Sunday was a cursed day. It was raining and miserable, how I expected everyday to be in London during the winter. Our main goal was to find somewhere to wash our clothes because we were going on an all day tour the next day – and we were going to run out of clean clothes by then. You may be asking why we don’t just wash it at the hotel laundry service? Like The Intercontinental in Chengdu, the prices to wash a pair of undies or t-shirt is so exuberant that is actually cheaper to buy new clothes.
With this sort of day light robbery (which we found out the next day comes from people in Britain trying to avoid the window tax by walking over their window) we had no choice but to find a laundrymat, which they call a laundrette over here. T-Rex in typical T-Rex style had spent hours researching potential options, their quality, location and price. She could only find two potential places, one about a 15 minute walk away and another two tube lines away. Taking the pragmatic option we decided on the closest and loaded up our carry on suitcase and embarked into the rain.
It wasn’t too much fun; wheeling the bag over puddles and through crowds of people, especially in the miserable rain. We found it easy enough, thanks to the planning and our great London navigation thus far. Only a slight problem when we arrived, the place had closed down. Bitterly disappointed we headed back to the hotel room to warm up and re-group. Having given into despair T-Rex gave me the reigns to organise getting to our plan b laundrette. After a quick Google search, I realised that we could get one bus instead of two trains. It was a little bit longer but it was simpler and a shorter walk on the other side. With Google Maps in my pocket we headed out.
We found the stop in a few minutes and started waiting. They came every 7-12 minutes so we didn’t think it would be long. After about 15 minutes and still no buses, I started to get worried, especially because there was not even busses from the other two routes that stopped there. I walked further down the road to a painted black telephone box that emits free wifi and did a Google search. Upon further inspection, due to the London 10k winter run some bus stops had been closed, and Google Maps indicated we were waiting at the wrong one. With my head down, I came to tell sad Rex the news. We then tried to find the correct bus stop, which we then realised was nowhere near us at all! Giving up on buses altogether, I decided to get the tube and just deal with carrying a suitcase around and changing lines.
Luckily the stop was fairly close to a tube station so we were on our way and at Green Park to change into the Victoria line. In a few more minutes we were at Victoria station and wondering why we just didn’t do this in the first place. Victoria station was quite interesting, as it is a large train hub, there was a lot of activity and people much like an airport terminal. We tried to find the right exit and sort of circumnavigated the station until we were heading the right way and then we were off. It was about quarter of an hour walk until we arrived at the tiny and narrow laundrette, but at least it had stopped raining.
Inside was a friendly Asian woman who helped us with understanding how things worked. 30 minutes later our clothes were washed and it was time for drying. We thought we could maybe dry the clothes in 10 minutes as it wasn’t that much clothing, especially compared to the other woman in their who had multiple giant bags of clothes and linen. However when it was done we decided it was not ready and put our last pound in for another 10.
During the entire time there was a four-year old boy who was running around like mad, every few minutes would make a break for outside and run towards the road. T-Rex once had to hold the door shut and try to block him while his mother was distracted, potentially saving his life. To distract him, we were playing with his toy car, pushing it along the bench next to the machines. Whenever it fell down he always said ‘Daddy pick it up!’ to me which was slightly terrifying.
After the second wave of ten minutes the clothes were mostly dry but had no more coins or patience to wait around. We folded and loaded it back into the suitcase and we’re off. This time we caught a bus back to the station, grabbed some food at Victoria and then tubed home. Feeling depressed about achieving so little in our day, we decided to get something simple and straightforward for dinner, Wagamama. I ordered take out and they were so kind while I waited, then I realised it was because they wanted a tip. Not wanting to give Aussies a bad rep, I did, but it is very surprising that everywhere in London expects tips. I knew to expect tips in America but not here, maybe it is the cost of living is so high and the minimum wage is six and a half pounds an hour. Oh well, a topic for another blog post.