All grown up now

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August 21st 2019
Published: August 23rd 2019
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A quick summary of the Stevenson’s plans for 2019. I, Jon, am in England now and will be here for the wedding of Rich and Ness on 26thAugust. Then I head off to Spain for 6 days and return to England to watch two test matches with Muzza, my mate from Parkdale CC. Once the ashes are over, I then meet up with Leanne, Nathan and Leanne’s cousin, Craig in Malta. We have three weeks together to see Malta, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands before the three Stevenson’s head home again. Craig, being an Amezdroz, doesn’t get to come home with us. He must continue his 12-month journey around the world. But that is another storey. Don’t feel sorry for him!!!

It’s a bloody long way to England. I guess you already knew that, but at least the jet lag is never as bad when you start your holiday, compared to the end, and the good folks at Emirates got me here safely and on time as you’d expect. Plus, I managed to get some sleep on the plane. But, disappointingly, I had yet another trip through Dubai, without leaving the airport. From the air I saw some of their
Pub grubPub grubPub grub

First of many pies, I am sure
impressive constructions like the million-storey building that nearly scraped the undercarriage of the plane. In the day time you also notice how much sand they have in UAE. Plenty on the ground and a fair bit in the air too. There are no clouds but still visibility is not so good. Then just before arriving at Heathrow I saw rows and rows of wind turbines just off the English coast. This is yet another country that puts Australia to shame when it comes to awareness and action on climate change. The first newspaper headline I read proclaimed the greatest public concern on the matter since a survey began 15 years ago. And for a place that usually doesn’t have a climate conducive to bike riding, I notice lots of bike lanes that were being used by commuters too. I am reliably informed that this is the case year-round. Then there is this price of petrol. It costs twice as much as it does at home so people are clearly prepared to pay now for the cost of a better future. Enough of my environmental rant. I digress …

Once I put my bag down in London and set off
O2 ArenaO2 ArenaO2 Arena

Under that dome there is a large concert venue, shopping mall, cinema complex, trampoline park, bowling alley and dozens of bars and restaurants.
to do some sight-seeing, it was late in the afternoon. So, I headed off to Putney for a trip down memory lane to see some of the landmarks that I knew from our six-week stay there in 2005. Not much has changed; a few more wine bars, I noticed. As it was a day ending in ‘Y’ there was football on the big screen at the Fox & Hounds pub and I started chatting to a local who was supporting Stoke. They were playing Preston. He told me that there is a problem with hooliganism in Football. Too much bad behaviour at the games. It hasn’t been this bad since the 80’s … He’s only been banned twice of course, … for three years each time … but that didn’t stop him going to games during his bans. So, when Preston scored first in the opening minutes, I decided to finish up my pie and pint and get out before my new friend got a few extra pints into him and Preston put a few more balls in the back of the net. Anyhow, I made it home alive on day one.

Day two: I decided to head out
Victoria DocksVictoria DocksVictoria Docks

Catch the cable car from next to O2 arena to see this clean and a little deserted part of London. I think the hotels are for business people and during the day they are at work.
to Greenwich, a place I had wanted to see on previous visits, but never had the time. So, I filled up on the generous breakfast on offer at my accommodation and got on the tube. When I got off, I encountered many unexpected surprises. To start with, the O2 stadium. From the train station I could see a giant dome shaped circus tent. So, I went over to check it out. It turns out that they have built a large concert venue and surrounded it with a semicircular two-storey shopping mall, then on the other side a bowling alley, trampoline park, bars and restaurants and Britain’s largest (19 theatre) movie cinema. Then they put the giant tent over the top. I can see how the O2 Arena is very popular when big concerts come to town.

Another surprise was the cable car that takes you across the Thames to the old docks. They have gentrified this precinct with floating hotels, floating bars and floating SUP school. It is part family oriented and part business-people targeted. Of greatest interest to me was the water fearing Poms learning how to SUP on their long boards with life jackets and too scared to get off their knees in case the fierce Thames waves might make them wet. From above you can see a lot, but not all, of the London icons visible from the London Eye at a fraction of the price. You can also visit the aviation museum, sponsored by Emirates, which is brief but fun. Did you know that after you check your luggage in, it will go on a 22 minute and 2.6 km journey around the airport? No wonder that sometimes it gets lost. You can also attempt to land an A380 using the simulators.

Then in another part of Greenwich (I recommend that you catch a bus, as I had a very long walk) you can see the Nautical museum, Queens’ House and Observatory all in one hit. There is also a market full of stuff that I wouldn’t buy and a second market full of food that I would buy. Salted Caramel Ice cream is sooooo good. Greenwich is on the Thames and on either side of it you can see a small domed building. This is where an under-river pathway starts and finishes. It was built more than 100 years ago and it still
The Queens' HouseThe Queens' HouseThe Queens' House

Passed down from the 1600's from one queen to the next. It is next the the maritime museum and up the hill is the observatory
used today. Very impressive, really, considering that it survived a bomb blast during the WWII blitz.

Greenwich was a very interesting and worthwhile stop for me. The only thing it lacked was a pub with a screen showing the 3rd Test match of the Ashes. So, I had to get on the light rail and head closer to my digs in Camden, which is a very good part of central London to stay in; quiet, connected by the tube to everywhere and enough places to have a drink or a meal, should the urge take you. Anyhow, on my journey home, I bumped into Pete from Greensborough; the Aussie living in London (there could be more than one). Pete is a very bad influence!!! We had a few beers and watched the Aussies succumb to Joffra’s pace. Pete found a promotion girl giving out free gin and we solved many of the world’s problems. Another night on the turps and I think world peace is a no brainer.

You might be wondering how I came up with the title of this entry. Well, it’s from something that Derek said to me last week whilst we were cycling one
Maritime museumMaritime museumMaritime museum

That is all gold leaf on the boat. About 0.1 mm thick
morning. I was talking about my plans and that for the first time I would be travelling solo for the first half of this trip and he said, “Your all grown up now”. I kind of feel that way about this. Having always had the security of Leanne as the other grown up with me on our adventures to date, this time it feels more adventurous to be doing it by myself. Its good in many ways and I’m about to meet friends which will change the dynamic again. So that brings me up to Friday 23rd August, the day I head north to meet Rich and the crew. Festivities with begin for the hitching of Rich and Ness and I get to play cricket in England for a second time. Last time we won, but we won too easily and I didn’t have a bat or bowl. Perhaps this time, Rich won’t be so selfish and he will leave some of the runs for me to score!!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Greenwich mean timeGreenwich mean time
Greenwich mean time

And official length measurements
Tunnel under the ThamesTunnel under the Thames
Tunnel under the Thames

There were quite a few people using the tunnel. Even though you can't see them in this picture.
Entrances to the tunnelEntrances to the tunnel
Entrances to the tunnel

You can see one on the other side of the river too.

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