Tuesday, 5 June 2012

No Kews in Queue. Errr.

It was a bank holiday. Again.

I had planned to be back in Contrary Towers on Monday night, but, unfortunately a combination of an epically bad weekend and the last train being so early meant I was neatly stuck in the worst place possible. Pfft.

On top of this I received two messages on Twitter that made my heart run cold, the worry for my flatmate was quite palpable, she was truly in dire need... Firstly I saw...
@AlmostSenseless and we are out of jam *wails*
And then, to emphasise the dangerousness of the situation...
@AlmostSenseless and no milk #hopeless
Which was why I was out of bed at 5:15am and heading for the railway station to catch the first train out and return home. Yes I could have hung around a bit longer, but things really had been tense and, not to put too fine a point on it I desperately wanted to see a friendly face. That and we had a plan. We were going out!

I managed to work for most of the way to Cambridge, which was nice. It was weird being on the first train, the tables were still damp from being washed down. And it being a bank holiday it was... Silent. Almost nobody on the train. Fabulous.

The next bit from Cambridge to Liverpool Street wasn't so nice. Again the train was completely empty. Good. I did various things worked a bit and... At the next station a few people got on and... One of them sat right next to me. The. Train. Was. Bloody. Empty. WTAF? Why next to me? And he kept sniffing. Grrrrr. I was not a happy bunny. But I was being calm. Ish.

Anyway. I was glad to get to Liverpool Street. Even more weirdly I was actually glad to see the Central Line. I thought I'd never use that phrase. Even coming out of Mile End, what seemed about 8 seconds later, was a joy. The sweet sound of the police sirens was like music to me ears, I was almost home. One quick stop to Chez Lidl for essentials and I could have my first tea of the day. Hurrah!

Incredibly, my flatmate was actually awake. In fact, she'd been awake for some time. Crikey. Time for tea then. But no crumpets. I'd picked some up especially, but she was on some new diet that meant no crumpets before 9am, a weird plan, but apparently scientifically proven.

The crumpets came with the second cup of tea. Phew, I was quite worried for a moment there.

Interestingly, I didn't manage to vapourise the crumpets. I don't for one minute doubt the fact that our thermonuclear grill is the root of all evil, but, well, mine didn't come out carbonised... I added butter. By the lump. Obvs. And we ate. With honey.


The plan was that we would be going to Kew gardens to see the new David Nash exhibition which we'd seen separately, so had to be a good prospect. Now this would involved travel to a mysterious place known as West London. To hamper things further we would have to go to an area shrouded in primeval fog known as South of the river. Oh dear.

My plan was get on the District Line to Richmond, sit there for a while and get off a Kew.

My flatmate felt we needed to look at options. So she tried ever more complex routes, to see how quickly we could get there. We couldn't. There is no quickness. It was District Line to Richmond or, well, a slower route. We headed to the District Line.

And then counted off the 25 stations to Kew. 25. Sheesh. We chatted. I threatened 99 bottles of beer on the wall. She asked are we nearly there yet several times and then... We realised something. We had both separately seen posters for the event. I had even read the blurb. But neither of us could quite recall when the exhibition was on.


So from about Temple to Earls Court we  kept straining to see if there were any posters for the exhibition. None. Until... We saw one. And saw when it started. The 9th of June. In four days time. Gah.

If you are a regular reader of the goings on at Contrary Towers you will know that such mere details do not concern us. But still. As ever we are ahead of the curve and there before the crowds. Bleeding edge. Fashion leaders. Trend setters. Can't-read-dates-of-posterers. You would have been disappointed if we'd got it right.

We reached Kew. My flatmate bought coffee. We giggled as we walked to the gardens about something or other. We paid. We went in and... We found that the art works were in place. Hurrah.

And then we had the most calm, meandering day. We walked, chatted, sniffed flowers, took photographs, pondered art and generally defused. Lunch was a calm affair, well, if you ignore the fact that the people in the Orangery couldn't grasp the concept of serving people in order. The astonishing thing was how quiet it was. If you ever want to go to Kew on a bank holiday and want it empty, make sure it coincides with the Queen's Jubilee and a threat of rain.

After lunch we wandered out to have a look at the Kew Olympic rings, each of these was made with a large number of a particular plant, which looked fabulous. The only danger point was the green... Mint. My flatmate ate some. She is impossible.

By now the rain has decided that it's going to stay for the afternoon. So we headed off for the tree walk. As we wandered, the quietness became even more apparent, at one point it felt that, literally, we were the only people in Kew and we were in real danger from the killer squirrels.

