London is beautiful…but a little too peoply.

(Click here for part 1)

SO…where were we?  Oh, we were in Scotland at the train station and I was thinking that Scotland would always be my favorite vacation spot and then someone told me that the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn (true story) and also that Scotland recently had to shut down part of a castle after a “very angry badger” took up residence there and refused to be lured out with peanuts and cat food and then I realized that Scotland was made for me and probably I should go live there.  And I’m fine with angry badgers because Victor travels all the time so it’d be like he was there even when he wasn’t, plus badgers eat snakes so it’d be like I had a personal snake security guard with me.  EVERYONE WINS.

We planned to take a sleeper train from Scotland to London and it seemed very smart because not only do you travel at night so you sleep through the travel but also you don’t have to spend money on a hotel because you sleep on the train, and it was awesome.  Mostly it was awesome at teaching us how much we never want to take a sleeper train again because as soon as I squeezed into the tiny room with all our suitcases I had the first bout of claustrophobia I’d had in 10 years and I had to tell Victor and Hailey to stop breathing because they were using up all the air and also the room was so tiny it smelled like feet and farts and fear almost immediately.  It was exciting though to see the country from the window and I enjoyed the booze part of the dining car once I stopped hyperventilating.

Also, people on twitter told me I needed to eat “neeps & tatties” so I asked for them but I forgot the name so instead I was like, “It’s Scottish and it goes with haggis?  I want to say ‘nipples and titties’ but I’m pretty sure that’s not it” and they agreed hardily.  Turns out it’s “neeps & tatties” (shorthand for “turnips & potatoes”) but I think I was pretty close.  Not close enough for the dining car people though, who were very confused, but in my defense this is a country that also sells “pasties” and they aren’t what you think they are either so I’m pretty sure none of this is my fault.  Victor disagrees.

But he did agree that the sleeper train was not a great fit for us (literally) but was excellent practice for prison.  I asked Victor to order 50 hard-boiled eggs and a harmonica but the dining car was out of both, I guess.

At the time, this night was one of the most uncomfortable of the vacation but looking back it was one of the best and I laughed myself a little sick. So never mind, I’ve decided I like the train after all.

Jesus.  This is supposed to be about London and I’m still on the damn train from Scotland.  Let’s hurry this up.

We got to London and were the last people on earth to see Hamilton (although Hailey and I already knew all the words by heart and I want a medal for not singing along) and I cried so much I gave myself a headache.  Also it was weird going to London to see a play about America but it worked.


We went to Dennis Severs’ House and it was an introvert’s dream because basically you’re going to a party where you’re not allowed to speak, the other guests are invisible and also Dennis Severs’ is dead so literally you get to enjoy an amazing (probably haunted) time capsule art installation house in absolute silence.  I can’t explain it well and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures but if you’re ever in London you should totally go.

We went to the Tower of London and saw the crown jewels and the torture chambers and the ravens and the weather was miserable but it matched the mood of the place so I give it points for accuracy.

Then we did the cheesy touristy London Dungeon, and I’m aware that it’s a terrible waste to go to the country where history comes from and spend hours at a semi-horror amusement part but we know who we are and we are the kind of people who love cheesy horror and ridiculousness and being chased by Jack the Ripper.  Part of traveling is learning who you are.  Turns out we are those people.

There were a lot of other things we wanted to do but I had a small panic attack at the bus station that left me needing to hide in a hotel room (but only for a few hours and this is what progress looks like for me) and Hailey sprained her ankle so we skipped all of the other stuff and just took our kid to a bar.  But it was a bar that had a full replica of Sherlock Holmes’ flat so I can’t be blamed.  Also, I was told that kids go to bars all the time in London so I guess in that way it’s a lot like Texas.

We wanted to do high tea but we couldn’t get in anywhere since we waited too late and honestly that was fine because I didn’t even know what high tea was.  Turns out it’s just tea, but sitting up high at a table rather than a couch, so I’m not sure what the draw is.  “Low tea” is drinking at a low sofa which seems better to me.  Personally I prefer “Super-low tea” which involves having wine coolers and cupcakes in your bathtub and which I just made up.

