Up again at about 5am, we threw some clothes on and headed out into the street to get a few early morning photos of Norfolk Square. Such a gorgeous area, reminiscent of many of the old English movies I grew up watching. Today was a bit of a quieter day as we were heading to Luton eventually to catch the plane to France tomorrow. We asked the Norfolk Towers folk if we could leave our suitcases with them while we explored a bit more before we left London and they were fine with that, so unencumbered by luggage, we set off.
We really wanted to go find the place that the amazing children’s author, Enid Blyton, grew up in, so we took a Magic Faraway tour to East Dulwich. Now this one was a bit of a magic roundabout really. We asked at the ticket office, how to get to East Dulwich, which made Andrew, the customer service officer, really have to think.. He got pamphlets and timetables out, and eventually sold us a day ticket out there. With no directions other than to get on the train to London Bridge then to change trains, we set out for the underground.
Now considering it was early morning, and we were in peak hour, we were a bit concerned as to how this might pan out but we did okay. We got off at London Bridge then went looking for the train to East Dulwich, only to find out it was actually supposed to be a bus. Asking numerous people for directions, we finally found the bus to Dulwich Library and got on. Arriving in Lordship Lane, where the house was, we realised we didn’t have the actual street number with us, so went into a little bookstore to ask where we might find the Enid Blyton childhood home. The lady had no idea what we were talking about which I have to say, I found really disconcerting. Surely, with an author with the fame of Enid Blyton, any bookstore in the area would have to know where her house was, but no…. So we sat down and sent a text message back home as I couldn’t access the internet on my phone.
We used the time waiting for an answer to have a cuppa and a Panini bread and by that time, we had the answer we needed so headed off down Lordship Lane. Realising it was quite a bit further down, we jumped on another bus and found the place. Well, it’s not really a place anymore.. it’s just a shop of some sort with a rather ordinary plaque above it, stating that Enid once lived there. I know we don’t have the history in Australia that older countries do, so we tend to squeeze every bit of celebration out of it that we can. However I still found it very hard to comprehend why it wouldn’t be made more of, or why the locals wouldn’t be able to tell you where it was. Maybe I just love Enid Blyton more than most people lol.
Anyway, we snapped a few photos of the plaque, found a few op shops in the main street, one of which is run by Mary from the High Street (a show on pay TV) which helps children, and then headed back on the bus to London Bridge station, then back to Paddington, where we went and picked up our suitcases and made our way back to the station to head off to Luton. So following the directions given, we left Paddington, got to the next station and realised we were heading the wrong way, so got off and got on a train going the opposite direction which took us back to Paddington again.. obviously Paddington didn’t want us to leave.
We finally found our way to St Pancras International where we found the Luton train finally and got yet another ticket out to Luton. Let me tell you, public transport here is expensive. It’s all about the same price in Pounds as it is in Australia in Dollars which means you’re paying almost double here considering the exchange rate. I bought some lunch. A king prawn and avocado wrap. Prawns taste slightly different there.. They have a muddier taste, a bit more like a yabbie. And it was more wrap than anything… but we’ve sort of gotten used to the food by now, so ate it and we boarded a train to Luton and were very impressed with the trains. They have tables in between seats so you can use a laptop and eat and read or anything else you want to do. They even had power points to recharge stuff. How incredible is that? Some bus services even have free wifi…. We may have cheaper public transport but it would be good if our trains offered the same everyday comforts that modern day living actually require.
We arrived in Luton and totally forgot what the hotel was we were staying at. I can’t get internet access on my phone over here, so couldn’t check emails. I found an internet café with a little help from a lady security guard at the mall and went to check the hotel name. Ummmm.. It was the Stuart Hotel. Considering my son’s name is Stuart, you’d think I’d remember that but no. We found our way to the hotel and went to a closet which they called a hotel room. This room was tiny. Trying to get both our suitcases and ourselves in took some great Tetris skills but we did it. After a quick cuppa and a tidy up we went out for a walk in Luton.
Luton is a pretty enough little town though it has the feel of a town that was once industrial but has been hit by high unemployment. I could be totally off base here and I apologise to the people of Luton if I’ve got it completely wrong but that was my first impression of the town. It was the first time since we’ve been here that we’ve heard raised voices and swearing. The streets were also littered in areas with rubbish pushed up against buildings. But saying all that, I liked it. We found another op shop and went and had a browse in there where Wendy bought herself a green elephant. We both love op shopping so we plan on doing shops wherever we find them. For those who don’t know the term.. an op shop is a second hand or thrift shop.
We both decided that we didn’t really want to be out much after dark and that is probably the first time we’ve felt that since we got here. I’m not saying Luton is a bad place at all, it’s just the feeling we got, so thought we’d eat at the hotel’s restaurant that night. While Wendy went exploring to see if we could order the meals in our room, I went and had a shower and put my pyjamas on. She came back to tell me that the restaurant was closed and we’d have to go out to find something to eat.. Oh great.. just when I’d got comfortable too.
Pulling my clothes on over the top of my jammies, we wandered down the street to find something to eat so we could be back in the hotel room before dark if possible. We went past a little southern fried chicken and pizza shop and wandered in.. Ah the young man who served us was just wonderful. He told us about his step brother who lives in Perth, Australia and when we told him that we hadn’t had a decent lot of vegies or salad, he got the other guy working there to make us a super special salad. He chatted for ages with us then charged us less than the price list. I have to say, people are so friendly here and this lovely guy was no exception. If you’re ever in Luton, go to Gio’s in Dunstable Place and tell him that the Aussie ladies sent you lol.
Back to the hotel with the disco style décor and we settled in for the night. The food was hot and good albeit it just more chips and chicken but the salad was quite nice and it all tasted better for his lovely outlook on life. Turning the tv on, we were stunned to see a man signing in the corner of the screen for hearing impaired people.. Certainly never seen that before … We settled down for a good sleep, excited to be going to Paris tomorrow. We thought it might take us a while to fall asleep but we were out like a light in just a few minutes of our heads hitting the pillow.. all thisplaying tourist is taking it’s toll on thesetwo old Aussie girls lol.