Last Saturday, Rebecca and Ian came to visit me. They are friends from my Cambridge days (now 2.5 years past!).
Fortunately, none of us were in a hurry because it turned out to be a day of waiting.
I went to Kings Cross Station to see in their train. Patiently, I stood at the end of Platform 1. It seemed their train was late. Then I got a phone call from Rebecca. They too had been waiting for 15 minutes, only at Platform 8. English trains aren’t like German trains. They change platforms at the last minute.
Bus 30 from Kings Cross would drop us off directly in front of Ottolenghi, one of my favourite restaurants in the UK.
We waited 10 minutes and bus 30 arrived only to go straight past the stop. We waited another 15 minutes and no bus 30s arrived. We decided to take another bus and walked 10 minutes to the restaurant.
At the restaurant, there was a long queue. There always is. I think Ottolenghi is a lot of people’s favourite restaurant. Again, we were patient. There was plenty of beautiful food in the deli to gawk at.
From Ottolenghi, we decided to skip the hour long bus ride to the Natural History Museum and take the quicker trip via the Tube. The Tube is quicker only in theory, though. The Circle and District lines were shut down so it was like rush hour on the Picadilly line. In the end, it did take an hour to get to the museum.
The last time I visited the Natural History Museum, I walked straight up the grand steps to enter. This time, I was surprised to have to join a queue. It moved slowly, then quickly, then slowly again. At the top of the queue, they were checking bags. This is a new bit of security that I also encountered at the British Museum a few months ago.
We were at the museum to check out the new Darwin Centre. I had listened to a podcast about from ABC Radio National’s Science Show. It’s funny when I learn about London and England from Australian news sources.
We followed the signs and found ourselves at the end of the line. Before we knew it, we were swept into an archway and up some stairs by a wave of harried parents, children and prams, past the orange sign pointing to the Darwin Centre to the right.
‘Hey, where are we going?’ Rebecca asked.
‘I dunno, maybe this goes around and ends up at the Darwin Centre,’ I hoped.
And so we were trapped in the dinosaur gallery for an hour. It was hot, noisy, dark and fascinating. Stumbling to the bright, cool, calm, equally fascinating Darwin Centre afterwards was a relief.
No more waiting after that, it was smooth sailing, except for the bit where I lost my new glasses.