First stop London

Thanks to all those people who farewelled us via assorted lunches, dinners and things (we should go away more often!) and to Vicki and Kris for taking us to the airport… even though we had to return from Narrabeen to pick up Heather’s black coat… then set out again. (PS from Heather – so glad we went back for that coat, have worn it quite a bit and would have frozen without it!!)

The flight over (Premium Economy on British Airways) was more tedious than expected. Call it a ‘flight-mare’. I slept a little – between clambering over Heather to exercise or go to the loo (following the wise advice of Jan Kingsbury I kept drinking gallons of water from my water bottle). Heather slept briefly at a couple of stages but otherwise watched movies most of the night. And to think that I had actually been looking forward to it!

One lesson learnt: when flying through the night pay the extra and go Business.
Result of all this was arriving in London feeling dazed, confused and revolting – if this was the result of Premium Economy I hate to think of what the poor tragics in Economy were feeling like.

Luckily we were met by Rhonda (Rhian), an old college friend of Heather’s who sat us down at the airport and bought us coffees. She insisted on escorting us on the Tube to the flat of another friend of Heather’s…with our heavy suitcases (luckily on wheels) and our heavy hand luggage (not on wheels). After about 3 train changes, up and down stairs, escalators, etc we got the key from Kevin and continued on with mooooorrrre train changes etc. THANK GOD FOR RHIAN who actually helped us with this mass of stuff.

Kevin’s place was on the third floor with no lift so with our last bit of strength, the three of us made it up.

Another lesson learnt: absolutely imperative to be brutal when deciding on amount of clothes to bring regardless of how many seasons you’re going to live through.

We had a snooze that afternoon then went out to dinner that night with Kevin to a Thai restaurant run by people who bore absolutely no resemblance to Thailand. However, the food was good.

Next day, Heather and I trundled off on Bus 88 into the city, accompanied by our mascot from home- one green frog by the name of Monsieur Grenouille (pronounced Gron-oo-wee). He insisted on coming along (just like the pimple on my face that cropped up a few days before we left

First stop, Tate Britain Gallery. Big Water Colour exhibition on, plus they have a large selection of William Turner’s paintings (no relative of Tina). Also saw Queen Victoria’s little painting satchel. All very impressive.

Then a short walk to Westminster Abbey, with a preliminary look in St Margaret’s Cathedral right next door. The preparations for Will’s & Catherine’s wedding are taking place in the streets – scaffolding going up for TV cameras etc. Westminster Abbey was amazing (so was the entry fee of $30AUD per person…but I guess someone’s got to pay for the cleaning). Sooo much history. Quite awe-inspiring to be standing next to the tomb of Queen Elizabeth 1 and Mary Queen of Scots not to mention the rest of them – kings, queens, writers – too many to name.

After being separated in the throngs we managed to find each other, then stagger off to London’s Eye (or the ferris wheel, as my mother described it). It was about 4pm by now. The sun was at an angle that wasn’t great for photos in the direction of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster.

After that, it was Bus 88 back to Kevin’s for a lovely dinner.

Still not over the jet-lag though and Heather’s cough still persists though not as bad as when back at home.

Next day, off to Nice. The thought of going via tube back out to the airport filled us with dread. I would’ve rather swallowed a hammer. So we caught a cab (about $80AUD) and worth every cent.


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