London Calling


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Published: August 7th 2007
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Big BenBig BenBig Ben

Amit, please refrain from comment ;-)
Hi All,

After my whirlwind stint in the land of the free, I am reporting from my “pit-stop” and eventual destination, London.

Eight days ago, back in New York City, it was 10:00pm and I needed some dinner, but I was down to $US1. I wasn’t sure where the nearest food outlet with a credit card facility was, and I wasn’t going to take the chance of encountering the homies across the road so I went without.
With the lady at the hostel annoyingly booking me on the 4:00am shuttle despite my flight being at 8:45am, I had next to no sleep either.
“It’ll take an hour and a half to to get there, and you need to be there 3 hours before you fly”, she said. Everyone knows that’s bullsh*t, and I arrived at JFK Airport at 5:00am, still 30 mins before British Airways even opened.
Having skipped dinner last night I then tucked into a McDonalds breakfast before freezing my ass off in the over-conditioned terminal. Grrrrr.
After having my second breakfast on the plane, I managed to sleep the whole way despite no less than 3 toddlers screaming the whole way in front of me -
Houses Of ParliamentHouses Of ParliamentHouses Of Parliament

Guy Fawkes wanted to blow these up.
I was that exhausted.

Heightened security as a result of the failed bombing incident at Glasgow Airport (which I had no idea had happened until being enlightened by my cousin Nicola and her boyfriend Simon) prevented Nicola and Simon from picking me up by car which meant a long tube home.
And coming out of the airport I realised that London was about as cold as it was in JFK - the weather here in the last week has been sh*t! Welcome to London. This time last year, the UK had a heat wave, but this year we have strong, cold winds and flooding in Yorkshire. The weather as many of you would know has also wreaked havoc with the scheduling at Wimbledon. We have had some good weather since Saturday though, although it is still a bit cool out of the sun.

On Tuesday, I didn’t get up to much, mainly just catching up on sleep, and on Wednesday, I set up my bank account and met up with my dad who arrived on Monday.
On Wednesday night, we went out to a Brazilian restaurant and the food was delicious. If any of you have the chance
Trafalgar SquareTrafalgar SquareTrafalgar Square

All dressed up for the start of the Tour de France.
to eat at a Brazilian restaurant I would seriously recommend it. You get a salad buffet, and the salads are different, but delicious. If vegetables were always this nice then maybe I would consider being a vegetarian. That possibility was quashed however, as soon as the Brazilian BBQ meats were served to our table. Waiters would bring all sorts of BBQ meats (chicken, lamb, sausage, beef, pork, and ham amongst others) on sticks and will cut off as much as you want, and will keep coming around until you’ve had enough.
I have to say that I’ve eaten well this week, although going from eating Vegas buffets to eating the odd hot dog and pizza slice when I could, and then back suddenly to eating Brazilian buffets, my stomach has been feeling a little weird and confused ;-)

Thursday saw me hang out with my dad at the hotel until my mum arrived in the afternoon, and then on Friday I saw the sights of London again with my parents. As I had seen everything last year when I came here before the World Cup, I remembered where everything was and acted as tour guide to my parents. Unfortunately
Portobello MarketsPortobello MarketsPortobello Markets

The cool, diverse Portobello Markets in Notting Hill.
for them, the Tour de France starts from London this year for the first time in ages, and the race setups somewhat marred the view in central London, particularly in Trafalgar Square. I then picked up my sister from Heathrow in the evening and experienced the bad side of the tube as everyone was squeezed into all carriages like sardines after work.

The next day was shopping day and we started out at the famous Portobello Markets down in Notting Hill, just down the road from Nicola and Simon’s flat.
The markets were cool, and you get a few bargains here, and found myself really liking the atmosphere in Notting Hill. It’s a very multicultural and cosmopolitan place and I liked the laid-back, bohemian vibe of the place. It didn’t seem to have any of the snooty poshness that many people perceive it to have. It’s a nice, vibrant area and is centrally located, so I would love to live here when I get back, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford the rent!
We then went to Harrods. Very flash, but perhaps a bit over the top like the Las Vegas casinos. 579 pounds for
HarrodsHarrodsHarrods

Mohamed Al Fayed's famous and grandiose upmarket hypermarket.
a handbag anyone?
However it was very interesting looking at what was on sale - they pretty much stock everything you could possibly think of, and I was salivating at the variety of food they have available from all over the world here, including the most exotic fruit and vegetables, the finest cured meats and freshest seafood - 172 pounds for a small pot of caviar anyone?
We were then meant to go to Oxford Street, the Europe’s longest shopping street apparently, but the start of the Tour de France meant that the area around Harrods and Hyde Park was crawling with cycling fans and forced the closure of several roads and tube stations, leaving us stranded. I hadn’t seen such large crowds since the World Cup last year. A couple of hundred thousand people were out there apparently. It meant we ended back at High Street Kensington where my parents’ hotel was, but the shopping there was pretty good anyway. I like how shops are open longer here, usually until 7pm every day. I was happy with my haul - a pair of shorts, a pair of chequered Vans and the new Editors CD.
After that, we had a
Mi FamiliaMi FamiliaMi Familia

From left: Myself, my sister Fern, Mum and Dad.
nice Malaysian dinner before saying goodbye to my parents. It was a bit sad, as it was cool having the whole family over here halfway across the world and I don’t know when exactly I’ll be seeing them next. This will be the longest I would be away from home, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Last night I met up with my old flatmates Loren and Rangi. Back in Auckland, the three of us would go ten pin bowling, almost without fail, every week. So, it was therefore appropriate that we should continue the Wallingford Street tradition here in London. I played crap (I think it was the dodgy lanes - it had nothing to do with my severely limited bowling ability), but it awesome to catch up with old friends again, and I look forward to seeing them on a more regular basis when I get back to London :-)

In terms of London overall, I think that I’ll enjoy living here, as like New York, a lot happens here and I like how it’s cosmopolitan and vibrant, but unlike New York I feel I have more in common with London and therefore it seems more
The London EyeThe London EyeThe London Eye

Be prepared to wait a couple of hours to get up there...
familiar to me. I am definitely looking forward to coming back here to live.

Tonight, I’m meant to meet up with Roskill Alumni members Amy and Ross, as well as another former Roskillite, Michael Gardner for a mini Alumni convention. It would be great catching up with them all, and makes me think that Tuesday lunches back home must be fairly small affairs at the moment, given that Amy, Ross, CC and myself are all overseas.
Unfortunately, news is just in that Amy and Ross' train from Paris has been delayed and they won't be arriving in London til too late tonight. It's a real shame because I was looking forward very much to seeing them :-(
Can't be helped I guess.

Well, my next memoirs will be from Paris and Venice (am off to Paris with my sister and her friends tomorrow) so you will hear from me in about another week's time.

Until then, I hope everyone is well.

Cheers,
Derek


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Tower BridgeTower Bridge
Tower Bridge

As you can see, the London weather really turned it on.
Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

The famous church where Princess Diana's funeral was held.
Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

We managed to catch the end of the changing of the guards. Wasn't too exciting though.
Kensington PalaceKensington Palace
Kensington Palace

Where Princess Diana lived.


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