Thursday, 6 January 2011

Bad planning

Train fares are ridiculous aren’t they? When scoping out the prices of trains from my beloved Hull down to my beloved’s Bognor I was bloody outraged a little dismayed to discover that it was going to cost me £104. Or rather it wouldn’t have cost me £104 at all, because I would have had to have stayed at home and cried into my pillow.

My saviour came in the blue and yellow form of Megabus who promised to take me all the way from Hull to London for just £9 one way. Then it was just a hop, skip and a £35 train fare to the seaside.

I came back with That Person (that can be his name for now I think) as far as London, at which point we parted ways, him to the wilds of Preston and me to the sanctity of the Humber Bridge. However I had rather a long wait in London until I was transported back home. As in 5 hours.

I decided this would be good. I would have some me time in London and be brave and go and do something. Except in the post-Christmas haze my brain just couldn’t think of anything it really wanted to go and see. I settled on a trip to the Tate Modern and after putting my luggage in storage (Well recommended if you don’t want to lug your suitcase round with you all day. £8 for 24 hours and they’re in most of the London stations I think. Although man are you guys getting ripped off again, I could have put my luggage in storage in Manchester Piccadilly for the same amount of time for £5. Ridiculous. Did you know your Boots Meal Deals are more expensive than up here too? SCANDALOUS.) I made my way there. I had already thoroughly planned and memorised my Tube route – I’m still a little scared of the Underground you know.

I got to the Tate and saw the latest exhibition in the Turbine Hall. My tiny little brain simply could not comprehend what I was seeing. This whole space is filled with sunflower seeds made from porcelain? Each one hand crafted in China? Really? Nope sorry, now I must explode. Kaboom.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds - mind boggling

I started to walk around and then it hit me. I’m really not that big an art fan. I’m sorry I feel like a terrible person saying it out loud but it just does nothing for me. Particularly the ‘modern’ stuff. What the hell was I doing in there?! This was stupid, I would wander around, not appreciating it and then spend money I don’t have in the gift shop.

Plan aborted.

New plan: Go to St Paul’s. You can handle that, you can see it from where you’re standing for goodness’ sake! Trot across Millennium Bridge, get into St Paul’s, realise that yeah, it’s a big church and you can’t see the good stuff without paying money. Light a candle and hope that Jesus doesn’t hate me.

Plan aborted.
Get out of the way annoying tourists!

I stood on the steps for a while feeling a little bit lost. I still had a few hours to kill but had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go or how I would get there. This is quite a problem when you’re in London. I tried to just blindly walk into the City but got The Frights and scampered into the Underground at St Paul’s for safety. I did my best navigating-the-Tube-all-by-myself-on-the-cuff ever and got back to Victoria where I picked up my suitcase and went to St Pancras where I sought out the comfort of a seat with some tea and a sandwich and read my book for a couple of hours before heading Hull-ward.

Just call me Mistress of the Underground

On the whole? Not a great success. I could have done a lot better. But this Megabus revelation has opened up a whole world to me – I could totally go to London for the day for £18! I’d arrive at 11.30am and leave at 6.00pm but that still leaves 6.5 hours in London, which to be honest is probably all I could take. Now I just need a better plan with what to do with my time.

Anybody have any suggestions? Or does anyone wish to squire me about town for an afternoon and prove to me that London is amazing?!


  1. I know, the time we went to London the train was so expensive. Bah. Must investigate Megabus! I hate the tube too and could totally not brave it by myself! PS - I'm the same with art gallery's, I wander around but never really appreciate what I'm seeing!

  2. Oh my goodness don't even get me started on train fares - i thought i was going to punch someone when i realised my annual season ticket was going up by £200 - honestly what the hell are they doing with all that money anyway?!!!!
    about london, what a shame you didn't have a wonderful guide like me!! ;-)
    no actually, i don't know it that well, but i'd be more than happy to show you around various bits and pieces next time you fancy coming down - that might be a bit scary, like meeting in real life and all, but i'm sure i could manage!

  3. Don't go to London. That is my tip.

    Consider going to Oxford instead? Or almost anywhere?

    The seaside is nice...

  4. Agh, my friend was looking into getting the train from York to Newcastle the other day - it's like an hour and a half at most - £50!!! No wonder people drive everywhere!

    Those sunflower seeds are pretty impressive but I know what you mean - I've been to Tate Modern once and it gave me a massive headache :(

    I always really enjoy London but think that's cos my friends live there so they know all the places to go. Hampton Court Palace is amazing, but not actually in London!

    And my input? I think That Person sounds slightly like you don't really like him. How about Mr Girl (hehe!)?

