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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 3: 13 May, 2014

Something I tried NOT to do on my 2014 trip to England was stress about fitting in as many activities/sights/attractions as possible into one day. I felt as if I accomplished a lot during my first few days in the country already! Knowing that I had a second night of meeting a Twitter friend for dinner, I decided to be a homebody (or in this case, a “hostelbody”) while I waited for dinner time to approach. I called it my “there’s no reason to wreck myself” relaxation day. It just felt like it was the right thing for me to do.

Though I didn’t try to fit in a lot of sightseeing, I did have one little thing to tick off my list: visiting The Photographers’ Gallery. Can you believe it was the first gallery I’ve ever visited in England that’s dedicated to photography? Plenty of museums, sure, but I never made it to any photography galleries in either of my previous UK holidays! The Photographers’ Gallery was small, but free and worth the brief visit that I made. Photography is allowed there, so I tried to do some of my “People in Museums” ongoing series.

John Deakin exhbit

Looking at works by Richard Mosse

Note to self: The Konica Big Mini may be small and unobtrusive, but it’s loud as all get out when you’re in a small, relatively quiet photography gallery…

Work by Lorna Simpson

Self-portrait by Alberto Garcia-Alix

Outside the gallery, on Ramillies Street

After I’d finished at The Photographers’ Gallery, it was time to meet Candace. She’s a gal from Mississippi to whom I’d been introduced via Twitter, by a mutual real-life friend, Hayley.

Wanna hear about one of my misadventures? Google Maps said it was a 15 minute walk from the photo gallery to the place where I’d be meeting Candace, which was situated beneath Tower Bridge. Fair enough. Fifteen minutes is not a long walk in a city where walking is a valid form of transport, right?

I don’t know if you are aware, but the streets in England are not really marked as clearly as we’re used to in America. I never even found the street that Google Maps was using as my starting point. That’s no way to begin a journey! I couldn’t even connect to wi-fi in order to give Candace a head’s up about the fact that I was probably not going to be on time. And then it started raining. Of course it started raining while I was trying to find my way to meet someone new. It wasn’t a hard rain, just a persistent one and it soaked me and my clothes pretty thoroughly. Such is life in London!

I was low on blood sugar and time, which caused me to wander around, trying to find a map that showed how to get to Tower Bridge. I eventually had to let Jesus take the wheel. That is to say, I decided to catch a ride on the Tube. Once that part was done, I decided that I was not going to dwell on my tardiness and troubles finding my way. I don’t want you to think I’m usually an emotional wreck, but I was very often in emotional distress during my last UK holiday. After I returned home from that, I tried to evaluate what had happened to cause me to feel “emotionally weird” while I was in England. That’s why I’ve mentioned a few times already that I was being intentional about not letting things get to me when something wasn’t going exactly as planned. All that to say this: As long as Candace wasn’t cross with me for being late, I’d forgive myself and not let it define the rest of my night.

I believe I took this when I left the station and headed for Tower Bridge, but I don’t remember where – anyone who sees this and can identify it, be my guest!

Besides, when I came out of the station and began to catch glimpses of Tower Bridge through the surrounding buildings, my anxieties melted away. I’m serious about that.

EEP! My bridge!  (and City Hall)

I’ll be honest: I know there are better photos of Tower Bridge out there. I probably even have better photos of Tower Bridge that I’ve taken myself. I should probably just choose a couple of these that are “the best” and exclude the rest from this post. But I don’t really care about that. I was so happy to see the bridge, even taking mediocre photos of it made me happy. It’s my favourite landmark in London. That’s why I was so snap happy once I arrived within eye-shot!

 View across the Thames. You can see the “Walkie-Talkie” building, the ‘Cheesegrater,” the”Gherkin” and, at the far right, Tower of London

Thankfully, Candace forgave my tardiness. The place where I was meeting Candace (and her husband Mark, as it turned out) was under Tower Bridge, looking out over the river.  That made me much more at peace as I took in the view/wrapped my mind around the fact that I was under “my” bridge! (Side note: Candace said Google Maps was a liar for telling me that it was only a 15 minute walk from the Photographers’ Gallery to Tower Bridge. Google Maps, you’re a jerk!)

And here is another  instance where I was socialising with people and not photographing them. But I did get more photos of the bridge as the sun was going down!

(This shot might be my favorite of the Tower Bridge set of photos)

I’m not sure how I forgot about this, but it’s a rainbow over the Thames!!

We eventually ended up in Candace and Mark’s beautiful flat. And guess what: they made sure I got my first fish and chips in England! They took me to a hole in the wall chippy near the flat, and we came back to their place to feast on our giant portions of fried fish and SO MANY chips. I couldn’t finish all of mine. But I did try some of the curry sauce Candace got with hers! I could have taken a photo of all this, but I was too busy eating and enjoying the company. I was thankful that Mark had other things to do so he didn’t get bored while Candace and I geeked out over red lipstick, face moisturiser, American expats developing British accents, and how much she misses Mississippi (and, well, sunshine.) Candace walked me back to the train about 11, and she didn’t mind that I had to stop and take a lot of night photos of Tower Bridge with my phone.  I’ll share those at a later date. It was really beautiful and I wish I’d been able to photograph the bridge at night using a film camera, but I didn’t leave the hostel that day with items that would have been useful for such photography!

Hayley, if you’re listening: thanks for introducing me to Candace on Twitter! Well done! And of course I have to thank Candace for a great night. I’ll meet you under Tower Bridge ANY time!

Every “new to me” person I met on my “Amanda-UK Twitter Unity Tour” was great and no two people or experiences were alike. And none of them were ax murderers, which was a BIG plus.

This was a little funny thing that happened after I left Candace and Mark: When I got to the hostel that night, I was on a bench outside the bar so I could use the wi-fi before going into my dorm. That’s when an American girl whom I’d never seen before and who was dancing her way down the corridor said out of the blue “B.T.Dubs, I love your tights and hope you got them here!” I guess because she wanted to buy some like them? Which led to a discussion about the clothes sizing here (I’m two sizes bigger in UK clothing than in America #vanitysizing) and her inviting me to hang out with her and her friends in the bar and possibly to da club (she’s from New York and used to being in a club that time of night.) Though it was a tempting offer, I went on to bed. (clubbing after midnight in London with total stranger? Sign me up!*)

Photos taken with Konica Big Mini 201 (except the one square photo, which was taken with a Yashica-Mat)

*Not really…


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