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from a Slovenian living in Bromyard

Tag: London visit

London visit 2010 – day 6 of 6

Tuesday. Almost not worth mentioning as I was going to go back home to Haverfordwest. The train from Paddington was strikingly fast and it looked like we were in Bristol in no time. It feels like ages when driving.

However I was supposed to change trains in Newport, Gwent and they have done some modifications to the station and platform assignments meaning I had to cross to the other side using lots of steps to reach the footbridge. That made me miss my connection to Pembrokeshire. Grrrr. Writing these lines as I am bored and sitting in a quiet refreshment bar on the platform waiting for two hours for the next train home. Apologies to all Newport fans, if you exist, but your station looks mighty grim and not a wireless connection in site to kill some time updating ‘ruddy’ Facebook or go on Google Docs. I don’t think Google‘s Chrome OS would be very useful here – you tech guys know why.

Have been writing bout this London trip while waiting for the train home, still in Newport, getting bored now. Really bored. Think I might have to go to the loo to kill some time. Grrr.

PS. did end up in Haverfordwest OK but very late. A least the system of request train stops worked Ok so didn’t have to get a taxi from Milford Haven.

London visit 2010 – day 5 of 6

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Monday. Did some more walking round London and did the touristy view of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Fat Tyre bike tour guide told me that the view from the top of the cathedral was much more impressive than from the London eye. I surely was not disappointed. The tour was not that bad.

Village Deli in Bermondsey

The one thing I wanted to do on this day is to go for lunch in Bermondsey. Specifically to a deli on Bermondsey street called Village Deli on 109 Bermondsey Street. I went to it last year but forgot what it was called. It seems to be a family-run business and trying their toasted wraps are a must if you go to London and the 5 minute walk from London Bridge tube station even in the bitter cold is well worth it.

The evening was spent going to the first west-end show I have ever been to. Now you would not find me dead at a musical but there were some theatre plays there and the re-enactment of the famous BBC comedy series ‘Yes, Prime minister‘ (and ‘Yes, Mr Minister before that) was something that had to be seen. And it was really really good. The actors were brilliant and the Gielgud theatre, where it was playing, was packed.

After the play a short walk around central London, long enough to get spectacularly lost and then back on the tube to get warmed-up again.
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London visit 2010 – day 4 of 6

BT Tower captured from Oxford Street

Sunday. Nothing much planned for this day. Did do some shopping but came to Oxford street to early – nobody told me they opened the shops at twelve so I spent some hard earned money at a well-know American coffee franchise called Stardollars or something. The best was left for last as I went to the Natural History Museum and put on a pair of skates after about 17 or 18 years and didn’t fall once. I am however still removing the wood from underneath my nails. Now I am against self-harm as much as the next guy, but it was so much fun and I would urge anyone to try it at least once. Good place to chat up girls, by the way, as you can rush to the saviour if any of them falls down. Just mind you don’t accidentally chop their fingers off on approach. They kind of don’t like that very much and would spoil your chances of a pull – just a tad.

Also bear in mind the whole operation could make yourself look as a complete idiot if you fall yourself trying to help the girl up. This, of course, is not speaking from my own experience [smiley face comes here]. The other snafu was that most of the people skating there were couples.
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London visit 2010 – day 3 of 6

Westminster Hall

This was a Saturday and the big part of the day was dedicated to the John Rutter‘s Christmas Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall. This was the second one I have attended and even though the last one I went to was last year it did not feel like a repeat from the previous year. The only difference was to be the Christmas dinner I signed-up

for that was to be held in the nearby Imperial College dining hall. Now this was a BIG disappointment.

The Houses of Parliament clock tower

Kind of sorry I missed the company Christmas dinner even more. The dinner itself was eat-able but who would want to eat their Christmas dinner you had to get yourself, then eat it on a plastic platter, on a table with no table-cloth in what could only be described as an average student canteen. Awful! Have you heard of the bankrupt Belgian airline Sabena – well this was a Sabena moment meaning Such A Bloody Experience, Never Again. By the way the airline SAS has an unjustifiable connective abbreviation: Same As Sabena.

The morning, I nearly forgot, was spent visiting the spectacular Houses of Parliament. I was so amazed at how much they let you see and where they take you. This was just two days after the student protests/riots when the House of Commons passed the controversial law about tuition fees. The one thing they did not let us do was to sit on the seats in either of the Houses – such a shame as I so wanted to put my legs up.
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London visit 2010 – day 2 of 6

You know when you sleep in a strange bed and it takes a night or two before you get used to it. That was exactly what I was doing when at about 6am the first morning the hotel, where I was staying, had its fire alarms go off. When I got into the hall outside my room I saw a lot of sleepy-looking heads popping out from behind the doors trying to find out what the hell was going on. As I got closer to the fire exit it looked more like a zombie convention. Luckily they did not make us wait in the brisk December morning for very long but it was to late to catch-up on any zzz-s.

