Fear and loathing in Kensal Rise.


I really am a shit tourist. Example? I’m absolutely delighted to be back at my hotel with an M&S egg & cress sandwich (I splurged!) in time to watch Countdown. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in the post-Vorderman universe and I’m not sure what to think. I missed the beginning, so I literally have no idea who the host is. (I’m typing this up before I have internet in my room.)

I managed to check in at 10:30 (my room is nutso too – it has two single beds and a sofabed? I must have misunderstood the website), but despite having had only a couple of hours of sleep (seriously, fuckers, why are you serving dinner on a plane at 11pm? and why won’t you tell VERY LOUD PEOPLE CHATTING LOUDLY ABOUT LOUD THINGS to shut the hell up when everyone else is trying to sleep?), I headed straight out again. Instead of hitting the sights, I went to Costa, bought a coffee and muffin, and consumed them in Hyde Park while watching small, presumably minted, children ride ponies.

My usual M.O. in this town involves a lot of eating in parks and walking until I get lost, then either get found or at least get on public transit until I find my way back.

Today, instead, I decided to brave London’s bike share program since there’s a station about five minutes walk from my hotel. It cost me 11 quid to ride on the noisiest (seriously, I’ve been in quieter cars), creakiest, arse-numbingest, foot crampingest bicycle I’ve ever been on for two hours and change. It was harrowing, but in a way that I love.

Unfortunately, I have few photos since my phone and camera batteries were both uncharged! Way to plan, McLeod.

I have only been biking in the UK in one other locale: Kirkwall, Orkney. Which, being a town with a population in the quadruple digits, is really not a challenge. London’s a smidge different. Especially without an A-Z nor a functioning phone GPS.

Here are some random thoughts from along the way:

  • Well, I’ll turn right here. I think I’m turning West?
  • Right, Notting Hill. I wish I could remember the name of that nice pub I went to a while back. Like, four years ago. Eh, it’s probably not there anymore
  • GOOD GOD, my foot! Are these pedals made for the cloven-footed?
  • Ooo, Oxfam shop. I bet there are expensive things in that one.
  • Okay, I think I’m going too far West. Going to try switching it up and going North for a bit, maybe to Kilburn or Maida Vale.
  • I have literally no idea which way I’m going.
  • Huh, crossing a canal into where? That sign says this road goes to Hammersmith! Shit! TOO FAR TOO FAR TURN AROUND.
  • Isn’t Kensal Rise where that tornado was a few years ago? I think they mentioned it on the Big Fat Quiz of the Year?
  • Heh. Waldo Road. Good lord, they weren’t kidding about the property crisis here. Every house along here seems to be for sale.
  • Harlesden? What the fuck is Harlesden? WHERE AM I?! Willesden’s no better! Gah!
  • Lushington Road = best street name ever.
  • Okay, this road, whatever the hell it is, is scaring the crap out of me and I can’t figure out how to turn right. I’m hopping off to cross.
  • Huh, the trouble with these bikes is that they don’t come this far. No docking stations. I would kill for something to eat.
  • The locals are baffled. “Wot’s that? Does Barclay’s make bikes?” from one woman.
  • Hey, a crap doppelganger in the form of a British Tracy Morgan. Unless Tracy Morgan is in NW London for some reason.
  • That bus says it’s going to Kilburn High Street! I totally know how to get back to Paddington from there! I’m gonna follow it! As soon as I can figure out how to turn right.
  • Where the hell did that bus go? WHERE AM I?
  • Oh! I know that I am too far North and West. The sun sets in the West, so, I should try to keep the sun either to my right or behind me.
  • WTF?! I just did a perfect loop. I’m sure I’ve been at this intersection before. You don’t forgot a name like Uffington Road.
  • Okay, well, this sign says Kensington 4. I can find Paddington from there surely and it’s not far. Aw, crap, that’s miles, not kilometres.
  • I have no idea where I am. The sign only directs to Willesden. I WAS JUST THERE AND DON’T WANT TO GO BACK.
  • Holy shit, that sign says Paddington 1 1/4! Thank fuck! OH MY GOD A BICYCLE NETWORK PATH.
  • Wait, if Marylebone is right, doesn’t that mean Paddington is the other way? Or is it behind me? WTF is going on? Where did Paddington go? Crap.
  • Lord’s? What the fuck?
  • Hm, Paddington Green Cycle Network station. Close enough. I’ll walk the rest.

Tonight, I’m going to Broadcasting House, a place I’ve heard about a million times on Radio 4, to attend a recording of this. I really will need a nap, which is poor jetlag care, but I’m olde. Tomorrow’s for regrets. And lunch with a dapper Scot.

Edited to add my initial impression of my first viewing of Hollyoaks (as said to Richard on Google Talk):

3:36 PM
me: I am half-watching Hollywoaks
3:37 PM
Anger is always expressed as constipation.
Occasionally, really bad constipation.
There’s actually a character named Texas.
And another named India
Shittiest soap ever

3:38 PM
someone just got slapped and the foley was, like, a pringle being bitten.
3:41 PM
richard: hahaha

2 thoughts on “Fear and loathing in Kensal Rise.

  1. Rachel

    I wish I lived on Lushington Road! Maybe I can get a sign for the house, like people do with cottages? “Lushington Heights” something like that?
    Now I am craving an egg and cress sandwich! Keep up the great posts!

  2. megan

    There is more Lushington Road in London! One in Brent (where I was) and another in Lewisham! THEN THERE’S ANOTHER IN EASTBOURNE. So great.

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