The first destination we set off for in London was Camden Market. We got tube tickets and caught the Victoria line to London Victoria and then the Northern line straight there. After sufficient haggling, we each came out with a dress. I also found the leather jacket I needed. The original price was insane, more than the one I’d been eyeing through the window in Florence. But it’d been marked down a bit, plus I had a straight up I’m-not-spending-more-than-this limit. (The limit was backed by the literal amount of pounds I had in my wallet.)
We walked all over mad Camden town, seeing all sorts of people dressed all sorts of ways. We got some Chinese food(I hadn’t had it in ages) and a crepe for kicks. The crepe was all sorts of can’t-even-compare-to-Paris horrible, but not unexpectedly so; we enjoyed it for the nutella and bananas. I still don’t understand why good crepes can’t exist outside France.
We began to wander a bit outside Camden town and as we were walking over a bridge I stopped. “I hear a guitar,” I said to Bailey, and went over to the side of the bridge to try to find the source of the music. I recognized “High and Dry” by Radiohead, but it was a woman’s voice singing it. And it was beautiful. I was about to hop over the side so I could tell her this when Bailey said she saw a guitar case across the river. There was a sidewalk there, so there must be a way down.
We walked around the block to the stairs down to the river walk. We made it down, but I saw a woman with a guitar case walking in our direction. She had packed up and was heading out.
Her name was Adeline Addruse and she sings under Regent’s Park Road Bridge every weekend. Busking is illegal if you don’t have a permit…but you can’t get a permit for busking.
“It’s not busking if you don’t leave out a tin, or your guitar case open for money, and I don’t.” Addruse said. She does it just to sing and get back into music.
Eighteen months ago her son Cassidy was born, and that’s when she realized life’s too short. She quit her job as and insurance broker and is now a self-employed baker, who plays and sings under a bridge every weekend.
Addruse wants to do music, and is working on getting out of the self-sabotaging mindset so many people find themselves caught in. Yeah, she wants that 1700 pound Martin so she can record her music properly, but she doesn’t need it, at least—that’s what she’s trying to convince herself.
But she’s been doing music on weekends, and after she puts her son to sleep at night. She asked if I knew of Tallest Man on Earth, see he’s just one guy but has a ‘band name’ rather than goes by Kristian Matsson. He’s quite a storyteller with his words and music. I asked what she’d go by. She said “Meet George Brown”.
When she was five, she wanted to be a boy called George Brown. That’s why—Meet George Brown.
I told her it works.
I told her of my traveling, and she told me of a guy who travels the world using and gaining miles from his credit cards. Chrisguillebeau.com
She had dinner waiting, and we had all of London to see, so kept walking along the river, and she walked the way we came. We made it to the locks, and found ourselves right in the heart of Camden again, but Addruse had mentioned a view of London worth seeing nearby, Primrose Hill, and we set out to find it. It wasn’t hard, just walk towards the green, and up. We did, and found a bunch of others there, too. Some runners, some readers, some folks on holiday or just enjoying the evening.
One beer turned to two(the music was –really– good), and then the rest were bought for us, by a guy from Japan, some guys from Brazil…we met some cool people that night, and enjoyed good music. Made me a little homesick, I guess I never expected to find myself at a blues bar in London, but there we were, and it was awesome.
The over ground trains had stopped running by the time the bar closed. We wandered around searching for buses, eventually finding one that took us back to Crystal Palace. It was a bit late.
We made it, though, and woke up with enough time to pack and get tickets for a bus-ferry-bus ride that night to Cork, Ireland. Leaving from the bus station near London Victoria at 7 p.m. that night, and arriving in Cork the next morning, 10:55 a.m.
The bus ride was the longest I’d been on. Rough on the neck. I read while it was light out, and a little into darkness. Then all that could be done was sleep (not so comfortably). The ferry had couches to stretch out on, but they tended to be by the windows, which meant it was freezing. Of course, all our clothes were inaccessible, in the bottom of the bus. The couch was nicer on my neck, but I wore the leather jacket I bought in Camden town the whole way, and I was still cold.
