Boots and tours

(16/05/2013)

My second day back in the UK was spent looking for boots.  Having size 43 feet is rather a challenge at times, and in fact all day, I found just three pairs of boots in my size.  Two were hideous, and the other cost $600.  But oh my god were they lovely.  Until I realised that that’s a new snowboard and bindings, and I couldn’t really justify the expense.

I met Tom for dinner after he finished class for the day, and then we trotted on home.  Well, tried to, anyway.  In the evening, the train back out to his house only runs every hour, and we just missed one, so had to wait an hour in the tube station.  We then started playing on the escalators (as all reasonable adults do) and, you guessed it, missed the next train.  Good form.  Man did I sleep well that night.

Near where we went for dinner :)
Near where we went for dinner 🙂

I spent the next day mainly in the area near Tom’s parents’ place, in Ware-Herts.

It was very pigeony!
It was very pigeony!

The following day was Australia Day, and my lovely friend Tilly came down from Liverpool for the day.  While waiting, I even got to listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100!  As it turns out, this was Tilly’s first trip to London.  Ever.  In her whole life.  Despite living less than 300km away!  So I gave her a tour 🙂

I was actually leaving for Amsterdam that night, on the overnight ferry.  So, naturally, I decided to put washing on that morning, and cart my wet things around with me.  Mm, mould—nom nom!

I met Tilly at the station (eventually—we couldn’t find each other for ever!) and dumped my wet things (and baggage) at a laundry before heading straight for one of my favourite places in London: the British Museum.  I’m pretty solid on my ancient and classical history, so gave Tilly a tour of the ground floor.  I love it!  Next we went for a bit of a walk.

So British!
So British!
A familiar sight?
A familiar sight?

Tilly and the Queen.  The real one, of course.
Tilly and the Queen. The real one, of course.
The Queen and I.
The Queen and I in front of Westminster.

Westminster Cathedral:

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Sadly, Tilly had to go back to Scouseland, and I had to head off to Harwich to catch the ferry.  It’s my preferred way of getting to Europe from the UK: it’s cheap, super-comfortable, and how awesome is waking up in a different country?  Also, boats.

Back to Blighty

(8/4/13)

 

One of my favourite parts about arriving to a new country by plane is that first moment when you step outside, and pass from the recycled, air-conditioned, over-used air into air with entirely different smells and flavours.  Every time I get back to the UK, it just smells like home to me: it was, after all, home for a couple of years, and I didn’t ever actually have the intention of leaving. While I’m sitting on the plane, still waiting to disembark, I’m excited to return to the smells and flavours that I recognise.

Of course, I’m also excited to see friends, and in this case my friend Tom met me with chocolate minstrels in hand.  Way to my heart!  I stayed with him and his parents (who somehow remembered the ‘crazy Australian girl’ from several years prior) for the next few days, in their house an hour out of London.

I got in quite late in the afternoon, so pretty much headed straight to bed: it had also been a crazy few weeks (as ever) at the firm, so I was ruined.  Besides, the next day I had a meeting in the city at 10am.  Oh, planning.

Before my meeting, I took a wander and started experimenting with my new camera (the one I still use btw, it’s just a little compact).  I saw a big, slightly terrifying-looking English school, and couldn’t resist taking a photo:

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The reason I was taking this trip was basically because I already had a one-way flight to Europe, but was having pretty serious visa issues with the Ukraine/Russia.  I’d booked the flight in August of 2011, shortly after I’d started learning Russian, and probably should have realised that it would take me longer than 6 months to sort out a visa etc.  Either way, I asked work for two months off, asked my travel agent to book me a flight back to Australia from ‘somewhere east (and the later in the year it is, the further east it should be)’, and went.  So at the point I was in London, I already knew that I’d be teaching English sometime in the upcoming year.

I also saw an interesting chap hanging out at a stall nearby (again, I was experimenting with the camera, hence the sepia):

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It’s clearly not just Russia with its quirks.  Speaking of Russia, I was just near the Imperial War Museum, and spotted a monument to Russia’s WW2 soldiers:

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I also enjoyed this, outside the front entrance:

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I spent the rest of the day wandering around down-town, drinking coffee.  I got in trouble in Topshop for taking this photo of their display:

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This was only a few months before the London 2012 games, and there were these fantastic red cranes just looming over the sky-line:

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Of course, by this point I was almost dropping from exhaustion, so headed home.  And now… it’s time to get ready for work.

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