nearly four hours until the check-out. I did not want to hang around in the heavy rain, but I decided to go out. I wanted to shop in a local supermarket. I would be able to come back to my room and to put the things I bought in the store in my pack in four hours.

     My luck was still lasting! Amazingly, it was just drizzling when I went out. It was only necessary to pull up the hood of my jacket. Before going shopping, I decided to drop by an old house of George Orwell, the author famous for Animal Farm and 1984. I walked to West Brompton Station and took the underground to Notting Hill Gate. Nathan, an English teacher in Japan, had mentioned the place before I left Japan. Notting Hill Gate is just the third station from West Brompton. London 2013 306

     It was snowing when I came out from the North Exit of Notting Hill Gate Station. But it was not so bad. I pulled over the hood and began walking in the powdery snow. I walked along Pembridge Road and then turned left at the second corner to Portbello Road. Then soon I found on the right side the round-shaped blue plaque, which is a historical marker set up at the places of famous people in U.K. Young George Orwell lived there in 1927 after coming back from Burma to become a writer after resigning as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police. London 2013 307

     I was able to locate the old house easily but I could not find “The Travel Book Shop” or “The Blue Door” eventually because I had not researched beforehand. But I was happy to be in Notting Hill as if I were in a filmic scene. All of the shops and most of the stalls had not opened yet. I walked back to the tube station. London 2013 308

     I got off the underground at Gloucester Road station. It had stopped raining and snowing. I walked toward the north and turned left at the first crossing. It was about a 10-minute walk along Cromwell Road to Sainsbury’s, the supermarket. When I was browsing through the shop, an elderly woman spoke to me, “Excuse me, but could you read this for me? I forgot my glasses!” She pointed at the bottom of a box of tea. London 2013 309

    

“Um…it says 10 sachets.”  

“10 sachets?”

“Yes, 10 sachets.”

“Oh, thank you very much.”

“You’re welcome.”

 London 2013 311  

     It was just a small interaction, but I was happy because it was my first time to communicate with a local person apart from clerks in London. I enjoyed the slow and peaceful atmosphere in the store on a weekday morning. I bought some snacks, sweets, and bread there, and went back to my hotel.

     When I turned on the TV, a reporter was talking about the terrible snow storm in the northern part of U.K. I worried about Yuko, who was going to Wales that day, and was about to text her, when I noticed a message from her had arrived in my phone. She was concerned about my condition and prayed for my safe return. Yes, I had to leave this room. I also wished her a safe and enjoyable trip, and then hoisted my pack with lots of souvenirs. Ugh! Heavy!London 2013 317

     After checking out, I asked a clerk to keep my baggage for a while. It was only at 10:30. My travel agent was supposed to pick me up at 5:00. I had much time left. I went to West Brompton Station again and took the underground to South Kensington Station. Walking through the underground passage, I entered the Victoria and Albert Museum.

     More than 100 people were queuing inside. I wondered what exhibit was ahead. I passed them walking along the line and went to the room. It was an exhibition of David Bowie! Unfortunately it would start next day. Those people were supporting members of the museum and were able to see the exhibition the previous day. I might be able to see it if I became a member on the spot. But I would have to wait in the line for more than two hours. So, I gave up seeing David Bowie’s costumes, and went to see other treasures. London 2013 328

     Ah…I should have decided what to see ahead…I got tired soon because I walked around at random. Actually, I had already been exhausted before coming to the museum. I had been occupying a bench before one of Raphael’s big paintings for a long time, but I was not only appreciating it but also having a rest. Raphael’s works were indeed therapeutic, but not enough for me. So, I went to the café on the ground floor. London 2013 321

     Wow! There were many kinds of food, sweets, and drinks in the cafe! It was around 11:30. Many people were enjoying their breakfast, brunch, or lunch. I decided to have early lunch there. I ordered smoke salmon and cream cheese sandwiches. The clerk asked me smilingly, “Would you like salad?” So, I replied, “Oh, yes. Well…some green salad and that carrot’s one, please.” Then I was very surprised at the amounts of the salads she served. In addition, I was astonished at the weight when I received the tray from her. I wobbled to an empty table. London 2013 319

