Friday, July 31, 2009

Prepared for all Seasons

I am sitting here in my lovely, quiet house, enjoying the first day of my three day weekend, thanks to grandparents who live in Devon, and what a week this has been.

After my day out in London last Saturday, it was back into work for a long week of five days in a row (I know!!) starting on Sunday. The weather has been mostly rubbish this week, so I have spent most of my days playing hide and seek, pretending to be a puppy, a spaceman in a rocket ship bound for a planet where "sweeties" (Translation: lollies for all the Aussies!) fall from the sky, bandaging imaginary wounds in the "hospital" (also known as the living room) or playing what seemed like endless hours of farmyards.

Imagine my delight when, on Thursday morning, the sun was shining brightly and we were off to see a pantomime in the park. I was really looking forward to going to my first London "Panto", and so, started the day on a great note. When I arrive downstairs, the first thing Little Boy Three says is, "Becs, I don't want to go to the show! I'm fed up of shows!!". Fed up at the age of three? Hmm.

Saying a sad farewell to the Panto, I pulled out my usual back up card...the playground. You can't go wrong!

Or can you...?

Clearly the weather had other ideas and no sooner had I got the two kids into their wellies and macks (just in is England, after all!), the heavens opened. Sigh! I got the kids out of their wellies and macks and what should happen? Yes, that's right. The sun came out. Back into wellies and macks we go, and then the rain started...again! Big sigh!

Five minutes later the rain stopped, but this time I waited, before getting them back into their gear and we made a mad dash for village, and almost made it home dry...but not quite! The afternoon turned out to be nice and sunny and quite warm, so it certainly pays to be prepared for all seasons here!

I am yet to get some proper wellies. As you may remember, I ordered some of Crocs wellie-type boots and they did arrive. I have hesitated mentioning them as, well, there is no other way to say it. They are huge!! The perfect shoe for those dark, dark winter nights, when the snow is so deep no one can see your shoes. Here is a picture of them and you'll see what I mean:

Huge, right! Is it just me, or do they remind you of Darth Vader?? I guess that's what you get for buying practical shoes online! There's a lesson in that for us all.

Today, I have stayed pretty much close to home to recover from the week. Tomorrow, I have some cleaning to do and I might head into Kingston to the cinema. Sunday, I'll be heading back into the city, this time to Kensington Palace and Gardens and to Notting Hill, I think. The weather should be nice, or so "they" say...not quite ready to trust them yet. Will be prepared for all seasons though...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Here's one for all the Harry Potter fans! The Empire Theatre in Leicester Square

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Heart London

I. Love. London.

There. I said it. I always knew I would like London, but today, well, I fell in love.

It wasn't just one thing, but a lot of little things. Like finding Leicester Square peaceful and quiet on a Saturday morning. Maybe it was queueing (that great British past time!) for matinee tickets for Hairspray (Wicked was sold out) or discovering that Charing Cross Road is the place to go for bookstores.

Perhaps it was killing a couple of hours on Oxford Road (which can be a dangerous and expensive thing to do!) or even the crazy lady on the tube ride home, holding a glow in the dark crucifix up to everone near her and muttering to herself about how she was going to save the world!

Yes, all these things, but truthfully, the one point I just knew that this city had stolen a piece of my heart was when I was on my feet with the rest of the audience in The Shaftesbury Theatre, clapping in time to You Can't Stop The Beat, crying and laughing at the same time, knowing that if I wanted to see a show, I could just go see one. No waiting for one to come to your town. They are all right here, waiting for me.

Yes. I love London.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lazy Days and Practical Shoes

My hours have changed this week and I've been working mornings which has led to three lazy afternoons in a row. Which have been great, don't get me wrong, but I need to get back out and walk. I have actually missed it! Who would have thought?

I can't even blame the weather anymore because last week, I bought a rain jacket. My first purchase in preparation for the wet months ahead. My second purchase arrives tomorrow...wellies! But not just any old wellies. Oh, no! I discovered that Crocs make a boot similar to a wellie (welly?) and I have ordered a pair online. If they turn out to be as comfortable as my regular Crocs, then I'll be set all year round!