But the ferry made it to port, and the bus made it to Cork, and we were picked up at the station by Bailey’s relatives, and went back to the house for tea and bread (“Bread makes you fat?!” – yes, yes it does, trust me I’ve had a fair lot of it…and will certainly be running hardcore when I get back to the States). We showered away the bus-feel, and I read a bit on Skibbereen’s history(the potato blight, the famine) before we packed up the car and headed to the cottage there.
We arrived in Calais and discovered that the trains that would hypothetically usually take us to the ferry weren’t running anymore today. Whoops. A man in a suit came out and nicely called us a taxi, which we shared with two women heading into the city, so we didn’t have to pay the full 42 Euro, only 30, which we split.
We got to the ferry, bought tickets, and were seriously interrogated by British immigration. This woman was a bitch. We’re only staying in England for a day, but I had to dig through my back pack to get my returning flight ticket(from Berlin to US), and then she held it in her hand for about ten minutes saying “I can’t find the date on this.” The other woman eventually pointed out its obvious placement.
It didn’t help that we were the last in line. But some folks came up behind us and they passed us on. We went outside to a courtesy bus that was to take us to the ferry. It looked like this man and two women were unloading their entire apartment onto the bus, right there in the aisle where people are already standing because its so full. Their car had broken down, they said. They had to move it all this way. It was packaged terribly, as well. A framed picture, and a TV screen, all out in the open, no cover or protection. Lots of little things, lots of mini trips back and forth from cart to bus—the other folks crammed on the bus weren’t thrilled about the time it was taking, they were anxious to make it to the ferry and, most of them, make it home to England.
We made it, though, and went up to the deck and watched us leave the Calais port. Here we were, ferrying across the English Channel to Dover. I loved being by the water again, I feel comfortable near water.
We got a table by the window inside, and ate bread we’d saved from hostel breakfast this morning(hostel breakfast = bread.. that’s it.). Bailey went to change 40 Euro into pounds, and then I went to spend it.
As the ship was pulling into port in Dover, I found myself, once again, surrounded by Englishmen (or so I thought…). How this happens, is usually it starts with two of them, but the more sentences exchanged, the more show up. There were eight of them, by the end of it. They were recommending cool places to check out in London, that sort of thing.
But the ship was in, so they headed to the stairs, I finished my beer and we strapped on our packs.
We went down a flight of stairs and out into where they keep the cars…we figured we probably shouldn’t be there, so we went down another flight, cars again. We went down a third flight and walked out, nearly right into the van of the guys we’d just met upstairs. It was a pretty big van, so I asked if they could give us a ride(you know, kind of joking but not really). They were headed to something North of London about 45 minutes…they said we could go with them then get a train from there back to London…but to get there would’ve taken 2 and a half hours, so it was a bit out of our way.
But the trucks in front were moving, so we had to decide something– we got in the van.
A few minutes of iPhone address-searching and all that, and they said they could drop us at Maidstone Station, where we could then catch a train into London, and to our final destination with Bailey’s relative whom she’s never met.
I told Bailey we should just hitchhike the rest of the way(now three countries I’ve hitchhiked in…Costa Rica being the first, Nicaragua the second…but that was last summer, and that was actually thumbs-out hitchhiking). I was half-joking.
There weren’t any instruments in the van so I asked why they were all traveling together. They live in England, but they’re all Italian. They’d gone to the Italy-Croatia match. It was a draw.
We were lucky, they’d started with 11, but three of them had flown back. We were a bit concerned about getting stopped by immigration, as there were now only eight guys, but two American girls in addition. But we passed through without a problem.
They sung a song they made for us, and Marcello even wrote down the lyrics for me. Its called the Blackburn song, and I recorded it on video.
We’re Backburn Rovers we are
We won’t Be Mastered By the
Burnley Bastards, we keep the
Blue flag flying high
forever ever we follow out team,
we Blackburn Rovers we are supreme
Come on Blackburn…
The rest of the ride to the station, they recommended all sorts to do in London, and told us to go to Liverpool, and also some places in Amsterdam. We made it to the station, and caught the 22:48 Train to London Victoria, where we’ll be arriving in half an hour. Then we switch to another train headed to Crystal Palace. We’d told Bailey’s relative, Deirdre, that we’d be getting there about seven…but Bailey called from the station to tell her we’d be arriving about 5 and a half hours later than expected.
Laptop battery dying.