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Published: January 20th 2007
Is it done yet?
Derek in the laundry room where we spent our entire day. Fun.
It occurs to me that I devoted the majority of my last entry to greatly lavish praise for the hostel we are staying here in London. It was so clean, so reasonably priced, so full of everything we could want! I knew it was too good to be true---and it was. Last night Derek and I hit the hay pretty early after a big day at the London Science Center (more on that later). Derek appeared to be out pretty much immediately, but I stayed up for a couple hours reading about the halarious adventures of Bill Bryson in Britain. I was a bit itchy during my reading session, but I'm usually a bit itchy at night during the winter so I tried not to take notice. Just before turning out the light I noticed a tiny, translucent, aphid-like bug crawling on my book, which I promptly smooshed with a jovial thought of "I hope that's not a juvenille bed bug! Har har." Then I forgot about the incident. However, try as I might, I simply could not fall asleep. I was feeling the hairs on my arms brushing against my PJs and I simply could not stop paying attention to
The neighbourhood we're staying in is really nice. It's a "conservation area" which basically means it's a heritage area. It actually reminds me a ton of St. Catherines where my grandparents live. This is the view from the window of our room.
then sensation. I kept squishing my pajamas against my skin in areas of ichy-ness in an attempt to squash any bugs that might be there, but I didn't really seriously think that there were bugs there and kept telling myself that I was being paranoid. However, I couldn't understand why I was hypersensitive to the feel of my PJs on this night. It was really driving me crazy. Around 1:30am, I found out what the problem was.
After feeling a tickle on my upper chest, I instinctively swatted the area, hard. Only this time instead of feeling nothing but foolishness, I felt a large, crawly lump! In the dark I grabbed at it and pinched hard with my fingertips, then dove for the lightswitch (good thing Globetrotters had individual reading lights in each bed!). I still thought that I had finally caught the little bugger that had been bothering me all night and was relieved that the ordeal was over. I thought it was an isolated incident. However, with my bed fully illuminated there was no denying that there was another one crawling on the wall. No, wait, make that 2 on the wall. Squish squish. Blood splurts everywhere.
A sink in the room? Luxury!
I still like Globetrotter, even after "the incident"
One on my pillow. Two on my pillow! Ahh! A bunch on my pillow, and more down the side of the bed. Oh dear. Remain calm. What to do? If it was just a few bugs I would have been able to just squish them, and pretend I hadn't seen them and go back to sleep, but this was clearly an infestation that could not be conquered by me alone. Besides, these guys were not easy to squish, like a mosquito. They took some real pressure and they felt hard and beetle-like and the squirting mess of blood everywhere was becoming rather nasty. So, I grabbed my pillow for evidence and headed down to reception. I decided to leave Derek in the room because he was sleeping soundly, and I figured if he was going to be bit he already was, so I may as well let him get a good night's sleep out of it all.
When I opened the door to the lobby with pillow in hand, all the woman at the desk could say was "Oh not again. God, get it out of here!." I didn't even have to tell her what the problem was--she knew.
Our lovely beds
They were nice to look at and comfy to lay on. Sadly, we weren't the only ones that found them nice places to live.
A security staff member relieved me of my infested pillow and the reception lady starting giving advice and promising me a new room for the night. I don't remember all of what went on because I was rather out of it at the time, but in the end I was given new bedding, a towel, and told to go have a shower and sleep in this new room, but do NOT go back into your old room! So, I went to the bathroom and stripped, then did a thourough look over of my PJs for signs of bugs. I found one big one (ew!) but what concerned me more was the numerous little ones that were found. We had seen a quick investigative peice on bed bugs on an Australian channel when we were in Thailand, so I knew that bed bugs have an amazing number of life stages, something like 15, and that they can remain in one stage for months before developing further. You could have a problem, think it is fixed, and then three months later the little guys will hatch and you are back where you started. The little ones were not only really hard to
Our first night here we went to the heart of London, and one of the first buildings we saw had a huge Canadian flag on it! It was the Canadian consolate, which surprised me because Canadian embassies have had the worst locations on the outskirts of all the other cities we've been to on this trip. I guess London is an important place for Canadian business.