OK, as I'm typing this, I realise that I have become a purchaser of practical, comfortable shoes. When did that happen? Am I old? I love shoes. Why am I now leaning towards the practical? It's quite scary!

I think I need to go shopping...

I've got the next 72 hours off and don't work again until Sunday, so tomorrow, Friday, I'm off to Richmond because I don't think I've given the place a proper look. Then on Saturday, I'll be heading to London to see if I can score some cheap tickets to Wicked. Been wanting to see it for ages!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday Snapshot (and a little bit more!)

Thankfully, this is just a sign for a museum and not a real need for an air raid shelter in London these days!

This snapshot is late again. Sorry. I spent this Sunday at home, curled up with my laptop, watching episodes of 24. I had meant to just watch a few, but ended up watching all 12 episodes that my sister had kindly put on disc for me when I left home. Very, very kind considering she is the biggest Jack Bauer fan I know, and giving me the disc meant that she would have to wait to watch them each week when they were on TV. Thanks, Sis!

But, the episodes ended at at hour 20, leaving me four hours short of the ending. What was I to do? What was going to happen to Jack? I jumped on facebook and sent an urgent request to my favourite sister (even though I only have one!) for the last few episodes. Phew!

Please don't tell me what happens at the end!

The last week has been very busy here, but I managed to get out to see Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince on Saturday morning. Loved it. Loved it. LOVED IT!! I think it was the best one yet.

And to make up for missing my weekly exploring in London on Sunday, I am making the trip into the big smoke tomorrow. Not sure to where yet...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seven Sheep, Two Markets and One Medieval Minstrel

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to have the whole weekend off and since I couldn't afford a trip to Paris or anything like that, I decided to just head into London for some more exploring.

Saturday, I headed to London Bridge to see the 800th anniversary celebrations of its completion. The bridge had been closed to traffic and, according to the info I found online, "freemen and liverymen were exercising their 'rights to drive sheep across the bridge tax free'". So right there, in the heart of London, on a grey and muggy day, sheep were driven across London Bridge, by men in medieval robes (and also a couple in Drizabones!). The things you discover!

Next stop was Borough Market. One word: overwhelming! I think the whole population of London was there. It was an amazing experience, but after about half an hour of trying to weave through the crowds, I had to get out. Unfortunately, when I realised this, I was nowhere near an exit! I did make it out and I have to say that I didn't buy anything, other than lunch which was the best sausage in bread I have ever tasted!

After escaping the markets, I walked along the river to Hays Galleria, which did not live up to what I had imagined it to be, and then across the Tower Bridge to the Tower of London. Now it needs to be said that I am not a fan of bridges. I don't know where this irrational fear has come from, but I'm sure my dad didn't help, when driving over the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne, would always say, "This is where x amount of men were killed when this section of the bridge collapsed when they were building it". I am pleased to say that since arriving in London, although still with this fear of bridges, I have crossed the Millenium Footbridge, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster Bridge and the Jubilee Footbridge. Well done, me!

Once safely on the other side of the river, it started to rain just as I arrived at the Tower of London. The line was too massive to get inside so I'll put that experience down as something to do when my friend arrives in November. Wandered around St Katherine's Docks too and it was nice to escape the crowds of people for a while.

After the Tower of London, I had a moment of insanity and headed to Harrods...on a the middle of a sale. Let's just say, this is one thing I will never do again!

That was enough for me and I caught the next train home!

Sunday, I had planned to stay home after my trip the day before, but when I woke up the sun was out and I just had to get out and make the most of it. In keeping with my market theme of the weekend, this time I ventured to Petticoat Lane Markets, which was not quite as crowded but still an effort to get through! This market was mostly clothes, shoes and bags and once again, I didn't buy anything - what's wrong with me?

