Monday, 1 August 2011

(Not) like a chicken with its head cut off

As I have mentioned before, our dear friends Iain and Rachel are getting married soon. Saturday was Rachel’s hen night. This was slightly different to the many hen nights and stag parties we saw in London (there were lots) as ours only involved a small amount of alcohol and did not include stupid looking costumes and later vomiting all over them. Or strippers. Rachel’s plan was a sensible and fun sounding one but one that included something almost as terrifying as sharks for me--travelling alone in London to parts unknown. Most normal people can do this, but I, as I have mentioned in previous posts, have gotten lost going to my own house. FACT.

Spiderman was his usual supportive self printing off map after map and talking me through them and frowning and  shaking his head whilst he watched his wife run to the toilets AGAIN to be sick at the thought of having to go to London Bridge on my own. It was like having “Delhi belly” without the benefit of a lovely trip to India, if ya know what I mean. This is a truly ridiculous phobia because I can comfortably speak in front of crowds of thousands but the idea of navigating alone in an  unknown part of a crowded city makes me shit myself. Literally.

This was the plan:
At 2:00 many of the hen party were going to a posh placed called Vinopolis for a wine tasting and those who didn’t want to do that there was a cool museum called The Clink right around the corner that was used as a prison from 1144 and now housed all sorts of spooky stuff and real torture equipment. Well you can guess which one I wanted to go to. Then we were all heading to Covent Garden to eat a slap up meal at 5:30 and then at 8:00 off to see the play The Woman in Black--a real Victorian style ghost story. Easy right? Except the getting there. And the worry when I looked at the menu for the restaurant.

But I conquered the restaurant problem by phoning up the Covent Garden Grill and speaking to the *nicest* manager about my food needs. I was allowed to bring in a few things and order lots of yummy side dishes. Let me just say if you are ever looking for a nice place to eat in London, this was it. The wait staff as well were bloody amazing and I have written them an email thanking them for making my meal so wonderful. So now I know I had to get over the travelling one because I really wanted to go to the Clink and the play.

I decided as long as I was in London I should perhaps go in early and go to places I knew how to navigate to. Get some shopping done and boost my confidence and directional skills. So I did. I went to Planet Organic and bought a few specialty groceries --but they were out of pomegranate molasses *sob* and then to the Crocs Shop to buy another pair of Crocs. I really liked the ones I bought there for folk dancing and wanted a pair for every day wear. Thankfully they had my size. Then off to M&S to eat a bit of healthy salad lunch and off towards the dreaded London Bridge to locate Vinopolis. 

Let me say--maps are RUBBISH. They look NOTHING like the streets and my spatial senses are never very good but maps make it worse. That 3 inch wide space between the law school and the giant replica ship on the map that make them look like you’d need to stand at the law school with telescope to even see the giant ship--load of codswallop. I could have stood on the steps of the law school and spat on the ship--but obviously didn’t--but I could have.

Thank God (and I mean it--thank you God!) there were signs. Big pointy signs saying this way to Southwark Cathedral and the Clink. I followed the signs which took me on a foot path through the grounds of Southwark Cathedral and next to the market where there were lots of food stalls and someone was BBQing meat and it smelled like a charnel house. I used to think that smelled good--but this smelled like DEATH. Luckily I was out of there pretty quickly. I only got lost for a bit when I ran out of signs so I stopped into a Café Nero to buy myself some chocolate covered espresso beans (vegan and super yum!) and then located another sign. I was there early. Waaaay early so I sat outside Vinopolis chilling with some tunes until everyone else arrived. Most people were going to the wine tasting (yuck!) but me and Rachel’s auntie from Oz were going to the Clink. By Oz I mean Australia not somewhere over the rainbow. Yeah, I was disappointed too.

Anyway The Clink was awesome. Check out their website:  They had lots of touchy feely stuff like you could really try out some thumbscrews or attempt to  lift an actual ball and chain. It was so heavy no wonder you could hardly escape with one on. They even had a Scold’s Bridle used on gossiping women (horrible metal cage that went over the head with a spiked bit that held down the tongue *shiver*) and even a chastity belt!!! I don’t need to tell you what that is for. But I had never seen one up close. There was a serrated almond shaped slit in the front of the iron crotch bit and a round hole behind it. I don’t need to tell you what those are for either but they can’t have made going to the toilet pleasant.  At the end you could sit in a torture chair wrapped in chains and have your photo made (I am having a bit of trouble retrieving my photo from their online site, but if I get it to work I will surely post it.)  Good times.

Then we were all off the Covent Garden Grill. I essentially ordered the Falafel Burger with all the side dishes that came with it--minus the falafel burger. If that makes sense.  I had 2 huge --dare I say “meaty”-- grilled mushrooms and a lovely mixed salad with balsamic dressing and some roasted red pepper  hummus (I had brought some falafel and carrot sticks) as well as some crispy chips that would rival McDonald’s fries. Then I brought a gluten free maple cinnamon blondie for pudding. Look for the recipe by the end of the week. The meal was delicious and the waiter really kind about making sure I got enough food.

Then we were off to the play! We were really squeaking it to be there by 8:00 But we scooted in just under the wire. The Woman in Black was really cool--a play within a play--where the same 2 chairs and a wicker trunk stood in for offices, a pony and trap, a desk, a bed etc and all the parts were played by just 2 actors plus the woman in black who kept popping up unexpectedly in the shadows to scare the bejesus out of you. And the ghostly woman in black made me scream like a wee girl in a dress and pigtails. Yes it did. Many times. It was excellent--a real melodrama with unbearable tension as the story slowly unfolded towards its ghastly conclusion. I would definitely see this again.

Then we trained home, tired but happy. We saw an extremely inebriated man who was clearly the groom on his stag night as he was wearing a pair of comedy antlers, a plastic ball and chain around his ankle and inexplicably had a plastic inflatable sheep handcuffed to his wrist.

 I was especially happy as I had not been a chicken with my head cut off--running aimlessly flapping my arms around London. I was a bird with iron filings in my nose--my own internal compass--and I found my way by myself with the grace of God. Amen.


  1. oh wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I am so happy that the iron filings that your Dad and I had implanted in your nose when you were younger worked! He was so sure they would, you know. He had lots of faith in the iron filings theory of navigation. Me, not so much.

    All in all, this sounds like a delightful day.

  2. Fantastic day! So happy you had such a wonderful time.