London Stay-cationing

We all know the Craig David’s smash hit, 7 Days…right?

Monday,
Took her for a pint on Tuesday,
We were having pints on Wednesday,
And on Thursday and Friday and Saturday,
We had a afternoon sesh at the Chatty on Sunday.

Well I am pretty sure how it goes. It certainly feels like it. Every day of the week has brand new adventures with the same ol’ end; we spent a bit too much, and now we have a bit of headache.

Being back into teaching means I am back into having the half term breaks, but due to a tightening of the budget (what is money anyway?), we decided to stay in London. This of course is an excellent chance to remind ourselves why we live in this fabulous city. So here is what we managed to get up to, my advice on activities you could do, or if not, just enjoy reading for the sake of it (or don’t enjoy it…you have a mind of your own).

Our weekend actually started a few days earlier on Thursday. A friend’s birthday saw us head to Dalston; an interesting part of London where the impoverished and hipsters collide. We headed to Ballie Ballerson, originally a pop-up, but now a full time adult ball pit. Think back to the younger days at McD’s; you have had your Happy Meal and Mum said you can have fifteen minutes in the playground. Well, it is exactly the same but instead of a Happy Meal, you have alcohol and there is a bouncer, not your mother, insuring you don’t overshoot your 2 hour time slot. It was absolutely brilliant.

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My hubby getting clocked in the face with a ball. 

And so the stay-cation begins…

Saturday – This was my day to sort out my life but instead I babysat for 11 hours so let’s just move on. Got to make that money. No pints for me today.

Sunday – A London staple, especially on a Bank Holiday weekend, is to have a Bottomless Brunch. Five ladies embarked on a journey of brunch and endless prosecco at the The Schoolhouse, near Battersea. As you would imagine, we walked in with the ambition of finishing as much as we could (and the food was good – my Mrs Brunch meal was incredible). So due to this ambition, it was not surprise that this evening spiraled into a mixture of  memories of Uber rides, house parties, supermarket stops, ordering pizza, and finally the UV party at The Slug in Fulham. Many pints for me.

Monday – was suppose to be my quiet day to commit to life admin…given the activities the night before…this was not successful. Shall we just continue? No pints for me – not even a Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger beer could save me here.

Tuesday – After a successful gym session, we were ready for the first officially planned staycation activity. We were off to Hampton Court, so the Tudor geek (me) could finally walk the grounds, remember what I have learned and get ready to learn some more. We caught the train to Richmond and on route decided to pick up picnic snacks from Marks & Spencer Food Hall. Richmond also has many takeaway places and supermarkets on the way to the river where you can stop and pick up a variety of delicious food. We took our food to the riverside, where once more a pint was consumed at the White Cross, while we waited for the boat to arrive. The 11am boat to Hampton Court, traveled upstream through the Teddington Lock, through Kingston and an hour and 45 minutes later, we arrived at Hampton Court. The company we used is called Turks, which was £9 one way. The boat had a fully kitted bar, but I was happy with the huge amount of cheesy delights I purchased from M&S. The Thames is rather beautiful along this route. Impressive large houses, expansive green spaces, and what I believe was fresh air. Hampton Court was indeed impressive. We enjoyed the many apartments, gardens, stories, and the maze. I can’t choose a part that I liked the most, but if I had to, I would have to say the dinning hall where King Henry the VIII dined, wined, and flirted was pretty incredible. The tapestries, the beams, the stain glassed windows, the wood paneling. Absolutely stunning. You can easily spend a whole day here and even tag on activities in Richmond on the way or on the way home. After a pint at the Mute Swan, directly across from Hampton Court, we caught the bus home.

