50 Shades of Grey

Wednesday was my first “grey day” in England, continuous drizzle. Seriously England, if you’re going to rain, then do it properly, otherwise you’re just teasing.

Wednesday was also my day off! So I ventured out into the unknown, I went boldly where I daren’t go before… in England, that is. I went to a shopping centre! I conquered the transport system, and caught a bus to Kingston Upon Thames. You may not know it by name, but you surely would know of one of it’s more famous sculptures – the falling over telephone boxes!

Anywho, I made it in one piece and thought to consult someone who knows their way about the place. “Hi Google! How’s about showing me the way to the mall?”
“Hi Steph! How’s it going? Looking sharp today! Well now, if you walk straight then turn left, straight then left, straight, left, straight & left, swim the Thames – twice, walk to the nearest roundabout on your hands, then back again on a unicycle, you’ll see that the mall you wish to visit is to the right of where you arrived.”
“Uhhh… Google, are you drunk?”
“Error 404 Not Found.”

So, I found myself walking through Kingston on a lovely grey day, and stumbled across the markets! Fresh fruit and veg, stunning flowers, gorgeous foods, heavenly coffee… I was happy! I visited the tagine stall and just breathed in the spiced aromas wafting from the kitchen. Divine! I browsed the fruit n veg stall, imagining what dishes I could create. I was entranced with the variety of flowers available!
Near the stalls was an extravagant building topped with a golden statue of Queen Victoria. That’s not something I see everyday! Well at least, not in New Zealand. We have a corrugated iron sheep & sheepdog! Does that count? I’ll leave that to you.

As soon as I spotted the mall, I hurried in, out of the rain and was astounded at how many levels were in there! And puzzled as to why I could only find toilets on one floor out of five… No matter! I found a large shop that sold everything but live animals, and immediately was lost. This shop had multiple escalators! But I figured if I walked around for long enough, I would eventually find my freedom once again. Until then, I was stuck in the shop until I purchased something. I found a coat I liked, tried it on… Brilliant! Went to pay… Hmmm…

You see, in New Zealand, we hire what we would call “humans” as staff in our shops. What I was greeted by was not entirely human. Yes, she did speak, albeit minimally, but it seemed like her programmers forgot to include emotion into her software. And it seemed that was not the only place that hired these imposters, most of the shops I entered did! I could easily describe the personalities of these “people” as grey, which was quite apt, they matched the weather! One lady was yelling across the store to what I assume was her manager, “The keyboard ain’t workin’!” No utterance of any sentence to me resembling, “I’m sorry miss, we have a slight issue here with our till. Let me get my manager to help, we won’t be a minute.” I’ve heard it’s a simple thing called “common courtesy” or even “customer service”. Anyhow, as she was hollering across the store, I was thinking to myself, “If your nails weren’t as long as the River Thames, the keyboard might just work!”

No matter, Hakuna Matata! After my wonderful shopping excursion (which I generally avoid like the black plague), I found a quaint little cafe and relaxed, surrounded my hoard of clothing and shoes and wondered, how on earth to other women do this often, and ENJOY it??

I did thoroughly enjoy the walk around town! The architecture is amazing, I still marvel at how old so many of the buildings are! If we have a building in NZ that is 200 years old, we’re ecstatic! Here? That’s nothing! The history here is so very rich, and I love it! I could easily spend hours getting lost in the cities here, just seeing all the various buildings, and I did!

Soon, however, I noticed the skies were darkening (even more so), and thought it time to collect my shopping and head on home, where I knew a hot cup of tea awaited me!

P.S. Sorry to all those on the bus that I almost bowled over with all my bags!


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