The morning was easy enough, just walk over to the tube station, swipe the card across the RFID reader, ride one stop, get out with all the people headed to the cricket match, and meet with BFF for a morning in London’s St. John’s Wood neighborhood.
We hopped over to the high street (this is where the fancy shops are at, Americans) and ran an errand or two, like getting a key cut. Then we made our way towards a leisurely stroll through Regent’s Park. We saw lots of waterfowl, fancy gardens, and old folk. We took some funny photos and generally had a good walk. On the way back, we stopped by the high street and picked up my first British Pound notes, promptly spending those notes on lunch supplies.
Our plans were to make it out to the English countryside, namely BFF’s family friend’s cottage in Compton Dando, which is about 100 miles west of London. After going back to her friend’s flat and making sandwiches and doing some research, we decided on a 1.5 hour train + tube ride instead of 4.5 hour multiple-bus freak-out hell ride. We gathered our heavy load and got back on the tube to Paddington Station.
Paddington Station rules hard. It’s all crusty and gross with train exhaust residue. However, the attendant we talked to first wasn’t so familiar with how the trains work. Probably because there are about a million trains that pass through there a day. We were told to wait at platform 9 and 3/4… Oh wait, no, it was platform 8 for the train. After missing two trains, I asked a different guy after reading the board where the train was and he informed me that it was platform 1. Unfortunately, our tickets were no good anymore because it was peak time and we bought off-peak tickets. BFF activated “that’s not fair” powers and we got a little note that made our tickets okay. Adventure!
We made it to Bath at about 7 in the evening and realized that it was going to be a bit of an adventure to get out to the middle of nowhere. We walked aroun with all our stuff looking for free Wi-Fi to get the info in Tessa’s email about our destination. We asked a couple people and they told us that pubs have Wi-Fi. Of course!
After a prolonged discussion with the barmaiden and a call by her to a taxi company, we determined that it would be about £15 to get to where we were trying to go. After finishing our chips and my lemonade (sprite, really) we got in our cab and headed west. Our cab was a hired car, which is different that a Taxi in that you can’t hail one in the street, you have to call it up. Car geeks, it was a Skoda! A Czech VW Passat, basically. Used as a rally car a few years ago. We traveled along country lanes for about 10 minutes (I should watch more British Rally Championship!) and arrived in the middle of the countryside.
I am now staying at the girliest place ever for the next few days. Imagine you were staying at the country cottage of a best selling British romance novelist and grandmother. Seriously. This place is pretty amazing. Luckily, instead of hamging out watching Ya-Ya Sisterhood, we watched Full Monty. Afterwards, I got all cleaned up and tried not to get any maleness on anything in the bathroom. By the way, they have funny shaped soap in England. I tested out my new lightweight and compact summer sleeping bag on the couch and drifted off to 12 hours of only waking up to a couple of dreams (still? Come on, I’m in England, give me a break!).
Today, we plan on a country walk to the village pub where the neighbors tell us we’ll be treated like celebrities. Adventure!