The day’s morning was first and foremost planned for the Thames version of the Fat Tyre bicycle tour – another highly recommended activity if you visit London, so much more interesting for the fact that we had a run-in by the local bicycle-mounted PCSO (Police Community Support Officers). Sorry, but to me its like civilians playing police. They are just not allowed to play with guns. Apparently our guide took us over a red light so he got a bit of a posh bollocking from the two officers. I guess that made the tour a bit more thrilling – don’t judge me if I don’t get out as much 😉

This tour took us round some other parts that the standard (Royal London) tour does not and you even end up sailing on the Thames clipper boats for part of the return journey.

The lunch stop was at a quaint marketplace close to London Bridge where you could have a chance to have some tasty sausages, curries, burgers and much, much more.

The evening entertainment was to be at the Hammersmith Apollo (or as its called now the HMV Apollo) where Mark Watson was spreading his pre-Christmas comedy magic. There was a bit of a cock-up by the production company and one of the advertised times when the show would start was to be half an hour before the actual start. So what Mark did then was to put up a computer screen connected to an overhead LCD display and did some written (chat-line like) humour. Great improvisation Mark! I was surprised about the poor state of the theatre. You see it on the telly with all the big names putting on their comedy acts there and I would never have believed what a dump the place really is. It still however trumps the awful toilet of a place in Swansea Grand Theatre. That place should be condemned, not to mention the almost non-existent legroom – the place was probably designed by a Lilliputian.
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London visit 2010 – day 1 of 6

London Paddington station during rush hour

The trip I did last year took quite a bit out of me as I took the car from the deepest and darkest 🙂 parts of Wales right down the M4 to central London. Now this wouldn’t be otherwise to bad but for the whole visit being very active and at the end of it was completely exhausted. Not to mention the cold I was nursing at the time.

This was one of the reasons I decided to try the train this time. Very cool, as it turned out to be – the albeit small train station, where I boarded, is almost right on my doorstep – if, of course, your doorstep is about 50 metres outside your house and over a bridge and bloody cold. For those who don’t know or haven’t realised yet, Haverfordwest is not a very big place and walking around it you are quite likely to bump into someone you already met before, as I am a vet this increases the chances dramatically.

This is why I did end up seeing one of my clients on the train with whom I tried to avoid eye contact as much as humanly possible. Now at this point I should elaborate so I don’t look like a complete unsociable pratt. As I said before in our line of work you meet people constantly every day and consequently get recognized a lot on the street. There are two problems with this. First: if you meet a client on the street you sometimes feel you are pushed into a work situation and to be honest, you sometimes would like to get away from people and remain anonymous. The second reason is that you actually might get to be asked a veterinary question and that is sometimes the last thing you want as you rush to get your lunch at Tesco. But hey, this is the way it is and I don’t really complain about these problems (every day) and am usually quite happy to answer your pet-related questions. [CHEESE=ON] Helping animals is the reason I really DID get into this profession.[CHEESE=OFF].

To come back to the client I saw on the train to London. She was travelling with her family and I couldn’t help but overhear that they were going to Llanelli, but getting off the train was taking them to long and did not get off on time so they had to go all the way to Swansea for the privilege – outch.

Went to this excellent Argentinian restaurant El Gaucho in South Kensington last night where I satisfied my taste for lots of beef.

London visit – day 4 of 4

A shark in the big tank in the London Aquarium

A shark in the big tank in the London Aquarium

Not feeling very well in the morning of the last day, this cold has been getting the better of me and running around London does not help it getting any better. Drugging-up with anti-inflammatories not helped either.

The London Eye - close to the top

The London Eye – close to the top

First port of call was the London eye I booked the previous day on-line. Looks amazing when standing underneath it and the views of London once you are right at the very top are stunning. Wasn’t really sure how they get people on and off – I thought they had to keep on starting and stopping the whole wheel but in fact it just keeps on moving all the time at about 1 km/h and you have to be quick to get on and off. The whole trip takes about 30 minutes. There are two positions in each capsule – if you stand there you can get an automatic picture taken of you at the end of the ride.

Right next to the London eye is the very good London Aquarium. The smaller fish tanks are only a prelude to the absolutely amazing large tank – it is very enormous. You see it from different angles, from walking underneath it – or more like through a tunnel, then at the side of it higher up and even right on top of it with the sharks and like swimming beneath your feet.

After that was a quick jump to Regent street to visit the Apple store to buy some headphones for my iPod. The show is very big and needles to say it was packed – I guess there will be a lot of their gadgets under the tree this Christmas.

If you are in Southwark and close to Bermondsey street I would definitely advise to have a lunch at the Village Deli at the corner with Tanner street. It was on the way from the London Bridge tube station and the apartment I was staying at. I tried their chicken wrap and it was delicious.
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London visit – day 3 of 4

cabinet_war_rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms

I started the day a bit more relaxing by taking a slow breakfast at the local Starbucks at London Bridge station opposite Guy’s Hospital. A friend told me I had to try the frappucino and their panninis. The guy at the counter asked me twice if I was sure about the frappucino? It is apparently and ice-cold drink and it was the middle of December plus I was bearing a very deep and cold-ridden voice so I wisely opted for a warmer beverage – in this case for a mocha.

