And yes, I sure am taking my time getting through these. At this rate, I may not finish until the one-year anniversary of the trip! Life, as always, has been busy, but delightfully so, of late. My still-new job is so amaz-awesome-tastic that I’ve devoted a lot of mental energy to it. When writing all day, it’s hard to come home and write more. Working on that balancing act!
The impetus to get back on this particular horse is that Kat and Chris are headed off to the UK soon, and I am very jealous! (But also insanely happy for them!) So in addition to living vicariously through their social media, I’ll be re-living our fabulous trip through these diaries.
Day 8: Friday, November 6
Friday morning saw us having brekkie in our hotel. One of the best moves we made when planning this trip was getting that little studio. The kitchenette saved us so much money because we had groceries on hand and didn’t eat every meal out. We did, however, decide to wander off in search of coffee, in part because we just wanted to go out and be in London. I’m usually happy to laze around a hotel room, but when in that glorious city, I mostly preferred being out enjoying it.
Warren met us at Euston Station and came back to our place briefly to drop off his overnight bag so we could go to lunch unencumbered. He had his overnight bag with him because the big plan for the day involved trekking up to Derby via train for An Evening with Michael Pickwoad (Doctor Who production designer), courtesy of the Whoovers!
In one of many happily-timed coincidences, fellow Doctor Who fan and Gally attendee Sami Kelsh happened to be in London, and was relatively close by at Oxford Circus. We put off lunch for a few minutes so she could join us. (I’m not sure if I’d ever met Sami before, but I certainly hadn’t talked to her much. What an awesome opportunity to do so. She’s fab, and I can’t wait to hang out with her again!)
We decided to try the lunch buffet at Taste of India, which was one of the many Indian restaurants near our hotel (and our philosophy is there’s no such thing as too much Indian food). It was pretty decent fare, and this restaurant had meat! I love vegetarian food, but I do miss meat when it’s not available for several meals in a row. None of the food was stand-out, but it was all tasty and filling. We had saag aloo again, which we decided must just be a common dish in the UK (unlike here, where I’ve never seen it on a buffet). That made me happy because I love it. This buffet offered no naan or dessert, so that put it a notch below what we’re used to. And then when I tried to use a 20%-off coupon we’d been given on the street, they wouldn’t accept it because it was for “food only”. Apparently the buffet didn’t qualify. I think I understand what they meant, but they really should clarify that better on their coupons. We’d be happy to go back to lots of the places we tried while in London. I don’t think Taste of India is one of them.
Because we didn’t get any buffet-dessert, we walked to the bigger of the two Indian sweet shoppes on the next block and got some treats! There was a couple in line before us who had pre-ordered a HUGE, BEAUTIFUL display of spherical treats (ladoo maybe?) piled into a glorious, huge cone that was wrapped in pretty cellophane and ribbons. They also got several boxes of assorted treats. Must’ve been for a pretty swanky celebration. It gave us lots of time to look over the choices and decide what we’d get. We ended up with several little boxes of delight.
We wanted to eat them together so we popped over to the Crown and Anchor where we nabbed a table outside. I bought us all an assortment of ginger ales and ginger beers, and we chatted and nibbled. It was a bit brisk, but we’re all hearty Canadians, so we toughed it out just to enjoy the day and the company. The Indian treats were scrumptious, but the jaleebees were made with wheat flour. As I was eating gluten for vaca, that wasn’t a problem diet-wise, but it seems I vastly prefer jaleebees made with lentil flour only. The gluten in the wheat flour makes them weirdly chewy.
Then it was time for Sami to take her leave and for us to nab our overnight bags and head off to Euston Station. On the way, we stopped at Sainsbury’s to buy some snacks for the train trip. This included Jaffa Cakes, which, as it turns out, I Do Not Like. At All. (I gave them all to Steven and Warren.) Nutri-Grain bars, on the other hand, were a first-rate pick.
We had some difficulty figuring out how to use our tickets and where to go. We also briefly lost Warren when he came out of Starbucks and missed seeing us waiting for him. It was quite a busy place! We found both Warren and a friendly information booth attendant who explained how the trains worked. (Gosh we were such tourist n00bs!)
We waited a while for our platform number, and then managed to just barely find seats on the train to Tamworth. I say “seats”, but they were just little fold-downs right near the toilet in the last car. I had to move my knees every time the bathroom door opened. It was a Friday afternoon, so it was very crowded, hot, stuffy, and uncomfortable! But hey, at least we were sitting down. Plenty of people didn’t get to. (This was easily the low point in our trip, and really, it wasn’t terrible, so that says a lot for our time in the UK!)
