Whewf! I am pretty exhausted. What a cool whirlwind weekend. I feel like the only thing i didn't do was clean my room!
I am finally doing some clothes washing now, as upon my return from Rochester (UK) today I noticed my clothes hamper dirty clothes were now above my desk in height. The washing machine currently sounds like its in the process of lifting off into outer space, which probably means my clothes are just about done. Finally some pants to wear that aren't ready to walk away on their own! Or should I say "trousers?" English people seem under the misleading impression that "pants" are underwear. Very strange. I am still thinking of compilling a British to North American English dictionary, but I think the job would be too big. There are too many words that are different. Living here I've had to learn a whole other language.
On Saturday I got to ride my new bike and had flashers put on and the brakes checked at Harry Perry's cyles in Woolwich. While waiting, I did a few hours writing at the Starbucks where I usually write. I know all the barristas names now. It is quite remarkable.
Saturday night was particularly awesome. I went with Amanda to see the C.O.T. (Children of Tourettes) Plastic Fantastic circus. Basically this is an improv group composed of friends I met at Remy's improv class in Kentish town and a new friend from Crunchy Frog improv which I've been going to on Sundays. It is kind of cool that in a city as big as London the improv community is still quite small and it is possible to know everybody in town that's into it. It was a super fun night although I ashamed to say I missed the first half of the show. There was improv and gymnastic and weird stuff galore and afterwards, since most of the people there knew each other (friends of friends, etc.) we all had some wine and went to a Vietnamese restaurant down the street. It was really a delightful time with delightful people. I got to meet some new people ad refamiliarize myself with people I hadn't seen for a while. The last train was gone for the night by the time we made it out. I still don't understand why a big place like London doesn't have late night trains, especially on Saturday nights where there are people partying on the streets at all hours, especially in Leicester Square. We ended up taking a cab with a very nice driver who got us completely lost somewhere in Blackheath, but eventually both me and Amanda got home safely. Looking down from the heights of Blackheath at Woolwich and Plumstead spread out beneath me all twinkly in the night, everything felt quite magical. Best of all I got to talk to Steve before bed and say good night and hear about his day.
Today I levered myself out of bed by degrees with a bad headache. (No, I was not hungover). I got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some Advil in me and felt better. I walked into Woolwich town centre and had my obligatory coffee. Did some drawing while waiting for Amanda to call back. It turns out she couldn't come to the Rochester Dickens Christmas thing, so I bought my train ticket to Rochester and went there to meet Nicky. Rochester is a very interesting small town right outside London in the Kent district. The place was packed with tons of French tourists and all the people from the town were dressed like people from the 1800s. Their costumes looked very authentic. I wish people wore more theatrical clothing in every day situations. I often "dress-up" though not in keeping with any particular period. You wouldn't believe how much wear I've got out of my 18th century style naval tricorn. Rochester is where Charles Dickens used to live so all the shops have adopted Dickens themed names, except for the book shop which is inexplicably named after Bilbo Baggins from "The Hobbit." There seems to be quite a vibrant goth/Wiccan element there which is kind of cool. I saw a guy dressed as a wizard selling charms. The castle and the cathedral in the city were both originally built by a monk named St. Gundulf. I think this was the origin for Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings books. Last time I was there with Nicky, we got to the castle too late to see it, a flaw remedied on this visit out. The castle I have to say was pretty spectacular. It is the oldest castle I have ever seen, being first built in 1000 something. There aren't many actual rooms to go into inside. Basically, there were two stone walls, one inside the other, with stone floors to walk on, but the floors inside on the different levels were made of wood. Five hundred years ago there was a fire inside and the wood floors and room partitions were ruined, but the stone exterior , stairs and partitions and arches inside still remain.
It must have been an extremely impressive fortress in its heyday. The castle is about five tall floors high, with battlements and parapets that go even higher. I assume the castle dwellers had no need of stairclimbing machines for their daily exercise. The coolest part was learning what the different rooms and features of the castle were for. We even got to see a real actual cesspit! Although there is no crap in it anymore. It was this room at under the ground floor where the medieval people dumped all their crap and trashed. Servants actually had to remove all this smelly gunk in wheelbarrows every few weeks. This room was uncomfortably close to the kitchen and storage area, which seemed extremely unhygenic to me. My favourite part was the part where we got to walk on the upper battlements and look down on the town. In the field around the castle inside the old castle walls there was a fair with a ferris wheel, live reindeer, a merrygo round and one of those spinny swing machines that I used to love at Fantasy Island when we went there when I was a kid. But even better than looking down on the town was learning that the battlements actually had little wooden balcony structures hanging off of them on the outside where soldiers would stand. Then wooden balconies would have trap doors in the floor where the soldiers could throw things down on the people trying to attack the castle. The helpful diagram showed that the substances thrown down consisted of everything from boiling water, smelly old tale scraps, human waste and rats. I liked how in the drawing the little rat being thrown on people was in proper parachute jump formation. Those medieval warriors were sneaky bastards, I'll give'em that.
To round out a fun day I got to go to the cool art store and buy more Fimo and art supplies while the Victorian Christmas parade with full band came and went. Oh well. Nicky and I took the train home and I got to hear about what's going on with her.