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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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.