The next morning I woke up and had the option of a free simple breakfast at the hostel, or get out in London and enjoy a quiet breakfast and a little fresh air! I checked the breakfast at the hostel and didn’t appreciate the stuffy, loud atmosphere. Option 2 then! I had been recommended through one of the hostel’s travel guide videos that a place called Niven’s was a pretty place for a lovely bite to eat! They were so right, it was absolutely amazing. I walked in and asked what they had to offer. They recommended a salmon and cream cheese sandwich, and it sounded perfect. They even happily added avocado to my sandwich when I asked them. The little cafe had a elongated table in the corner, like one where a whole family would sit round together. I enjoyed the cosy atmosphere with my sandwich and latte, watching the chef prepare more fresh food and watched locals coming in for breakfast treats and lunch boxes. I was shortly joined by two eccentric, exhausted women from Birmingham that had been awake and travelling since 4 am and needed a break! They were very funny and friendly!
I then headed out into beautiful sunny London towards Camden! Camden was so lovely, I wished I had more time there, it was so colourful and friendly! I walked down the main streets and visited Camden market where I bought a beautiful colourful ruck sack, and Camden lock market. I particularly loved the lock market, that had so much beautiful hand made and second hand stuff! I loved the fact that all the stuff for sale had price tags on them, I HATE markets where you have to haggle. I would rather just pay a fixed price and leave it at that. The sales people were also very friendly, but respected me enough to not hassle me and make me feel uncomfortable. The peaceful and friendly atmosphere allowed me to take my time, relax and enjoy myself more. I had a lovely conversation with a salesman that was selling art, and fell completely in love with a zebra painting! He was keen when he realized I had a camera and talked passionately about his own photography! Check out his page if you want! I also fell in love with earrings made with butterfly wings! They are made without harming any butterflies, recycling and preserving dead butterflies from zoos and butterfly sanctuaries. They have a home page actually! I think they might be one of the most beautiful jewellery I have ever seen.
After spending a couple of hours in camden, I headed onwards to the Natural History Museum. I have never been, and I really wanted to go to say goodbye to the beloved Dippy the diplodocus in the main entrance to the museum. I spent hours walking around the museum, particularly the dinosaur section, ecology section and mammal section. The best bit though was seeing one of the original Origins of Species by Charles Darwin. It’s such a powerful book that changed so much in the world, and it was humbling being in it’s presence. My parent’s got me the book before I left for uni, and although I haven’t read it yet I am really inspired to now! My book is not just the origin of species, it also has illustrations from Darwin and letters from his journey on the H.M.S Beagle.
During my visit I also went on the museum’s spirit tour, which I am so glad I did. The museum holds about 80 million samples, and about 23 million of these are stored in spirit! This is a really clever way of storing stuff, preserving the tissue that usually disintegrates in air, allowing us preserve and store animals for hundreds of years! It doesn’t preserve things like colour though, so other methods for preservation like pressing flowers or stuffing animals also has it’s advantages. It was incredibly interesting! The tour consisted of a small group of myself, a mother with a daughter and an incredibly eager boy and a couple. Obviously, with 23 million samples in spirit the public only sees a fraction of the collection. With this tour we got to go behind the scenes and get an impression of the vast collection the museum holds. The guide showed us two floors, of sponges and molluscs, and we got to see some really cool stuff including a a poisonous harpoon snail, a tiny poisonous blue ringed octopus and a giant and colossal squid! The back rooms of the museum were like a library, but instead of books there were cupboards and cupboards of glass jars! One room holds larger things, in huge tanks, such as a gorilla and a Shetland pony!! The best bit of the tour though was seeing the original animals that were prepared and preserved by Darwin from his journey on the H.M.S Beagle, including his stuffed pet tortoise that he had on the boat! Again, it was such a humbling experience.
The returning train to Norwich was exhausting and getting into bed was such a divine feeling. The rest of this week I need to get some rest, prepare for Africa and finish of a deadline! Woho! So excited!