London

My legs ache, my feet still hurt, I have another day of walking ahead and to cap it all it’s raining. Not the water running down your neck kind of rain, just that fine drizzle that blows around instead of just having the decency to fall vertically.

Breakfast first then I decided to take the tube from Holborn to Tower Hill. I certainly couldn’t face walking the full distance again. A single ticket in zone 1 is now £4. On my first London trip it was, I’m sure, just £1. At least I bought Carnet tickets 10 for a tenner and that was it, all of my travel in London paid for. There was a change at one station and I ended up surfacing before realising my error and going back down underground to find the correct line. Getting through the barrier at Tower Hill was fun, as the machine took my ticket the gate snapped open, but I wasn’t quick enough on my tender feet and almost got stuck. The alarm went off but no one stopped me.

By the time I arrived at the Design Museum I was slightly damp to say the least. Thankfully they were open and I purchased my ticket by handing over £8.50. The first floor was filled with architects models and photographs of buildings, some actual, some proposed, including a few designs for Tate Modern that didn’t make the cut. Not all that interesting. The second floor seemed to be closed off. I don’t know if this is usually an exhibition floor, this being my first visit, but I’m sure there must be something there. The third floor had more architects models of futuristic houses as well as some artwork done by someone who did the design for one of the last Olympic games… and that was it. Talk about being completely underwhelmed! After seeing all the great stuff in the shop I thought that the museum part of it was going to be more of the same. Chairs, furniture, gadgets, iPods anything that is well designed and serves it’s purpose, but there was nothing like that. I’m sure I’ve been to the art galleries in Manchester that have had more ‘design’ items than that. Yes, bitterly disappointed having visited the place twice on consecutive days. I just had another walk around the shop, which was infinitely more interesting, and free, bought my pack of Field Notes memo pads and headed back across the bridge to Tower Hill tube.

On the underground again to Euston Square and a trip to the Wellcome Collection, which I had only passed the other day. I’ve always had a fascination for medical artefacts like this and admission is free. It is just wall to wall science. A printout of the human genome, that isn’t something that you’ll see every day and certainly isn’t something that I think you could replicate with a bubble-jet printer. Guillotine blades, hair and teeth of those long since left us. Amputation saws, shrunken heads, male anti-masturbation devices, chastity belts, artificial limbs, dentists chairs, it’s all just wonderful intriguing stuff and did I mention that it’s free? The café was packed so I just had a little wander, more of a limp really, around the shop and then outside to decide what to do next.

I still had places I wanted to go to, Hyde Park in daylight might be nice and it had stopped raining. In the end I decided to head back to the hotel via M&S for something to eat. Walking was still painful to say the least so back down to Euston Square tube I went. At a ticket window I asked for a single to Tottenham Court Road, the bloke behind the glass said that I just needed to go up the stairs and left and that was Tottenham Court Road… and like an idiot I did just that. I guess it did save me another £4 tube fare. So I ended up walking back to the hotel. By this time I was limping quite badly, so much so that passersby were checking my left leg to see if it looked wooden.

Back in room 721 of the Covent Garden Travelodge I lay, under the duvet, eating my sandwiches, watching afternoon TV and I really noticed how grubby the room was. The ceiling was false, which is fine, but they always seem to be made from the same substance that egg boxes are made out of, that really course cardboard that has just been loosely mashed together. So there’s a brown stain on the ceiling, a light bulb no longer works over the door, the window frames are metal and have fixtures missing, this allows cold air and any outside noise easy passage into the room. There is both a vast air-conditioning unit, which looks as if it was fitted in the seventies, I didn’t try it, and a Dimplex heater, again untested. One wall had a large bubble in the wallpaper, another had scuff marks from a boot, it was certainly a boot as there was also a clear print of it on the wall. I counted 4 electrical outlets that must have been in use at some point but now just had covers on them. The bathroom was in a similar state of disrepair. Caps that should have been covering the heads of screws were missing, fixtures like the toilet roll holder had been broken, replaced with new holes drilled without filling in the old ones. A bath was completely out of the question as there was no plug. Four drill holes in the tiles didn’t seem to perform any purpose and lastly, the one thing that never seems to work in hotel bathrooms, the ceiling extractor fan didn’t work. Or possibly it was so efficient and well made that it was inaudible. A snip at £120 a night for a room with only a single bed.

It doesn’t stop there - the other annoying thing was that the two lifts had indicator numbers for the floors, so that you knew if it was your floor. The LED indicator numbers didn’t work, so twice when the lift doors opened I got out. Thinking that that was my floor. There isn’t even a sign on the wall where the lifts are showing which floor it is. The only way you could tell that you’d hit the ground floor is to look for a tile pattern on the floor instead of carpet.

I had been sending text messages to my niece Zoe, telling her what I was up to. She had sent me one back asking if I’d go to the Apple Store on Regent Street and get her a Magic Mouse. I thought that she was mistaken and that it was called a Mighty Mouse and that there had been rumours of a touch sensitive mouse with no scroll ball. I said that I’d only been in there the other day looking for one myself. Little did I know. You don’t check the internet for a couple of days and look what happens.