Halloween in London

I have many homes. The first one is of course in Tallinn with my parents, my home for the first 22 years of my life. The second one is whereever Matthijs happens to be, usually in Nijmegen in The Netherlands. The third one is in Brussels with my host family. The fourth one that I had temporarily forgotten about is London. It doesn’t really matter where I’m staying while I’m there, London as a whole is my home. I have never lived in London, but every time I have a trip there, I feel that I have returned to my home, and later I’m homesick for London.

I went to my fourth home last week. The host family had a vacation week, so I decided to go to London for four days. The timing of the trip was lucky, since I was able to meet up with my friend from Israel who happened to be in London at the same time. I had been afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see Sharon for years, so I was very happy to find that we can meet up on my first trip day. After meeting up at Leicester Square and getting matinee tickets for Wicked, we dropped off my suitcase and went to explore Notting Hill.

It was Wednesday morning, so Portobello street wasn’t really at the peak of its activities, but we did see some street stalls and just enjoyed the lovely view. I love the pastel-coloured houses that are stacked so nearly in rows, quite a change from Brussels where all buildings are in completely different styles (which I also love, but it was nice to see something different for a change). After walking around for a while, we stumbled upon The Hummingbird Bakery.

The prices were rather steep, but the cupcakes looked absolutely delicious and we wanted something sweet, so after some photo-snapping and squeeing we decided on what we wanted and left the store with cute little boxes for our cupcakes. Since our visit was during Halloween, I chose an appropriately themed cupcake with shockingly orange icing. It was very sweet and very nice.

Continuing our exploration trip in Notting Hill, we had some lunch in a random pub, forgot our cupcakes a few times when we had put the boxes down for a moment, enjoyed seeing the beautiful houses and chuckled at some Halloween decorations. My favourite was one house that was covered in fake cobwebs and tiny ghosts and had a row of pumpkins on its front stairs. Not sure how they got in and out of the door though, with all the cobwebs in the way.

After asking for some directions, we found the Notting Hill bookstore. You know, the one from the famous movie with Hugh Grant playing a shy slightly akwward British guy (like in all of his movies). Yes, we went in, and yes, we left with books. I managed to limit myself to one, whereas Sharon went a bit nuts and got a pile. We made the shopkeeper laugh a bit with faffing over books and trying to talk ourselves out of buying more of them. With our wallets slightly lighter and handbags heavier, we sat down on the bench in front of the store and enjoyed our cupcakes.

After searching for a bus and then waiting for ages, we finally managed to get back to the centre to grab a quick bite and then go to the theatre to see Wicked. I bought a small yoghurt with chunks of banana, but unfortunately the yoghurt was low fat and tasted like nothing. Why would you take fat out of the yoghurt? You’re removing the only thing that makes yoghurt tasty and creamy! Such a terrible idea. Give me fat or give me nothing. Anyway, after that disappointing snack stop we headed to the theatre, having no idea what the musical is about. The stage hinted that it was probably connected to The Wizard of Oz, but neither of us had read the book or seen the movie, so it didn’t help us much.

The musical turned out to be great. As I later found out thanks to Sharon, the actress playing Glinda had been Christine in The Phantom of the Opera last time when I went to see that. She had been absolutely brilliant as Christine and she was equally awesome as Glinda. She played such an annoying character that you couldn’t help but hate Glinda, but she did an amazing job. At the end of the show there was a shower of balloons from the ceiling and the cast wished us a happy halloween. Sharon and I caught a balloon each and left the theatre with big grins.

(Sharon on the left, me on on the right.)

We later gave the balloons to two random kids who hadn’t been able to catch one themselves. We already had our fun and got a photo with them and the kids definitely got more joy out of having those balloons than we would have. Also, it would have been really annoying to carry them on the metro. Have I mentioned how much I dislike the tube in London? It’s always overcrowded and with no air to breathe and it’s way too hot in there due to so many people being squished together. The only thing that would have made tube fun for me had been ruined – there were no “mind the gap!” announcements. It used to be so simple and effective, but now they have a long announcement that goes “Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.” in some stations, which isn’t nearly as fun as the old version.

Having said goodbye to Sharon who had to leave the next day, I went to an old classmate’s place. He lives one train stop outside London and I hadn’t seen him in ages, so last week I stayed with him and his lovely girlfriend. There’s still three days left of my trip to post about, but this post is already a bit too long and I’ll save the rest of the photos for the next one. Farewell and see you again soon!

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