Days 276-297: London - Final weeks.

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October 29th 2007
Published: November 20th 2007
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After months living in London we suddenly found ourselves with very limited time left and a host of things we still wanted to do! We have really enjoyed it here, it's been awesome hanging out with Andrew and Em, Carl and Tori, Pants and Robbie, Ginny, Kelly and Dano etc etc. There is just so much opportunity to go out and have a good time!

Our first week back after Austria and the Czech Republic was almost completely absorbed by the frantic rush to prepare ourselves to leave our little flat in Notting Hill 😞 We moved out to Pants and Robbie's house in Ruislip for our final few weeks in London - which is awesome as it means we can spend time with them and sort out everything before we go (we managed to accumulate sooooo much stuff that we need to send several boxes home, and are just taking the bare minimum for our last couple of months in the Americas.)

So the first week back just flew by, especially as we had a day trip to Paris on the first Saturday back, and then on Sunday it was time to pack up and vacate our flat. Kristi managed to finally find time to go down to Notting Hill and finally see the travel bookshop from the film, 'Notting Hill' though! Pants was an absolute legend and offered to come pick up the majority of our stuff in his car - as it turns out, through some very cunning packing, we managed to fit eveything in the little Audi - except for Kristi and I who took the tube!

Our first week in Ruislp was great, just spending the evenings chatting and generally messing about. The bed that Pants and Robbie supplied was FANTASTIC! One of the best we've slept in since leaving home - superking in size and soooo comfy - Bunny was in heaven! (it make getting up quite hard though!). Robbie made an awesome jack'o'lantern and we were all fascinated as it started to look more and more evil, the older and more manky it got! Our first week at Ruislip was over before we knew it, then Kristi, Ginny and I were off to Belgium on the Saturday!

On the Sunday me, Kristi, Carl, Tori and Ginny hired a little car and drove off to explore some places outside of London! (finally!) We all met at the airport at about 9am and then went to pick up our racey(!?) Volkswagon Polo Diesel - woohoo! After navigating the labyrinth that is Heathrow, we made our way out of London and headed towards our ultimate destination of Bath.

Our first stop was the legendary Stonehenge. Of course the weather in England can be trusted to foil the best laid plans, and it was absolutely bucketing down!! After some quality time sitting in the car chatting (Kiwi's dont carry umbrellas!!) we braved the rain in a lighter shower and wandered over to the great rocky ring. We all decided it was not worth paying the £20 entrance fee - especially as you could take great photos from behind the fence - you're not even allowed to go right up to the stones and try to push them over anyway... I mean what's the point! The rain built up again to we bailed back to the car and headed off to the bright blue sky that we could see in the distance (Ginny claims it sits permanently over Bath!).

Our second side-track was to visit one of the giant chalk horses on the
Bunny and Martin and a white horse...Bunny and Martin and a white horse...Bunny and Martin and a white horse...

..........It was slightly windy........
hills around Salisbury - Ginny skillfully guided us towards one (we would have definitely got lost otherwise!!) aptly named 'White horse'! The people in 878A.D figured that if you dug away the foot or so of topsoil on the huge hills you were left with the bright white chalk underneath - and it looked really cool. So inevitably these huge 'drawings' ended up all over the place - not a huge number remain - but the mighty white horse is a magnificent example - you can see it easily from 10+ miles away. We drove the Polo up to top of the White Horse Hill to get a better look - but didn't stay up long as the wind was bitterly cold and seemed to be following us around the hill!

A short drive onward and we arrived at the Avon-Kent Canal - where we stopped to take some pics and soak up the beautiful surroundings. Ginny is an absolute wealth of random information about Bath and the surrounding areas and she acted as our guide - informing us of all the interesting stuff about the canals and then later the city itself. The canals were stunning - we walked up onto a canal bridge - where a higher part of the canal crosses over the main river - and were simply stunned at the gorgeous scenery - who would have believed we were still in England after having spent so long in dirty old London! Eventually we meandered back along the lovely rivers edge and back to the car - the whole area here is just stunning.

Finally we made our way into Bath (where Ginny lives)! The city is fantastic - it could almost have been plucked straight out of Italy - there were Roman influences everywhere. Tour Guide Ginny then led us on an amazing journey of discovery - where we visited the four biggest sites in the town (River & Bridge, Abbey, Circus and Royal Cresent). There was a large Armistice Day Parade through the centre of the city, so there were people evreywhere, we even bumped into Dano and Kelly - who were there with some english friends - what are the chances of that!?

