London Day Sixteen

Monday 17 April

Today’s mission was to see Madame Tussaud’s and revisit the first place I stayed in when I got here in 1987 plus see the old hotel used in the movie Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont as it’s in the same area.

As it turned out the day had some disappointments and some unplanned surprises.  The first disappointment was Madame Tussaud’s had 6 mega queues and none of them seemed to be moving and I really didn’t feel like standing around too long on my own.  So I jumped back on the Tube and headed for the British Museum to photograph the roof I have seen in many photographs.


There was a queue but this was only a security queue and it moved really quickly.  So it didn’t take too long before I was inside the museum and photographing the amazing roof.
    

From there I caught the Tube to Queensway to see the place they filmed the movie.  While walking alongside Kensington Gardens I thought it would be a nicer walk if I walked through the park, so I crossed the road, checked out a map and headed for the big pond in the middle of the park.  When I got to the pond I saw Kensington Palace and remembered that’s where Princess Diana used to live.  So I thought I’d get a bit closer to take some pics.  Once there I noticed there was no queue to go in and I could see the exhibition: Diana – Her Fashion Story, an exhibition of her famous dresses, this was a big happy surprise because when my friend looked up booking tickets for the exhibition they were all sold out.

  
  
  

One of the cool features of the exhibition was the large familiar photos of Diana on the walls and then opposite them were the  dresses in those pics.

  

After that I strolled around the garden which had a tribute to Princess Diana, full of white forget-me-not flowers.

    
  
Once I got to the place they filmed the movie I was very disappointed, it turned out to be a very abandoned building sadly in need of repair.


And as for the bed and breakfast I stayed in for a few days upon my first arrival it seemed to have gone – but it could’ve been this building, then again it could’ve been any one of the buildings on that street – they all looked the same lol..


After dinner we finished off our Audrey Hepburn trilogy with Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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London Day Fifteen

Sunday 16 April

Today being Easter Sunday most things were closed but the movies were open so that was today’s plan.

Back in the late 90s there was a funny TV character called Ali G and he was the leader of a gang called Da West Staines Massif, and I have always believed that Sacha Baron Cohen made up the town of Staines, but it’s actually a really lovely place and just happens to be the town next to Egham where I’m staying and that’s where the movie theatre is.  So I finally got to go to Staines.


Apparently Staines was famous for Linoleum before Ali G came along so there’s this big statue in the middle of the town dedicated to Lino.


One of the coolest things in Staines was the Pizza Hut restaurant.  There are no Pizza Hut’s left in Auckland where I’m from that you can go in and sit down to enjoy your Pizza, they are all just pick up or delivery despatch counters.


The movie we went to was Beauty and the Beast – loved it.

And following on from last night’s viewing of Sabrina, an Audrey Hepburn movie featuring Paris, we watched another Audrey Hepburn classic tonight: Roman Holiday.

London Day Fourteen

Saturday 15 April

Today my friends were hosting a BBQ so while we waited for their friends to arrive I had a chance to catch up on my blog and watch many episodes of the Streets of San Francisco.

Luckily the weather was great and even a squirrel came out to play in their garden.

I gave my friends Easter Eggs I had brought with me from NZ and in return they gave me the most fabulous Easter Egg I’d ever seen – it looked like something straight out of Harrods!


The BBQ was yum and afterwards we all got to hunt for eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden amongst the woods in their backyard!

London Day Thirteen

Friday 14 April

Even tho it is Good Friday and practically everything is banned from being open in New Zealand it’s the complete opposite here.  We went to the supermarket and it was packed – I felt like taking a video of it and sending it to the NZ government to show them all the lovely revenue they are missing out on by having such an antiquated law about not trading at Easter.

Then we drove out in to the country – Sussex – to have lunch in a very old 14th century pub in the little village where AA Milne is from.


Then we walked along the road to a quaint little cottage type shop called Pooh Corner where they have all sorts of Winnie the Pooh souvenirs, I scored myself a book called the Tao of Pooh which a friend lent me once and I’d been meaning to buy my own copy ever since.

  
From there we drove in to the woods in search of the famous Pooh Bridge where we even played a quick game of Pooh Sticks.

  
Along the way I encountered some really pretty little wild flowers I’d never seen before.

  
On the way home we stopped at a garden centre to buy a BBQ for tomorrow’s gathering.  It was a lovely garden centre with plenty of stuff to buy – even a huge range of gardening clothes.

  
What a lovely day out in the country followed by KFC for dinner, which is when I learnt you can’t get Potato and Gravy or bread rolls here!!!

London Day Twelve

Thursday 13 April

Today we returned to England from Paris.  We caught the Metro back to the Gare Du Nord right where we started from, but this time it was easy.


Again we had a nice little bottle of wine each and then I fell asleep completely missing the Channel Tunnel, last thing I remember was the yellow flowers flooding the fields and then we were back in England.

