London Trip (16th-19th June)
Filed Under: Personal
In June me and Natalie took a trip down to London. I started writing this blog post about it on the way back to Dundee, but completely forgot to finish it because of how much work I had to do. So here it is, a month and a bit late…
London isn’t actually that far from Dundee, but getting between the two isn’t very easy.
The bus to London takes at least 12 hours. The train takes about half the time and is more comfortable, but is almost fully 3 times more expensive than the bus, even with a 18-25 railcard. So the price of the bus ticket wins out, I book the bus, and I regret my decision for the entire journey. I’m sure the same thing will happen next time I travel south. Having vowed never to suffer the bus again, I’ll go to book train tickets, balk at the price, quickly take back my vow, and the cycle will begin anew.
London is Weird
It really is. Maybe if you’re from London or near it or somewhere like it you don’t realise how weird it is. To someone who has only ever lived in Dundee (a small, compact city), Edinburgh (a small-ish, compact city) and the countryside, and who feels slightly overwhelmed by the size and density of Glasgow, it’s like stepping out of the cold into a boiling-hot jacuzzi of crowds, shops, cars and public transport. Everyone is busy and going places. People are kind of rude. It’s noisy and hot. The shops are an endlessly-repeating pattern of MacDonalds, WHSmiths, Pret A Manger, and other chain shops. Lots of things are made of red brick (how strange!).
Sadly we didn’t have time to check out the museums or art galleries, which are my favourite part of London, but we did get to spend some time with an old friend.
On the Friday evening we went looking for a place to eat and found an Italian restaurant which looked nice. We asked for a table and the waitress asked if we’d like to sit outside. It turned out there was a little patio/balcony through some glass doors at the back of the restaurant, which looked out over a quiet, leafy, densely-packed alleyway. It was like we’d stumbled upon a magic hidden pocket of calm.
VideoBrains is a monthly Patreon-funded event where speakers deliver speeches about videogames and stuff related to them. All the talks end up on YouTube and there are some real bangers you should watch. The atmosphere is cosy, welcoming and inclusive, with nervous first-timers taking the stage alongside experienced, confident speakers and being treated all the same. The audience is quite small (you can only fit so many people in a small pub), so the feeling is intimate, and it’s easy to mingle and meet new people. I got to finally meet and say hi to people who I’ve been following on Twitter and/or corresponding with for years. Speeches are short, lo-fi and often very funny. Regular breaks in between them allow you to say hi to people and get food and drink.
Oh, and there was free cake because it was Jake’s birthday!
The Loading Bar, where VB happens, is super cool. There’s lots to drink (London prices, I’m afraid), lots of different consoles to play on, arcade machines, an enormous collection of board games, and lots of space to move about in between the main floor and the basement. It’s full of (very kitschy) videogame-y touches: a tabletop decorated with a collage videogame box cover art, fan-art and promotional posters, curtains tied back with audio cables, stupid names for cocktails like ‘Garden Barfare.’
I really wish there was a place like it up in Scotland. If there is, I haven’t seen it. And I’d love for there to be something VideoBrains-y up this way, too, because it is very awesome.
Another epic, uncomfortable bus journey. After a couple hours some drunk Scottish people got on board and one of them sat at the front and vaped. The bus driver had to stop the bus and come upstairs to tell him to stop, multiple times.
We made it home, dishevelled and exhausted, at about midnight.