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Published: September 22nd 2012
On the buses
Eleanor's dream came true - she got to ride on a double decker bus in London!
Day 1: Landed at Heathrow after a very long flight of 14 hours (Eleanor was in a slight state of shock, but lollies at Abu Dhabi airport got her through the next seven hours to London). She lost a tooth in her roll on the plane - slightly gross, but we worked through the minor crisis. Christy was there to meet us and we had a great trip on the tube to her house. Lucky we're travelling light!
Day 2: After a great night's sleep, we woke to see Fantastic Mr Fox in the backyard while eating breakfast. Nice to know he's alive and well and living in London. We then put on our tourist hats and went sightseeing. Arriving at the London Eye before the crowds meant we didn't have to queue for very long. It provided a magnificent view of London - the morning was fairly clear so we could see everything. The ride was quite smooth and Eleanor took lots of photos. Always thinking of her stomach, Eleanor spotted an ice-cream vendor and that was morning tea. I had a coffee (discovering that a long black is called an Americano, although it didn't taste like a long
black. More like a bucket of coffee flavoured water). We walked over Westminster Bridge to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and stopped for the obligatory photo in a red telephone box. Catching a double decker bus, we managed to find our way to Buckingham Palace, just in time for the changing of the guard. Only had to share the moment with 5000 other tourists. Lunched at M & S cafeteria and then booked a tour of Buckingham for Monday. Ambling through St James Park towards Admiralty Arch (I think!) we marvelled at all the squirrels and fat ducks. After spending a little bit of time with the animals, we dragged our weary bones to a bus stop to catch another double decker back to Christy's.
Day 3: I promised Eleanor we wouldn't walk so far today but in the end we walked further than yesterday! The tube took us to Monument station, where we climbed the 311 steps of the Monument and had another perfect view of London from above. From there, we walked to London Tower and spent a few hours wandering around the various towers, walls and exhibits. A lovely lunch in the cafeteria (it
Riding the London Eye
A surprisingly smooth journey which affords magnificent views of London.
had started raining by then) provided our legs with some rest. Deliberating over our next stop, we decided to go to King's Cross to Platform 9 3/4. After some milling around, we eventually found the photo opportunity and lined up for our turn. It got really cold so we headed to Oxford Street to buy some warm clothes but when we got out of the tube - the weather was fine again. (Just like home!) Eleanor was sniffing around for another ice-cream so we found one for afternoon tea. Someone bumped into her (only about 1,000,000 people on Oxford St) and her last baby tooth came out (another minor crisis). Bought something at Claires and Primark. Home on the tube to another early night!
Day 4: Again, broke my promise to Eleanor; we walked and walked... With Christy as our trusty tour guide (Stella on camp), the British Museum was first on the itinerary. It's an amazing building with lots to see. Concentrating on the Egyptian and Greek sections, we finished with highlights of the Sutton Hoo hoard (Google it!!). Drank an Americano again but I think I'm going to move to Expressos from now on. The Americano (while
A view from London Eye
One of the many sites from Eleanor's second favourite attraction.
sounding ridiculous) is also way too big. It's like ordering a bucket of coffee. We wandered through Soho, Covent Garden (lots of street performers), Trafalgar Square (where have all the pigeons gone?) and had a late lunch at Southbank. Meandered down to the Globe Theatre, had a quick look inside the Tate Modern Gallery and then home via Waterloo.
Day 5: A sleep-in and then a relaxing morning. Braved the wintery conditions to stroll up and down Clapham High Street and got completely wet. Afternoon tea at Debenhams, purchased a scarf and umbrella and then headed back. On the way, stopped in at a shop to get out of the rain, and promptly completed the next purchase - a lovely cardigan for Eleanor. Only a few more shops along, had to walk in and luckily for Eleanor it was an ice-cream shop - cookies and cream with an Oreo on top was Eleanor's choice. A lovely Greek lunch cooked by Christy's mum filled our stomachs and before too long we were off again - to the movies. Saw Paranorman (a film by the makers of Coraline - just as weird, not sure if it's out in Australia yet).
