Posts tagged with "London"

I’m happy to report that my blood does clot

The best time of the year to make the drive to Darren’s house is in the Autumn. It’s about five hours door-to-door — barring any traffic or construction — so there’s a good chance I’ll catch a sunrise or sunset no matter when I leave. It’s particularly beautiful when the leaves are changing and the colours are at their richest along the stretches of the 401.

Sometimes I’ll turn on a stand-up comedy station instead of music, and it helps take my mind off the dreariness of the less scenic parts1. It’s like having another person to talk to, except the conversation goes one way, and they tend to be funny when not overly political2 or Andrew Dice Clay.

Chinese dishes

Zhaliang and classic Cantonese noodles. #thingsIcouldeateveryday

I still think of moving back to Toronto, where there’s everything that isn’t available to me in Ottawa. But I hate all the things that come with such an unwieldy and poorly amalgamated city. At my age, I value comfort over excitement, and Toronto has become a city that’s better to visit than to stay.

After meeting Mike in London, I knew that’s where I was meant to live, with Bloc Party and Monty Python and The Underground and rainy weather and Portishead and a billion accents and Only Fools and Horses and that stoic British mentality and Paris just a train ride away. But that wasn’t my fate, and the dirty streets of Toronto are the closest I’ll ever get to that.

Continue reading “I’m happy to report that my blood does clot”…

  1. Usually the small towns with no charm or personality. []
  2. Cause I never get it. []

UK Detour: Day 13, London to Ullapool

Mike initially told me I could stay with him for three days, because he soon had to travel to Scotland to film a documentary. Over the phone before I even arrived to meet him, however, he suggested that I come with him to Scotland to make it the trip of a lifetime. I couldn’t say no; to see Scotland has always been a dream of mine. And seeing as how we used the same photo equipment, I could give him a hand with his film while cutting my teeth on using a lot of gear I’ve yet to afford.

So we loaded up the Range Rover with a ridiculous amount of gear, and left by 6am just so we could make it there before too late and to record the transition from sunrise to night. swinging by to pick up Liverpool Liz as another camera operator before leaving. Mike set up his 20D to take a picture every 10 seconds, and we made this stop-motion video.

The journey took 13 hours by car, straight up to the north-west coast of Scotland to small town called Ullapool, where his friend Jean-Marc lived, who was also a subject in Mike’s personal project. We made it as far as Inverness before the batteries died, which is about 900km (and another 90km to Ullapool), and took about ten and a half hours. If you watch the GPS in the video, you get a fast-forwarded view of our path through the rain and the Scottish mountains.

M&S egg sandwich

This was a pretty damn good sandwich, from a Marks and Spencer road stop. They had a huge selection of types too.

Europe 2010 travel diaries

UK Detour: Day 12, London

By my third day in London, which was essentially my last, I was pushing myself to the limit of exhaustion. We had to prioritize each activity, as we there were so many things to do in such a short amount of time.

My impression of London is one of diversity, history, and paranoia. CCTV cameras are everywhere, thanks to Britain’s dubious distinction of being the most CCTV monitored country in Europe.

London Night

Rainy London nights.

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A passenger in London

To get from location to location, Mike took us around on his yellow 500cc Yamaha T-Max, my first time on a motorcycle. It was a sensational feeling to be moving so freely in the open air, even in a London winter (you can see early morning condensation on his windshield in some shots and the windows of some cars). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t now considering a bike for my next vehicle.

I thought I’d have to keep holding onto the side rails to prevent myself from falling off, but quickly realized it wasn’t necessary, as I felt stable at every turn and on every bump. The physics still baffle me.

One advantage of using the bike is that you don’t have to pay a congestion charge, something used by the administration of London to discourage traffic and fund the transportation system. Otherwise, it’s an £8 fee when entering the downtown-ish area on a weekday between 7am and 6pm (and a £150 fine if you drive through without paying). Also, you can weave between the gaps in cars and make your way to the head of traffic lines.

Europe 2010 travel diaries