London Day Twenty One

Saturday 22 April

My last full day in London, so I made the most of it by catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen yet and visiting the Lego Store one last time.

I expertly navigated my way to the Lego Store all by myself, catching a train and the Tube just like a real Londoner.

There was a queue to get in to the Lego Store but it moved quite quickly and there were friendly staff chatting to people in the queue to take their minds of the fact that we were all queuing to get in to a shop to spend money.

  

If you look closely you’ll see something I find mildly amusing… there is actually only one child in the queue to get in to this toy shop, everybody else is an adult!


It was a sad visit in a way, knowing this would probably be the last time I ever visited this shop, so I needed to make the most of it – but I couldn’t buy everything I really wanted because there is only so much Lego you can fit in one suitcase.  It was cool though that I managed to come here on my first and last day!

After that I was really hungry and couldn’t wait till I met up with my friend to eat, so I popped in to a pizza place in Leicester Square right next to the last place I ate at 30 years ago (Burger King) after my big farewell with the people I worked with.


From there I got myself to the Tate Britain where I met up with a friend who is a member so we got to eat in the members’ lounge like VIPs and attend the Hockney exhibition for free.


I hadn’t seen this friend for about 5 years so it was cool to have a catch up.  The gallery and exhibition were very cool.  We have a David Hockney print on the wall at work which I walk past every time I go to the kitchen for coffee (so that’s loads of times) so it was awesome to see the real thing.  We couldn’t take photos so here’s a couple of pics of the fab light display at the entrance.

  
And here I am feeling very happy observing some cool taxis – they’re not all black anymore, although most of them still are.

  

From there we walked past the parliament buildings to get in the massive queue for the London Eye, even tho we had a ticket for a specific time booking.

  
That turned into quite a drama.  There were millions of people all hanging out around the area where you queue for the Eye and we could hardly move and then suddenly we were all told to turn around and head back to the bridge and go around the back of the building due to an incident.  This was quite scary as we didn’t know what was happening and nobody wanted to move and we were all being pushed backwards.  I’m was also aware that this is the very place there was a terrorist attack a couple of weeks ago adding to the whole situation.


Eventually we made it to the massive queue of people waiting to get on to the London Eye.  Some people had tickets, some didn’t and nobody knew where to go or what to do and none of the staff would tell us what was going on.  So we waited… and waited… and waited and then suddenly the queue moved and then shrunk and then stopped again.  Turned out they had closed the London Eye for some unkown reason and we were handed a form to get a refund.  We looked up at the Eye and noticed it wasn’t moving and half the pods were empty and some people looked very stuck in a couple of the pods, so we guessed it broke down and were very glad we weren’t actually on it when it broke down.  Imagine suddenly needing to go to the loo and being stuck up there.


So we decided the best thing to do instead of going on the Eye was to get a bottle of wine and sit on the grass enjoying the sun and make the most of our short amount of catch up time together.


After all the wine was gone we walked along the Southbank towards where my friend had to catch her train home from.  That’s where I noticed there was a beach!!! Right in the middle of London!!!


It may have had something to do with all the wine we drunk relatively quickly but on that walk in the sunshine – everything looked sparkly and stunning and we decided we shouldn’t wait five more years before we had another catch up, and as we met each other originally in Japan back in the 90s we made a pact to meet again in five years time in KOBE!!!

  
With that very exciting and happy warm fuzzy thought we said goodbye and I headed home.

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London Day Seventeen

Tuesday 18 April

This morning we set off to see the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana got married).

I’ve wanted to see this bridge ever since it featured in a Harry Potter movie.  Seeing St Paul’s standing out in the sunshine looking massive was a very impressive sight.

  
On the way to the bridge we walked past The Globe (Shakespeare’s famous old theatre).

St Paul’s was beautiful and I even climbed hundreds of stairs to go up to the Whispering Gallery in the hope of taking some spectacular photos, but you’re not allowed.  I don’t understand that – at Notre Dame you could go wild taking photos of absolutely everything, but not here, plus it was quite expensive to just go inside £18.  However… if Princess Diana did have a choice over where she got married I can see why she chose there.