After finding a carpark in Bath Ginny led us up to the very impressive river, which descends over 3 large steps creating a curved 3 tier waterfall - very pretty. The next big attraction was the ancient bridge which spans the river, it was... well... bridgey! After we checked out the central Abbey and wandered around the town centre for a while we sat in a park for some lunch and Carl and I sampled some local Bath Ales. Carl noted that it might be dodgey drinking beer made from old Bath water..hahaha .Next we wandered up to the Circus - which is a ring of multi storey buildings - which possess a remarkable acoustic quality - if you stand in the middle and clap the sound echoes shroughout the whole area (similar to the Roman ampitheatres.) This circus also contains the apartments of some guys named Jonny Depp and Nicholas Cage ... I guess they must be famous or something... singers perhaps? (!)

The last major site in Bath was the mighty Royal Cresent - a huge building that forms a massive cresent shape, overlooking a giant green field. This is the most expensive real-estate in Bath - and it certainly was impressive! There was a film crew shooting a movie called 'The Duchess' when we arrived - there was a beautiful carraige waiting at the edge of the cresent. We waited for a while to watch some filming, but in typical fashion, nothing happened - so we left. Even though Ginny was obsessed that the PA directing crowds in her fluoro jacket was actually Kiera Knightley in disguise. ha ha. We wandered back to the car and then drove Ginny to her house and said a final goodbye - we were all very sad, as we won't see Ginny for quite some time now 😞

As it is almost poxy winter, it was almost completely dark by 5pm so we headed back to London in the torrential rain. An uneventful drive back to London (phewww...) then turned into a real mess as we tried to find our way to Carl and Tori's place in Putney - what a mission - would have been significantly easier if several roads hadn't been closed!! Eventually we made it, and then Kristi and I, by some miracle, managed to get home in decent time - over all an absolutely fantastic day out 😊 I also don't think we've ever laughed so much in a day! 😉

Our last week in London was again absorbed by the doldrums of work etc, although Pants is again helping me build up my beer repertoire! (how unselfish!) Also one night Robbie bought home an awesome Porsche Caymen from work one night and that was pretty damned wicked!

Another highlight of Kristi’s latest temp role is that it is very near to where Emilie works and Kristi loved meeting up with Emilie for weekly lunch dates! On their last lunch together, Em even treated Kristi to a traditional English roast for lunch - yum!

Our last few days in London rolled around pretty quickly. Before we knew it, it was our last day at work. Kristi was even given a card and 2 huge bunches of flowers from her workmates, as a temp I was really surprised but very pleased to know how much I was appreciated.

For our leaving gig, we headed off to B@1 in Covent Garden, the bar Pants and Robbie so kindly introduced us to when we arrived in London (and to which we quickly developed an unhealthy addiction) ;-) It was a fantastic night, with Pants, Robbie, Chris, Katrina, Kelly, Dano, Emilie, Andy, Kirsty, Tori, Carl, Gary, Ella, Ange and Matt all turning out to help us drink some great cocktails and see us off. Extraordinarily, we ended up with over 100 photos on our camera at the end of the night, so see all the photos below AND on the next page of lots of evidence of the night (including shots of Carl and Gary’s great MOvember). All too soon it was time to start saying goodbye, and that was pretty damn emotional! Kristi was a bit of a wreck! Saying goodbye to Andy and Em and then Tori and Carl was almost too much for her to handle! ;-(

The next day the trial of packing for 2 months into one bag each was pretty painful! We’ve decided to send our suitcases home from London instead of lugging them around as well, and just taking our packs for the next 2 months. However, trying to pack for everything from snowy Canadian towns and snowboarding to a Caribbean cruise and traveling through South America PLUS leaving room for the fantastic shopping to be had in Las Vegas was nearly impossible but finally done! (Around a whole lot of lying around recovering from Saturday night, watching 6 whole episodes of Top Gear and eating a Chris Crocker lamb roast).

And so, 10 months after we left home, having taken a whopping 5000 photos since we left home and already having taken 30 flights since we left Auckland, we’re at almost an “end of an era” and departing London for our two month journey home.

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