Before catching the train back to Oxted we checked out Kings Cross Station which is across the road from St Pancras and that’s where platform 9 3/4 is located for all the Harry Potter fans and there’s a shop.  But the queue to get your pic taken pushing a trolley through a wall was ridiculous and I couldn’t even get anywhere near it to just take a photo.  The shop was crazy busy too and we had our luggage so I didn’t feel like dragging that around narrow shop aisles.

So we went home and then for dinner we went to a really good Nepalese Restaurant called Gurkha Kitchen.

Day Eleven – Paris

Wednesday 12 April

How fabulous to wake up in Paris and see the Eiffel Tower out your hotel room window.  And what a gorgeous sunny day it was too.  After a great breakfast in the hotel we set off for the Louvre.  I didn’t need to go in as I have been in before – but I did want to see the pyramid entry point built a year after I was there.  Just as well we didn’t want to go in as about a million other people were queued up in the biggest queue I’ve ever seen.  Look closely at the photo below and you’ll hopefully see what I mean, the queue went way past the 1.5 hour indicator point so I’d say it was already a two hour wait.  But in the mall where we exited the Metro was an Apple Store which looked fabulous, but we were too early for it so I just looked longingly through the windows.

  

After a lovely coffee in a flash Pret’s we headed for the Lego Store which was actually better than the Legoland store, flash, big, classy and fun.

      

Next against my friend’s civilised tastes we went to McDonalds for lunch.  Surrounded by all that French cuisine made eating there all the more hilarious but I loved it.


After some shopping for shirts and shoes we went to the Notre Dame.

    
After a rest back in the hotel it was time to meet the tour group for our fabulous dinner up the tower followed by a cruise on the river Seine to see the night lights.  We were even lucky enough to see the sunset.

  
    
And then the lights came on.  

    
Being close to the tower when the sparkling lights come on really is something to see.

    

London Day Ten – Paris

Tuesday 11 April

Today another very exciting thing finally happened – we went to Paris on the Eurostar (one more bucket list item ticked off). The Eurostar leaves from the stunning  St Pancras station.


The train ride took just over two hours and after consuming a cute little bottle of wine I slept for most of the journey and woke up in France.

 The first challenge we had in a foreign country that doesn’t speak English as a first language was trying to figure out how to get to the hotel from the station.  We had two options – the number 42 bus or the Metro. Both options were fraught with problems; the Metro looked to be a complicated system of about three different trains and trying to remember which stations to change at, and the bus stop we needed to get a number 42 could not be found.  Even the info centres were no help as they only gave info about the main line trains.  After much walking around the station inside and out we found someone who could help and were on our way on the bus which was a great way to see a lot of Paris before even arriving at our hotel.

Once we had dumped our bags we set off for something to eat and drink and then walk to the Eiffel Tower.  The main reason I wanted to go to Paris was to photograph the tower at night, plus go up the tower and drink champagne. 


Security is extremely high right now, so to get anywhere near the tower involved long queues, body scanning and bag checks, but once inside the area under the tower the queues were even bigger just to get up the tower.  One of my friends pre-booked a dinner up the tower and river cruise for our birthdays so we wouldn’t be worrying about long queues tomorrow night.


At last the lights came on and it was fabulous and near the park there were very cool little bike taxis that were all lit up in LED lights and looked invitingly cool.

;    

We found a nice corner cafe for dinner where we could watch the world go by and soak up the Parisian atmosphere.


One of the girls had a room on the 4th floor with a view of the tower so she very kindly swapped with me, so I sat up till the lights went out.  I learnt the sparkling lights come on every hour for five minutes till 1:00am when the orange lights go out and the flashing lights come on one last time.

London Day Nine

Monday 10 April

This morning I woke up in Oxted – my new home for the next week.  So after a quick coffee we walked in to the village for breakfast.  Oxted is such a pretty little village, just like what you see on TV as a traditional English village, I was expecting the Vicar of Dibly to pop out of the post office at any moment.

    
After a big walk round the whole village we went home and I had a chance to sit out in the back yard and enjoy some more sun.


Next we drove across the border in to Kent to visit Hever Castle – Anne Boleyn used to live there.  Fabulous gardens and magnificent castle/home – well worth a visit.

                
I even got to have my photo taken with Anne Boleyn.


On the way home we had to stop for a stunning view of a field covered in yellow flowers.

  

London Day Eight

Sunday 9 April

Today was a nice relaxing day at home.  While my gracious and kind hosts allowed me to sleep in they were busy shopping and cooking up a storm for a big family dinner.

The weather was once again superb allowing them to have their guests sit outside in the beautiful backyard.

  
After the party and many many drinks it was time for me to move to my new home, so my new hosts drove me all the way from Egham to Oxted.

London Day Seven 

Saturday 8 April

Today we went to Kew Gardens and so did 1,000s of other people.  The weather here has been great all week and today sure was a hot one which seemed to get all the Brits and all the tourists out of their homes & hotels and into a park to soak up the sun.

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the queue to get in the gate was down the road way past the bus stop.  And that was just the queue to get in to the queue once inside the gate – but it was well worth the wait.  It was beautiful especially with all the cherry blossom trees in full bloom and daffodils and tulips.