An Epic Day: Kew Gardens and Fabric

London Travel Blog

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The famous greenhouse at Kew
    This morning I went to Kew Gardens by myself. It was on my list of “things I want to do in London,” and I knew that being nerdy about plants and flowers wasn’t something everyone I knew would be into, so I thought I’d take the trip out alone. The tube ride was very long, and very cold. The weather was a lot nastier than the previous week, and the last few stops before the gardens were all over ground. Feeling the thrusts of cold air enter the train each time the doors pull open to let one or two people on at these practically suburban stops is just awful. I have to snuggle against the side panel of my row of seats in my silly California coat to retain my body heat.

    The other day-trippers and myself crawled through the surrounding town trying to figure out which way to go to get to the gardens. The surrounding town was VERY cute. I wish I had taken pictures, but that was one of those many traveling moments where instead of being anonymous in a crowd of flashing cameras around a tourist attraction, to be standing outside a stranger’s house in a quiet part of town photographing the inside of their home through the windows (no matter how GREAT a picture it would have been, or how wonderfully well it captured the essence of the surrounding area during your journey), is just awkward.
    The gardens were more expensive than I had hope. Be warned. There is a LOT to see, however, so maybe that makes up for it.
Inside the greenhouse (SOOO warm compared to outside... in a good way!)
As a result of shelling out a wad of cash, I decided I would try to see everything. This turned out to be a difficult task, not because some areas were closed (which was unfortunate), but because there is no linear way to explore the gardens. Forging a sensible path for yourself through every part of the gardens is simply impossible. So I chose to meander.
    One of the first things I came across was the famous greenhouse, where tropical plants are grown in the middle of the freezing United Kingdom. They have a TON of different species of plants in there with origins from all over the world. I wandered through several other greenhouses, gardens, old cottages, etc. that were all lovely.
    I had a bountiful lunch on the grounds.
The fact that I don’t have much time left overseas has been leaving me feeling more comfortable making exceptions about indulgences. They had a buffet, which was dangerous. I decided to get crumpets with strawberry jam and clotted cream, since I’d never had clotted cream. Even though I could almost feel my arteries getting clogged as I swallowed, clotted cream is pretty delicious, especially on crumpets or scones and jam. And tea, of course. That should be a given in this blog by now.
    Anyway, many of the pictures I took don’t do it justice. Even though it was an ugly day, weather-wise, the fact that there are so many different areas to explore that have such individual auras (if you will) to them made me feel like a kid playing out in the woods where I grew up.
This made me miss California :)
The groves of bright flowers to hide in, the ponds to search for fish and frogs around, canopies of roses to waltz through, the cove of thick tree branches to hide under, and even a spread of redwood trees to remind me of my hometown! There is something quite magical about this place.


    My evening was a sharp contrast to my day-- not in enjoyment, but in... well... style. After the gardens I took the tube home and called around about the Saturday evening social options that were available. Most of my American friends were finished with finals, and those who hadn’t run off to go traveling quite yet were making the best of our last nights in London. Alaska-Zach mentioned going to Fabric, a very popular, very trendy nightclub.
I’d told myself that before I left I wanted to go to some swanky, popular club, and this one was highlighted in my coveted Lonely Planet book as one of the best clubs in the city, so I put on some bad, upbeat pop music, scrunched up my hair, and got all gussied up for a night of clubbing. Alaska-Zach wanted to leave pretty early to make sure we could get in at all (since it was Saturday night and apparently already popular), and although no one else wanted to leave the dorms until at least 10:00, I opted to make the journey out with him. We took the tube to Farringdon, I believe, for those of you who are interested in going.
    When we first arrived it was half an hour before the club was even supposed to open and there was already a huge line.
Fortunately, after they opened, the line went pretty quickly, and we were emptied inside. At first it was really weird being in there because there were not very many people who wanted to be hanging out and dancing that early, but it definitely started to fill up. Alaska-Zach met up with some female friend and the three of us sat in this section of ginormous leathery furniture where a bunch of people were asking Alaska-Zach if he had or wanted any E. This continued to happen throughout the night, which freaked me out just slightly. I tried to get over it. We walked around a bit to check things out and it was incredible how quickly it started to fill up after 11:00 or so rolled around. By the time our other friends made it in, it was PACKED. That’s when things started getting crazy.
Trying to push the group of us through the three big rooms with bars in-between was insane. Everything was unsurprisingly extremely dark and crowded. I’d never been to a rave club before, so this was a little overwhelming. The “special effects,” I like to call them, made up for the fact that despite the fact that these were “famous DJ’s,” each song was remarkably indistinguishable from the next. What I loved was that in each room they had placed the bass speakers in a different area... inside the walls, on the floor, that kind of thing, which altered the way you literally felt the vibrations of the music in each room, like the music was being sent into you or something. So neat. To make things even more awesome, there were ridiculous amounts of smoke from smoke machines being expelled out into the room.
They are serious about this stuff. I couldn’t even see the person right next to me. I’m talking San Francisco-status fog.
    I put in a good effort to stay involved here, but it wasn’t too long before I started fading. I do not mean that in any sort of substance-inspired way. I mean that I was about to fall asleep on the stranger dancing next to me I was so tired. That paired with the constant inhale of cigarette smoke (which gives me a headache on its own), and the incredibly loud, pounding music, and, OH WAIT, the fact that I had been out and active all day already, gave me a good enough case to make an escape. Although I felt super lame for leaving a club that stayed open until about 6AM at about 1AM, I am just going to have to learn to accept the comfort-loving person I am at heart.
HA, Proof... (sorry, theatre reference)