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#bexwolfreystakesonhamptoncourt #bexwolfreysgeeksout 

Wednesday – Tourists all over the world flock on London and head to Harrods. I just haven’t really been all that interested but seeing some photos, and the constant stream of tourists getting on at Knightsbridge with their green bags, I thought…why not? Everything is as expensive as you have been told. We knew we needed to buy something, so a birthday present for my nephew, and a cute Harrods tin of tea suited us just fine. There was so much to look at. Check out Toy Kingdom…there are things for big kids in there! Then we were off to the Imperial War Museum, near Lambeth North Station. We started at The Stationmaster for a pint (surprise, surprise) and a burger, and boy they were exceptional burgers. Tummies full, we were off to the museum. We stayed for just over three hours, and we managed to see everything. I had been to the one in Manchester, so I didn’t think it would vary too much, so this surpassed by expectations well and truly. All the museums I have been to so far have impressed me, they are worth doing, especially if you live in London (those dark, cold weekends don’t have to be miserable). Then The Three Stags for a pint before heading home – this pub is directly across from the Museum. The Museum also has a Tibetan Peace Garden, opened by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This area had plenty of people sharing picnics, and I thought that perhaps I need to do this next time, would save a bit of money and it is always nice to get outside whenever and where ever you can.

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These guns (not hubby’s guns) saw action at D-Day. 

Thursday – Another big gym session and we were off on another day adventuring, this time…The London Wetlands. It was amazing to see all the birds, and wild life the exists here despite being very close to Central London. The wetlands are about a 10 minute bus from Hammersmith Station. Once again, an excellent idea for a picnic, we just got ice cream! I definitely recommend as a good day out…lots of walking, fresh air, and I learned a lot. They have some vulnerable and endangered birds here, including eiders, red breasted geese, and sand martins. We caught the bus and were off to Chiswick, where we visited a few charity shops in hope to find some outfits for Royal Ascot in June. We then went to Bayley and Sage for cheese, and scotch eggs. We ate our scotch eggs in the sun on the grass of Turnham Green. Then we did our odd jobs of adulting…hair appointments etc. We rushed home to complete our washing and then off to Putney, to have dinner and drinks with a friend back home on the banks of The Thames. Fair to say, a few pints here.

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Yes, this is in Zone 2/3 in London. 

Friday – #shoplocal…today was a day of once more adulting. All those things you need to do in the background to ensure you can maximise the free time with all the fun stuff. So inbetween adulting, we went for a walk along Churchfield Street, as you head to Acton Central. This street is a trove of shops: hairdressers, beauty therapists, wine shops, butchers, fish mongers, cafes (heaps of them), pubs, bakeries, gift shops, and restaurants. Many of these locally owned. It is a little out of the way for us, so we don’t get to go down here as often as we would like (or should). We managed to get to Limpopo, who some incredibly tasty biltong, as recommended to us by South Africans named Moose and Floppy. Then down the road to the Station Master for a pint (we had to, it was raining and we needed shelter). I was stoked to find The Kernel on tap as this was a pub we missed on the Bermondsey Pub Crawl, and I was so keen to try it. It did not disappoint. Then we were off to Laveli Bakery  next door for some fresh (and very tasty) sourdough bread. Our next stop was an important one for us. Steak over here is okay…it can be expensive and the quality varies. We were incredibly excited to go into an actual butcher. Walking past an amazing trinket store called The Village Trading Store, I was impressed with the range of gift ideas that I was to afraid to walk in due to fear my credit card would never recover. We arrived at The English Butcher Shop, run by an Aussie with a very thick accent who cut us two very thick, aged sirloin steaks at a reasonable price (far cheaper than the supermarkets). Now, steak cries out for accompaniments, and with Park & Bridge, a beautiful wine shop up the road, we got a stunning bottle of Spanish Rioja. Then we were off to the a shop across from our local gym on Uxbridge Road. It has a butchery, bakery, shop, and grocers all in one. We got some plump red vine cherry tomatoes, some fresh green beans to go with our steak, and we found some stuffed vine leaves which would go well with a platter, so bought them too. Then off home to enjoy our spoils. I am usually pretty terrible at getting my groceries delivered, so it felt fantastic to get among the locals.

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The best wine shop in all of Acton – great knowledge of the wine, what it goes well with, and if you like something, she can find something similar (but yet different). 

