So I’ve clocked in over 24 hours of solid travel. Starting in Cape Town, I flew through to Dubai. Spent a few hours in a terminal building to make sure I didn’t lose my seat (I was told they do these kinds of things in Dubai if they think you’re gong to be late). On the topic of Dubai, it really is a small world, because I bumped into (ok, it was more like me being blind & getting called at) the legendary Gerda Gennis with her husband Robert. Now I don’t know Gerda all that well, but every time we do cross paths we end up chatting quite a bit. I just love how Gerda is the most unassuming person when you meet her & despite her incredible lifetime of successful photographic career, she never makes one feel inferior when she speaks to you. So anyway, Gerda was off to Greece. Normally I would be uber jealous of anyone traveling to some incredible location, but this time I felt no jealousy at all -I had my own adventure ahead. From the spectacular architecture of Dubai, we followed through to another flight over Eastern Europe before finally coming into Heathrow.
Upon one rather unexpected ‘interrogation’ by the Border Control Officer on what exactly I freelanced & if I was involved in some way with the paparazzi industry or not (I strategically didn’t make small chat about how cute I thought the new royal Kate is), it was the madness of Heathrow to someone who hadn’t been there for many years. Navigating the underground tube came with surprising ease. A new development since my last UK visit was something called the Oyster Card. Mine came with a nice ‘limited edition’ picture of Kate & the other prince guy. At least it had half something to look at. Armed with my cute royal ‘Kate card’ I didn’t have to worry about finding ticket booths, trying to communicate with someone who clearly has never heard another dialect of English before in his life & pocketing loose change. I merely hovered my card over any entrance & exit. Magic stuff.
Onwards I had to get myself to Regent Street, in Piccadilly Circus. I had made special arrangement that due to the last minute booking of my BritRail pass, I had to collect it instead of it being mailed to me like is normal procedure. Popping out at Piccadilly Circus underground was a major visual shock. Having spent the last 9 hours in a flying tin can (which I must just say, Emirates really does provide a fantastic flying experience -even in ‘plebe’ class) then not seeing anything in the airport, before heading into a 50 minute underground tube ride watching only the goth girl opposite me bop about in the carts motion. I emerged into the heart of preppy London, a swarm of suave looking men dressed in Armani & Gucci suits flying past me. Extremely well dressed woman following closely behind carrying little leather briefcases. It was incredible. I stood gawking for a few minutes looking up & around me just taking it all in. Then realizing I had limited time to collect my BritRail pass & still get to Kings Cross Station, I think I might have literally slightly hopped & skipped down Lower Regent Road…
Now, let me mention that I have always loved having an unusual name. People either always remember it, or they vaguely remember it was different & I get called a few variations of my actual name. Walking into the British Tourist Department, located nicely at 1 Regent Road, I merely had to tell the first info lady I saw, “Hi, I’m Seagram Pearce…” to which she interrupted me with, “Oh yes! Hello, I have your BritRail pass ready for you! I just found your name *sooo* (add slight swoon) interesting.”. So yes, I do like what having an unusual name does for me sometimes. One of the major reasons I left my initial studio name for my business to using my actual name -which improved rememberability (if thats a word?) by 1000%.
From there it was a short inter-zone 1 underground ride to Kings Cross Station. There was some slight confusion for me there as they are busy with some major renovations (they call it improvements, but I think its sacrilege to change such a beautiful existing architecture into a modern looking monstrosity -but thats another story) which makes one run a narrow sleuth of maze corridors until you assume you’ll arrive at where you need to be. Waving my BritRail pass around I finally got myself onto platform 3 which was my no-stop train to Aberdeen.
Fast forward another 6 hours (and 16 gigs of photos) which brings us to 22h15. Right now. Let me just say, it being as light as a 4pm afternoon in Cape Town is throwing me a serious curve ball. I’ve gotten 4 hours sleep in the last 56 hours and my body is still fighting sleep. Wait, actually, I’m still going on adrenaline. Coming back to UK and Scotland in particular has been a personal goal for me for a while. After my previous backpack trip through Europe, I don’t remember much except for Scotland. It really made an impression.
So there is no Wi-Fi on the train, as I’m not sitting in the heralded 1st class cabin, so I’ll post this blog piece as soon as I arrive in Aberdeen (2 hours left). I’ll see how many photos I can include, but I must just say, over the next while, you might get a little irked at how much I’m going to refer to the amount of beauty in the world