If you have guessed from my previous post, yes, I am in jolly good England! Yay!!!
The last time I was here, I was just a lass. So long ago…
Made the 14 hours flight on the lovely national carrier of my country i.e. SIA/SQ, which I was pretty much cramped in and hardly slept more than a total of five hours. The best part is… Wait for it… I took the window seat and because of my choice, I was left in a situation where I had to hold my bladder when my seat mates were asleep. Imagine my relief when they woke up! Note to self: Never, ever, ever take the window seat. Always the aisle.
But I would never had seen the sun rise over in the east or see a sea of clouds.
So, anyway, other than that it was a smooth journey over the continent.
Arrived in Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 at 7:30am. We were on time even though the flight captain announced that there would be a 10 minutes delay due to heavy air traffic around the airport. Guess that air traffic control managed to clear as quick as possible.
I am a little bit thankful for the near 30 minutes walk from the arrival gate to the customs and immigrations desk. They probably thought we, the passengers, needed the exercise and got us all to walk off the 14 hours of numbness.
The queue at the immigrations desk was quite fast, probably because it was only 8:00am.
Got my luggage when I spied a Tip: vending machine in the luggage collection area. I went to check it out and to my surprise, it was selling…
Mobile phone SIM cards! Yay!!! So I got myself a £20 one with an all-you-can-use data, which is what I really need, more than the talk time or texts. There are so many options, just choose the one type you need most. Follow the directions on the packet and you are ready to surf away!
Tip: There is a free 4-hour wifi in the airport.
Upon my friends’ previous instructions, I bought the Tip: Oyster Pay-as-you-go transport card from the ticket office at the Underground station of the airport. I find it more convenient than getting those individual tickets. Just tap and go on the buses and metro.
I managed to make my way from the airport to Marylebone Station, making a line change at Piccadilly Circus, and carrying my luggage up stairs. I wonder if the British really love walking or there is some conspiracy from their government to get them exercising. It is all good if you only have your usual day out bag, but not luggage weighing more than 15 kilos and you have to walk up stairs! My arms would ache the next day.
Met a friend at the station and we had an early lunch there. She came to meet up with me as I had some time to spare before heading to my next destination.
We took a walk, luggage and all, around the neighbourhood of Marylebone. It was a really lovely day. Walked to Regent’s Park and saw a whole lot of feathered creatures squawking for their food from visitors. Walked down Baker Street and past the Sherlock Holmes Museum. There are quite a few ‘Sherlock Holmes’ places down that road, as the famed fictional detective lived in that street.
My train to Leamington Spa was at 2:45pm. Another friend told me to Tip: Buy the tickets online (Chiltern Railways for the Midlands) and then collect them from the blue machines at the station using the credit card I bought them with. It saves the hassle and I could choose the timings and prices.
The train ride was almost like taking the bullet train in Japan. It was very fast, smooth, and almost exactly timed. The journey out of London was only about an hour odd, so I got into Leamington Spa at 4:00pm, and waited for my friend, J, to come get me.
After leaving my things at her flat, we took a walk around town and came upon a production of Jane Austen’s “Emma” to be played in the park that evening. Yay!! We bought the tickets, went to the supermarket to get some fruits and groceries, got back to pack up the picnic mat and wash the fruits, and made it in good time for the play.
The play, the whole story, was a bit long, 2 odd hours, but good. There were bits of audience interaction between scenes, just to keep things going lively. They even had live music i.e. the electric keyboard hidden behind a box shaped to resemble a small upright piano. I like the creative use of the props, picture frames to introduce a character and portraits of other characters when the actors could not play them when they were in another (more important) character of that moment.
It is still cold here, especially at night, despite it being nearly summer. It is alright to wear a tee-shirt and a light cardigan during the day.
And that was Day 1 in England. Yawn.