London – Carlton, Its Been a While

It’s 10:30 in the morning.

We are sitting in the pub.

We’re on holidays, so you might assume that we have become part-time alcoholics.

I mean, why wouldn’t you assume that? Its a week day, we are in a pub, and we can’t even justify the fact that we’d be drinking during a lunchtime meal.

…because its not lunchtime yet.

Pretty much an alcoholic if you ask me.

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Ah!

But there is your error! You might assume that since we are at a pub at 10:30 in the morning on a weekday, while on holidays, we are part-time alcos.

Ha!

I had a coffee and orange juice!

In ya face.

We’re really just buying something to drink out of courtesy. They have free wifi, and seats by a nice window. We’re really just thieving tourists more than anything else. We checked out of our room about an hour ago. It was nice, but greener pastures await us.

And by greener pastures, I mean other couch surfers. We would soon discover that English couch surfers require a lot more notice than the rest of the world. There are heaps of CS hosts who say in their profile that they don’t want someone to request for a place to stay outside of a week of their arrival, so the strategy is pretty much to bomb as many hosts as you can just before you arrive at that place.

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England didn’t want a bar of it.

We sent more requests to hosts than any other place we had been, and still got nothing haha. Either they were too busy, or almost anything else under the sun. This led us to just book a hostel. We found one for 11 pound/pp/night. Nothing amazing, but it worked for us and was in a nice little area called Paddington.

*enter memories of PB Bear*

We figured that since we had the wifi, we might as well make the most of it. So, we decided to go ahead and book the rest of our UK leg that morning. We settled on leaving London on the friday, so that we would be able to spend some time up in Wales with Gez, who’s family still lives up there. Being that he is a local, and is pretty fond of heading off the beaten track, I was pretty keen to see Wales with him.

One thing I have learnt (largely through the hard way), is that in photography, if you want images that stand out from the rest, then you need to photograph things that people don’t always see. The only downside with being a tourist in another country is that Google can show you all the really ‘secret’ spots in any country you want to see.

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…that is you, and every other visitor who can use Google.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to have a local show us around their home soil. The only catch would be that we would be cutting the London leg of our trip short. We are flying out of London, so we will just make sure that we get to spend a bit of time in London before we fly out to make up for it.

Problem?

Solved?

So, we lock it in. We pick up the van on the Friday, stay the night in Bath. The next morning, head to Wales, spend two nights there, and then head up to Edinburgh, through northern England. From there, we drop the van off, jump on a flight to Dublin, pick up another camper and spend 6 days touring Ireland. We return the van on the 11th of Feb, which is when we will arrive at Dublin Airport and request the next flight out to Europe, wherever that may land us.

Even when we were dating, we had always spoken about just rocking up to an airport and deciding to take the next flight out. But, it has always been a bit of a pipe dream and the sort of thing that you would expect to see on movies.

Not so much in real life.

We can’t remember why we made the decision that we would just do the rock up to the airport thing, but we are pretty excited to finally be doing it.

Thats all we have booked for now, and it is kinda odd to think that we don’t really have to think about having to book anything on the fly. I mean, the Wicked Camper we have hired has a bed, so that’s accommodation sorted too. We just gotta pay for fuel and food. Pretty easy. This takes us a good couple hours, and it is a sunny day. By the time we are ready to leave, its near on Midday. We cant check into our place till early arvo any ways.

I head up to pay the bar tender for our drinks, and he begins to express concern that we aren’t out and enjoying the sunshine. He tells me that this kind of weather is not like London and that we shouldn’t spend the whole day inside.

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He is genuinely concerned that we won’t make the most of our day.

His name is Chris, and he is from Brisbane.

He is a pretty cool guy. He actually spent 4 months cycling around Europe. He would ride in the rain, and sleep in his tent, and only had a few satchels which would attach to the frame of his bike, which had all his belongings. Pretty friggin cool.

I love meeting people who have the courage to get outside the box and do things that most people only would imagine doing. These kind of people make the world go around.

Anyways. He has lived in London long enough that he knows good weather when he sees it. We haven’t been in London long enough though, and we have only had blue skies. To us, this is London.

We had no idea.