Saturday – Unfortunately, the evening of the Borough St Market attack will be what is remembered, but I will try to remember my morning of the bliss of smelling cheeses, trying the best mushroom pate ever, and eating fresh strawberries we bought from a jolly man for £1.50. The market is London’s oldest fruit and vegetable market, but it has expanded into a place where you can buy everything; from cheeses, to wine, to boutique craft beers, to seafood, to flowers, to freshly pressed juice, to exotic meats (Zebra steak anyone?) and obviously plenty of fruit and vegetables. After we walked around, we were off to enjoy the unique opportunity of having yet another pint in some glorious sunshine. We were off the The Anchor, which on the banks of the river, has views of St. Paul’s and The Shard. We decided then to go to Eat. (not so local anymore), but they have brilliant salads which we ate on a seat alongside the river. Then we walked to The Swan from a pre-show pint in the sun to watch Twelfth Night at the Globe. Standing tickets are from £5. It was by far the best show (this is our third) we have seen yet, masterfully directed by Emma Rice. It was hilarious, the actors incredibly talented, and I got a prosecco and peach popsicle! Afterwards, we walked along Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul’s, where we had another pint at Ye Olde London, then a short walk to Blackfriars Pub (very cool pub) for another pint. As Blackfriars station was out of action due to engineering works, we walked to Southwark station, where unfortunately we both felt the need to use the bathroom but were also quite thirsty, so we ended up at The Prince William Henry…for you guessed it, another pint. Then home where we stopped at our locally owned Italian place, Casereccio, where we ate too much pasta and had some very tasty Italian red wine.

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Summer of Love Season at The Globe. 

Sunday – Well if you know the song Victoria, by The Exponents, you will know that Sunday’s are for washing and doing the hoovering…unless you go down the The Chatty…(which I will not…school prep to commence…head back in the game).

We have been in here over a year, but there is still so much we are yet to do in this very exciting city.

Ka kite ano.

*This was written after a very sleepless night and undoubtedly plagued with grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. I apologise for any inconvenience. I am sure I will frustratingly notice a few as soon as I post this…

Smiles on the Nile

This post concludes my ‘Egyptian Edition’ of the blog, unless I go back…since my return to London they have found numerous new tombs, mummies, and treasures.

Damn, I enjoy a dam. Modern wonders of engineering that shape our lands, livelihoods and economies. Love them or hate them, they are impressive. Aswan High Dam is most definitely impressive.

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Aswan High Dam – looking South to Lake Nasser.

The Nubian people settled along the River Nile south of Aswan. Due to the building of the dam and the creation of Lake Nasser, the Nubian villages were flooded. They were relocated by the Government to higher ground.   A motorboat ride down the Nile led us to their village. It was so peaceful being on the river, especially when we sat on the roof and looked at the stars. Our hosts were generous. Starting with hibiscus tea, and some chicken broth. The chicken broth was very welcoming as a lot of us had a diet of pringles on our long bus rides. There is always something comforting about a bowl of chicken broth. Then a full table of rice, potato curry, a bean and pea curry, lamb kofta, and barbequed chicken awaited us. Our hosts were modest. They barely came out to talk to us but they were delighted to serve and see us so pleased. We showed them our hospitality by helping dish out, and clean up. The children were happy to help as they ran up and down the stairs of the village bringing us the food. They were rewarded with a trip to the shop. One of the ladies got out her henna kits and got to work, masterfully whipping up patterns on the ladies of our group. Nubian people often have pet crocodiles. Rearing them from young to then releasing them into the wild once fully grown. They are excellent at eating food scraps – not that we left many scraps at all.

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Our ride to the Nubian Dinner on the banks of the River Nile.

By far the most unique experience was the felucca ride down The Nile. Due to a few delays, we were on the river much later than expected which for us all on the Felucca was saddening as we would have loved to go further and stayed on the boat for longer. We set sail to a lunch of falafel, cucumbers and feta in pita bread. There were numerous felucca weaving their way down the Nile. Once the sun started to set, we had to set up camp on the banks. Back to nature, except we had beers and shisha. Our hosts made sure we were well fed for dinner with lamb kofta and potato curry. The night continued with more beer (including a special delivery of additional beers our guide sourced for us), more shisha, games, and a lot of laughs. Having slept under the blanket of the night sky, I awoke to the most amazing sunrise (a few love bites from the local mosquitoes).

