So let's pretend it's April 10th okay. I have a table here, unlimited coffee and tea (and I've got the wine bit covered as well) and awesome wi-fi so I am trying to get lots of writing done.
So what's been happening the last month?
Places I visited
Beds slept in
The highs, lows and everything in between
How did I spend my time in London? A couple of days were spent being a tour guide to my friend June, her brother and sister-in-law which was so much fun!
I got back on the Thames Path and walked from Shepperton to Chertsey. I can't tell you how wonderful that made me feel - I had tears in my eyes with pure happiness. There was a time I wondered if I would ever be able to walk that path again.
I visited the East End markets on a Sunday which is something I never managed to do last winter. I love looking at the street art as well.
I also attempted the Columbia Road flower market - not a good plan on UK Mother's Day. I decided not to fight my way through the crowd for some pictures and got out of there!
My friend Pat was in London so we got together two days - one day to pay our respects to Abbey Road Studios (of course) and spend some time in nearby Regents Park.
I think Spring is playing hard to get everywhere and London is no exception!
Another day we met up at mid day and I showed her Crossbones Graveyard in Southwark where prostitutes and paupers were buried as we both love quirky things like that. Every month on the 23rd there is an evening vigil so I hope to go this month unless the weather is miserable.
I went to a play and left at intermission. It was called "Frozen" and was about a woman whose daughter has been murdered. The reason I went was because it had three actors I like - Suranne Jones (Scott and Bailey, Dr. Foster and Karen in Coronation Street), Jason Watkins (Line of Duty and Being Human) and Nina Sosanya (Last Tango in Halifax). I wanted to like it, I really did but I just couldn't get into it. So I left. It's becoming a disturbing trend with me. So much so that I only have one more event in the West End (although that could change) - a musical based on Tina Turner's life. Oh please, please be good! And let the seats have more leg room...
The weather in London was dire - snowing at one point. I was supposed to go to my friend (and B & B host) Claudia's twelve year old son Allessandro's football (soccer) tournament but it was canceled because of the weather as the event was to be held in the countryside. (where Chelsea pro football team train which I was assured is a BIG THING.) So I promised him I will go to a game before I leave - hopefully in warm weather!
I went to the annual Wildlife Photography Exhibition at the Natural History Museum and swore it would be the last time. There just aren't enough animal shots for me...I was disappointed last year but even more so this year. It might be my imagination but it seems to be getting smaller as well. Anyway I am done.
Other than that I bopped around and got a much needed hair cut - I looked like a shaggy dog when I got back from Asia. It was embarrassing! I am getting to be quite friendly (behave! not that friendly!) with the guy who runs the local launderette. He actually asked me how I was the last time I was there and believe me he is a guy of few words. I feel quite at home in Streatham...Kevin at the local shop who tops up my oyster card always asks me where I am off to next. Or "back again"? We shoot the breeze for a few minutes. And yes I am still a card carrying member of the Wandsworth Library, Balham branch! Streatham Library gave me a temporary card but they want to see ID with my London address on...needless to say....I do miss my former "home" up in Hampstead Garden Suburb though and must take a trip up there before I go home and take a trip on my beloved little H2 bus with the grumpy drivers. I stayed there for over ten years and I miss my little room overlooking the park. But I do love my room at Claudia's just as much. I love the fact that I feel so at home in London - it is really a dream come true. Would I want to live there permanently? In a word...no. I love it and back in the day I would have killed (seriously..) to do it but it is too expensive and my life is in Canada. No matter how much I embrace my British ancestry, I am Canadian - simple as. When things in the UK drive me nuts (one day I will write a blog post on things that drive me crazy in the UK) I grit my teeth and mutter "grandma and grandpa emigrated for a reason". But oh to be able to go to the UK as much as I want without eyebrows being raised and without paying the 600 pounds for a UK ancestry visa.
Okay enough about London...for now...
In mid March did a day trip up to Liverpool. The theme of the day was the Beatles and Terracotta Warriors.
I got myself a seniors rail pass. Somehow I was under the assumption you had to be a UK resident but nope. It cost me thirty pounds but I saved more than that on my return trip to the Lake District next month. And it's saved me all kinds of money..more on that in a bit...