When we disembarked at Tamworth, we figured out how to connect to our Derby train, again with help from someone who worked at the station. That train was less hot and stuffy, and Warren and I were able to find seats. It was fairly pleasant until we arrived at Derby. As the train approached the station, we heard singing/chanting. Then our train car pulled up in front of a big group of football fans who were drunkenly yelling and banging on the windows and doors of the train. When the doors opened, they didn’t let anyone out as they tried to push in. It was both annoying and a bit scary. We did physically push through and get out, where we found a significant police presence trying to keep things under control.
It was dark by this time, and cool, but pleasant, so we walked to a pub called The Crown Inn, where Adam (whom I hadn’t yet met, but who was putting us up for the night) was having a pint. We joined him for a drink before heading to the venue. The boys had lager, and I had the best cider I had on the entire trip. I wish I’d’ve taken note of what kind it was. It may have started with Th or an R? Yeah, I just don’t remember, but I do think of that cider often. If you ever happen into that pub, do let me know what kind of cider they serve!
After our drinks, we put our bags in Adam’s car and walked over to the event, which was in a building that had been a very old church. I spent an inordinate amount of the night staring lovingly at the brickwork. I did also watch the delightful Michael Pickwoad, as he was interviewed on stage. It was fantastic! And Steven was able to get a quick one-on-one with him for RFS after the main interview.
We sat with Adam and Twitter-pal Chris Fone (whom we’d also met at the College Arms event the night before). There were some Who-related goods for sale, including some David Tennant notes (fake money) that had been created for the filming of “The Runaway Bride”. I could not pass up an actual DW prop opportunity, so I bought some for my mom, my sister, and my fellow Verity (and unabashed David Tennant fangirl) Lynne. Steven bought some prints by the immensely-talented and ridiculously clever Andrew-Mark Thompson (as did Warren).
It was fairly late by the time things wrapped up, so Adam took our bags and headed home. We opted to stick around and go out for a late Chinese dinner with the Whoover crew, Michael Pickwoad, and his amazing and vivacious wife Vanessa. Steve Hatcher kindly offered to drive us to Adam’s place after dinner.
Dinner, by the way, was delightful! It was late, and we were about the only people in the Chinese restaurant. The staff clearly knew the Whoovers, and we all sat around a huge round table with a lazy Susan in the middle. It was great to chat with so many Doctor Who fans—such a sense of camaraderie and joy! And I sat right next to Mr. Pickwoad himself! He’s a fascinating guy with great stories about the film industry in Britain. And Vanessa worked with Verity Lambert at the BBC in the early 60s! She was tickled that we’d named our podcast after Verity.
When dinner was over, it was nearing midnight, and then we discovered that Adam’s address not only wasn’t right in Derby, it was about 50 minutes away—in the wrong direction for Steve! If we’d had our bags with us, we may have ended up just crashing at Steve’s place, but our bags were waiting for us at Adam’s place. Steve very Very VERY kindly agreed to drive us out there anyway. We all felt rather terrible about it at first (we’re all very much “we-don’t-want-to-be-a-bother” type Canadians).
BUT. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of the whole trip. It was a mini-road trip in the dark after a great night. Steve Hatcher is a lovely human being and excellent conversationalist. The talk on that ride was full of laughs and stories and capital-F Fun. By the time we arrived, we were all in very high spirits. We thanked Steve profusely for his kindness and sent him off on a very long trip home in the wee hours of the morning. (He lives on the *other* side of Derby quite a ways!)
I am so very very glad we didn’t end up crashing at Steve’s place because Adam and his wife Annie were consummate hosts! We arrived to find towels laid out on our guest bed, complete with bath gel, plus bottles of water, biscuits, and a lovely card welcoming us to their home and insisting we make ourselves comfortable. I have rarely felt so much warmth and kindness when invited into a(n almost) stranger’s home.
After the excitement of the long day, and the change to yet another unfamiliar bed, I admit we didn’t get the best sleep ever, but we were just so happy to be where we were it didn’t even matter. And it really REALLY didn’t matter when the next morning’s breakfast started our Saturday out on a glorious high note, but that’s a story for another blog post! Stay tuned for the next one….whenever that comes.
Photo credits: Steven Schapansky