     The sandwiches and the salads were excellent! If I had a much bigger stomach, I could eat them up…I enjoyed my lunch, reading a book. I had dropped by a book shop in the museum before coming to the café and had bought a copy of Walk London. It is a guide book for walking tours with beautiful illustrated maps. It may sound strange to buy a travel guide book several hours before leaving the place. But I had sworn to myself to come back to London! So, I was planning my next visit…CAM00931

     Actually it is tiring to keep sitting at the same place for a long time. So, I explored in the museum again, and then went out for some fresh air. It had completely stopped raining and snowing. I decided to go to see Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. I walked on Exhibition Road and came to Kensington Road, when I felt really exhausted. I did not have that stamina to keep walking. So, I turned back and went to the Science Museum, across from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was not for seeing the exhibits, but for taking a rest at a café. London 2013 329

     The Science Museum was filled with little kids! More than 100 pupils were lining up to buy souvenirs at the shop. They were holding something small such as erasers and excited. How noisy! And how cute! I got a pot of tea and was seated against the wall on the first floor. I was able to see the ground floor because the walls were made of clear acrylic boards. There was a big wheel in the air, and it responded to the sound when an attendant clapped her hands and flashed red lights. She was trying to attract children’s attentions. I was watching her and school kids absent-mindedly for a while. It was time to leave…London 2013 332

     I went back to the hotel and talked to the clerk who I had asked to keep my bag in the morning. He looked at me coldly and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “What?! Wh, where should I…?” I was surprised and stammered. Then he produced a big smile and slapped my back saying, “Ha ha! Don’t worry! Follow me!” He was just pulling my leg! Oh, London! I did not want to leave…In the back seat of the car where I was committing myself to come back to this wonderful city, hearing the driver talking to my travel agent in the passenger seat that he really liked to see planes. Heathrow Airport loomed in front of us…

My Travel in London 5 ~ London to York ~ You were right, Ricky.

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  London 2013 162  

     “The signal is red,” the announcement echoed in the quiet underground train. I was in a tube train which was waiting at West Brompton Station in London on the early morning of March 20. It was at around 6:30 a.m. There were a few passengers in the carriage. The door kept opening and the train showed no sign of starting. That announcement was probably two or three minutes after I got on. I thought, “You were right, Ricky,” when I heard the message. London 2013 171

     I was supposed to take a rail train which left King’s Cross at 8:00. Ricky, who is an English teacher in Japan, had advised me, “You should take the underground at least at 6:30 because they often stop.” The tube train left West Brompton Station about five minutes later, but it stopped in the dark tunnel before reaching Earl’s Court, the next station. After a while, there was an announcement: “The signal is red. “You were right, Ricky,” I thought that again.

     I changed train at Earl’s Court Station to the Piccadilly Line from the District Line. King’s Cross is the 12th station from Earl’s Court. It would be a nearly 30-minute ride. There were many abandoned Metro, the newspapers, on the floor and seats of the train. So I picked one and began reading it: William Roach, a famous actor in U.K. had provoked fury by claiming that the victims of sexual abuse brought it on themselves because of their sins in their past lives….Uh-oh…

     At King’s Cross Station I went to the restroom. It was my first experience to use a pay toilet. It cost 30 pence. I had 30 pence, but I did not have 10 and 20 pence coins. The gate just accepts the two types of coins. So, I had to exchange at the machine nearby. At 7:45 the train I was supposed to ride started boarding. My coach was E. The train was filled with passengers. Most of them took out their computers and papers from their bags and started to work as soon as they sat in their seats. I was doing nothing but seeing changing scenery from the window.

     Vast meadows were spreading outside. I sometimes saw some small brick houses, sheep and horses there. The train was heading north toward Edinburgh, passing through fields covered with white snow. My destination was York, where I was supposed to see a friend of mine. She is a Japanese student at the University of Hull. The monotonous landscapes and the rhythm of the train made me sleepy. London 2013 173

     “Anything for your refreshment?” A voice of a spirited and cheerful man echoed in the carriage. He was pushing a trolley loaded with drinks and snacks. Many of the passengers stopped moving their hands on the keyboard or scattered papers before them and called out. “Coffee.” “Orange juice.” “Coffee and chocolate.” I was thinking of the word of “refreshment” while hearing their verbal exchange. I was trying to find a proper translation into Japanese. But I could not find a good one. “Refreshment” is a nice word.