I flew to the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands for a week. It was wonderful! Two years ago I loved Jersey so much I decided I had to see what Guernsey was about too. Fun fact: Jersey and Guernsey are friendly rivals. Jersey people call Guernsey people donkeys which they take as a compliment - steady, hard working, stubborn and they only do what they want to. Guernsey people call Jersey people crapauds or toads. Jersey was the last island to be cut off in the Ice Age so it is the only Channel island with toads. Okay if I have to rate...I love you Guernsey but Jersey wins... I will be writing about Guernsey in detail in the future but some of the highlights were visiting the neighbouring island of Herm, doing a walk from Rousse Tower to Pembrooke Bay, visiting Castle Cornet in the harbour, just riding the local buses all over the island and exploring St Peter Port. I stayed in what is now the only two star Bed and Breakfast on the island. The fellows who ran it were first rate and couldn't do enough. I loved it. Here are a few photos in no particular order.
One of the many towers around Guernsey (and likewise in Jersey) built in the 18th century to defend themselves against the French. The Germans reinforced them (and added their own bunkers) during World War II.
The only donkeys I saw in Guernsey!! Downtown St Peter Port
The capital of St Peter Port
A beach on Herm
St Peter Port lighthouse
Part of the walking path to Pembrooke Bay
One of the many buses that took me on my adventures
Much more Guernsey content coming! (but don't hold your breath okay - it will be when I get home)
Then it was back to the UK. In in my infinite wisdom (and because I am cheap) I decided to take an overnight ferry to Portsmouth (pronounced Portsmith) rather than pay the inflated Easter weekend airfare. My B and B host (and his dog rode shotgun) drove me to the ferry terminal - like I said, total sweethearts. Stay at El Tabora in St Peter Port! I decided to upgrade my seat to one that was in a secure area and had a table with plug ins, unlimited tea, coffee and biscuits and newspapers. I did not regret it one bit and the journey was just fine. Apparently because of the size of this ferry (huge) it goes in most weather conditions. However the crossing was smooth. I am so glad I did it.
When I knew I was going to be in Portsmouth I thought "Mary Rose"!!! The war ship of Henry VIII which sunk in 1545 has been salvaged and is now in a beautiful museum. I had booked my ticket online. I had been told the ferry terminal did not store luggage - wrong! So I gave them my luggage to keep (for a fee of course) and off I went on the bus. I set up shop in Costa coffee until I knew it was open and then took another bus to the Historic Dockyards. The museum was everything I expected and more. I can't put into words how I was impressed with it. I wish I had had more time and that it wasn't so crowded. My ticket is good for a year so may be I can go back before I go home but I somehow doubt it. (and the ticket is now glued into my journal...) It just sent shivers down my spine and there are so many artifacts. And skeletons of the crew! Just amazing. Photography was allowed but it was so dark that they didn't turn out anyway. I wish I had bought the guide book now..
Rather than go to London for two days I decided that Brighton was close to Gatwick and why not? When I was browsing airbnb locations a delightful cottage popped up in Rottingdean and that's how I found myself staying with Katherine and her Springer Spaniel Lily for two nights. I loved it there and will be writing a post on my stay. Being the Easter weekend (and I suspect this is true for every weekend "in season") it was crazy busy. The cottage was right on the High Street. I spent Easter Sunday walking along the sea, in the village and up to the local Windmill.
Then Monday morning dawned and with it my taxi to Brighton. Off to Gatwick for a flight here to Budapest. I am happily ensconced in a studio apartment I rented through airbnb. I love it. I thought I might be lonely but so far I'm not. While the apartment itself is modern the building is ancient and in dire need of a reno. All the apartments face onto a courtyard and it looks like a prison. When I walk in the door of the building I expect to hear yelling and banging on the bars!
Of course I will be writing a day by day account of my time here (let's not talk about Barcelona- I will finish it, honest!) but here are some photos I've taken...
St Anne's church which is just around the corner from me
Shoes on the Danube...poignant memorial to the 3500 people shot on the banks of the river during World War II. Stories say they were told to remove their shoes first.
The beautiful Houses of Parliament - this view is around the corner from me as well.