Sunday, 9 December 2012

White City, Jamie's Italian and Rise of the Guardians.

Wow, time to pack for St. Albans tomorrow. That went far too quickly. How can anyone possibly do London justice in 5 days? Put simply, you can't.
We did have a relaxing day today, as one should on a Sunday.
We caught the bus to White City, which sounds quite romantic doesn't it? Not. It's a Westfield Shopping Centre! Jess was lukewarm about it. I, however, loved it. This place is massive. It takes up something like 5 postcodes in the acreage it inhabits. So I hope you're thinking very big now.

The thing that Jess really loved about it was that we found a Jamie's Italian restaurant there. This was one of her bucket list items. I'd not thought of it before, but I guess it was on my bucket list too.
What can I say? It was really good. Amazing. Great ambience, great service, great food.

There was the Gin and Earl Grey Martini.

The olives on ice. Nice touch!

The sardine bruschetta, Black Truffle Risotto and Orange and Fennel salad with boconcini. A fabulous feast indeed.
From there it was off to see The Rise of the Guardians at the cinema in 3D. All my favourite characters were in it - Father Christmas, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost. How could I not enjoy? 3D is thrilling. I loved, loved, loved it.
Now we are packing for the trip down to the country.
As I hauled myself up the stairs to the flat, I counted. This would be the last time and it was finally safe for me to know just how many steps there were. 35. Do you believe that? 35!

That, my friends, is a lot of steps!

Location:North End Road,Hammersmith,United Kingdom

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Phillimore Place, Kensington Palace and Winter Wonderland

Turns out my great grandpa lived just around the corner in 1891. A short walk from the High Street and we came across No 15 Phillimore Place.

Standing on the steps where I know he trod made me feel somehow more connected to him. I was pleased to see that the neighbourhood is pretty up-market, so Great Grandpa must have been doing alright.

From there it was a short walk to Kensington Palace, where Jess was keen to do the Tour. But first we had to have FOOD, so it was off to the Orangery. This little building Queen Anne had built so that she had somewhere to sit in the afternoons and entertain her guests. It was also a hot house for trees. Citrus and Gum apparently, for the heady scent they both exuded.

This is the view out the window. I didn't take any photos inside the Palace. Jess's Flickr blog has quite a few.
I thought the Palace Tour not terribly exciting. It was good to see the wood and those high ceilings and doorways (were people taller in the 1600s?) The rest was installations of whispering window seats (gossip of the court) and glass cabinet displays of clothes etc. Interestingly, the staircases were amazing (what is this sudden pre-occupation with stairs?)
They were JUST the right height for you to step up or down comfortably. I guess they did that for Kings and Queens when they built Palaces. Wish we had those stairs at our apartment.
From there we trekked our way to Winter Wonderland, which is a Christmas market situated in Hyde Park, a seriously massive Park I can tell you. We tried to walk...and walk...and walk. I think Jess would have made it but I was fading fast so she hailed a London Cab and we were there within 5 minutes.
It was crazy busy. The crowds were thick and we were stuck in the middle of a hoard of people waiting to be let in to Winter Wonderland. Definitely not a comfortable position to be in. I handled it very well I thought. A couple of minor panic attacks and then we were in with thousands of others.
Jess and I shared a mulled wine. How delicious. All spicy and hot. Why don't we do this in Perth? Oh yes, I forgot. It's HOT at Christmas in Australia.
Today is our last day in London. Tomorrow we head to V's house in St. Albans. It's already snowing there so we should be...well...cold!

Me outside the golden Kensington Palace gates.

Location:London, England

Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden

**short note to say that since writing this I have dowloaded a new app that lets me add the photos as I please. So excuse the numbering system and apologies, all will be streamlined in my next post**

Feels like we have been here for weeks, although I am reliably informed by my very competent travel partner Jess, that it has only been three days! Today will be the fourth and I am sitting down early on Saturday morning to describe the adventures we had yesterday.
It has been impossible for me to work out how to intersperse the photos with the writing and I apologise in advance for that. It's very annoying to have the photos all lumped at the end of the news. We will all have to live with it.
So, photo No 3 is of the magnificent lions at Trafalgar Square.