     More than an hour had already passed since I got on the traLondon 2013 172in. There are six stations between King’s Cross and York…I thought that. But the train had not stopped once yet. Probably it was an express. The first station it stopped was York. Some of the passengers in my coach also got off the train there. They did not look like tourists but business people. Alighting, they rapidly disappeared from the station. I was the only person who was left behind on the platform. London 2013 176

     “Yuko-riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!” I waved to my friend who had been waiting for me near the entrance of the station. I was relieved to see her smile. Yes, I had arrived at York!

     Actually I was going to write about the town this time. But I’ve already written quite a lot. I’ll tell you about York next time.

 

My Travel in London 1 ~ Westminster ~: Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?

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london 168      I opened the curtains and looked out of the window. It wasn’t raining. “Oh, I’m lucky!” I was at a room of a hotel near West Brompton Tube Station in London on the morning of March 19. I arrived at Heathrow Airport the previous night, when it was raining hard. Besides, the weather forecast on the Internet had said the week’s precipitation would be more than 90% when I had checked in Japan. london 010

     I got dressed immediately and headed to the restaurant in the hotel for breakfast. I was supposed to have continental breakfast, but I upgraded it to a hot meal by paying £5.50. It was at around 6:30 a.m. but there were more than 10 people in the restaurant. There were fruits, salads, sausages, bacons, hams, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, bread, cereals, juices, tea, and coffee on the counter. Everything  was delicious, and I ate too much.london 017

     It was my first time to visit London. Actually, it was also my first time to go abroad by myself. I was thrilled to plan where to go that day while having breakfast. I had many places I wanted to see. I got up early because I wanted to spend my time well. After finishing breakfast, I left the hotel before 8 o’clock. london 019

     It was about a five-minute walk from the hotel to the underground station. A man was giving Metro, the newspaper, to people in front of the station. Wow! You can get a newspaper for free in London! It was my first time to use the subway in U.K., but I was able to pass the gate smoothly with an Oyster, which is an IC card for taking buses, subways and trains in London.london 026

     London’s subway is very easy to use. If your destination is west from your present place, you just go to westbound platform. That’s all. So, I did not need to check the underground map during my trip. First, I changed the train at Earl’s Court, and then got off at St. James’s Park Station. My first destination was Buckingham Palace. I walked through Petti France and got to the palace. It took about 15 minutes from the station.london 029

     There were no tourists near the palace. I just saw some people who appeared to be in a hurry to get to their offices. It was before 8:30. It might have been a little bit too early for sightseeing. I heard something like drums while I was taking photos of the palace. I started walking towards the sound, and saw some guards were marching in Wellington Barracks. I was happy to see moving guards because the guards at Buckingham Palace looked like statues…london 031

     The place I was standing and looking at the march was an entrance to St. James’s Park. I decided to walk through the park to my next destination: Westminster Abbey. People were passing by at a quick pace. They must have been in a hurry to their work places, but I was in no hurry. I was walking at leisure. london 032There were many birds and squirrels in the park. When I stopped walking to see the squirrels, one of them came to me and started climbing up my leg. “Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?” I said that in Japanese. Oh, it understood Japanese! It stared at me for a while, then climbed down and went up to a fence and saw me off. Daffodils were beautiful in the park…london 034

     When I arrived at Westminster Abbey, I saw hundreds of people waiting to enter the church. Most of them were students on school trips. I lost my drive to see the inside of the building when I saw so many people. london 039So, I went to Dean’s Yard instead of the abbey. You can go there through the gate of the yellow building next to Westminster Abbey. There is a building called the Cloisters near the yard. london 043Actually, I was going to a café named Cellarium in the building. But I didn’t have some tea there because it was before 9 o’clock, when they would open, and I was still full. That was why I just walked around the corridors peacefully. london 046

     There was a demonstration in Parliament Square across from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The participants looked like students. london 067All of them were wearing the same masks of Mr. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of U.K. and holding the same bags written “IF”. london 068Afterwards I discovered that it was to remind the chancellor to keep his promise on overseas aid spending before he revealed the 2013 budget next day. It is wonderful that young people are interested in politics and think seriously about the world. Sadly most Japanese students are not interested in such issues… london 061

     After seeing the flashmob, I left Westminster and headed for St. Paul’s by tube. I’ll write about Holborn and City area next time.