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A felucca sailing along the River Nile.

We really could not get enough of the bus on our trip (please re-read that sentence sarcastically). While treacherous, it was a great time to soak in scenery, wave at the locals, observe daily life, have a nap, eat pringles, and catch up on ‘Big Bus Admin’. Our day started with a one and a bit hour ride, nice and easy, to the first temple, and then another two hours to the next. Check out my previous blog on all things temple – so appropriately called ‘Temple Time!’. Being April, Egypt was a mild and enjoyable temperature, much better than that of the UK but yet not so hot we lost our minds. We did manage one incredibly hot day, but good ol’ Murphy’s law meant that our hottest day was the day we were standing around temples, and the coolest and windiest day was when we were on the red sea. It was unseasonably hot, we were on a bus with many added security and checkpoints along the way. All we wanted was the swimming pool, but as the sun started to set as we approached Luxor, we sensed the heartbreak that perhaps the pool would be closed. It was. Even more torturous was that the river was also right there but the hotel staff advised a few of our crew that this was not an option. So off to an Irish pub we went.

Travelling along the river emphasised its importance to Egypt. Our trip to Abu Simbel was 3 hours of desert either side of the bus, without the river, Egypt would not cope. It is the source of life in Egypt – irrigation, transport, and tranquillity.

As a geographer, I was absolutely blown away to see the world’s longest river in action. Now to make sure one day I go to Victoria Falls to see where it all began.

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Here is that Nile sunrise I mentioned earlier. Just going to leave this right here for you to absorb. Just go book your Egypt tickets now!!!

Ka kite ano.

See the Red Sea

During a decent attempt to do the Bermondsey Beer Mile with some fantastic people we met on tour, it reminded me that I need to continue bragging about how amazing Egypt is.

Our guide gave us a 45 minute window of opportunity to eat, with a McDonald’s right there, I did what I vowed not to do and just ate the Maccas. After the first Big Mac I had had in a long time and a bag of McNuggets for the road, we went from Luxor to Hurgada. A resort town 6 hours away on the Red Sea. The pending arrival was thrilling for us, especially when our guide mentioned that our hotel package was all inclusive. We had a few issues of cocktails that were more so mock than alcoholic but all in all, we made best of the deal.

After a breakfast consisting of mostly fava and white beans, cheeses, falafel, and eggs; the group was off on a Red Sea adventure. While some remained back at the hotel for a day of ‘chillaxing’ (as our esteemed travel leader puts it), we chose the optional excursion to snorkel. I had never really been before so I was a little apprehensive but that eased straight away once I got use to the snorkel.

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Red Sea Exploration (Photo Credit: Darnu Rugsataya)

A big Disney fan, I was excited to see all the Nemo, Dory, and Flounder fish. Only managed to see one Nemo but I there were lots of Dory’s and I saw some yellow ones that were close enough to be Flounder for me to be happy. There were massive moray eels like the ones in The Little Mermaid that hang out with Ursula. There was also this huge fish, it would have been the size of me almost. Every time it swam past you could see these little fish keeping as still as possible and trying to blend into the coral, then you kick your feet and the school of the fish quickly darted away to the next safe spot.

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Fishy, fishy (Photo Credit: Darnu Rugsataya)

We went to two spots off the coast off Hurgarda. The first we spot had a lot of fish but the second had more impressive coral. We got to jump off the boat at the second spot. At this stage, it cooled off quite a bit and it was very windy, as it was April, it was not as hot as you would expect. We all decided to go inside on the way home to warm up.

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Red Sea good times (Photo Credit: Darnu Rugsataya)

I am looking forward to the next time I go snorkeling, I enjoyed it a lot more that I thought I would. I loved the pictures from the those who went scuba diving, their excitement once they emerged from the water have made me excited for the next time I have an opportunity to do scuba diving (I reckon Iceland – in-between those tectonic plates).

Ka kite ano.

Temple Time

Stop! Temple time! And unlike you can’t touch this…you actually can. Running my hands over ancient hieroglyphics was unreal.