After that we caught a bus to the Southbank Centre so I could see a Lego exhibition by Nathan Sawaya, a very famous builder who is commissioned to create works all over the world – I even have one of his books, that’s how famous he is LOL.  We had the whole bus to ourselves so we could sit upstairs and right up front giving me a great view of the old city and many beautiful famous buildings.

  
The exhibition was way bigger and better than I imagined and I think I nearly wore out my poor old camera.

              

After that we had lunch by the river where I contemplated my next move.  I was keen to do a river cruise out to the Barrier but I’d missed the last boat that would take me that far, so I decided to do that tomorrow and go shopping on Oxford St instead.  I had a great time wandering through all the big name stores, I ended up buying a few shirts, a DVD box set of a TV show you can’t get in NZ and I’ve waited ages for it to come out (well since November at least), plus a CD.  After all that shopping I needed to rest for a bit and had a drink in the top floor cafe of Selfridges.

        
After that I walked all the way to the end of Oxford St for a quick look at Marble Arch.


Then I walked all the way back to the Bond St station and headed for home. On the way I got to see Selfridges all beautifully lit up.

London Day Six – LEGOLAND

Friday 7 April

Today we went to Legoland, something I have wanted to tick off my bucket list for a very long time.  


It was a lot bigger than I imagined but very very cool.  Because the Lego Batman movie is the big thing at the moment there was loads of stuff connected to the movie and you could even get your photo taken with him.

There was a little roller coaster which looked like fun and even tho I had said I wouldn’t go on any rides made for kids, I really did feel like a big kid again and so it seemed the right thing to do.


My favourite part was Miniland.


    
Clever Lego creations everywhere and plenty of cool rides for kids and really beautiful gardens everywhere.

            

We even went on a log flume type ride that travelled through many different fairy tales.

      
And just when my poor tortured friends thought we could finally go home I found a roller coaster that we had to queue up for.  At least I hoped it would be a roller coaster, it wasn’t possible to see from outside the castle facade but there was a big queue so we joined it and hoped it would be worth it – it was.

Near the entrance to Legoland there was a whole gallery of busts of famous people.

  
Near the exit was a whole area dedicated to Star Wars which had many amazing creations from the various movies and a shop for me to buy Luke’s Landspeeder.

London Day Four

Wednesday 5 April

Today was the day I got to return to the Lego Store to get my portrait made out of Lego.  When we went in to the store yesterday I discovered you can’t just rock on up to the Mosaic Maker and get your picture taken, you actually have to book on line and the earliest appointment I could get was the next day at 5:15, so I said to the nice lady who made the booking “oh well such a shame… I’ll have to come back tomorrow and do more shopping”.

So that meant we could do a bunch of things during the day but we had to be at the Lego Store at 5:15!

First adventure was on a couple of Tube trains to get to Knightsbridge for a luxurious shopping spree in the Harrods Department Store.  We spent several lovely hours being overwhelmed by the amazingly fabulous merchandise and displays.  The food department was incredible and I just wanted to take photos of everything but somehow I knew that would be tacky and probably not allowed.  The main reason for making the trip to Harrods was so I could see the model of Harrods made out of Lego situated in the toy department, it was not disappointing and in fact it was bigger than I expected – and how often does that happen in real life!


    
While having lunch across the road from Harrods the sun came out and we decided to make the most of it and take a trip up The Shard for an incredible view of London.  Somehow we timed it perfectly for the next lift and there were no queues or waiting times.


    

After The Shard we got the Tube to the Lego Store in time for my 5:15 appointment with the Mosaic Maker.


Here’s my box coming out of the machine, very exciting.

And here’s the finished product. Well it’s the instructions I still have to make it once I get home.  The further away from the image you get the more it starts to actually look like me.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, Michelle and I looked for a place to have dinner in Leicester Square.  We found a cool looking place called Steak & Co where you received your steak on a hot plate so you could cook it yourself.  As anyone who knows me would realise at this point it was a terrible idea – I don’t cook – but Michelle assured me it was the best way to make sure I got it exactly how I like it – and it was!  What an awesome dinner experience.


