Day 45: Elliott Bay Book Company

Today’s highlight is a visit to Elliott Bay Book Company, a wonderful bookstore that I had never bothered to visit before on the now almost countless trips to Seattle. Elliott Bay is really worth visiting, I think it compares more than favourably to any other bookstore I’ve been to before.

Why Elliot Bay?

The original plan for the day was to go to the drag brunch at Unicorn. Once at Unicorn the idea was a whole lot less appealing. Firstly, the decor involved more dead animals on the wall than I usually prefer. But the more important consideration was that most of the rest of the audience seemed pretty much non-gay. While I’m all for acceptance and inclusiveness, the idea of hanging out in an audience of people watching gay people like animals in a zoo was much less appealing.

Elliott Bay was a good place to shelter from the rain for a while. I didn’t buy anything as I’m already dragging around way too much stuff on this trip, but next time I’m in Seattle I will make a stop to browse the available books. There’s a bigger selection of poetry than I’ve seen before. Of course, Amazon is really useful to order books when you’re lazy, but it much more pleasant to let the books find you while you wander through a shop with sleet starting to fall outside.

Day 40: Magical mystery tunnel

Ah, finally, something different as the new thing: a mystery tunnel. It’s not that mysterious, to be honest, seeing as it is sign posted fairly clearly. However, it is an oasis of calm at Heathrow, with the only person I saw down there snoozing at the wheel of the little golf cart.

Mystery tunnel, eh

This particular gem is an alternative way to get from Terminal 5A to Terminal 5B or C, instead of using the little transit train. It’s not that tricky to get into actually, as the elevators have a -4 button that takes you straight down to a land of a faint purple glow. Eerily quiet for Heathrow, though. There was not a single other passenger using the walking route. It only takes a few minutes and is more pleasant than being squished up into the little train, seeing as you’ll be squished up in a plane for multiple hours soon anyway.

I’ll be using it again for sure. It means a good stretch of the legs when arriving off a long haul flight. And it feels kind of spooky, being the only person as far as you seen in front or behind you in a very long tunnel.

A minor complaint would be that tunnel itself is not particularly consistent, with multiple segments connect to each other almost haphazardly, with very different styles, floors, ceilings etc. You could imagine that the tunnel was built with left over bits of the rest of terminal 5.

You should try it. Or maybe not, as that would mean it wouldn’t be my creepy private airport tunnel anymore.

Day 10: Visit a London gallery on the morning of New Year’s day

The view from the Tate Switch House

I’ve never spent New Year’s day traipsing around a London gallery. Today we wandered around the new Tate Modern extension, the Switch House. This was followed with a brief trip to Greenwich and Blackheath, before heading home as the rain started pelting down.

The Tate Modern

I’d not visited the Tate since the extension, and it’s well worth the visit. The space is fabulous, with numerous interesting nooks combined with sweeping vistas. Skip the elevators, the stairs draw you further and further up into the pyramid, before exposing what’s probably the most amazing free view in London. The most interesting artist on display is Louise Bourgeois. I’m not particularly good at expressing my opinions about art, but I would recommend that you go see this collection. There a number of very interesting pieces in a variety of media, and I will definitely spend some time in the near future researching her. An interesting.

Thames Clipper to Greenwich

Since we were in central London anyway with hardly anyone about, we hopped down to Greenwich and walked through the park to Blackheath. Instead of messing about with the Tube or trains, we sailed down a choppy Thames on a river bus. The Thames Clippers are a lot of fun and you can use your Oyster card. If you’re a tourist visiting London, don’t take the touristy boats. The Clippers are much cheaper and the view is as good. And they still sell coffee and snacks on board. The trip almost feels like a little holiday. Blackheath is my old stomping ground, and if you want to have a nice lunch with a view of the heath, you should pop into the Hare & Billet – it’s always worth a visit.

A combination of free or nearly free things to do in London is the perfect way to start the new year. I think it’s a much better way than waking up with a hangover at 11am and slobbing through the day. I wouldn’t mind make a gallery visiting on New Year’s morning a new tradition.

Day 4: Flying a return long haul flight within 48 hours of arriving

There and back

 

So today is a bit weird. It’s not the first time that I’m sitting at Abu Dhabi airport waiting for a flight home as Christmas day drifts into Boxing day. That’s not the new bit. The new bit is flying within 48 hours after arriving. And on top of that, it’s the same flight crew that flew me in. Sadly for the cabin crew, they went back after only twenty four hours. On the way out I sat next to the captain’s daughter, and Pengui, her penguin.

 

On the one hand it feels a bit random seeing out Christmas at an airport. But actually, thinking about it more, I feel blessed that I have someone  go back home to. And doubly blessed that I have family to go visit. And lucky enough that I can afford these random jaunts. It’s a bit early for the big reflective 2016 post: I may actually skip it anyway, as too much self-absorbed posting will put people off. This whole do-a-new-thing-and-post-about-it thing is a bit primadonna anyway.

 

As much as I dislike flying, it’s been good too see my brother, sister-in-law and niece, however brief it may have been. Even in a modern world of free communication and affordable travel, four timezones and 6000km are still a long way away.

 

I’m about to post this, and even though most of you will still be having Christmas day, it’s Boxing day here now. Over the course of the next 362 days I hope to do a number of interesting things, and at the same time, force myself into doing a number of things I should’ve done already. If you’re reading this, hope you had a wonderful Christmas, wherever  you are. I can’t have all of the people I care about around all the time, but I’ve never forgotten you, and never will. xxx Paul

 

Do something new every day (for a year). Day 1: Use the Pod parking at Heathrow.

Robot

It has been a very long time since I’ve actually posted anything here. In fact, I’ve lost all of the old content, it’s back up on a drive somewhere, but I don’t know where that drive is. In an attempt to kill many birds with a single project, it’s time for the do something new every day for a year challenge.

I’ve ‘borrowed’ the idea from John Pollard, who did this a few years ago. Go check out his successful attempt here at http://somethingneweveryday.bravelocation.com/.

This project starts today 🙂

Day 1: Don’t use Heathrow express.

For the first challenge, I drove myself to the airport, and decided to use the pod parking. This was kind of an enforced new thing, as the trains aren’t running on Boxing day. There are many other options for parking, but it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity to go for a ride in a robot car.

Robot
Heathrow Pod car

It turns out to be kind of creepy, Michael certainly wasn’t a big fan. They’re also not built for 6″4 people. They are super-efficient though, and beats waiting for a parking bus. It’s an interesting start to the trip. The whole look and feel turns out to be a like a sci-fi movie. It’s the future, now. And in a year where the world has gone a little bit weird, it’s a nice distraction. A symbol of a more hopeful future, if you like.

 

Stay tuned for the next update!

 

Read more about them on Wikipedia.