While Blackberry were imploding, I was at a conference that was spread over two days, in the Kings Cross area of London. I went with my work colleagues and two of us stayed over
I thought I was pretty cool about getting round London. Until this time, that is
I have been to Camden loads of times but I haven’t actually been anywhere except Camden Lock/Market etc – the usual tourist bits really. Our hotel was on Camden Road so I thought it would be easy to find. What I didn’t know was how long Camden Road is. And we were staying at the Kentish Town end
So, the first surprise was how far our hotel was from the conference venue. We had decided to go by bus – and that was the second shock
I haven’t been on a bus in years, apart from in Italy earlier this year. It seems times have changed in London and you can no longer hand over any cash! The bus drivers have all been to the school of obnoxious, unhelpful bastards (the same one that medical receptionists go to) and we had to try to work out how to get a bus and how to get to where we needed to be
Half hour later, having caught the right bus with the help of a local Scottish man, we still hadn’t found our hotel, despite walking almost the whole length of Camden Road (having got off at the wrong end, obviously!). I was on the point of calling a cab to take me to the nearest Hilton when we saw it
It was the sort of hotel builders stay in when they work away from home
I know that because there were lots of builders staying there who were clearly working away from home
So, we checked in and flumped on our bed in our tiny, weeny little cupboard of a room, having put the card in the slot to turn on the electric
Five minutes later the electric went and we were plunged into the last few minutes before sunset – I phoned the reception, he was very nice, came straight over to us and moved us into another little cupboard on the ground floor (which meant we had to keep the windows closed for fear of being mugged in our sleep)
Time was getting on so we headed out (on the bus again, by now we had mastered that challenge) for something to eat, into Camden, where we had a table booked at a ‘mediterranean restaurant’ with a ‘lively atmosphere’ and ‘regular live music and rave nights’ – more on that in a minute
We stopped off at The World’s End, a lovely pub that anyone who knows that area will be familiar with
There, we met a Welshman who asked us to mind his bag while he went to the loo. We debated whether it might be a bomb but it didn’t tick so we kept an eye on it for him. When he came back, he told us his life story, about how he had been a professional boxer and was now a law graduate, trying to get his first bit of work but with a criminal record for GBH he acquired three months ago after a club brawl. Bless him
We left Taffy and his Welsh bomb and went to find our restaurant, on foot. Shops and restaurants fell away with each new road turning and we eventually stumbled on what can only be described as A DIVE. This was my third surprise. There are other bits of Camden apart from the nice market and the lock and the bit where all the cool self-harming Goths go
This was our restaurant. In some tacky little backstreet you wouldn’t want to walk down alone. The place was totally empty – it didn’t even LOOK like a restaurant. It looked like a ‘spit and sawdust’ pub. An empty one. However, as we were just in time for happy hour, we had a half price cocktail, kept quiet about the booking and disappeared off to have a bite to eat in a Turkish restaurant up the road as soon as we had finished our drinks
Feeling very local now, we easily got the right bus back to our hotel and went to bed
At four a.m. my son (26) phoned to say his front door key had broken and did I know where the spare one was? I had a vague idea and told him and then couldn’t sleep for wondering if he’d woken up KD rummaging around for it in the garden
We had another fiasco with the buses the following morning but got to the venue on time. The highlight of the day was when one of the speakers forgot they still had their radio mike on and went for a wee. Very entertaining for everyone in the room
And then, it was time to come home
We witnessed a nasty fight on the street amongst some youths and reflected on how we dare not intervene because it was London and they all have knives – where we live, we still bang their heads together and tell their mums!!
I had to stand all the way on the tube because some inconsiderate bastard had once more thrown themselves on the tracks during the rush hour and I was ready to drop when I got home
The conference was brilliant, very interesting, and I’m glad I went. I do love London and this was a very different experience from my usual jaunts up there. I would like to venture forth into other parts of London I am not familiar with now
But I was oh, so glad to be home!!
Sorry you didn’t have more fun, but you were definitely a traveller rather than a tourist.
Love the photo!
To be honest, i did have quite a bit of fun. I was just amazed at how much could happen in two short days! 🙂