Then we went to Trafalgar Square where I half fell in the fountain getting this picture:

Worth it.

We watched the sunset and scraped our elbows climbing onto the giant lion statues and for a moment everything was golden.  I breathed.  I felt.  I soaked it in.  I stopped, and all was good.

I love this picture of me and Hailey. Are those guy unveiling a giant metal nipple? Just asking.

And then we got on another train for France.  Let’s take a break, okay?  I need some super-low tea.

PS. Everywhere in Scotland I kept seeing these signs that said “TO LET” and I was like, “They spelled ‘TOILET’ wrong” but apparently ‘letting’ is like ‘leasing’ and that makes more sense but also I was very impressed with the children of Scotland for not graffitiing an “I” into every sign because apparently they have much more self control/class than I do or possibly they just aren’t tall enough to do what all of us are thinking.

Someone get me a white paint pen and a ladder.  And bail money.  I’m gonna need bail money.

123 thoughts on “London is beautiful…but a little too peoply.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Geez, I wish, Jenny that you had asked for nipples and titties. That would have been hilarious. It’s great to see you all have a great time on your holiday to Europe.

  2. I’m so happy for you that you were able to do this! Totally fucking awesome!

  3. Or maybe because they call it the “loo” and not “toilet” but just guessing here. And yes that definitely was a giant nipple.

  4. I suppose it’s a good thing that you didn’t ask for “spotted dick,” which is a real thing in England. It’s a dessert. I think the spots are raisins, but you can’t be too careful.

  5. Sometimes it’s graffitid as toilet, but there are more signs than minutes in the day so we tire ourselves out eventually. Maybe we should set up a rota?

  6. I had a pastie for dinner last night! They’re a thing here too, in the U.P. of Michigan, as is high tea. And we’re not even refined people or anything, just left overs from the cultures who showed up to mine copper. Hand-me-downs from other cultures are the best.

  7. That Trafalgar Square pic is gorgeous!

    And I feel you on the train thing. It always sounds like a fun adventure, but it’s really just a long, hollow, metal snake filled with stink! If it weren’t for the bar car, I could have never made it through my train adventures. Sounds like you all made the best of it, though. What a fun trip! 😁

  8. Your photo of Trafalgar Square is so perfect, it almost looks surreal. Kudos to you!!! I am so glad you’re enjoying yourself!! And, I like the photo of you and Hailey, too!! Safe travels!!

  9. But…but…but…how did you NOT sing along while watching Hamilton??? Going to see it in October & I’m gonna shout it from the rooftops! (See what I did there?) 🙂

  10. Ah I’m living vicariously through your UK adventure. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. As for the golden picture of you and Hailey I need to quote my mom: “Ooooooooooooh you need to frame that!”

  11. Don’t worry, there are lots of English and Scottish kids adding in the extra ‘i’, it’s just that there are a lot of ‘to let’ signs, too.
    SO glad you enjoyed your visit.Come again soon!

  12. If it helps ‘pay-sties’ (like paycheck) go one you nipples while “pah-sties’ (Pasture) are the food.

  13. What about Spotted Dick? It’s a dessert (pudding) which is not to say that’s it’s actually pudding like opaque jello is. Were you as unimpressed with the chunnel as I was? After the first few minutes, it’s sort of boring. I did a sleeper train once, London to Glasgow. The conductors brought tea & biscuits in the morning.

  14. Out of all the places you’re going, London is my least favorite and Scotland and Paris are tied for my love of both and wish to return. The light really is different in Paris which as a very pragmatic, literal person I had always thought was sort of an artsy bullshit pretentious thing, but I actually now understand why a lot of artists are drawn there. I spent two days just walking every inch I could of the city. Also, I want to basically live in Scotland. Because of the unicorns and the best ever sticky toffee pudding.

  15. I did the London Dungeon. I thought it was going to be a serious thing but then I found myself in an interactive haunted house. I don’t recommend it for people who don’t want the full tourist experience. You would have been better off taking the Globe Theater or the HMS Belfast tour. Yes, I did those two.

