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Monday, 4 April 2016

Falling in love with London.....Again!

 



I've always loved London , as did my Dad ( He gigged regularly as a drummer in the 50's and loved walking down Archer Street ) My love affair started when I got a job as a Room Maid (Attendant nowadays or Housekeeping Assistant) at the Tower Hotel in St Katherine's Dock. To quote Samuel Johnson ''When a (wo)man is tired of London they are tired of life'' And so begins my adventure.......

 DAY ONE


Got up at approx 5am and managed to have shower and do hair along with panic attack when I couldn't locate my coach ticket ( I'd put it in mobile phone pouch for safekeeping !) It was gone 5.45am by the time I got out of flat and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get to the coach station (coach at 6.15am) got there with 10-15 mins to spare - so close to home but I'd forgotten!!! Journey went well,had snooze on the way
I thought of Dads excitement on the few trips we'd all made to London he would nudge me excitedly and whisper like a kid ' We're here!' with a big grin on his face! When I first went to London he said 'Just look like you know where you're going ;even if you're lost' ( there was an occasion this actually worked !) He loved the Tube ,even in his later years ''Just follow the colours - no big deal!''
Check in at Palmer's Lodge is 2pm, so had a meander around Victoria (arrived 10.25am) but decided to head to Swiss Cottage - got Oyster Card (£5 plus whatever you want to put on it) from kiosk in coach/train station- a definite must as its sooo easy to use and you can check balance at top up machines in stations (Dad and John would have loved it!) Amazingly, for me, I found the Tube really easy to navigate  (reading rather than colours for me - Dad had Nystagmus so colours were better to see than words!) Luckily, no-one had slept in my bed the night before  ( Female dorm of 8 beds,mine was bottom bunk - thank god haha!) So I was able to check in early. Dorm very nice but find getting to bed and up in morning a bit stressful as you have to consider other people, so its softly softly haha!

I got Tube to Buckingham Palace and did Royal Mews Tour(Carriages ,Cars and Horses)very interesting- fabulous Gold Coach!I then wandered about,went to Hyde Park and saw Joy of Life Fountain - so lovely and made me feel very happy to be alive - I feel like this lately since Llantrisant Walk.



London is a beautiful city ,I had forgotten how lovely and lively it can be in a good way . I was going to go to Cinema but it was £16 a ticket so....I ended up having a pint in Swiss Cottage Pub (£3.50) - went back to Hostel and messed around with phone ( Facebook etc)whilst drinking tea( free in lounge ) till about 10pm then, discretely, got into bed- two girls arrived and unpacked shortly afterwards, whispering loads- I thought I was in wrong bed at one point as they seemed concerned over something to do with beds but they eventually settled down -then another girl came in and accessed the bunk above me. was worried about my snoring ( another time and story I promise!) and kept fighting sleep but finally succumbed

                                                         

                                                        DAY TWO


Someone's alarm went off at 6am and woke me up, they eventually got up (2 snooze buttons later !) but returned later - it was girl above me - and she fell back to sleep ! Then someone else got up and returned ( toilets and showers are communal unless you book private/en suite rooms) Girl above me snoring , so started to relax about that! Eventually decided to get up amid much squiggling about - as bathroom facilities are unisex communication varies , so some people will acknowledge you whilst others do not ( not morning people ha!) I then went for breakfast (£4.99 at Palmer's /Free at Hillspring) It was lovely - I had Muesli ,Orange Juice, Hot Chocolate, Choc Aux Pain ,Boiled Egg and small Blueberry Muffin, there was also Croissant, Cornflakes, Fruit, Toast and other beverages and juices available. Yummy!

Started the day by visiting Madame Tussuad's WOW!!! the ticket included a taxi ride in London through the Ages and a 4D screening of Marvel Superheroes - kept thinking how much fun Kelly and the kids( Warren included!) would have loved this !However I think Taxi ride might be too noisy for them at the moment.

I had my photo taken with all the Royal Family (Georges request!) I look a sight in trainers but I don't care It was FUN!!!! I decided to track down The Singing Lift at The South Bank Centre I had bought a combination ticket at Madame Tussah's that included London Eye ,   Big Bus Tour  and Boat Cruise ( probably could have got it cheaper in advance or at Hostel but got caught up in moment !)



I decided to go to London Eye in the afternoon, its very close to South Bank Centre, - it started to thunder and lightening and I thought '' Kelly weather! I'm definitely going!'' One minute I was in a long queue then a group of us were ushered over and fast tracked to front- fab! I hadn't realised how very slow it was, much slower than the Big Wheel in Birmingham  , there's a 4D show beforehand to say Welcome - although good it couldn't beat Madame Tussuad's haha! They also take your photo whether you want it or not against a backdrop of the Eye- I didn't buy one as I already had the photo I wanted ! After the London Eye I had a walk around and saw my lovely Big Ben - so many good memories ( both with men named John !)