We end up taking his advice, and making our way with all our gear to the new accommodation. Before we leave, he comes back over with two new orange juices for free. The first ones weren’t so fantastic. He even admitted it. This new batch of orange juice was more of a plea to forgive the unacceptable drink he served us before. Pretty much everything we ordered, they were out of, or didn’t have in from their order yet.

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He felt bad.

I benefitted from it.

I’m ok with it.

We make our way to Paddington, and we find ourselves in a much nicer suburb than I expected. We are in a shared room, and we get to meet this lad from Egypt. He is a cracking bloke and always smiling. He name is unsurprisingly, Mohammad.

We drop our gear, and we are mid arvo at this point.

This arvo, our plan is to meet up with a mate of our from Kalgoorlie. He worked with Bec’s parents for quite a few years, and then went on to pursue being a paramedic. Being that London is short on Paramedics, London is the place to be.

Hence, why he is in London.

Surprise, surprise.

He has just got off night shift, which means that he got home at 8 am. Which means that we pretty much tag teamed with him being awake. He went to bed, we woke up. Right now, he is still asleep.

Very asleep.

We decide that we will head into London and just kill some time until he surfaces again. We’ll just wander around until he is ready.

We get a message from him at 4ish to say to meet him at his place. We head to his place, but have to run off my memory, because my phone is dead. Did I traverse a new neighbourhood purely from reading Carlton’s message just once?

Yes.

Did we rock up a little earlier because we couldn’t get wifi, and he answered the door having pretty much just got out of bed?

Yes.

Did it matter?

Nah.

He just rolled with it. I mean, his job is make people who are dying, die a little bit later, so answering the door, all sleepy-like isnt a big deal for him. . I just read what I wrote… and its savage, but really accurate. He welcomes us in, and we meet his roomies, who are also Aussies. Turns out that pretty much half of London’s paramedics are Aussies. I have no doubt that it would make living and maintaining some sanity after a big week easy.

Or, in Carlton’s case, a big month.

He begins to tell us the stories. This is literally the most hectic 4 weeks he has ever had on the job. In London, they work on the basis that you should expect to deal with 3 cardiac arrests per year as an average. He dealt with 3 in one week. A little bit of light, though, was that for the first time in his Paramedic career, someone had survived a cardiac arrest. Pretty much only to the thanks of a nurse who spotted the lady slump in her car, and pulled her out long enough for the paramedics to get to her, and then get her to hospital. That was a cool highlight.

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It’s really interesting to talk with someone in person who does something that you would usually just watch on TV. Turns out that Paramedics aren’t performing surgery in the back of the van on the way to the hospital. “Well. The bigger the incident, the less we actually do”, Carlton explains to us. “I mean, we were at this job where a guy was stabbed in the back, so by the time we were on site, had him all patched up and to the hospital, was under 15 minutes”.

This is pretty bloody impressive.

Most of the time, the calls they receive are all utterly retarded things like someone mildly burning themselves. Or like this one chick. Oh my God… This is a ripper. She had this ringing in her ears for the past year, so she, for some ungodly reason decided that she should call the ambulance to come around and help her out.

Ambulance.

1 year.

Not gonna lie, this would make me pretty pissed off too. They rocked up on scene, and instantly, there were so many questions its not funny. She just could not see the error of her ways. She had this issue for the past year, and it wasn’t a problem at all. Even now, it isn’t a problem, but something clicked in her mind, and it was worth calling the ambos on this particular evening, with no good reason for her making the call.

It would be these kind of calls as why paramedics would willingly fight people.

And I don’t blame them.

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He goes on to tell us that he once got called out to a guy who got is foreskin stuck in the zipper of his pants. He asked Carlton’s advice as to what he should do, and when Carlton was clean out of suitable answers, the bloke just decided to muscle through it and unzip his fly.

I am literally clenching my teeth right now.

Not nice.

He goes on to tell us how when a paramedic is on the scene, how much people will just do anything you tell them to, and who you are exposed to the most intimate part of people’s lives. It’s almost like the moment they arrive, it doesn’t matter how naked you are, the paramedic is privy to your best and your worst.

We chat and talk and Bec does the most saintly thing that could be done for any Australian in London.

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Cook a quality parmy.

They don’t serve them here, which is a travesty of the highest order. Naturally, this was on the top of Carlton’s list of food he would devour.

So, this is what he got to devour, and devour, he did.

We talk, we laugh, we drink and then we head home.

Quality night.

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

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