  16. I went to Ireland in the 80’s and totally kept reading those signs as Toilet. I still chuckle at it.

  17. I have been to London a zillion times (even lived there for two years) and I have never heard of Dennis Severs until today. It looks and sounds totally weird and totally amazing! Thank you Jenny Lawson!

  18. Nobody could eat 50 eggs.

    (My boy says he can eat fifty eggs, he can eat fifty eggs. ~ Dragline)

  19. So grateful that you are sharing your adventures with us. You look so peaceful in the photo and Haley is just glowing. Made my day!

  20. Love that you’re loving the UK! I agree London is too peoply but beautiful all the same. Come to Wales! Xx

  21. First time I went to London was on a summer tour in high school. On the bus from the airport, I spotted a sign that I mis-read as “5000 feet toilet!” My initial thought was – what an odd thing to brag about. And you threw away your shot to sing along with Hamilton?

  22. That is a wonderful picture of you & Hailey. And you are not the last people on earth to see Hamilton. I would love to take my daughter, but it would involve leaving Canada. And while I’m sure most of the actual people in the US are lovely, I’m not keen on travelling down there at the moment. Plus said daughter just got back from a trip to London, England with Girl Guides, so it’ll be awhile before we can do a big trip.

  23. I was in London and Paris right after you and kept seeing the To Let signs and thinking it said toilet every single time!!

  24. So happy you are having a great time, and so thankful you’re willing to share it. I can’t/won’t fly, so this is truly a wonderful treat to see all these pictures of places I’ll likely never see. Have you considered publishing travel books for people like me?

  25. So…I’m 6′ tall. NOTED on the whole “sleeper train claustrophobia” thing. Ugh. I loved Scotland..I’d go back in a second. And I drove through Wales: it was FANTASTIC and lovely. Jealous that you got a chance to do London sights too: I bet the Tower Ravens were cool.

  26. I am so glad you were able to find some humor in the sleeper-train situation. Growing up my family very rarely took travelling vacations (and they were always by car) but one of the things we still all laugh out heads off about was staying in this horrendous budget hotel that was chosen because Mom was tired and my siblings and I were feeling pretty done with being in the car. It was seedy and cramped (there are 6 of us) and the TV and remote were tethered to the wall. Since we were giddy tired my older sister laughed so hard she puked on the floor and given the very limited space she ended up having to put her sleeping bag over the cleaned up spot. My younger sister went the bed I was sharing with her (she was 3 or 4 at the time) so I moved to the other bed with dad and little sis was tucked into a sleeping bag with my brother (who was 6 or 7). And Mom, being the outstanding mother that she is) curled up on the dry side of the pee bed. We also weren’t allowed to shower the next morning because Mom didn’t trust the cleanliness of the tub. Dad has picked all hotel accommodations since.

  27. considering your issues, i think you are damn brave to do a trip like this!!!! well done!

  28. I’m thinking there’s probably a connection between all the tea levels and all the waistline levels for blue jeans (mid rise, low rise, ultra low rise), but it’s probably better to drink tea when you’re not even wearing pants, so… I have no idea where I was going with that.

  29. I am so glad you were able to find some humor in the sleeper-train situation. Growing up my family very rarely took travelling vacations (and they were always by car) but one of the things we still all laugh out heads off about was staying in this horrendous budget hotel that was chosen because Mom was tired and my siblings and I were feeling pretty done with being in the car. It was seedy and cramped (there are 6 of us) and the TV and remote were tethered to the wall. Since we were giddy tired my older sister laughed so hard she puked on the floor and given the very limited space she ended up having to put her sleeping bag over the cleaned up spot. My younger sister wet the bed I was sharing with her (she was 3 or 4 at the time) so I moved to the other bed with dad and little sis was tucked into a sleeping bag with my brother (who was 6 or 7). And Mom, being the outstanding mother that she is) curled up on the dry side of the pee bed. We also weren’t allowed to shower the next morning because Mom didn’t trust the cleanliness of the tub. Dad has picked all hotel accommodations since.

