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London Day 5 – Westfield, Food, Groceries, & a Late Night

Oi! Late post today… I was actually up until after 1:30 AM local time trying get the FCBD edition of The Steam Engines of Oz lettered. Luckily, I had done a bunch of the lettering over rough pencils, but still had to adjust every page, crop, etc, plus finish pages I didn’t have a chance to do before flying out. Amanda was hanging out as best she could, nodding off on the couch. Anyway, got that finished and then was off to sleep. After the last few days, we were both really exhausted and overslept a bit today. Oops! I know we’re on vacation and should just rest as much as we feel we need to, but today was a bit much. Another lesson for this trip: set two alarms – one for when you’d ideally like to wake up and one for, worst case, when you HAVE to wake up. Since our internal clocks are way off, it’s important!

Anyway, yesterday… After the convention, we were both really exhausted, so we slept in a little bit (sometime after 9am), got dressed, and were off. We decided to head to the Westfield in London. If you’re not familiar with the name, they own a TON of malls in Southern California and, I’d assume, many many others. We thought we’d see what the difference was between an American Mall and a UK mall. Not a lot and a ton at the same time. You see some of the same chains, like Gap, Guess, etc, but the department stores are all different and you find places like Top Shop. Worth a look even if the styles aren’t exactly ones you’d pick up yourselves. One thing worth noting is the difference in building styles… Right outside, you have these older styles of architecture right next to this brand new fancy looking mall. Almost seems out of place!

One thing I’ve noticed is the amazing number of crazy socks and other things that are mainly hidden beneath clothes (like boxer shorts for men). Cool!!! I’m not going to delve into the land of adult Underoos while I’m here, but it is interesting to see so many licensed goods you really don’t get in the US. Socks, though, I’m all over it. I bought a few sets, as did Amanda. There were also a TON of cufflinks… I’m guessing it has to do with the professional (or very close) world in London. A lot of men of all ages wear suits, ties, bowties, etc, in their day to day jobs. How can you rebel in such a world where you have a strict dress code? By hiding things, of course! Some of the socks only had designs below the shoe line, some were all over. Probably depends on what people can get away with. I love it.

Amanda picked up a really fun Yoda robe from a clearance rack, and we got a few other things. We actually didn’t break the bank. I’m getting over the sticker shock of London prices, which mainly come from knowing the conversion rates. It’s not that things are more expensive… If you go to popular tourist areas in

Southern California, prices are marked up a bit. You just need to know how to navigate! Sale racks, store brands, and leave the big spending for things you HAVE TO get. Don’t buy “tourist
After we were pretty shopped out (Amanda, wheelchair, and I walking for a good six hours, I’d say), we walked through The Village to get to Wagamama restaurant, which was spectacular. They had a good gluten free selection, so we had Chili Squid, Prawn Lollipops, and a coconut curry dish. WOW. Really good stuff, and I know we’ll be back. By the way, the service there was the best we’ve had in London so far by a long shot.” items in a mall or a place where there are a billion people running around, you’ll pay too much. Find the slower areas, get the same things, and pay less. If you want to save money at Westfield, avoid “The Village” section, which has the really expensive shops. Jimmy Choo, Prada, Versace, Tiffany & Co, and other places where you walk in knowing you are going to pay for the name.

 

Before we left the area, we popped into Waitrose grocery. The size would make you think its selection wouldn’t be huge, but it was! I’ve never seen so many breads, cheeses, meats, and other things in one spot. Their GF selection was spectacular, so we picked up some various breads and such there, some local bacon (looks beautiful, seriously), and a few other things.

From there, we hopped on one bus, which took us about half way back, and then waited for another. Saw our bus, waived to them, and the guy never put the ramp out. We yelled, but he closed the door and took off. Nice! Luckily, the buses run every 8 minutes or so, depending on time of day, so it wasn’t a long wait. The buses get packed, though… Really! One nice thing about it is that most people on the buses know to get out of the way of wheelchairs and are really polite about it. No glares, unlike what some give on the tube having to move. We even had two local police actually get off the bus to make room for us on one leg of the journey. I’m sure they could have found room, but we appreciated it nonetheless.

I think we made it back to the flat sometime after 7pm and I jumped into finishing the lettering on The Steam Engines of Oz (which you’ve already read from the beginning of this).

The one thing we’re learning about London is that, overall, people are REALLY polite! That’s the average. In some ways, they’re a bit polarized, however. Seems like for every couple of exceptionally polite person you encounter, there’s an exceptionally rude person just two steps away.  From that demographic, we’ve had glares, indifference, refusal to move or acknowledge even when you’re in their face asking them to move politely, etc… Very weird. In one shop yesterday, we had a girl standing right in front of us in a cramped aisle that she easily could have walked around MUCH easier than we could navigate out of her way. She stood there in our path until we got out of HER way.

Anyway, yesterday was a good day. Did we take a lot of pictures? No! We did have fun, however… We like shopping.

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