Tuesday, 25 August 2015

London at night

Hyde Park, amazing that this can be in such a big city
We dropped our hire car off at Heathrow, and bought Oyster cards for getting around on public transport. We loaded £20 onto each and then caught the train to the nearest station to our AirBnB room in Kensington. It was in a good spot for walking to restaurants at night and in a nice area.

the double decker buses have gone modern
The first day we walked from our accommodation through Kensington gardens and Hyde Park, it’s hard to imagine that a city of so many people had the foresight to allocate so much land to parklands. I love that they have seats everywhere for people to sit on. Lindsay went home early as his foot was hurting and left me to my own devices. Which at first was fine, but navigation is not my strong point, and I took a wrong turn. I know exactly where it was; I thought I was cutting off a corner and it sent me completely in a different direction. On the positive side I got to see these really lovely houses and consulates. Why is it that countries feel they have to have really expensive real estate in other countries, surely just an office would do? On the negative side I didn't have my oyster card or any money and didn't get home until about 7pm completely exhausted.

Princes Diana memorial garden
The following day we did a City of London walk using a Rick Steves' audio guide on my iPhone and a printed a map which was really enjoyable.

the first Twinings tea shop
When we knew we were going to London Lindsay emailed René whom we met in Tuscany a few years ago to see if he wanted to catch up. Absolutely. We were very lucky, he is an incredibly busy man who it turns out - works out of his Bentley (with a chauffeur mind you) as he spends more time in airports than at home. He doesn't even have to show them his boarding pass as he gets onto the plane, he's such a regular. We gave his PA a range of dates and she booked an Italian restaurant called Locanda Locatelli in Marylebone for Thursday night. It is a Michelin starred restaurant; the service was second to none and the food was divine. So glad we dressed up! It was terrific seeing René again, he is so easy and interesting to talk to. It seemed only months ago that we had last caught up instead of three years. As a parting gift he gave us a signed copy of the Giorgio Locatelli's recipe book as well as a little box each of Italian sweet delights to take home. We confessed that we had looked him up on You Tube, as I knew, among other things, that he is a motivational speaker and I wanted to see him in action. He then gave us a copy of his book and a couple of his DVD’s and CD’s. A truly amazing man.

Trafalgar Square
Gorgeous gothic buildings - the Law Courts
a gas powered light
I was very lucky that Lindsay agreed to carry my tripod around all day while we were sightseeing on our second last day. The Tower Bridge was a fair way away from where we were staying, so going back just to collect a tripod seemed a bit silly. It was difficult to find a spot to shoot from that didn’t have obstacles ruining my picture so we found a way to get onto a rocky beach where we could see another photographer standing. He was doing a time lapse of the bridge and it was nice to be able to chat to him while we waited for the right light. We had a stunning sunset and after dark they lit up the bridge, which was really pretty. I was very happy with the results.

On Tower bridge itself
The Tower Bridge
On our last day we went back to Bletchley Park by train, being a Saturday the train tickets were off peak which reduced their price by half to £96 return for both of us, at £192 ($A422) we probably wouldn’t have gone back. We spent another five hours there and still hadn’t seen everything.

From Kensington we got a bus to St Pancreas International station where the Eurostar leaves for Paris. We handed in our Oyster cards and got a refund, not only on the cost of the card but the contents too - $A50. I had prebooked our tickets months ago and chosen our seats and luckily got them facing the right way. I had read about thieves taking off with suitcases so we had brought a cable to lock our bags together on the luggage rack so I didn’t have to worry about them. It didn’t seem very long before we were in the tunnel and then in France. There is a time difference of an hour, which made the journey seem a lot shorter than I first imagined.

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