My knowledge of Egypt was (well still is) limited. I was ignorant to the fact that Egypt is more than than The Great Pyramids of Giza. Now I know.

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Sakkara  (aka The Step Pyramid) which is also a name of a premium beer.

We started with the well known in Cairo; visiting Sakkara (The Step Pyramid), The Great Pyramids of Giza, and The Sphinx. All were impressive structures with stories and theories hidden in each brick. The touristy shots were a must, a local helped us…well at the start. Remember that nothing in the game is free, even when they say it is. After giving him way more money that we should of for the service of showing us the cheesy shot locations, he was still insulted. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but hey I got my cheesy shots.

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Full on cheese tourist photoshoot

Aswan was either a short flight away or a 15 hour bus journey over night; we went on the bus. It was a long journey filled of cans of coke, plenty of laughs, and pringles. My level of sleeping on a bus is now professional. Our destination was filled with man made wonders, starting with the Aswan High Dam. This massive project constructed with the support of the Russian Government, created Lake Nasser, moved Nubian communities to higher ground, as well as moving two massive temples to preserve them for years to come. The idea of moving massive temples was just mind blowing. The Temple of Isis – Philae Temple – was a boat ride across the Nile River to Agilkia Island. It was incredible to see how they moved the temple onto the island. It was mind melding. I thought nothing could top this but then we went to Abu Simbel. A 4am wake up call from a man from the front desk far too cherry for the nature of the hour, had us on our way to a 3 hour bus from Aswan to Abu Simbel. The sunrise illuminated Lake Nasser, a stunning back drop for the two temples on the hill. These temples, once built into caves, were cut out and then carefully placed together in artificial caves further up the hill. When you see the grand 20 meter statues, you are in awe of not only how they did it but how they did it so well. Unless you look incredibly close, you cannot tell that they cut this temple into 1000’s of pieces. It is just unreal.

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Kom-Ombo

After a nice temple break of sailing down the River Nile, we got into the temples once more. Kom-Ombo was our first stop, a rather ‘out there’ temple in Egyptian standards as it was dedicated to two gods, rather than the standard one. The temple was in honour of Sobek (crocodile god), and Haroeris (falcon god). Due to its location on the banks of the Nile, the temple was visited by crocodiles, and even had a room of mummified crocs to looks at.

Another bus journey on route to Luxor, we stopped at Edfu for time to explore a temple dedicated to Horus that is more than 2,000 years old. It is the most preserved temple in Egypt as it was covered in sand until it was rediscovered by a French expedition in 1798.

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Edfu Temple

Once in Luxor, I strapped on my sneakers for the biggest temple time yet. We started in the west bank of Luxor at the famous Valley of the Kings. The tombs of the New Kingdom Pharaohs had some of the best examples of Egyptian art to be viewed. The colours were vibrant and had not been enhanced by the people, everything is left in its current state. This is where the well known King Tutankhamen was found. Our guide made sure that we noted that he was only famous due to the amazing treasures found in his tomb, rather than him making a contribution to Egyptian society. In fairness, the guy died young, he didn’t really get a chance.

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Oblisks at Karnark Temple

I was very excited to go to Karnak temple. As my nickname is Ram…the fact there was a temple dedicated to the powerful ram-headed god Amun, was incredibly exciting. The temple was filled of amazing columns, chapels, statues, and two impressive obelisks (as pictured above).

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Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahary)

Our stop at the Temple of Hatshepsut was unforgettable, not just due to another impressive structure but due to the buses of school children coming to see the monument. They were so happy to see us all. Our 15 minutes of fame was in action – photos, waves, handshakes, and high fives. They really enhanced the experience. The temple was a mortuary of the only Pharaoh Queen that ruled Egypt.

As we were ‘templed out’, we did a drive by of Luxor Temple. It has a link up road all the way to Karnak Temple. We broke a travelers rule by getting all Western and rocked the view of Luxor Temple from a McDonald’s. Temple view with a Big Mac. Luxor Temple also had an impressive obelisk out the front. This temple was also once partially covered in sand, which resulted in a mosque sitting in the middle of the temple.

