Liverpool Street Station

September 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm 1 comment

On Day 12, it rained. I was lucky to have pretty decent weather for most of my time in London, but on the penultimate day of my class, the skies opened. I knew that the forecast wasn’t good, so I tried to get out the door before the rain arrived. I made it to the Tube before it started raining, but by the time I emerged from the Underground in Notting Hill, the rain was steady. So I dashed just down the block from the stop and enjoyed a serving of frozen yogurt at Frae. I liked it okay, but it was very sweet.

My main reason for going to Notting Hill was to visit The Travel Bookshop, the store which was the inspiration for Hugh Grant’s store in Notting Hill, which was one of the classic movies of my childhood. The shop had moved to a new location, but it was still in the neighbourhood, on a side street off of Portobello Road. I didn’t want to miss my chance to get there, so I put up my umbrella and started walking. Sometime between leaving Frae and getting lost on one of the million roads with Kensington in the name, the rain slowed to a drizzle and it wasn’t such a bad day to be out and about.

I was a little disappointed with The Travel Bookshop, honestly. As a travel writer, I was expecting to be tempted by at least a hundred books, but there were only a couple that made me consider making a purchase. Most of their stock seemed to be guidebooks, rather than travel narratives. Useful for planning a trip, but not for escaping on a rainy day. As it turned out, the shop was in its last season, so perhaps they were letting their stock run out. I just heard a couple of weeks ago that it is closing. It was a nice shop, and I like to think that if I’d visited a year earlier, I would have found many more enticing titles.

When I was in the bookshop, several loud claps of thunder sounded and the sky turned grey again. A few people in the shop jumped every time the thunder boomed, and one of the ladies was standing next to me and noticed that I didn’t flinch. “It sounds like home,” I explained. “I’m from Chicago, and we get storms like this all summer.”

“I’m from Chicago, too!” I heard another voice say. I turned around to chat with a young woman pushing a baby in a stroller. She had just moved to London a few weeks earlier and had lived most recently in River North, which is a neighbourhood that borders mine. I asked her if she missed home, and she said that she mainly missed the food so far. I think that’s what I would miss most, too, if I ever moved far from home.

The rain didn’t show any signs of letting up in the near future, so I hopped on the Circle and District line and went back to Paddington Station, picked up a coffee, and then burrowed under the covers for the rest of the day to finish my assigned reading before class. I finished earlier than I thought I would and the rain stopped around the same time, so I headed to class early. We were meeting at Liverpool Street Station to have class on Brick Lane while we discussed Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, and I wanted to head down early to be at the train station during rush hour.

I love train stations, especially European ones. Liverpool Street Station had caught my eye a couple of days earlier, but that had been a Sunday afternoon. I liked the look of it, exposed brick and and iron-and-glass roof, and I wanted to see it filled with people.

Liverpool Street Station
Wish granted. It wasn’t quite as busy as the major stations in central London, like Paddington, but Paddington hadn’t been fully refurbished yet. Liverpool Street also offered a second-level concourse from which I could photograph the madness.

Liverpool Street Station Exterior
The exterior was nice, too, and I met up with my class after about 30 minutes. Once we were all together, we started walking over to Brick Lane.

Spitalfields Market
Our walk took us through Spitalfields Market, which I had just visited two days earlier. It was strange to see it so empty after the congested commotion of market day. Most of the shops around the perimetre had been open that day, but were closing up.

Please Use Restrooms
Outside the Sunday UpMarket warehouse, we passed this sign. If it needs to be written on a sign that large, I’m not sure that the sign is going to help…

Brick Lane
We finally reached Brick Lane, which was much quieter than Carolyn, the professor for the London half of the course, had thought it would be. She had envisioned us discussing the book in one of the ethnic restaurants, but Chris, one of the students who worked nearby, pointed out that we’d have a hard time finding space for all of us to sit together and talk. I was quietly glad that we abandoned that idea, because as much as I like trying different foods, something about curry makes my stomach turn, and everyone kept talking about curry bowls. So we walked the opposite way, away from the neon signs, and went to a bar that Chris knew. Actually, I think that every class we had in London was in a bar.


Entry filed under: England, Europe, London, Photos, United Kingdom.

At Home in London Welcome to London, Mama!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Justine  |  September 11, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    “Please use toilets provided.”

    Ahahaha… oh, when there’s a sign to prevent people from doing something, it means someone had to do it first.


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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