London Calling

London town! It is nice to be in you. (Definitely time to retire that phrase, Internet). 

After a farewell to Sir Toddington (noble steed that he was), we made our way to our Holborn apartment - a nice place, fabulously located in central London. 

Stylish tube travelling. 

Home Sweet (for the next 4 days) Home. 

Livvy and I went down to Piccadilly Circus and freaked out a little because Londonnnn.

Things we forgot: a "circus" is just another type of street, like road, grove, boulevard etc...I assume a circle? Circuses everywhere in London. No clowns. Sorry.

Back home, it was the birthday of friends! So we did a thing.

Not even slightly joking: my iTunes just shuffled to the Clash's "London Calling".

DOUBLE DECKERRR. I'm okay. Really. 

So this place is, in almost every way, exactly like Times Square. Besides, y'know, the New York City part. From the billboard of neon ads to the M&M World, from the strip of touristy shops to the kinds of buskers and the fact it's in the middle of the West End the same way Times Square is on Broadway, it was quite scarily similar. 

Souvenir shops...oh dear.

Complete with odd, sad looking China Town. I forget how spoiled we are for Asian cuisine in Australia. 

And for my next trick...Regent Street! With all the fancy shops. 

Fun fact: there are almost as many Burberrys in London as there are H&Ms! But not quite. Than number can never be overtaken. In any city. 

Because we finally have our own kitchen, and we are poor, we made our own dinner. Which means grocery shopping. Always an interesting experience in a foreign country, even an English-speaking one, and especially for a marketing grad. 

After a drink in a bar, we found a Wholefoods at Piccadilly Circus. This was one of the biggest ironies I have ever experienced, as the vast majority of the food in the store was not, in fact, whole, but a mind-boggling selection of pre-packaged, fast and processed foods with the world's most pathetic fruit and veg section known to man. There were potatoes and a few other things - they had smoked garlic, ONLY smoked garlic, what - and everything else was chopped and diced and sliced in little packages and good lord London I can cut my own damn food. All I want is a bloody zucchini, not a giant polystyrene slab of about 4 of them cut stupidly. 

Anyway. Eventually made stuffed capsicums with sweet potato mash. 


Oh look! It's the next day! Fancy that, jolly old chap I'm so sorry I'll stop that now. 

Tube + ads. 

So many things to see and do here, where do we start? I hear you ask.

Our strategy is to look up main points of interest and sort of group them location-wise, then explore that section of the city over a day. 

This morning we started with London's Natural History Museum. 

[New York Museum of Natural History flashbacks]
A bit of queue to get it. Lots of little kids. Still kindergarten holidays perhaps?

Is there a single Museum of Natural History on the planet that doesn't start things with a giant dinosaur skeleton? I've covered quite a few here so far, and they've all fit this rather specific criteria. 

I usually explore museums/art galleries with Gale because we kinda run around like idiots silently yelling, "But hooooow??? Whyyyy? Amaaaaazing!" at each other.

Meteor that landed in Cranbourne (suburb of Melbourne). Proud. 

Moving on to the next section which involves PLANETS, VOLCANOES AND DINOSAURS?? 9My inner 9 year old is exceptionally pleased.

The best preserved and most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever found. 

GIANT CROC. Use for munching on dinosaurs. I honestly didn't know these existed. 

Rock pattern that looks uncannily like a landscape...

Though much of this place was set out for little kids, it was still a great place and definitely worth a visit. Not only because it's good to unleash your own little kid once in a while, but you genuinely learn some things! Sure they have exhibitions on planets and the human body and birds where they explain the basics of what you learned back in grade 4, but every now and then there'd be a, "...huh. Actually didn't know that." moment. Which are really important.

See you later, Museum.

The wander to other places included:

Royal Albert Hall!

Hey London, the word "Road" is a word. Just so you know. 

And across the road is this utterly massive, impressive structure - the Albert Memorial - possibly even the more so because I had never heard of it before and didn't know it existed. I'm sure most of you know about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert - how they changed the monarchy, their love and her complete desolation after he died at only 42. 

Both the hall and this monument are a testament to this. You wish you were loved this much.

(Of course, the secret is, we all are, we just don't have a wife in the shape of the Queen of England with resources at her disposal to do this kind of thing).

I went through his Wiki page - he seemed like a really great guy as well and did a lot of amazing work.
Good Lord. 

This is all in Kensington Gardens, by the way. 

Which is a rather nice place, if a little confusing, because it seems to run into Hyde Park and I'm not really sure which is which? Anyway. #Londonproblems 

Look! More wandering!

These are the new modern double deckers they have going around - much like. 

Ooooh. Harrods. 

I wasn't really sure what I expected.
I guess it was something like this. 

Oscaaaar! (RIP). 

Way over-the-top fancy, plus the top floor was dedicated entirely to Harrods souvenirs in every possible shape, size, colour, bauble, trinket, bag, lolly, mug, pencil, cushion and tea set known to man, as well as ridiculously overpriced milkshakes.

Which was sad, 'cos we felt like milkshakes. 


Making our way to Buckingham Palace. 

This road went along all the back of the Palace, so the walls had an almost comical amount of pointy metals sticking out in all directions with signs that essentially assured a swift death to anyone who attempts to climb over. 

Hi, Queenie.
Nah but this is cool - see that's where Diana and Charles and William and Catherine wave to everyone after their marriages and aww things like that. 

The only guard we could find - none others to poke at, alas. 

You go NZ. 

Whatever could be next?? 

If you guessed 'walking', congratulations! 'Cos you'd be right! 

Turn the corner and, surprise!

This is it. This is the shot that I wanted. We can all go home now. Bye. 

Later that evening I met up with an old friend from school, Beth, who's no married (!) and living here in London. She told me interesting things about both married life and the job situation in places not Australia i.e. how it's a good deal easier because the economy is simply bigger and busier than any back home. Hmmm...

We met at LadurĂ©e at Covent Garden - just one stop along the tube from our place at Holborn - which also turned out to be quite a lovely little area of cobbled lanes, markets and shops. 

And still Christmassy! 

For all your apple needs. 
So...I didn't get a pic with her, oops, but it was great to see you, Beth! I am grateful for your still-fabulously curly hair so I could recognise you in a sea of foreign people in a foreign place. Until we meet again :) 

This is Holborn, by the way. So you get an idea.

Our laneway!
The amusing story behind this image is the fact that this is actually not our laneway. I took this photo, then walked confidentally down that laneway, and was soon what-the-eff-ing everywhere because nothing looked the same.

Turned out it was the next one down.


The good news is that if that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have found this on a wall down there! So Paris streets often have little plaques on the corner solemnly declaring that on this spot in some year so-and-so was shot/killed etc. and I don't know if this is a specific dig at that (headcanon: yes) but it is still excellent:

Oh, Britannia! 

Stay tuned...

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