From there it was a beautiful evening stroll past the National Gallery, then to Downing St to say hi to the Priminister and see Big Ben lit up at night. 

  
  

London Day Three

Tuesday 4 April

Today’s main mission was to go to the brand new Lego Shop in Leicester Square, but we ended up doing sooooo much more.  It was a totally awesome day and there were many moments of nostalgia from when I lived here back in 87/88.

First we caught the train to Waterloo Station, which reminded me a lot of the Westend Girls video, but maybe all big London stations look like that.

  
From there we strolled along The Strand in search of coffee and a Vodafone store.  Apparently we couldn’t go to just any old coffee shop so luckily it wasn’t too long before we found one called Pret A Manger.

          
After coffee we found a Vodafone store where the very helpful man sorted my phone and we were off again.

Yes at long last I made it to a real Lego store.  Luckily there was no queue (there were queuing barriers but not needed at that time, many other times I walked past there and there was always a queue).  The Lego store was amazingly cool.

                            

After that we went for a walk to Picadilly Circus to see my old work, which closed down long ago, but the building is still there.

      

After that we were hungry so we headed back to Leicester Square to find somewhere to eat.  We ended up at Little Italy.  After eating Michelle went to some tea place and I headed towards M&M world via the old Hippodrome where I used to go clubbing, but now it’s a casino.


M&M world, close to Easter in the school ideas was not the best time to go – it was crazy busy, packed, unbearably hot and not really all that great.  It was four floors of mayhem.

            

We met up outside M&M World and then headed to Trafalgar Square and another Pret A Manger to wait for Michael.

    
We all caught a bus to Regent St so I could soak up the atmosphere of the incredible experience that is a real Apple Store.

    

Next was Hamleys toy store with a very awesome Lego department on the top floor and an amazing Star Wars section in the basement.

      

Next we went to the Penhaligans rather exclusive fragrance boutique to get some Juniper Sling. 

From there we found a nice theatre pub to have a drink in (I think it was the Garrick).

After a drink we walked down to the Embankment so I could see the lights, crossed the Thames to have dinner in an Italian place and headed home.

Xmas Holidays 2016

As I’m going away in April on a big trip to London I need to stay home these holidays and just chill out.

Highlights of these holidays:

  • Xmas Eve at a friend’s place for dinner with the “gang” and seeing my friend Michelle who lives in the UK who is home for Xmas, I hadn’t seen her since February 2015.
  • Xmas Day spent at my brother’s house with all the family.
  • Watching a DVD I bought all about Lego “LEGO Brickumentary“, it’s a movie length documentary explaining way more than I’ve ever known before.  It even had a chapter on famous adults who are big fans of Lego such as Ed Sheeran.

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  • Spending New Year’s Day out in the country.

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  • Visiting the Museum and the Art Gallery in one day.
  • Hanging out in Takapuna with one of my best friends who lives in the UK, but is home for the holidays.

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  • Spending lots of time in my backyard drinking far too many beers.

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  • and building Wall-E.

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Labour Weekend 2016

At last the long weekend is here, and this year I’ve added two days of annual leave, giving me a lovely long 5 day holiday, starting with Friday and ending on Tuesday.

To celebrate the big weekend I cracked open a bottle of my favourite wine, bought a book on tidying up which I intend to read and act upon this weekend and a very large box of Ferris Wheel Lego to build when I’m not drinking wine or reading my new book.

There will be quite a lot of Lego featuring in my long weekend, as it’s the Auckland Brick Show starting on Saturday which I’m really looking forward to.  Happy Labour Weekend everybody.

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Update: Monday – Labour Day 24 October 2016.

What a fab weekend it’s been, I finished the Ferris Wheel, drunk all the wine, read most of the book (which I’m really enjoying) and went to the Auckland Brick Show with a friend to see all the amazing Lego.  I wasn’t going to buy any more Lego from the show, but I couldn’t resist a Wall-E and a motor for the Ferris Wheel – both on special for the show.

Here’s the finished product – I think it’s my new favourite, check out the two little videos: https://beejaygelego.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/10247-ferris-wheel/