Friday, July 8, 2011

Battersea Park

I've had plenty to keep me occupied while Josh is away.  Wednesday afternoon I went up to Oxford St to shop for some things for the house.  In London, most stores only have big sales twice a year -- January and July -- so I hoped to find some things I could actually afford to buy.  Even on sale, most things aren't much of a bargain here, and most of the stuff on sale was pretty well picked over.  I bought a few small items, but couldn't find a new Pyrex pan to replace the one I broke on Monday, and didn't relish the thought of having to bring a kitchen trash bin or a curtain rod home on the Tube.  When I got home, I ordered all three online.

Yesterday morning I met up with some other AWC members who live in/near Wimbledon at the Starbucks up in Wimbledon Village (not to be confused with the Starbucks in Wimbledon Town Centre -- yes, they're everywhere here, too).  It was pouring rain outside, so we happily chatted and sipped our coffee/tea for a couple hours.  In addition to Ingrid and Sarah, there were three other women, and we discussed the possibility of organizing some local activities/outings for our group, ranging from Costco runs to walks in the country.  It would be nice to have some more people to hang out with.  And imagine bumping into someone you know at the grocery store!

After our gathering broke up, I walked down to the town center, grabbed a quick sushi lunch at the mall, and then went to the doctor's office that my landlord and neighbors had recommended to register.   Health care is free here through the National Health Service, but you have to register with a "surgery" in your neighborhood.  It works like an HMO -- you see a GP at the local surgery for any health issues, and if they determine that you need to see a specialist, they will give you a referral.  I brought my passport and a utility bill with my name and local address, and was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't sent home to bring some other piece of ID or information.  I did have to fill out a 3-page form, of which one entire page was devoted to questions about alcohol consumption, but it was a relatively painless process.  The receptionist told me it would take a few days to process the registration, but it could take a couple months before I get my NHS number.  I won't necessarily need that number to see a doctor, but I will need it to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which would give me access to the same health care benefits when traveling around the EU, something I hope to do regularly over the next 3 years.

Yesterday evening, I met up with Bethie, Jason, and Charlotte in Battersea Park.  Jason was running a 5K charity race with a group from his office, and since Bethie knew I was flying solo this week, she invited me to join them for the post-race party.  I took the train from Wimbledon to the Battersea Park station (transferring at Clapham Junction).  The gate by the train station was closed because of the race, which was already underway, so I had to walk around the perimeter of the park to another entrance.
Along the way, I passed a rather ugly, ostentatious building that seemed completely out of place in London.  What was this architectural monstrosity?
 Oh.  Of course.
 I eventually found my way to the Chelsea Gate of Battersea Park, which was open.
It's called the Chelsea Gate because it's right by the Chelsea Bridge.  I got a text from Bethie that she was running late, so I took a few photos to kill some time.
Chelsea bridge
bridge lights
WWI memorial
After a few calls and texts, I was able to meet up with Bethie and Charlotte and locate Jason at the post-race festivities.  It reminded me of the aftermath of Race for the Cure.  Because many people had bailed on the race thinking it would rain, they had lots of extra food, so Bethie and I were each offered a voucher good for a burger and two drinks.  So my dinner consisted of a cold cheeseburger and a plastic glass of red wine.  None of us found that particularly satisfying, and Charlotte wanted her dinner, too, so we took the train to Clapham to find a place to sit and have dessert.  We ended up at a vintage clothing store called Secondo.  Yes, we had dessert at a vintage clothing store.  In a tunnel under the train tracks. 
Jason, Charlotte, and Bethie at Secondo in Clapham
Apparently it is a second-hand clothing store by day and a cafe by night.  It was a completely surreal but thoroughly entertaining experience.  The people at the next table had a huge black lab named Archie (you can see his head in the photo above), and the everyone else was celebrating the birthday of someone named Phillip. We sat on mismatched chairs around a folding table wedged next to the DJ booth and speakers and a large Airstream-sized trailer.  We had fun joking around with the people at the next table and realizing that our conversation on the train must have sounded totally inappropriate to the people around us.  Bethie had tried to let Jason know that Charlotte's little pants were falling down, and then I made a reference to "Pants on the Ground," and Bethie commented that they don't know about "Pants on the Ground" here.  So, at Secondo, Jason pointed out that the correct word is "trousers," not pants.  Here, the word "pants" means underwear.  We had a good laugh over that.

Next week promises to be a busy one.  We are expecting two overlapping house guests, and two other people I know will be in town.  Mid-July is a popular time to visit London!  I guess it's a good way to escape the summer heat.  True to form, today has been rainy and windy, so I'm glad I planned to spend it at home getting the house ready for guests.  The guest rooms are vacuumed and the beds are made.  Now I just need to clean the rest of the house....

1 comment:

  1. Secondo sounds like a fascinatingly weird place!


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