The next stop was Regent's Park and I stopped for a while and listened to Jazz in the Park, before wandering down Baker Street, past the Sherlock Holmes Museum and then onto Oxford Street, where I still didn't buy anthing! Then off home.

Here are some photos from my weekend:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Cheese stall at Borough Markets

Friday, July 10, 2009

Four-Day Weekend

I just found out today that I get four days off this weekend...with pay, which is very nice, thank you!

Now I am at a loss of what to do! I know I want to do some more exploring of London, but should I see a show and maybe stay over in the city centre? That will be quite an expensive weekend though. What to do, what to do?

Ideas welcome!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Here's my Crocs on the Meridian Line last Sunday in Greenwich. Despite the blister, that I am choosing to blame on a stone inside my Crocs, they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn!

How's the Serenity?

What a week!

I am exhausted. It's been really hot here and the kids I look after have all can I put this nicely? On edge? Slightly irritable? A bit peaky?

This week started off on a bad note. After my mammoth expedition into London and all the travel hassles last Sunday, I was already tired. Add to that heat and crazed children, let's just say, it's not a good mix.

Monday, I had four kids for the afternoon, all hyped up and screaming through the house. (Well, it was just two doing the screaming, but it felt and sounded like all four!) Tuesday, I walked to my second job in the heat, got a blister (even while wearing my new Crocs that up until that day had been the most comfortable shoes I have ever had!) and tried to keep two kids cool inside when all they wanted to do was play outside. Wednesday at my second job, I cheated and caught the bus to school pick up and even considered sneaking into the nearby polo field to lie under the sprinkers (until I found out it was river water!). Headed off to second school pick up of Wednesday, on foot, and picked up two kids who just wanted to stop in the blazing sun and collect rocks. Thursday, was fairly mild, but on Friday morning, all hell broke loose when Little Boy 3 decided to announce to his sister, Little Girl 5, who still has a week to go at school, that he has finished school already, ha ha, which then triggered tears, screaming and a whole lot of noise. I usually hide out in my room until they have left for the school drop off, but sadly, I chose this day to get up early and go shopping! Then on Saturday, I made the fateful decision to take the kids with me to the bus...on a Saturday! Yes, I really think I AM mad!

Now it's Saturday afternoon and I am again hiding out in my room (my choice!) as the kids have friends over...twins!! I think that would truly do me in.

So I am enjoying a small moment of peace and's the serenity?!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Heat Wave

The weather has been really hot here this week and the next few days are set to be more of the same, and one thing I have noticed is how much the Brits really do talk about the weather.

For me, this weather is just a regular Queensland early summer's day (not even that hot yet!), and while I understand that it is such a novelty for the UK to be so warm, it still surpised me the amount of conversation about the heat the last couple of days.

The one thing that I must remember that you can't escape into a shop to get away from the heat. Most of the shops aren't air conditioned. I'm sure they are very warm in winter, but that doesn't help me now!

Also this week, I have noticed for the first time the cars in the car park at school pick up. You know you're really in another world when the cars in the car park comprise of a Bentley, Jag and nothing less common than a BMW. Not a Vauxhall in sight!

This is also the last week of school before the summer holidays, which I am looking forward to, in some ways. My hours should increase and my pay along with it, which will be very nice indeed. Lots of activities to plan - trips to the coast, pantomimes, picnics in the park...the stress of work!

Last Sunday I went to London and spent eleven hours in the city...five of those were spent on public transport. My first bus ride was diverted, then terminated halfway to our destination. We all got off the bus and waited for 15 minutes, before getting back on the same bus (which hadn't moved from the spot!) and finished the journey. The first tube ride from Ealing Broadway went off without a hitch and then I cruised along the Thames to Greenwich. After Greenwich, the tube and bus ride home took two hours. The District line was down for works and after taking the wrong line (entirely my fault!), I managed to catch the Central Line back to Ealing Broadway and then home...only for the bus ride home to also be diverted!

Welcome to London!