London in a Jiffy

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Australian Cricket Bags

We landed in Gatwick Airport at 7am after our red-eye flight from Uganda (via Dubai). The arrival process was too easy… straight through the eGates. We did have a long wait at the baggage claim because we had arrived on an Emirates A380 (the two-story planes). During our wait we noticed the Australian Women’s Cricket team had been travelling on our plane too.

After several more hours of train travel from the airport, we arrived at our friends place north of London. We enjoyed showers, the convenience of a washing machine again and caught up on some sleep. Staying in a home again and spending time with some familiar faces was refreshing. After a couple of much needed lazy days, our friends took us to the nearby Stony Stratford for their Saturday market. The village itself is very quaint. A main point of interest was walking past the original ‘Cock’ and ‘Bull’ inns. Supposedly, dating back to the 17th Century, the travellers passing through (by coach) would share their tales in the pubs – the close proximity of the two inns created a rivalry for which had heard the greater tale; getting out of hand, a tall-tale became synonymous with a ‘Cock and Bull’ story…

We caught a train into London and spent a day wandering around some of the well-known parks. Our first stop was nearby the station; The Regent’s Park. A couple of hours slipped by quite quickly; looking at the art sculptures in the Park Square, admiring the English flowerbeds in the Avenue Gardens, reading all the different names for the rose varieties in Queen Mary’s Garden, walking around the lakes and ponds which were home to lots of different ducks, and even watching people playing football in the expansive playing fields…

Next, we walked past Lord’s Cricket Grounds – The home of cricket…

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Calling London

The streets were very ‘English,’ and we saw many telephone booths on each street…

Our next park, was Hyde Park. This was a much busier place to be on a Saturday. We walked from Marble Arch, passing ‘Speakers Corner’, where each day people stand on their soap box. During our visit there was a group of women who had put together a book of memoirs written by women to inspire women – I was given a free copy when we walked through. We wandered through the main park area and around the lake to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain which was packed with children playing in the water. On the edge of the park we came to Kensington Palace and Gardens. It turned out that our visit (on the 31st August) coincided with the anniversary of Diana’s death twenty-two years ago.

Outside the park we continued to spot more interesting buildings…

We soon found ourselves amongst the many amazing museums of London (mostly all of them with free admission). We decided to hit up the Natural History Museum for a while. It was looked like a phenomenal museum, however, we struggled with the amount of people. Most of the time we were just being pushed along with the crowds, so we lasted less than an hour.

We Ubered across the city and enjoyed a lovely home-cooked meal and a catch up with Kadin’s cousin. Then in the evening we survived an evening commute back on the train with many of the rowdy football fans.

For our next adventure into London, we headed to the city centre. Walking through Mayfair and passed Piccadilly, it felt like we were walking around the monopoly board. We stopped in at the Woodside London office where we were greeted with familiar faces. We had a quick tour of the office and utilised the bathroom before heading off again. Once again we passed by many more interesting buildings…

Our first tourist stop for the day was Buckingham Palace & Westminster…

We went to visit Big Ben… but he looked like he’s seen better days (still completely surrounded by scaffolding; works started in 2017 and is expected to be restored by 2021). We crossed the Westminster bridge and walked along the River Thames pass the London Eye…

As we walked along River Thames, we enjoyed the view of the city from the other side, including St. Pauls Cathedral. We passed directly underneath ‘The Shard,’ the tallest building in the UK (309.6m or 1016ft). There were also many iconic bridges, funnily enough, ‘London Bridge’ was the least spectacular…

Eventually, we made it to London Tower Bridge and crossed over. We then walked around the outside of London Tower and St. Paul’s Cathedral…

Another 5kms of walking, we reached Kings Cross Station, almost completing a full loop (I’m sure we had racked up over 15kms on foot across the day). Near the station, we came across Isaac Newton’s statue outside the British Library…

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Looking Smart

It was the start of Hogwarts school year, so we thought we better check out Platform 9 and ¾ inside Kings Cross. However, there was a massive queue to run towards the wall, so we just took a photo of another tourist and went and had dinner instead, before catching our train out of London.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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