    My awesome friend Anthony waited with me while I got my coat from the coat check. I told him I was totally fine walking home on my own even though it was late at night, and will say, for the record that I truly think I would have been fine in doing so. I feel safe in London. However, probably by some streak of fate, a few American girls I knew from the dorms who had met up with us were making their way out as well (complaining of their inability to play name-that-tune inside), so we hiked around for the bus together. It took us a VERY long time to figure out how to walk back to King’s Cross for the night bus. I will NOT miss making that journey. GEEZ. It takes hours to get to somewhere that should only take 15-20 minutes by car, and when I’m doing it I am usually so ready to go to bed in an instant, that it makes it feel even longer.
Very big trees
I think I feel asleep in my seat for a while, actually.
    By the time I got home, I think I was sleepwalking. I fumbled into my room and somehow managed to summon enough motor skills to take my shoes off. I can’t imagine how people can go to clubs like that every weekend and stay up all night doing so. I just could not handle that. Maybe if I was on ecstasy like everyone else, I would understand. 
    After I washed all the strangers’ sweat, dried lipstick, and hairspray off in our funky plastic shower, I was about to crawl into bed when I noticed that the sun had started to come up. Damn. That’s when you know you’ve had a real night out.

londonstudent says:
Great journal entry, and wonderful pictures to boot! It quite makes me want to revisit Kew, but you wouldn't believe how the entrance fee has increased - it used to be quite cheap!
Posted on: Sep 13, 2008
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The famous greenhouse at Kew
The famous greenhouse at Kew
Inside the greenhouse (SOOO warm c…
Inside the greenhouse (SOOO warm …
This made me miss California :)
This made me miss California :)
HA, Proof... (sorry, theatre refer…
HA, Proof... (sorry, theatre refe…
Very big trees
Very big trees
A cool tower that I couldnt go in…
A cool tower that I couldn't go i…
Rhododendrons! 
(I know, I am so …
Rhododendrons! (I know, I am so…
I went in this cottage. It was nea…
I went in this cottage. It was ne…
Forest! Ah, home...
Forest! Ah, home...
BABY SWANS!!!! Its like the ugly …
BABY SWANS!!!! It's like the ugly…
More babies
More babies
Damn my camera
Damn my camera
This was a neato tree. It looked l…
This was a neato tree. It looked …
Man. So majestic. This tree is ful…
Man. So majestic. This tree is fu…
Flowers are so cool...
Flowers are so cool...
This is apparently one of (if not …
This is apparently one of (if not…
I love the way the water sits on t…
I love the way the water sits on …
Like a leopard!
Like a leopard!
SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!
SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!
Ugh, what a night!
Ugh, what a night!
Gross post-clubbing hair!
Gross post-clubbing hair!
So late at night that its not eve…
So late at night that it's not ev…
London
photo by: ulysses