  30. Been in a teeny train cabon like that. Did yours have a fold-down toilet and sink? And this was a 3-day trip across Australia. Not a fan of sleeping next to a toilet—closed or not!

    (No toilet but there was a fold down sink. ~ Jenny)

  31. You totally missed the relentless heatwave by only a few da3ys. Hello from Nottingham!

  32. That photo of Trafalgar looks amazing! Like a travel agency poster. Definately worth it!

  33. I felt the same way about Scotland after our trip in June! I’d move there in a heartbeat!! The architecture, the food, the history, the “green-ness” and the people were simply amazing!! It makes me cry thinking about it in this 102 degree, brown Texas environment!

  34. OMG…if I ever go to Scotland, the first thing I’m doing is asking for nipples and titties! LOL

  35. My family and I went to China and did the sleeper train from Beijing to Xian and I SWEAR it was even smaller than yours. I couldn’t stand forward between the bunks, only sideways. We had to check our luggage and just bring a little overnight bag because truly the luggage would not have fit. Luckily (well not luck but smart planning) there was Ambien.

  36. You aren’t the last people on Earth to have not seen Hamilton. Not trying to be edgy here, I just have no interest in it.

  37. Sorry, Crapnurse, but the blogess is correct. It’s a Welsh dragon and Scotland has the unicorn.

  38. Ok..if I didn’t want to go to England BEFORE (because I’m SUCH a nerd as well as a Henry VIII/Elizabeth I fangirl), I do now.

    Sadly, that’s probably NEVER going to happen because going overseas is frigging expensive, I can’t imagine being trapped in a plane with my son (who is autistic) for THAT long (I love him, but not that much) and then going to a foreign country where I get to drag my unwilling husband and son (they are NOT into English stuff like I am, the dorks. Sorry Hubs. Sorry, Son. I love you. I do. I SWEAR. How did I get stuck in this family where nobody’s an Anglophile BUT ME? Thanks Nature. Or the Universe. Or God. Or WHO THE HELL EVER PUT ME HERE.) on all sorts of weird historical-ly type tours and stuff.

  39. I have not been to see Hamilton yet. Don’t tell me what happens. I don’t want the ending spoiled, you know.

    A friend of mine took her kids to pubs all the time in Britain. And when she came to Tennessee, she took her family to a pub here. And they had to slink out in shame, people whispering behind their backs. “They brought kids… to a BAR?!”

  40. At least if you had gotten the paint for the sign, you would’ve already had practice for prison on the train.

  41. If you could not get nipples and titties to eat you must try the faggots, preferably with mushy peas. You will never know what a real faggot is like till you’ve eaten one.

  42. I am totally in love with every part of this story. Because it’s the UK and your pictures are heart-stoppingly beautiful and you’re laughing on the Claustrophobia Express and because you are SO MUCH BETTER. I am so happy about that! I don’t even know why, but I guess it’s just so great to know about something positive that is happening to someone. So thank you!

  43. Your photos are wonderful and so is your joyful writing. I wish you continued pleasant travels.

  44. I agree about the nipple. And I couldn’t even watch your sleeper train video. I would’ve had claustrophobic nightmares.

  45. The train was hysterical! Hailey was laughing so hard I started laughing too. Glad you were able to go and experience all the good (and bad) with your family. Next year Australia??

  46. I took a sleeper car from Paris to Pisa once. I wound up being the only person in my group in the cabin, and was referred to as “the weird English kid”… (I’m from Ohio.)

  47. The Dennis Severs house is so cool, but the top bedroom was too spooky for me. So glad you’re having a good time!

  48. I’ll tell you something. I was born and raised in NYC. I know crowds, and tourists, but NEVER have I seen as many people as I did in London. My daughter studied abroad for a college semester in Stirling (Scotland). I decided after 10 days visiting her, I could live there happily.