This now concludes temple time.

Ka kite ano.

Egypt is Still Open

Egypt is a bucket list must for most travelers. When I was younger, I was always enticed by the Pyramids and mysteries of the Ancient Egyptians. It feels surreal to achieve what was once the imaginings of an eight year old.

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Great Pyramids of Giza

On a sunny Saturday, I made my expat pilgrimage to the TNT Travel Expo with friends. Original plan was to go for the ride to source ideas for the many dreams. I walked out with a trip to Egypt. Expat Travel had a two for one deal and with only needing to lay down a £10 deposit; it was the deal of deals.

Egypt is a bucket list must for most travelers (as previously stated) but your average tourist? Unfortunately, after the revolution of 2011, a plane crash, and a few attacks, tourism is decreasing in Egypt. It was obvious around the popular sites that they are not receiving the desired numbers. While this got us some excellent photos, it was very sad seeing so many people impacted economically by less numbers. The fact that I am in scarf rehab (no more scarves for me) probably did not help their situation.

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Abu Simbil – a wonder a lot of tourists miss but one of my tour highlights.

If you’re contemplating a trip to Egypt, just do it. This country has so much to offer. The people are welcoming, the sights are breathtaking, and it is a well balanced holiday – from temples, to beaches, to pyramids, to museums, and even sailing on a Felucca (or a cruise ship if you fancy) on the River Nile. Egypt has a menu that caters to all your holiday requirements.

I would definitely recommend a tour. Local knowledge is powerful knowledge. Our Egyptian tour guide was an essential resource as he knew what was a good price, where to walk, where not to walk, and gave us excellent history and insight. As he stated, “local guides known their shit”. While I felt relatively safe in Egypt going with a group also allows safety in numbers. We also had an armed body guard with us for added security. It would have been difficult to navigate police check points on our own and having someone that speaks Arabic is an asset.

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Watching the sunset while on a Felucca sailing down The Nile.

On our second day, two bombs aimed at the Christian minorities were detonated during worship. The Egyptian Government instantly put in place a three month state of emergency.   It was instantly noticed the police and military presence. I felt incredibly safe. Our 15 hour bus journey had police escort. I was overwhelmed at the lengths they went to ensure our safety. Tourism is so important to them.

My next blog posts will detail what I actually did in Egypt but before I get onto those, I just wanted to state that Egypt is still open. Embrace Nike and just do it!!!

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Our Nile Adventure. Source: Expat Explore

Ka kite ano.

Sidenote: my tour is linked here and another version that included a cruise here. We saw a lot on these tours but I really wished I could see Alexandria and the Suez Canal – but you can’t have it all. There are optional excursions that if you have time, you can achieve more in your tour. There were plenty of other tour group options, we bumped into the Travel Talk crew a fair amount on our tiki tour but I felt Expat Explore was the best option for us, and I won’t hesitate to look into them again for another tour. Our experience might have been heightened due to an excellent tour group and an incredible tour leader.

 

At Times Like These…

I am the type of person who smiles at everyone. Most of the time I am unaware until someone smiles back at me. After the incident at Westminister this week, I have been more concious in my efforts to stay friendly and kind.

London does have a sort of attitude that goes with it – a get in line and keep left authority to which we easily autopilot into. Due to this, people often can miss the beauty of those moments of human connection. Those moments when two strangers can look at each other and kindly acknowledge the each others existence.

I recently had a moment where I saw an image on Facebook that enraged me and later left me heart broken. An image of a clearly distraught woman. An image of a woman trying to get in touch with family. An image of a woman in shock. Studying her face, I could see the fear she had surrounded in the aftermath the Westminister attack. She was walking past an injured person who was being tended to by members of the public and emergency services. We have no idea what happened to her before this photo and we have no idea what happened after. Yet, this photo was used to suggest that she was walking past the injured person without a care. The woman was wearing a hijab.

The person who posted this suggested that the woman, due to her religion beliefs, did not care about the people injured by this event.

I was stunned. Then later absolutely revolted. This attack hit the heart of London – a place where tourists from all over the world congregate. A place I take my friends and family. This attack impacted people from a range of ages, religions, and ethnicities.

