I landed into London Stansted late at night and 3 hours later, arrived in Brixton, a district in South West London, where my old flatmate Trevor lives, round the corner from my old flat where I lived many years ago.
Brixton has a reputation for being rough, largely because of crime in the 80s. But when I lived there from 2005-6, I never felt unsafe. Sure, there were crackheads milling around asking for 5p but the only crime I ever witnessed was when a ruffled looking woman grabbed a lit cigarette out of the mouth of a well-dressed man and walked off, smoking it.
This time however, the Brixton high street was cordoned off with police tap and multiple police had been stationed. Was this aftermath of the London riots in Brixton? Apparently not. I founded out the next morning that there had just been a gas leak and the local Footlocker had burnt down. Fortunately, my local HSBC was unaffected as I wanted to visit and enjoy the
free PG Tips tea they have for customers.
I was in London for only 24 hours, in town just to collect my bags which Trevor had been looking after and in transit to join my next ship in Rome. This may be the last time I’m in London for a very long time, so my old flatmates Jess and Trevor decided to take a day off so we could have a tourist day out. We met up at Trafalgar Square and started off with attempting to climb the lions so we could take photos. And by we, I mean that Trevor and Jess climbed the lions while I feigned interest in photography.
Next stop was Camden Town in northwest London. Somehow, despite having lived in London for two years, I never made it to Camden. The Camden Stables Market is quite famous and have lots of good shopping and an international selection of cuisine. I even picked up a new hat, with the help of my old flatmates – which was fortunate because the last time I bought clothes without any advice, I ended up looking like a pedophile. But arguably the coolest shop in Camden Town is Cyberdog, which sells all sorts of raver gear, from stuff that glows in black light to clothes which look like the belong to the Jetsons. Of particular note was the Adult entertainment section, which probably has nothing to with raves unless people bring vibrators to such events.
After Camden Town, we went to a nearby pub to enjoy some good old English cider. The difference between English cider and cider that you get in say, Eastern Europe is that English cider is from fermented apples while cider in Eastern Europe is made from alcohol, carbonated water, sugar and coloring.
Next, we headed to Paddington Station where Jess got me a new Paddington Bear! After having
lost Paddington Bear last summer in a dive bar in New York, after too many tequilas and then buying another one from Paddington Station only to give it away to an ex-girlfriend, I was reluctant to undertake the responsibility of yet another Paddington Bear. Ultimately, he chose me, so I didn’t really have a choice.
New hat and new travel friend. It was time to celebrate, so we jumped on the Tube again and headed to Central London for 2-for-1 cocktails for £7.50. I had 4 Tennessee Long Island Iced Teas, which are like regular Long Island Iced Teas, except with Jack Daniels instead of Gin. Brilliant. I also met the Traveling Editor of Grand Canadian Hitchhike fame.
After cocktails, we headed back to Brixton for dinner, taking the famous double-decker bus and sneakily drinking more cider (Apparently, it’s illegal to drink on London’s public transport now.). Once in Brixton, we ended up at our famous late-night haunt: KFC. I almost ordered a bucket but fortunately settled for something smaller. (Either way, that KFC will give me a fat day) After dinner, it was time to grab my things and say my final farewell. I needed to head to Heathrow. I would sleep for a few hours at the airport before catching my early morning flight.
A really lovely send off!