  49. You are a joy and treasure and I am getting weepy because I am so happy to see you happy and a wee bit jealous because I want to go. Carry on!

  50. You are a joy and treasure and I am getting weepy because I am so happy to see you happy and a wee bit jealous because I want to go. Carry on!

  51. Sadly, my parents beat me to Scotland. I’ll get there someday. I won’t miss my shot. I appreciate all the tips I’m learning from your voyage. I’ll pass on the puddings and things made from blood and animal parts though. You’re a more adventurous eater than I am.

  52. And here I was sure you were going tell the joke about the three priests at the train station where the punch line is “And we’ll take three pickets to Titsburgh!”

  53. I have just caught up with your travels and I am so, so happy for you! Also, was that a photo of Victor in part one? Because I was beginning to think V. was a myth, but there he is. Or if that wasn’t him maybe there he isn’t?

  54. My parents took me to bars several times. Totally innocent. Did not end up too badly.
    I too have not seen Hamilton. Too expensive for my budget. But I am so happy you are so happy. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  55. Your TO LET story is a classic. When I first moved to New York City (I’m out of there now, and NYC and I are both relieved) I kept seeing all these signs that said AL POR MAYOR. and I would think, Wow, who is this guy Al and he is so popular…I’m sure he will be elected mayor with all these signs everywhere. Turns out AL POR MAYOR means Wholesale only and I was in the wholesale jewelry district…who knew? I still laugh over that and your TO LET story took me back. LOVE your stores about nipples – can’t wait to read the book about your trip…which sounds like…a real trip! Hang in there and have fun!

  56. OH my gosh–I KNEW I saw you at Hamilton! I wish I would have said Hello! We were doing the whole Scotland, Ireland, England trip this summer too (the “lands” as we affectionately call them). And we were at the Victoria theater on Aug. 15th for Hamilton. Its so crazy that I saw you! I was all I think that’s her…but it can’t be her…I’m in London…she lives in Texas! But it was you! And more crazy…I live in Texas too! And yes, London was way too peoply! Hope you had a wonderful trip!

    (Ha! Next time say hi! ~ Jenny)

  57. It looks like you all had an amazing, memorable trip. I’m so happy for you!

    The fact that you didn’t sing along with Hamilton, even though it was very difficult, makes the story perfect. I paid huge money to take my daughter to Phantom of the Opera when she was little, and a Very Drunk Guy next to me insisted on singing along, loudly, and off-key. Ruined the beautiful experience I was trying to share with her.

  58. I’m very impressed & excited by your travel adventures since I am terrified to travel outside of US. How much Xanax do youneed to travel abroad? I live in Texas,the land of mental illness denial. Planning for a trip abroad will take months of medication justification. Advice welcome.

    (Right now I’m taking only a half pill of xanax a day but while on vacation I sometimes took a bit more. I really use xanax more as a talisman to know that I can take it if I need it. That makes me not need it as much. Weird. ~ Jenny)

  59. PS, I swear I heard more US accents than British ones while we were there! We actually met someone in line (to the Tower) who lived right by us in NC. I agree with London being very people-y!

  60. I am just so happy for you guys and thanks for sharing your pictures and stories.

  61. I’m glad you made it to the Tower of London. We had such a great time there!!

  62. I have seen the phrase “to let” dozens of times (though mostly in books, here in the US) and never once thought to turn it into “toilet” and honestly that’s why I follow you.

  63. I have loved every second of your adventure. Knowing that two months ago this would have been another world to you seems a million miles away from who you are getting to be now and I love it all.

    In regards to the to let – toilet thing, there is a British show called Bottom, I bring it up because in the opening credits they do the very thing you suggest. Also if you have never experienced Rik Mayal then this is w good place to start.

  64. I don’t like London either, too many rude people for me, Birmingham is a much more friendly place. You need to go for afternoon tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones, clotted cream and jam.

  65. I lived in the UK for ten years and there was actually an ad on TV about the things that made up the very fabric of society, and one of them was the “I” added in to “TO LET” signs. So don’t be to impressed with the youf :D.