These attacks are deliberately conducted to cause fear and panic. The purpose is to divide people. Don’t let extremists win by judging a whole group of people due to the actions of a few. It is what they want. So what this person did with this image was not only incredibly discriminatory but also helpful in achieving the purpose of these attacks. Fear.

So reflecting on the back to the start of this post, I smile and am kind to everyone I meet. We are all human. Everyone deserves to be treated the way you would like to be treated. And as long as we do this, these extremist groups will never win.

My favourite whakatauki is…

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.

Ka kite ano. Arohanui xoxo

Livin’ la vida London

Yes, I am alive and still attempting to keep a blog. What was suppose to be a regular insight to my amazing travels is just a 3 monthly account of what I have had to eat and drink. I can promise to change but let’s face facts, life gets in the way.

So what is happening? Well after Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh, brief unemployment, a little supply teaching, a stint of nannying and then back to teaching, I can report life has been busy. I have been enjoying all the London has to give by working the week and playing in the weekends.

The mornings are increasingly getting lighter, as are the evenings, declaring the end of winter blackout. We had a pretty mild winter to be honest but the lack of sunshine has left me pale and given me a dose of British melancholy (only slightly – I still smile way too much for the average Londoner).

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Signs of Spring in Hampstead

Visiting London is like going to your favourite concert – you get the experience. By knowing someone living in London, you get VIP right in the front row of the concert action AND by living here well you get the back stage pass – all access. Living here has really allowed me to get to know London. Despite this, I still have three A4 sheets of things I want to accomplish before I leave…and still it is only scrapping the surface. There is just so much to do, see and enjoy.

So what adventures do I recommend? Well here we go…

  • Hampstead Heath – the rain (the usual suspect) spoiled our adventure to Parliament Hill for city views but that didn’t stop us falling in love with Hampstead. The winding narrow streets lined with stone houses and quiet lanes make it seem like a country village rather than Zone 2 of London. The pubs around here are a little ‘posh’ and often a first, come, first served for Sunday roasts so get in early. Alternatively, if the rain doesn’t spoil your trip, why not take the beers and nibbles to the Heath? That’s my plan for next time.
  • The British Library – they had a map exhibit on so I just had to go but they do have a free exhibition of an array of treasures. From Jane Austen to the Beatles to the Magna Carta – it was a really worthwhile exhibit to explore.
  • Bintang – BYO’s are a rare breed of dinner experiences in London. Bintang is ideally located inbetween Kentish Town and Camden Town, and they let you bring in anything alcoholic for a charge of £5 per person. The meal was pricey but we all left rather content…the alcohol may have helped.
  • Pubs…we have added more to our list and while many are linked to those massive chains, each pub retains its character. I recommend scanning the walls as the pictures and write ups often share the rich history of the pub and surrounding area.
  • The British Museum – definitely recommend. It was great to see all the Greek ruins. It linked back nicely to our Athens trip. The Egyptian corridor and the Roseta Stone gave us a rush of excitment for our upcoming Egypt trip.
  • Check out Time Out London. The website is fantastic and I get sent regular updates about events (often discounted). Such a good way to find out about pop-ups, events and most importantly food going on in London. This is how we went to Chiswick House light festival, and a silent disco at the Natural History Museum.
  • Enjoy all that is local to you – at times we decide to stay close to home we try and enjoy our locally owned businesses. Like Vindinista and their stunning wine selection.
  • Also check out Book a Table, this has excellent deals at some of the best London restaurants.
  • Visit Bowie in Brixton.
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Put on your red shoes and dance the blues…

Well hope you found something of interest in all that mess above…

It will get better…Egypt is coming up, more livin’ la vida London, half term break and the summer holidays…so much to plan and do.

Sometimes I get upset that we haven’t chunked into Europe as much as I had hoped but then I have to remind myself…I live in London, where everyday has a new adventure and experience! Each weekend opens to opportunities I would have never dreamed of.

It’s livin’ la vida London.

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Geeking out with maps at The British Library.

Ka kite ano.