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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
Thursday 6 April
Today I had lots of free time till 5pm when I was meeting up with another friend who lives in London who I haven’t seen for a while. So I had a nice relaxing morning at “home” and then set off for Turnpike Lane the Tube station I used to live near in search of the flat I lived in back in 87/88.
When I exited the station nothing looked familiar, it was really weird. Obviously the park across the road and all the shops had always been there because they looked old, but I don’t remember them and I used to walk past that every day on the way to work and home again, guess it was just always dark!
As I walked towards Alison Road, somethings did look familiar, like the church on the corner of my road and the building that used to be my local pub, but now it’s a shop, shame!!!
As I still had a couple of hours to fill in before meeting my friend I decided to catch a bus back to the city so I could see everything I’d always been missing by travelling underground. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long for a bus that took me all the way to London Bridge. I got to walk across London Bridge and saw Tower Bridge and the Monument.
I met my friend and we walked along the Thames so I could get a great view of Tower Bridge and actually walk across it!
We walked past the Tower of London, waited for an Uber to take us to a pub called Boot and Flogger where we had dinner. It was a really lovely day and fabulous to have such a great walk and a catch up with my friend.
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.
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.
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.
We met up outside M&M World and then headed to Trafalgar Square and another Pret A Manger to wait for Michael.
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.
Day One and Two, Sunday 2 April 2017
At last the day I have waited so long for has arrived. I booked and planned this trip over a year ago and yesterday the countdown app on my phone finally said ONE more sleep. See below, top right corner app FancyDays.
Yesterday day didn’t drag too much as I had quite a lot to do. My most important job was to pick up a Lego set I’d been longing for ever since I first knew it existed. Buying it the day before I go on a big trip isn’t really the smartest thing to do, because all I want to do now is build it, but I still have far too much to do before I go away, however at least now I have something very exciting (the Disney Castle) to look forward to when I get back.
So now I’m lapping it up, rubbing shoulders with all the rich people in the Qantas Business Class lounge. Qantas kindly invited me to try it out. How could I refuse? Boarding the plane in one hour – so excited, but all this free wine is helping to numb the excitement and get me very chilled out ready for the 30 plus hours of flying ahead of me. Oh and Qantas just rang me to check I was aware of the hour long delay with my next flight, Melbourne to London. So here’s my fab view of the lounge, it’s very nice and extremely quiet.
Well here I am in the transit area of the Melbourne airport. My flight is delayed by two hours so I set off in search of a coffee and when I finally found one, embarrassingly none of my cards would work and the exchange rate for pounds to Australian cash was extortion so that was a buzzkill. I thought I’d die of thirst till I realised my phone was trying to tell me I needed to change the card controls in the ASB app so I could use them internationally. Success!
The Qantas flight from Auckland was packed and very very hot. But the service was fab and the food was great and I did manage to watch a whole movie – La La Land; not sure what all the fuss is about really and why did it win Oscars??? After the movie I did have a wee nap and luckily the nice lady sitting next to me saved my chocolate for me – they hand out Whittakers chocolates instead of lollies prior to landing. Nice!
Because of the big delay Qantas have just given everyone a $15 voucher to buy some refreshments while we wait for the gate to open. I wonder what caused the delay.
Here’s the big delayed beauty.
The flight from Melbourne to Dubai was no fun at all. By the time we finally got to board the plane it was nearly 1:00 Australia time which was actually 3:00 am my time (NZ body clock), so I was really tired and expected to fall asleep on the plane straight away but that didn’t happen. The flight was packed and it was dark nearly the whole way and it was really long (13 hours I think), plenty of time to watch a movie and some TV shows.
Luckily I had two unhappy ladies sitting next to me who didn’t speak much English and they were mad at the big delay coz they would be missing their connecting flights out of Dubai so we didn’t talk much and they both slept the whole time – which was a tad awkward when it came time for me to wake them both up so I could go to the loo (twice). Anyway flying in and out of Dubai was quite interesting as there was snow on some mountains at times and nothing but sand at others.
My short stop in Dubai for just under two hours was a fuzzy blur, spent mainly looking for a toilet with loo paper, every cubicle I visited had run out! There were some very stunning shops in the transit area but I had no idea what the time was and when the flight was taking off, because the delayed flight meant the indicator boards were all wrong etc. It was at this point I discovered a serious downside to an Apple Watch – you can’t manually adjust the time – it needs the phone to be connected to it to share the time. But I had no idea what data would cost in Dubai so I never took my phone off Flight Mode. Guess that gives me an excuse to buy a watch before I go home in three weeks time.
The flight to London from Dubai was great – only 7.5 hours – I watched the movie LION and loved it, thank goodness my new neighbours a recently married couple from the UK were asleep for most of my movie viewing coz it was a beautiful movie and I cried.
Border Control at Heathrow was very very long, 1,000s of people and long queues, Customs however was non existent and my suitcase survived the journey and was waiting for me when I went to collect it and then my friends were there to greet me and drive me home.
After a big catch up and relax we went for a walk to the local shops for a look round the village – Egham, and buy supplies from the supermarket.