I've arrived safely in the Ancestral Homeland, and as my body will tell you, it's too early to text anyone back home to let them know.
Right now I plan to sleep. Assuming I wake up sometime today, I'll get some caffeine, possibly a bite, and then walk around my second-favorite city in the world for a bit, aiming to queue up for St Paul's midnight service sometime around 22:30. (I might also try to get in to the Christmas carol service at 16:00; haven't decided yet.)
I'm heading to the Ancestral Homeland in a few days, and this chart is a veritable Christmas present from the Brexit idiots:
The last time Sterling was this low was Christmas 2016—the last Christmas I was in London.
Thank you, Boris Johnson, and your tourist-friendly policies.
This coffee shop, on Bermondsey Street:
And this airplane:
Actually, the A380 was pretty cool inside, though I may have erred getting an upper-deck seat. Next trip to London, I'll go for a lower-deck seat if I can. (Or even business class...hmmm...)
This is how I spent an hour of my holiday today:
It's beautiful out: 21°C, mostly sunny, with a gentle breeze. But I walked that far in less than an hour, so I'm now back at my hotel to shower. Still, this is exactly how I needed to spend today.
I mentioned earlier today (yesterday BST) that I sought the Source. Here it is:
That monument marks the official head of the River Thames, though in September after a long, dry summer, there isn't a lot else that would convince you. Still, boundaries and origins have always fascinated me, so I just had to see it.
Naturally, the closest pub to the monument capitalizes on its notoriety:
Also just as naturally, my trip to Kemble required a totally unanticipated hour and 20 minutes in Swindon, which...well, let me save a thousand words:
Yeah...I don't even know the American analogy to it, but my money's on Elgin: the train doesn't stop in the best spot, but otherwise it's a decent exurb with a history.
Tomorrow I'm staying entirely in London, and planning on going to pub quiz at my second-favorite pub in the world, now that I know they have pub quiz Monday nights. Right now, I aim to finish Redshirts, which I started in Kemble. And then go to sleep. Because my stay-on-Chicago-time strategy has not worked entirely according to plan.
Today's plan is to hop a train for about an hour and 20 minutes and look for a specific monument in a field. One hopes that today I'll remember to put sunscreen on my face. It is, in fact, possible to get a sunburn in the UK in September.
Details and photos tonight.
I had thought about going to see the Chelsea v Bournemouth match at Stamford Bridge today, and even tried to get tickets online for weeks. But getting an English Premier League ticket when you're not a club member is a bit like trying to get a Yankees-Red Sox ticket at Fenway day of game.
I did, however, (a) see Stamford Bridge and (b) buy a shirt, so I feel a bit like I participated.
On the way back, I walked through Brompton Cemetery, which, like Graceland Cemetery back home, is something very close by that I haven't seen before. It was worth the detour:
Note how not very green the place is right now. The UK really hasn't gotten a lot of rain this summer. It's quite grim.
I will now take a brief nap before heading out to Hampstead Heath on my way to Southampton Arms. And if my favorite pub in the UK is also closed, I will...go somewhere else, I suppose.
My strategy of sleeping until noon (i.e., 6am Chicago time) to avoid shifting my body clock didn't exactly work this trip. That's because, unfortunately, my hotel's air conditioning is being replaced. Fortunately I'm here now, when it's 23°C, not a month ago when it was 34°C. And fortunately, my windows open. That means I had the windows wide open last night, which, unfortunately, meant the sun poured in starting around 6am. Fortunately, I have this view:
And the hotel left a couple of big fans in the room, fortunately.
Then, unfortunately, this terribly disappointing thing is also going on right now:
That's The Blackbird, my second-favorite pub in London, undergoing a gut rehab, apparently. It closed mid-July and won't open again until mid-October, according to my hotel's staff.
But fortunately, the Prince of Teck is just down the road a bit, and they have a pretty good Full English breakfast:
Now, having only gotten four hours of sleep last night, I'm going to have a kip. Because fortunately, I have absolutely nothing scheduled for today.
A couple of streaks ended today.
First, the good one: after 221 days, I finally got to fly somewhere. That's the longest I've gone without traveling by air since 1980, or possibly earlier.
Second, the bad one: after 82 days, I finally missed 10,000 steps, owing to the above-mentioned flying. That's the longest stretch of 10k-plus days I've had since getting a Fitbit. (I would have made it, too, if it weren't for those meddling time zones.)
Finally, there is a crushing disappointment that I will share tomorrow morning. Well, maybe not crushing, but certainly disappointing. And temporary, it seems, but coinciding exactly with my trip here. So, boo.