The last time I visited this famous landmark I was 10 years old and I remember it being a lot bigger, which did not detract from the excitement I felt to be standing on the hallowed ground again. Lord Admiral Nelson is imposing in his grandeur and the 1st photo is of him, completely out of sequence but you get that when the blogger doesn't really know what she is doing.

Photo No 2 is a gorgeous shot of Jess, never mind Trafalgar Square!

We searched for Australia House and did find a few Embassies around the Square, but not the Aussie one. The Canadian Embassy is massive. I've never seen so many Canadian flags in one place.
From Trafalgar Square we traipsed off to China Town as Dim Sum was in our minds for lunch. Photo No 5 is the restaurant at which we dined.

After another stair trek (our apartment in West Kensington has a thousand stairs to climb before we get to the front door but i digress) we lunched on the second floor with prawn dumplings, sticky rice, pork buns and chinese tea. It was divine.
Next stop, Covent Garden. Another Wow moment for me. Up some rickety stairs (what is it about London and stairs?) and into the magical world of Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop, a tiny little room packed with people and lots of fascinating old fashioned toys. The paper theatres enthralled me and I bought The Nutcracker to show Miss E when I get back to Oz. Photo No 4 is the decorated arcade at Covent Garden. Hardly does the whole place justice. It's magical.

Last night a dinner in Clapham Common with Mike and Chas, my dear friend Carol's son and his partner. Four trains and a rather long walk to get there in the very chilly evening but, thankfully, no stairs (except for the stairs in all the Tube Stations. You get the idea I am getting a bit fitter and generally a lot sorer and sorry for myself).
Today we are off to Kensington Palace. Oh, and a little detour to another part of Kensington to find the house where my Great Grandfather, Elegio Saggiori (he of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra fame) lived in 1891!
Great excitement abounds.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

London Town

What do you know? I flew from Singapore to London and survived to tell the tale! 'Tis a fairy tale to me. Never thought I'd do it. Just goes to show how little I know.
London is amazing. Ablaze in glory. For me, it's like coming home, especially at this time of year when it feels so right that it's cold outside.
Inside the Ritz Hotel Foyer all I can smell is the heady scent of fresh pine. All I can see is bright Christmas tree lights and chandeliers.
All is calm. All is bright.
Outside, all is hustle and bustle, Jess and I being swept along with the throngs of Christmas shoppers. We find gorgeous arcades. Penhaligon's Perfumery, complete with flapper girls behind the counter, draws us in. We visit Fortnum & Masons where I buy a Christmas Pudding. We have a glorious lunch with french wine and I marvel at the way the Department Store restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine. In the movement of the waiters I see a culture steeped in history - they do it well because they have been doing it this way for over a century.
When we get to Libertys of London I am exhausted and it's all I can do to walk around the 3rd Floor where the fabric and haberdashery is housed. More exciting than the fabric is the building. It feels medieval. The wooden stairs creak and groan with the weight of countless years of people treading upon them, as we walk back down to the Ground Floor.
Darkness arrives early in this country. Time seems unreadable here. As we make our way back to our little flat in West Kensington, Jess takes control and works out which trains we must take. I blindly follow, thankful that I have my darling girl to take care of the hard stuff.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Woah, where did that one and a half weeks go? Here it is he 2nd December and here I am holed up in Chinatown in Singapore feeling just a little pleased with myself. The flight over was peaceful, calm and perfect. Not a hint of anxiety or panic on my part. Those who know me will realise how amazing that is. At one time I simply would not/could not fly. Somehow I believe I am over that particular fetish now.

Our room at the 5FootWayInn is roughly 5 Foot wide and I am assuming that all the rooms are the same, hence the name. Sure, I was horrified at first sight but the bed is ok (with J on the top bunk...yes bunk, I can't complain), the sheets are clean and it has an air con. Thank goodness for small mercies. So, the first night is here and I am hoping that I sleep well. Tomorrow we explore this rather busy, bustling city.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Before we go....

Wow, the time is passing so quickly. Only a week and a half to go. Setting up Blogger on the Ipad and testing to make sure that it will all work. Too exciting.
The photo is of my dear friend V. This is how she looked last time I saw her. Now, we are both 50 years older! This year I am spending Christmas with her. The world is an amazing place!