London continued

The time has come, the party is over… we’re about to come back to reality after 11 weeks on the road. We’ve got mixed feelings, excited to see all our friends and sleep in our own bed (Elyse is mostly just excited about having her wardrobe full of clothes back), but sad that the holiday has come to an end.

London has been a blast over this last week, we’ve been trying to relax as much as we can though, rather than cramming in as much as possible. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Dinner with Nate, Rach, Lachy & Nay – these champs are based in London for a little while and Lachy knocked up a stir-fry for everyone. It’s great hanging out with friends abroad.

Borough Market – London’s fresh food market. Great to wander around, it’s not as much of a trade market as the European equivalents we’ve visited… Geared a bit more towards the tourist and casual visitor. But this also means its a great lunch spot! I had barbecued springbok!

St Paul’s cathedral – this was so much more interesting than we were expecting. I was really only expecting to take Elyse to see the whispering wall (and blow her mind) but the audio tour was amazing and we were there for hours.

Sunday Waits – Dylan Peters, an old family friend of Elyse, is in band that plays regularly around London so we dropped in to see them. Gave him a big surprise too as he hadn’t seen Elyse in around 12 years!

Portobello Road & Shopping – on Saturday Matt & Jasmine both had the day off and we were all keen to do some shopping and then have a meal together in the evening. We went firstly to Portobello Road in Notting Hill. Wow. It was mayhem, so many people. Lots of interesting stalls but we ended up doing most of our shopping at Westfield!

Pakistani Food – google had suggested a restaurant called Tayyabs for some of the best affordable curry in London. We got there early and I was a bit worried being responsible for choosing the restaurant because Matt is a fantastic chef (he just finished a volunteer block at The Fat Duck and then Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and he is currently working at The Ledbury). It didn’t disappoint though, great food and whilst they rush you out the door you don’t really mind when it’s so cheap! On our way back from dinner we came across a choir doing a free performance along with a fire display. Pretty cool!

Westminster Abbey – we went to church with Matt & Jasmine at Westminster Abbey on Sunday morning. Hard not to imagine the Royal Wedding when you’re in there. Hehe! We had the honour of being seated directly above William Wilberforce’s grave for the service! We weren’t perched on it or anything though… It’s part of the cathedral floor 🙂

Sunday roast, board games & chocolates in Soho – after church we met up with an ex-colleague of Elyse’s from EMS, Elise Davies and set out in search of a Sunday roast. Had to ask around a few places until we hit the jackpot and had a great feed! The Yorkshire pud’s were to die for! As an added bonus the pub also had board games available for patrons entertainment and we had a heavily contested game of trivial pursuit in which I narrowly defeated Matt to claim victory. Matt knew of a great chocolate shop nearby which sounded like (and proved to be) a great place for dessert, although I thought their Marmite flavoured truffle was an acquired taste.

Hyde Park – London was turning on some good weather (which is fleeting, believe me) so we made the most of it with bike rides and a hired paddle boat on the Serpentine. I’ve always wanted to hire one of those paddle boats but never really had an excuse so I guess I can tick that off the bucket list now. It was splendid!

Speakers Corner – I nearly forgot about Speakers Corner, having mentioned it to Elyse earlier in the week… Luckily on our way home from Hyde Park we walked through that corner on our way to Marble Arch tube station. It was pretty late in the day but there were still a fair few diehards around debating who knows what! Would have loved to stick around for a while and figure out what they were on about but we had to rush off for the England v Italy football match. Which England lost. Typical.

Les Misèrables – yesterday was spent with more shopping! Filling up our back packs and replacing the clothes and shoes that we’ve worn out on our holiday. In the evening we went to see my favourite musical, Les Mis, at the Queen’s theatre. We were in the very back row of the upper circle but it doesn’t really matter as the seating is tiered so steeply that everyone has a clear view. So good!

Royal Mews – This morning we dumped our bags at Victoria Station left luggage and wandered around unsure what to do. Decided against heading out to Wimbledon as we didn’t feel like fighting crowds too much. We realised we were pretty close to Buckingham Palace so went into the Royal Mews for a look. I’d visited the Mews once before with my family and thought Elyse would enjoy it. It was really good, the guided tours are excellent and its not like a museum as you’re actually visiting the Royal Family’s working transport office. They are in charge of all transport & events for the family etc. The highlight is obviously seeing all the stagecoaches though, and the gold coach that they use for coronations is just magnificent! The best stagecoach is the Commonwealth of Australia one which was presented to the Queen in 1988 for our bicentenary (paid for by subscription, not from public funds). There was also a sleigh decorated with tinsel that is used at Christmas to entertain the children of workers who live at the mews! Hehe! Very cute.

Right now we’re in Mayfair mixing with the rich and famous, or something… Drinking hot chocolates, eating cake, writing this blog and passing some time before we jump on the Gatwick express to the airport. See you soon Australia!!

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