Day 6: A rainy beginning to the day. We started our Buckingham Palace tour in the State Rooms. Eleanor was impressed by the facts on the audio (207 bedrooms, 78 bathrooms and 19 State Rooms) and we had a delicious morning tea in the Garden Cafe. It was still raining as we made our way to the shop where we purchased a few souvenirs. Almost had to run to the Queen's Gallery where we were booked in at 11:45. A Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit of his drawings was quite interesting. Again, loved the audio tour. The Buckingham Palace tour concluded with a visit to the Royal Mews. We saw carriages, horses and the state limousine. Everything was very fancy. Lunch at Victoria Station (how classy!) then a quick trip on the tube to the V & A Museum. Again, the building was amazing ('historical' is Eleanor's term), as were the exhibits. Had lots of laughs doing a treasure hunt and then ended with the Ballroom Dresses exhibit. The weather had cleared up by the end so it wasn't too bad a walk home. Eleanor is sitting on the couch sniffing - her first English cold, sad times!
A quiet day due to the Rudolph the Red Nose reindeer (aka Eleanor). Went to a small shopping centre in Wandsworth and bought some clothes for the cold weather coming up (and for now!). A couple of jackets, leggings, jumpers, gloves etc - all for Eleanor, I'll get through the cold with the few layers I've packed. Don't know how everything's going to fit in the suitcase. On the bus back I had a strange thought about the Harry Potter tour. Was it for today? I checked the tickets once home and realised it was!! OH NO!!!! A phone call to change the date to tomorrow - and all was well again; minor crisis averted. I was able to change the date for an extra £10 (Warner Bros are raking it in... (The only thing I organised way back in April, and we missed it!!) Everybody knows how much I hate exclamation marks but today is a day for a million of them - what a fool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Day 8: We were very excited today! The world of Harry Potter awaited. A quick trip on the Northern line to Euston and then on to Watford Junction by rail was quite
A spot of morning tea at Buckingham Palace
It may have been a dreary day weather-wise, but our spirits were revived with a sugary snack.
smooth. The shuttle bus to the Studio was a double decker and we enjoyed the swaying bus through the small streets. Love looking in people's windows on the second storey! What can I say about the tour? Brilliant! Eleanor's words: the tour was great fun! You got to see lots and lots of props, costumes, sets and more! My favourite part was the green screen room!!!! That's when you get to go on a broom and pretend to fly!!!!! We spent over four hours there and could have stayed longer. Refreshments included butterbeer (a sickly sweet Creamy Soda type drink - but Eleanor loved it) and a stop at the cafe for lunch. The only downside was that our camera's battery didn't last past the first half hour. A few thousand pounds later and we were on the shuttle bus back to London.
Day 9: Another full day of sightseeing, but this time we were joined by the wonderful Julie - my old friend from my days living at Fallow Court Road in Finchley. We began the day with some culture at the National Gallery and continued with a walk through Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and into Westminster Abbey.
Two hours of wondering what we were looking at (should have got the audio guide!) - but enjoying it nonetheless - and Eleanor was famished. Had a fish and chip lunch at a posh pub (which was very nice) and planned our next move. We originally decided to head towards Hyde Park but remembered Christy had told us about the cable cars at Greenwich. Took a ride on them (initially quite scary), a walk along the docks, an ice cream stop and a stickybeak in the O2 and it was time to head home. The evening concluded with a dinner at Byron and Eleanor with a sore tummy.
Day 10: Our whirlwind tour of London has come to an end. Christy and Stella were magnificent hosts and we had a brilliant time. It was interesting catching a glimpse into the crazy world of the English education system! Christy came with us to St Pancras and saw us off. Before we boarded the train, I made a mad dash to a post office (trying to offload some stuff - trust me to leave it to the last minute) and once I parted with a small fortune, I left my parcels
The queen's limo
Blustery conditions had us dreaming of a warm ride.
in the care of the British postal system. Once we scanned our Eurostar tickets (surprised they worked!), we had commenced the next part of our journey...
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