Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's all too complicated

Yesterday I parked the grannymobile - a bright red '96 or '97 Nissan Micra - at Huntingdon station. Right, now how much is it and how do I pay? I had great fun trying to interpret a sign with a long list of prices ranging from £6.20 to over a grand. How on earth do people manage? I sat in the car waiting for 10:00 to pass - missing the 9:59 train in the process - so I could get a cheaper rate. The next train stopped at every station including some that I'd never heard of.

At 1pm I met up with my old flatmate (we flatted in Birmingham in 2001-o2) at the British Library where we visited the Magnificent Maps exhibition. I like maps (as art perhaps more than as a tool you use to get somewhere) and I once had a job that involved making them. New Zealand featured on very few of these maps because it hadn't been discovered. We saw the world's biggest atlas - a book about as tall as me - and a huge labour-of-love comedy map of London.

We then spent a short time at Covent Garden:

It was a perfect day in London yesterday - there literally wasn't a cloud in the sky. How often, anywhere in the UK, can you say that? We walked along the Thames and visited some bars whose prices were very similar to what I've seen in Auckland, just in a different currency. My flatmate is a doctor and has a lot of disposable income but very little disposable time, so I was lucky to get to see him. We finished up at a Turkish restaurant where we had some very tasty food, just far too much of it.

Then I found I'd lost my return train ticket. My flatmate called that a disaster, though that was a bit strong (I now realise I used that word inappropriately myself in my last post). I searched everywhere but the ticket had vanished. I nearly jumped on the train and took the risk (I'll be out of the country in no time), but in the end I bought another ticket. Train ticket pricing makes no sense in the UK - a return costs about 1.05 times a single (so what are you actually paying for when you buy a ticket?). Whatever, I could kiss goodbye to another £22. I'm burning money on this trip. When I boarded my train at platform zero, I felt a lot like this bloke:

Today I've been all over the place, and let's face it, a bit depressed. Gran and I went into Huntingdon. The last thing we did was visit the supermarket, something I don't enjoy doing at the best of times. But my gran only wanted three items: gin, tonic and milk, so it would be easy. Yeah right. To begin with I offered some resistance, but not wanting an argument I gave up as my gran made sure she got at least something from every aisle, even though she had identical items untouched at home in the fridge. "Put this in, we're running short of that, you really can't have enough of the next thing."

Tomorrow I'll be taking the grannymobile to Birmingham. I've been looking for a road map, but the only maps I can find here could almost belong in that exhibition. The most recent of them is dated 1985.

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