However, we were safe from squirrels, instead we found yet more of the art that we'd come to see. I might write more about this at another time, i.e. when I'm less tired, but one piece rather reminded me of a Henry Moore was named the Torso. Needless to say we didn't know it was called this until we got close, by which point my flatmate had started a series of poetic words that did, again, convey the idea of a body... You can read this when she writes it up (that was a hint...)

Flatmate not giggling
The works really were quite impressive and, in a way intimidating. Some were quite barking, whilst others might have had us giggling with smutty thoughts that we probably shouldn't have been having. Definitely more to ponder on this.

The tree walk is amazing. As my flatmate said, it was a part of the gardens that, previously, would have been largely ignored, but now was a truly incredible chance to see the trees from a different perspective. I was particularly impressed with the way that the walk structure had been built. The metal surfaces appeared to be unfinished and had gently corroded to a delicate rusty colour, blending beautifully with the trees. This combined with the shape of the upper support branches gave a positively natural feel to these very unnatural structures.

If you're not bothered by heights then go up. If you are, then go up anyway, but don't look over the edge. You have been warned.

We headed for home. And... Pie.

Purpura Barbam Lignum (honestum)
As we walked back out of the gardens we did come across an interesting tree, obviously we had no idea what it was so we decided that we knew more than the experts in the garden and named it Purpura Barbam Lignum, it really did have the most lovely purple blossom that reminded us of moustaches, but had to call it beard instead. As you do.

It was decreed that it must be Northern Night in Contrary Towers and, hence, only pie, chips and gravy would do. All we had to do was find some... Easy.

We waited a while at Kew station and a train turned up.
Me: Funny looking underground train. 
Her: It's overground, it'll be fine, we'll go to Stratford
This made sense, I believe there are retail outlets in that hellish part of London. Possibly some that sold pie. So we got on this strange, wide, train that didn't have the right colours on the route map and had names I'd only heard tale of in horror stories read to me as a child to keep me away from North West London.

The trouble is, the route it appears to take appears to go very, oh, Grimsby, and as you will know my flatmate is (a) impatient and (b) can't survive more than a nanosecond without food. We changed at Willesden Junction. I'd never heard of this before. Ever.

I had though heard of the Bakerloo line and was happy with this choice. Once we found the right platform. Off we went again. Next stop, Baker Street. There was, as you might imagine, some, discussion over where to change next. We'd lost interest in the Stratford thing, let's face it, we've been there before and all we did was drink champagne and buy shoes. Not helpful. It had to be Canary Wharf. Home to three potential purveyors of fine pies.

The reason I'd argued for Baker Street was simple, I'm a lazy mare and there the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines are on the same level and have adjoining platforms. It was plain sailing from here. We sat, she read me bits from the book she's reading, we giggled and... We reached Canary Wharf. Hurrah.

Waitrose o'clock.

Pie. Err. Pie. Pie? No. Pie! No. Where? Huh? We were getting to the point where we thought we might have to give up and go to Tesco when I had vague recollections of them having frozen pie... It took a while, but then... PIE!

There was the inevitable heated discussion over the best sort of chips to get. You have to remember that other than the dirty croquettes we keep for emergency purposes, we largely cook from scratch, so this is still relatively new territory for us. Fortunately we could at least agree on this, so crinkle cuts it was. And greens as Waitrose had no Broccoli. Yep. Just like Lidl last week. Has Tesco cornered the market? Are there furtive broccoli dealers waiting in the shadows ready to leap out with an easy fix when you are in desperate need? Who knows. I do know this is starting to get old.

The transport home this evening was to be the D3, because it turned up.
Me: We can get off near Westferry
Her: Are you sure it doesn't go past ours? 
Me: Yes 
Her: You sure? 
Me: Yes, it'll be fine... 
And on and on it went. Continuing in the bus. The belief was we'd get off near Limehouse Police Station and... Turn right thus proving me wrong.


We got off... It turned left! Haaaahahahahahaha. This being followed by my I-can't-believe-you-didn't-believe-me-face and her I'm-sure-you-paid-the-driver-off-face. But that mattered not as I then saw... A yellow car!!! I really need to get out more.

Which meant I had to do a little dance to celebrate. On Commercial Road. In E14. Err. Not smart. Still... Yellow car! We popped in to Chez Lidl, collected some medicinal Bardolino and scooted back to Contrary Towers to dry out and cook pie.

At this point I'd just like to say that my flatmate makes utterly brilliant gravy. Properly. And used bits of Charlie the Chive plant to add a little extra.

Not Charlie!
All in all it's been a good day after such an awful beginning, I know that even pie won't solve the level of frustration (on several levels) that I'm carrying around, but nice days help and do give a certain level of hope that there can be nice days again.

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