  5. The dancing queen has whisked herself and the boyfriend off to London on the Megabus. £3 each way from Sheffield - you can actually get it for £1 if you book early. xxx

  6. I don't find that it's too bad going from Liverpool to London - if you're prepared to go stupidly early and come back late then you can get the return for £22 which I think is really good. It's just trying to go anywhere else, especially cross country journeys, that costs so much. Stupid ticket prices.

    As for London, I strongly recommend popping over to Russell Square and exploring Bloomsbury. There's an amazing bookshop about 2 minutes walk away (Persephone Books) and the area is lovely.

    I always seem to go to London with a very busy schedule so I never have time to explore properly but what I'd really like to do is just walk around and explore all the interesting parts that aren't on the tourist trail. I sense it could take days...

  7. Train fares are a complete joke - and I read some place that they only cover half the money the companies require to run and improve the service! (I was speechless when I read this...and I just thought 'WHAT THE F*CK?!!!')
    Something seriously, seriously wrong there...

    My mum went to see that sunflower seed exhibition. She was telling me about it in the car the other day but I wasn't really listening and I just went 'oh yeah?' and she was like 'you're not listening' and I was like 'sure I am, sunflower seeds, china, exhibition.' but she could see I wasn't. Your blog has clarified it a bit more...still not consumed with a desperate need to see it. I can imagine it well enough i reckon...and why make the seeds from ceramic? Why didn't they just buy a load of real ones?!

    As for London...things to do...deep breath...where to start? Lots of stuff to do...though actually, if you just want to kill time it can be a pain to think of things...

    If you are ever in Holborn - check out the John Soane Bethnal Green there is the Museum of Childhood (never been but looks cool) and there is a nice community cafe near there - the one I volunteered at for a while called the Gallery cafe - they sometimes play live music there.

    Erm...Charing Cross -on the edge of trafalgar square there is a church where they often have classical music to candlelight - that is nice...Portrait Gallery always has cool stuff on. Alsoo Gordon's bar by Charing Cross is cool if it is quiet - you can have a bottle of wine down in the cellar there and it is quite cosy...
    If you want to drink also maybe try Vinopolis at London Brige - wine tasting session or just good for a nice bottle of wine... are good at Brick Lane and Spitafields on a Sunday and if you are there really early there is also the Columbia Road flower market...Saturday you want to head to london fields for Broadway Market...and London Bridge for Borough market if you want free food samples etc etc...Westfields at White City is also a great time Oxford Circus...and then there are plenty of nice parks to wander round and lie in the the summer...can go on and

  8. Oh dear God I just wrote you an essay -an essay I tell you - and then this stupid computer went offline and it all went...I am almost as outraged about this as I am about the trains and how supposedly our fares only cover half the costs they require to run them and improve on them (yeah that makes me go -what the f*ck?!)... I wrote all about sunflower seeds and all about places to go in London...and now it is all gone...and I am destroyed...

  9. Oh yay! Somehow it was saved! Thanks for letting me know...I feel less destroyed now! :) xxx

  10. London, well it is scary. But there are lots of great places too. I love Greenwich, lots to see and it's a bit out of the nuzzle. Also fancy the V and A. Covent garden is good too and there are some great parks. The underground isn't so bad when you get used to it, planning the route beforehand helps though, sometimes the Londoners make it hard to ask for help.

  11. Kate at M is for Make was talking about an exhibition at the Barbican on 30 years of Japanese fashion ( and apparently there is a lovely café in the cript at St Martins in the Field (just off Trafalgar Square).

    But despite growing up in London, I think I agree with Mooncalf - go somewhere else! Cambridge is nice especially if you go on a market day, and if you wanted to make a long weekend of it, there are lots of little seasidey places (Southwold and Aldeburgh in Suffolk, or the north Norfolk coast) which are lovely.

    Damn, now I'm all jealous.

  12. Personally, I prefer My Beloved, as read in the first paragraph ;)

    Go to Covent Garden.

  13. Covent Garden is always fun to spend some time... there's a variety of places to eat, drink, street performers, shops and you're not far from the Strand, Picadilly & Leicester Sq so could maybe catch a matinee performance of a musical or something?

    Of course there's Camden.... Portobello Road Market...

    There is so much to do in London I probably don't take advantage of it enough!

    Victoria xx

  14. Free museums! I love love love the British Museum and can spend days there. Or the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A... I keep meaning to check out the British Library too. In summer there's usually fun stuff going on on the South Bank or in the bigger parks. And Borough Market or Portobello Road are worth checking out. And the secondhand book stalls under the bridge near Waterloo are - well, pricier than secondhand should be but packed with treasures.


Go on. Say something. You know you want to...