Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Friday, March 25, 2005

London calling

Today DC is grey, with a misty dampness that reaches down into your bones and installs the chills there. I wore my coat for an hour after I got back from lunch. One of my co-workers remarked that it is a very Londonesque sort of day. I would have to agree, except that for me, my strongest memory of London is of the first time I went, when it was unbe-fucking-lievably hot.

Oddly, even though I'd lived in Europe for a year and traveled fairly extensively during and after my sojourn there, I'd never made it to jolly olde England. I figured that I'd end up going there at some point and thus didn't need to make it a priority. This turned out to be the case. In the summer of 2003, a bunch of us who regularly take vacations together rented a house in Cornwall. It had been described to me as the "surfers' paradise" portion of England, which sounded highly suspect. I mean, who thinks of surfers in conjunction with the British isles, aka "the cold wet rock in the North Sea" (tm ZFF)?

Actually, though, that description was accurate. We happened to be in Cornwall when that enormous heat wave hit Europe, which meant that while everyone else was sweltering, we were delightedly walking around in beautiful 75 degree weather.

Until we got to London. We had tickets to fly in and out of London, and we had planned on spending the weekend there before heading back to the States. BIG MISTAKE. We arrived in time for the peak of the heat wave. The Sunday we were there, it was 100 degrees - the hottest temperature in London in the 350 years they'd been keeping track. Oh dear god, it was dreadful. London is most definitely not set up for anything above the high 60s. Our hotel room had zero air circulation and of course didn't have air-conditioning (to be fair, few places did), so we'd wake up hot and sticky and just miserable. Then you'd try to take a shower and have to wash yourself with super-hot water as all the cold water was gone. That Sunday, all of us were so crabby and out-of-sorts, we're lucky no one came to blows. Then we tried walking around various stores on Oxford Street, thinking that maybe they'd have air-conditioning. A few did, but more did not. At one point, J-Dawg and I sat down and paid $4 for a Pepsi solely because the place was offering ice. Then you think, the hell with this, I'm going to cool off with a nice cold beer from the pub, and of course they'd serve you room-temp beer and you'd want to cry.

I realize that complaining about the heat is a bit rich, coming from someone who grew up in southern California, but the difference is key: LA is set up for the heat. London most definitely is not. Fans? Air-conditioning? Ice? London might want to look into them. They greatly enhance the quality of life.

Other than suffering from a mild form of heat prostration, London was great. I've been back three times since and liked it more and more every time. And Cornwall was a blast too. In fact, the name of this blog comes from a mug I got from St. Michael's Mount. I would go again - just not when it's so blisteringly hot.

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