Also saw Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament  , stumbled on Birdcage Park which is wonderful and is true to its name though not in cages!It houses Swiss Cottage with vegetable garden - spectacular! Kelly would have loved it! The Royal Guardsmen were rehearsing marching and playing drums and pipes - it was fab but camera out of storage and battery , so may return depending on events during my stay



I also came across Boris Bikes  - I was thinking what a good idea as there seemed loads of people taking advantage when I crossed the  cycle path as a cyclist came from my right side ( I had crossed as cyclist on my left had gone past) and nearly got hit ,very close!!!! I heard him say ''Jesus Christ!'' Bloody Hell it was scary! I still don't know how we didn't collide! Up till then I had crossed one way on cycle paths but apparently the one by Westminster Bridge is both ways!I am aware I should of been concentrating , horrific wake up call though! Its similar to the ''Walk on the right side''  they are really fervent on this especially on escalators as everyone rushes down the left side!
Anyway got back today and there was an young girl unpacking in Dorm (loads of clothes !!) Got talking to her - she was Canadian , here for 5 days having just spent time in Paris (Hostels very posh apparently, doesn't speak French but says people are ok and will help)She's going to Barcelona afterwards- hows that for a coincidence? So are Kelly and her  family soon! She reckons it is very cheap there even though she's never been(?!) My feet are doing really well since getting size 7 haha!


                                                        DAY THREE





What a fabulous trip down memory lane today! I decided to go to Tower Hill - St Katherine's Dock plus I've booked a ticket for Wicked tonight (30% off £47 Seat in Row D) So excited! It took 2 Tubes to Tower Hill although 2nd one was so long I thought I was on wrong one!I got off to find I was only one stop behind haha! It has changed somewhat - more tourist orientated but ,I thought, tastefully done to be honest .I got lost initially trying to find Tower Hotel but soon got back on right track- thank god I like walking!
I found  the hotel and Dickens Inn  ( directly opposite on other side of Dock) - so beautiful and so many happy memories despite returning to Birmingham with a black eye and bruises ( never argue with a Geordie gal when you're both drunk!) I just kept thinking ''I use to live here!'' When I got to front of Hotel and St Katherine's Dock  I thought'' This was my back yard!'' I had a pint in Dickens Inn - looked for other 3 pubs we regularly frequented but couldn't find them, so will do research at home haha!
I went back to Hostel in afternoon and had shower and changed- another girl had arrived and had suitcase of clothes spread over floor plus didn't realise girl above me having afternoon nap till after shower ( I had been packing everything up ready for tomorrow) , bugger it they should be out exploring!!



Got to Victoria early , had walk around ( found Little Ben - what a lovely surprise!) as too early to collect ticket so had meal and pint in local Weatherpersons then walked short walk to theatre ........
Started to get teary whilst in auditorium - what's that about? My seat was on left side of stalls (man next to me spread his legs a little too wide- moved after interval thank god!)The show was magnificent!!!! The sets,costumes etc are fab!! Slightly sad some of the story is confusing, Scarecrow  - why set fire to someone you love?! but actress playing Emma Hatton as Elsbeth is fantastic ; Savannah Stevenson who played Glinda is excellent but I could see Kristen Chenworth had left her mark!!! So, got emotional before,during and after show - would definitely see again !!! I got back and 2 of the girls dithering about ( lots of zipping and rustling , it was 11.30pm), girl above me was asleep - got into bed , took a while to go to sleep .......


                                                               DAY FOUR



Woke up at 6.30am to rustling and zipping again (?!) Thank god I packed yesterday , got up and went to breakfast - which I love- then, after putting rucksack and bag of gifts in Hostels Left Luggage.
I decided to go to Sherlock Holmes Museum as wanted to get Kelly something special (Bookmark, Broach and Pen set - hope she likes it - didn't do books as that's her 'thing') It was a lovely museum , all the staff were in costume plus scary in 2 of the rooms (re-enacted wax models of Holmes deaths in his cases)

Afterwards went on Bus/Boat Tour - both well worth it especially commentary on Boat Cruise  , just be aware on Bus Tour you can hop on and off throughout day but the Red Bus gives you tour guide whereas the Blue Bus is a narrated commentary that needs headphones (you get them from driver as you board)
I returned to Hostel to collect my stuff  ( had tea in lounge ) but when I went to collect belongings I couldn't find my purse - cue frantic searching in Left Luggage ( just secured storage room), came out after about 10 mins totally freaked - no sign .As an afterthought backtracked to Lounge - on the seat I had sat ....my purse . Coach due 9pm , will be glad to get in my own bed!!!


                                                     ON REFLECTION........


I honestly didn't know what to expect on this trip - but I feel I found my city - London - I love you -and not just the usual tourist traps - everything
  • The Hostel- despite its lack of privacy
  • The Tube - I can do it!!!
  • The people - all were friendly and fun!!!
  • St Katherine's Dock - beautiful and full of memories
  • Big Ben- Always!!!
  • Wicked - Fab!!!
  • The Singing Lift- Fun!!!!
  • Boat Cruise- fab commentary from crew !!!
  • Swiss Cottage and Birdcage Park- Beautiful!

                    I shall be returning as there's still loads I want to do !!!! What's your favourite City???
                                      
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