find and bore an uncanny, and highly inconvenient, resemblance to lint, but they were obviously still parasitic because they, too, oozed human blood upon squishing. I showered with no soap or shampoo (I wasnt allowed back in my room to gather anything) and then did yet another check of my PJs, decided after a few more deaths that I was clear, and carefully redressed. However when I went into my new room, I found that not only did it have a ton of other people in it (there were 6 beds) but they were obviously long-term residents and stuff was everywhere. It was at least 2am, I didn't have a light, I wasn't completely sure I was free of infestation, and I didn't really want to wake them all up as I rattled around making up my bed. So, I left and went in to the TV room, where I put my sheets on the couch and settled in for the night, or at least what was left of it. Apparantly, I actually managed to fall asleep because I was astonished when I woke up at 10am the next morning to Derek softly calling my name. First of all, how
Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and a double decker bus. Does it get any more touristy? I love it.
did I sleep so late! I missed the free breakfast. UGH! Second of all, how did Derek find me? I was pretty impressed with his sleuthing ability. There was much detective work that went in to it, but I won't get in to the details now.
Anyways, I caught Derek up on the events of the previous night and we stood around for a bit trying to decide what to do next. We were scheduled to move to a different room today, anyway, and that required us checking out at 10am and then checking back in at 2pm. However,I had left my open clothes stuff sack on the bed all day yesteday when we went to the science center, so every article of clothing I had and the PJs I was currently wearing needed to be washed. Plus, Derek wanted to wash his stuff to be on the safe side. He's pretty sure he was bitten last night, too, but probably only once. Long story short (OK, not that short), we spent literally ALL DAY washing and drying clothes in various stages. We couldn't go out at all because I was in my pajamas for most of it, and
DNA Model: the original
A DNA model with plates from the original Francis and Crick model. Cooool. It was held together by chem glasswear clamps, which I thought was funny.
they weren't at all presentable because there were gross blood splotches in various locations where I had squashed bugs in the dark without realizing I was actually getting anything. We watched a bit of the Wizard of Oz, but we had to keep leaving to check up on the laundry. To make matters worse, someone moved my big backpack up against a washing machine (I'd left it in the laundry room because I had no where else to put it at this point), and it happend to be the one machine that decided to leak at that exact moment. When I went to grab something from my pack I found it literally SOPPING wet. Lovely. Yet another high point to my already stellar day. Oh well, luckily pretty much everything I have is packed away nicely in plastic bags or dry sacks, so no real damage was done, it was just a wet inconvenience. FINALLY, at 3pm, the washing and drying was complete and Derek and I went to move in to our new room.
Turns out the room was the same as that one I had tried to enter the night before, and it was COVERED with stuff.
Genetically altered super muscular mouse. I was actually surprised to see so much here on gene therapy because the UK is completely anti-GMO and won't allow any GM food in at all.
There are obviously long term residents staying in it, because there are coffee makers and irons and full sized toilettries and porn magazines all over the place. That wouldn't be so bad, but there was so much stuff we couldn't get to our lockers properly. Eventually I just stole someone else's and Derek cleaned some pornos out of his then shoved his bag in. I was tempted to just leave my bag out of a locker, but anyone who has that big of a collection of porn mags can't be trusted.
Sooo, that was my day. Exciting, wasn't it? Transporation in to town is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive, although easy, so we're not going to go anywhere because I don't think we'd get our money's worth of the bus fare. At least I wouldn't. I'm tired.
