London: Day 1

Sad cinammon sticks I bought at the airport. Immediately realized I should've bought the turkey sandwhich instead.

I arrived in London yesterday morning at 6:45 am, after 20 hours of traveling and the first thing I thought when I stepped out of the airport and into the ice-box outdoors where everyone walked around bundled up like stuffed donuts and had their heads tucked deep into large, chunky circle sweaters only lifting their chins to cough mucus-filled-ly into the air was, “Oh god. This isn’t worth it.” Nevermind that it’s only about 30-something degrees (F) and not the 1 degree weather I had imagined (I was looking at the BBC weather for London, and of course didn’t realize that it was reported in C until I was in my Newark layover and asked the flight attendant, who told me that, “this isn’t a weather station, you know.”) So my ‘great 1-degree-weather-dilemma’ was merely another ‘robin-doesn’t-think-before-she-acts’ mistake. Fortunately the two-layered Northface windbreaker I hurriedly bought the night before I left is still very good here. In any case, I was tired (can’t sleep well on planes), grungy (only Kate Moss and the Olsen twins pull off grunge successfully), and starving when I pulled up to my lodgings near Russell Square–about an hour by tube from the airport. Since I couldn’t check into my room just yet, I left my luggage at the front desk and went out to explore the area… lo! behold! shopping center 30 seconds away!!! A sort of mini outdoor mall (like the Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga) was right next to me with shops like FCUK and popular UK brands, restaurants, tea houses, a really nice supermarket, a movie theatre, and of course, Starbucks.

French cafe called Apostrophe. Bright pink and black decor, surprisingly large amount of men inside.

Past the shopping block is a Tesco convenience store and a chain coffee-food store called Pret-a-Manger, which thanks to my limited remaining knowledge of high school French, I can see means ‘Ready to Eat’ in English. It’s interesting how once something is spoken in French it immediately become x50 more cool. I mean, if the cafe was called ‘Ready to Eat’ instead of ‘Pret-a-Manger’ I highly doubt there would be half as many people in it (and it was quite crowded).

Pre-a-Manger right across from the Russell Square station.

Inside Pret-a-Manger. Woman next to me was filling out a research survey which involved looking at photos of men in leotards and rating them by 'desire to marry and produce children.'

I sat in Pret-a-Manger until my room was ready and just watched the different types of people who entered and left. Although it was freezing cold and snowing outside, women were still dressed quite savvy with tights, knee-high boots, trenchcoats, fancy scarves, etc. I felt very not up to par subpar in my several layers of different northface jackets, looking something like a stuffed inverted penguin (inside layer is black northface fleece and outside layer is white northface puffy thing). But whatever. I have to remember that I’m here for RESEARCH and not for PLAY. PLAY. SHOPPING. NO. NO SHOPPING. TOPSHOP. SCONES. OXFORD FLATS. TEA. HOT BRITISH ACCENTS. PLATFORM 9 AND 3/4.

It’s sad. Good thing I’m poor.

My tiny room. Not too shabby, except for the actual students who live here and look at me funny when I can't understand the British accent of the Indian dining hall cashier. Must be the puffy jacket.

Slightly fuzzy picture of the washbasin IN my room. Best thing about the room.

Finally get to my room. The lady at the front was really nice and answered all the multiple questions I had. I think she was the one that replied to all the multiple emails I had sent too. The room is small but not bad for a single. The in-room sink is awesome. The common shower room is not. The shower itself is dormstyle, but maybe only 2/3 the size of Berkeley’s dorm showers and with not place to put clothes or anything. This is a bummer because I love my showers and I have now reduced them to the bare minimum because I feel uncomfortable in small showers.

After a quick shower during which I locked the common shower-room door and had to yell ‘OH SORRY ONE MINUTE’ when someone was trying to unlock it just as I was changing. A very hurried and somewhat flustered ‘Oh yes. Sorry. Ok.’ male voice replied and left. Afterwards I went back to the shopping area because it was 3 pm and I had nothing to do, being resolved to sleep early that night. It was mostly empty because the play-goers hadn’t come out yet, so I strolled about by myself.

Frozen fountain in the middle of the plaza. Apartments above the shopping area--think Emeryville.

 My last stop was the super awesome supermarket at the end of the plaza, called Waitrose. It reminded me of Taiwan convenience stores where everything is packaged beautifully (whether it tastes good or not), aisles are clean and bright, and everything just looks polished. They could’ve been selling jewelry. I walked around and bought some juice, food, and took some pictures until an employee told me I had to stop.

Meat pies in the meat deli. I contemplated getting this for dinner, but got a quiche slice instead because I felt that meat pies should be eaten warm. And then while eating my quiche, I realized quiches should be eaten warm too.


Nothing special. Just some Welshcakes.

Tired, I finally returned to the I-Hall and plopped into bed at 5 pm to sleep for the next 15 hours. Excellent, I am in London.

Stairwell leading to the dumps outside the I-Hall. God, the Brits make everything from supermarket food to stairwells look chic. I thought that was Paris' job.


~ by robinlam on January 11, 2010.

9 Responses to “london”

    LOL @ survey lady @ pret-a-manger
    i am loving these thorough update and gorgeous pics! i hope you find lots and lots of good research material so you can play too xP

  2. AHHHH so you’re finally in london!
    such beautiful pictures, robin– wish i could be there too
    i know it’s just been one day but hope your research is going well
    miss you!

  3. Awesome! Your room looks just like my dorm room in London did WAaaay back in the day. LOL. Have a blast and make sure you spend two days at the British Museum, and don’t forget the Tate!

  4. Hi Robin!! I’m so excited for you 🙂 I’m going to be following this for sure. Miss you. What are you researching? I like the caption for your bedroom photo, lol.

    • hey andrea!! haha, i realize i wasn’t very specific, so here’s basically what i’m trying to center on: the emergence of fashion photography as a genre in postwar europe, and the changing representation of women in this new genre during the ’50s. it’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it, hahaha. 🙂

  5. thanks for posting! when i saw pret-a-manger in dc, i thought the exact same thing as u about the name! ❤

  6. hehe, thanks for reading guys! andrea, my im researching post-WWII fashion photography for my senior thesis. I guess I should explain that a littler more later, lol.

  7. Hey Robin, glad to see you are using the Blog format so effectively! I really feel like I have a great sense of what you have been up to. A wonderful series of images. Glad you are slogging the camera everywhere. I really liked the shots of the research. Dont miss the people, you got a great one of the fellow at the diner. All best, janet

  8. I actually enjoyed reading all that. Can’t wait to move there !

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