Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bikes and statues

Yesterday Hayley, Gareth, and I arranged to meet at Queensway to hire bikes and bike around Hyde Park. Hayley text me when they were leaving and we knew from going to Notting Hill the other day that while they live further out, by the time I change lines twice, it takes us about the same time to get there. I got on the Central line after my two changes, and who should be sitting in the exact carriage I got on but Hayley and Gareth! It was almost too coincidental to just be a coincidence.

Gareth said we should get out at Marble Arch so I could see the statue of the horse's head he'd been telling me about the other day, and thus began the morning of strange statues.

The jelly babies are opposite the horse's head; apparently they were put up last year and were only supposed to stay up until April. I don't know if the fact that they're still there in August means they're now there permanently, but they are strange. I do really like the horse's head though.

When we got to Hyde Park we had to go to three different bike hire stations to find one that was actually working, and then when we found one, Gareth and I couldn't work out how to get the bike out. It took Hayley to come along and unlock hers to show us both up. The bike hire system is pretty cool, there are stations all around the central city and the first 30 minutes are free, then it's a pound an hour after that. You just put your credit card in, it takes your details as a guarantee and then charges you for however long when you return the bike.

Hayley biking was like me punting - not very steady. But we were only in a park so she was able to go slowly and came to like it by the end. She was very impressed that I was able to take a photo while biking. It was a good way to see Hyde Park, we did a big loop and being all flat we were able to chat as we biked. It was strange not wearing a helmet, we felt like rebellious children. I don't understand why helmets aren't law in lots of European countries. It's not like accidents don't happen - the girlfriend of one of the guys at Cambridge had a decent sized scar on her face and had spent 2 months in a wheel chair after being knocked off her bike by a car and smashing her hip.

We returned the bikes near to the Serpentine and went for a stroll, past the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain where lots of little kids were running around in bare feet, and over to a statue I wanted to a see.

Peter Pan! We studied Peter Pan in one of my Honours children's literature papers and I wrote an essay on J. M. Barrie so I was happy we were able to find the statue he donated to the park. Surprisingly, there was quite a group of people gathered around it having their photo taken, I was reluctant to join the bandwagon but I relented and Hayley and I had our photo taken with the boy who wouldn't grow up.

On our way out of the park we saw the third strange statue of the day.

The plaque underneath says, '1859 - 1939 Presented By The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association To Mark Its 80th Anniversary.' We'd seen a big stone trough on another side of the park that had Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association written on it. What any of this has to do with hugging bears, I have no idea.

On our way to get some lunch at Covent Garden, I hit the wall. Not literally, as I had to explain to Piet when I used the phrase that night. I was just so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open, so Hayley and I shelved our plans to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum and I came home, collapsed on the bed, and fell asleep straight away.

When I woke up to the sound of the little boy next door negotiating an obstacle course he has made with chalk arrows and bricks in their tiny back yard, I got up and set about booking somewhere to stay the night in Bath, which is where I'm off to on Wednesday. Then Chrissy and Piet had a friend come for dinner whose Dad is over from Adelaide for three weeks. He was a bit of a character, very talkative, told me all about his days as a Ford service rep when he had to cover the South Pacific and South East Asia. He's never been to New Zealand though. He's had three wives and 'countless girlfriends.' He currently belongs to a singles' club in Adelaide and said he was seeing a lady before he came over but she started talking about wanting to come on holiday with him so he had to give her the flick, 'even though she was pretty good in bed if you know what I mean.' He also told me about how the same woman was now seeing another guy in the club who had a dog that always sat in the front seat of the car ('note I said sat, and I said it on purpose'), and the woman would get very grumpy because when she and this man went for drive she would have to sit in the back seat. How did she remedy this problem? She poisoned the dog.

Apparently she was boasting about it to one of the ladies in the singles' club, but no one has had the heart to tell the owner of the dog so she and he are still driving about, with her in the front seat. It's so ludicrous it's funny, but that poor dog! Apparently singles' clubs for 70 year olds are where it's all happening in Adelaide.

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