  66. My favorite sleeper train experience… It looked like that, except there were 3 beds on each side, and it might have been a little narrower even? Then the train got on a boat, which I didn’t know was a possibility. Very odd feeling seasick on a boat.

  67. Pubs and bars are different. Bars are more like pick-up places where the music is very loud and you can’t sit down. Pubs are for sitting down with a book, having a peaceful chat, maybe having a meal, the music (if there is any) will be quieter. And yes, we all take our kids to the pub 🙂 Unless it’s really late on a Friday or Saturday, when they all turn into bars.

  68. “I breathed. I felt. I soaked it in. I stopped, and all was good.” Wow. That is awesome. I want that someday too.

  69. I laughed hysterically when my Dad asked me why there was a TOILET sign outside on our street and thought it was rather convenient that England allowed you to go to people’s homes to use the facilities.

  70. LOVED the tours you gave us. It has been years since I lived in both places and you brought back great memories!! thanks and glad you are doing SOOOOOOOOO well!

  71. You only missed 2 things I suggested. SOOOO glad you went TO THE cheesiest tourist trap! The Dungeon and Tower (and the free British Museum) were the my tourist things I did in SIX Months!
    Trafalgar I can’t imagine w/o all the flying rats. And flying rat crap. (I’ve ornithophobia) and prefer the silliness of Piccadilly Circus.

    Full English Breakfast??

  72. Thank you, Jenny! I am having so much fun reading about, and seeing your trip abroad! Thank you for giving me something to laugh about!

  73. I listened to your video about the sleeper car and thought — jeez, is she traveling with the Big Lebowski? Victor sounds just like Jeff Bridges!

  74. I know you like things that are a bit unusual, here are some suggestions for the next book club selection:

  75. Thanks for showing that sleeper cars aren’t so romantic as they are made out to be. I felt badly that I couldn’t afford one and slept 3 nights in my seat. It did recline but 3 days and nights in one seat is tiring! Now I know I got the good end of the deal. Congrats on your wonderfully adventurous adventure!

  76. Fabulous!!!
    I’m so glad to see you out and having fun. Marvelous travel!!!

  77. I’m with you on the To Let signs. I laughed harder than I should have at each one.

  78. I love all your posts and have enjoyed reading about your trip, but most importantly I love Hailey’s shoes and what brand are they and where did you get them?

  79. You look so happy. If it matters that a random person from the internet is proud you, I am.

  80. Sorry you missed high tea – I haven’t actually had one “in public” but trust me when I say a room service high tea is THE BEST! You can make a total pig out of yourself and no one can see you ingest as much of the clotted cream (pure heaven) as humanly possible.

  81. I flippin’ adore the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I found it by accident when wandering to get to Madame Tussaud’s when I spent my junior year over there. I was lured in by a cute guy in a deerstalker so it was totally not my fault. (It was also better than MT, I thought) And London Dungeon is a scream and a half. It’s so deliciously kitschy!

  82. So much fun being “with” you on a trip I’d like to take. Also, thanks for the honesty about still having panic attacks, etc., as we need to hear that life goes on for a fellow sufferer, too. Your joy is a boon, Jenny! Thanks for giving us “nipples & titties” as a reminder for when or if we ever get to Scotland!

  83. I silent snorted at titties and nipples because I’m at work but that’s given me joy for the rest of the day. I’m so glad you had an awesome time!

  84. Next time you should go to Germany! I have a whole collection of “fahrt” sign pictures! Some with arrows which if you bent over in a strategic direction made them quite compelling! “AusFahrt” “EinFahrt”…Fahrt meaning to drive or journey it was everywhere… the exit to the Autobahn was called an “ausfahrt” so EVERY sign had it! I swear I giggled every time I saw a sign!

  85. Yes!!!! I kept thinking “They sure do have a lot of public toilets here!” but when I needed one I couldn’t find one. Then by day THREE I figured it out.

  86. Oh man! I wish I could have told you where to go to find the nose in Trafalgar Square! I think it’s the kind of think you’d have liked. 😛

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