Yesterday was fun, though. As I mentioned before, we went to the Science Center. Although it wasn't nearly as engaging and informative as the Singapore Science Center (I don't think anything could top that place) it had some really, really cool original artifacts on display which were neat to see. It was cool to see real examples of things that I'd studied so much
Hey, it's not his fault he has a weight problem. He doesn't posses an appetite surpressing gene so he doesn't know he shouldn't continually stuff his face!
in class. For example, they had a huge DNA helix model which used parts from the REAL model that Watson and Crick had used back in the 50's. And there were stuffed versions (like, taxedermy stuffed) versions of genetically altered mice that I've studied in school, like a knockout mouse which was genetically altered to have HUGE muscle mass (he was so cute and bulgy) and an agouti mouse that had a patchy colouration of its coat due to a genetic mutation. They also had one of those super fat knock out mice that have lost the gene that controls appetite surpression (I forget what that gene is called). Well, Heather and Grayson and Robin and Mark know what I'm talking about.
Probably the best section was on the very top floor, which was called something like "Medicine Through the Ages." It was full of incredible artifacts collected over time by this eccentric millionare who went crazy collecting medical stuff to make into a huge museum in the early part of the 1900's. When he died it was all donated to the museum. Jess2 (from Surfaris) used to work for the museum and she said that people bequethed stuff
This will pretty much mean nothing to anyone except Heather, Robin, Grayson, and Mark, but anyhow here is an agouti mouse with some other varients.
to the museum all the time, and that they have an entire warehouse just to house it all. She said that science center staff get a special pass one day a year to go and explore the warehouse. Cooooooool ancient sciency stuff! Probably my favourite original artifact was a real mumified head from ancient Eqypt and a tiny little mummified cat all wrapped up. I couldn't believe that they would put such real things on display, but it seemed that every thing that was fake was clearly indicated on the info card next to it with words such as "cast" or "reproduction" or whatever, and there was no such disclaimer on these things. The little cat mummy was really, really cute. Once again, I only got to scratch the surface of the place because it was a bit late by the time we got there so we only had 3 hours before closing. PLUS I made the mistake of wearing my contact lenses, which are seriously on their last legs and don't really properly correct my vision any more, so I had to strain really hard to read the interprative material and it took a while.
Speaking of cute, a terrible thing has happened, Dad. M2 HAD to go in the super hot drier in order to cleanse him of parasites, and now his fur is all scratchy because the ends of the hairs have been singed. *sniff* It's OK, M2, I still love you. (For those of you who don't know, M2 is my much loved stuffed Vancouver Island Marmot who has been with me since Australia. I was going to give him to a little girl in Australia who I would be sure would champion the cause of the marmot, but in the end I loved him too much and couldn't give him up).
Derek and I did partake in an extremely British pastime last night: we watched the reality show Big Brother. I honestly do not know what they see in this as it's pretty much the worst reality show that exists, but they love it. In fact, for the entire time we've been here events in "the house" have been front page news. Apparantly one of the housemates made racist comments to some Bollywood star (it's Celebrity Big Brother right now) and there was a huge international uproar about it. Various everyone and their dog, including cabiniet ministers, the PM, and the India Board of Tourism, had an opinion on the crisis. So, we thought we'd watch to see what all the fuss was about. It was an incredibly boring waste of an hour, and when it was all said and done we didn't even get to see Jade's reaction after she was voted out by the British public and had to exit to an eerily empty stage set. The crowd had been cleared for fear of rioting and the like. Jade had no idea of the uproar outside (though she expected) and everyone wanted to see how she would react. However, they wanted you to sit through Ugly Betty then watch ANOTHER dreadful episode of BB, and we never made it. I can't imagine she took it well, though. The only reason she was on Celebrity Big Brother was because she had been on a previous season of BB and then the tabloids decided to make her into an big star. Now, however, she would plumet back to obscurity. A psychologist in a paper I was reading predicted she would have a breakdown when she returned to being an average person, and after watching last night I think that, unfortunately, that prediction might be accurate. Chin up, Jade! Being famous in England doesn't sound like very much fun, anyways!
Well, if you're not already asleep after trying to get through this mammoth entry, I'll let you go. I'm going to attempt to post some pictures but it wasn't working earlier so I'm not sure if it will work. Till next time!
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