After that I hit the museums – the Natural history museum was the first. It is housed in a spectacular old building but I quickly got tired of all the crowds and annoying kids. I also got tired of all the dead animals – I remember looking at the stuffed brown bear display thinking – I could see a live one in many countries in Europe.Quite spectacular war the dinosaur skeletons and the robotic T-rex. I was professionally interested in the bones of an Iguanodon that was showing signs of osteoarthritis – a common degenerative disease I see in my patients today. Also there was a display showing an old fracture of the pelvic bone that healed with secondary intention.

The guide from the Fat Tyre bike tour recommended a visit to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms so that was my second stop. If I understood correctly after the 2nd World War finished in 1945 they simply turned off the lights and locked the doors and left the place untouched until the eighties. Again, as far as I understand, they then just dusted the place, puts some mannequins in to make the whole thing a bit more realistic and opened it to the public. The whole place has that very authentic feel to it. There were also very few people there and the tour was absolutely great – I strongly recommend it. You also get to see a VERY comprehensive Churchill museum. Don’t miss the Churchill’s history timeline and make sure to remember some of his quotes. They make a good joke.

After that I went for a quick drink at the local heavy metal bar called the Intrepid Fox in Soho and after that for an authentic chinese takeway in, where else, Chinatown.

Still bearing the cold at the time I was absolutely exhausted. Time out!
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London visit – day 2 of 4

fat_tyre_bike_tour

After only sleeping a few hours as I only went to bed at 4 am as a consequence from the previous night’s walkabout London I had a Fat Tyre bike tour planned for the Saturday morning. The tour takes place on bicycles you get from the tour company and it starts at 11am just outside the Queensway underground station. Its a great way to see the city as you can see different parts of it without walking large distances. It also enables to see the sights in a more natural “linear” fashion. A lot of tourists will use the underground to see London and the problem with that is that you keep on popping up in different parts of the town without ever getting a true feeling of what the whole place looks like.

John Rutter Christmas celebration presented by the The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and held at the Royal Albert hallThe tour itself was brilliant and the weather was really on our side, quite warm for December and with clear blue skies. The tour was fun however it just wasn’t as fun as the one I had in Berlin but that was down to the very funny and cool guide they had there.

After the tour I did a bit of shop scouting on Oxford street and then headed to the apartment I was renting for the duration of my visit. In the evening I headed for the John Rutter Christmas celebration presented by the The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and held at the Royal Albert hall. I almost regretted it as I was almost singlehandedly lowering the average age by quite a bit.

See full photo gallery from the trip here.
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London visit – day 1 of 4

I soon realised my satnav is going to make me drive down the M4 right into the centre of London – no ifs or butts. Wasn’t that bad really, all I had to do is to imagine I was driving downtown Ljubljana – just on a much bigger scale. And it really went very well except at the very end one of the roads was closed and I had to make up a detour on my own – only to get myself even more stuck into the dreaded London rush-hour traffic jams.

thecomedystoreIn the evening I met up with a vet friend and after that went to the midnight session at the Comedy store near Leicester square. First two acts were quite good (the second one was Steve Hughes), then followed a intermission. After that a chap came on that wasn’t so good but the crowd got really nasty and booed him off. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Although it was clear this was not his night I felt quite sorry for him. Then came an older gentleman that we later found out was a quick replacement for the show. He was so bad, he was actually cool – full off jokes that in most cases would be more suitable for an OAP venue.

During his act a fight broke out, but all I could see was a bunch of security personnel trying to restrain the guy. The last act was a very funny and very good Canadian Tom Stade.

The show ended at about half past two in the morning. Of course all the underground trains do not operate then so I tried getting a taxi – tough as well as they all seemed to be very busy. So I did what I do best  – relied on myself and walked: from Leicester square to just south of the Tower bridge. Took me about 60 minutes and I didn’t get knifed or attacked in any way. Went to bed at about 4am.

During my walk I found a great Christmas scene. As I was crossing the Millennium bridge southward i turned back and saw a big beautiful Christmas tree in the distance with the St. Pauls Cathedral as a backdrop. The tree was decorated with many bright lighs and many of them were randomly flickering – almost like some kind of a strobe effect. Couldn’t take a photo as my camera just wouldn’t pick it up as it should be seen.

My visit to London was also a good opportunity to use my iPhone to help navigate round the many streets of London. The first evening I was shown how I should really have the iPhone 3G S instead of the 3G I actually have. The problem was actually orientating myself in regards to the map. It will show you on the map where you are and perhaps where you need to go to but not actually how to get there – at least not very well. The 3G one does not have a compass and as the phone boxes don’t have moss growing on them on the north side I had a no way of determining where north and south was!

See the photo gallery from the whole trip here.
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