Thursday, 22 March 2012

Let the fun begin - Our diary of London.

So we're on our way after a few annoying delays. We had a 5 hour delay in Singapore before boarding the A380 - QF 1 due to having to wait on some people coming from Brisbane who couldn't miss the connnecting flight which was us. The A380 was so much better - more room and so much quieter but if you're surrounded by dicks it ends up just as bad really. The kids in front put their seats back SO far. We had a lovely girl from Cornwall (now living in Perth) next to us. Finally landed at Heathrow. It took an hour to get through customs and get our bags which wasn't too bad then jumped on the Heathrow Express (19 pounds each) and within 15 minutes we were at Paddington station to meet up with Soph, Ed and George - a very happy reunion.

We bought travelcards for us all. The kids get a discounted card for 5.60 pounds each (16 - 25 year olds) and Andrew and I got travelcards @ 7 pounds each a day. This was a big saving - we could go on unlimited tubes and buses all day. That cost us 30.80 pounds per day.

We had an absolutely wonderful 3 days in London – but definitely not long enough. Of course we didn’t get to do everything on the list so pretty quickly we realized we had to cull – especially as we arrived 5 hours late on Friday morning. It was very hectic but so much fun.
We did some things I’d never done before which I love doing as I can’t see the point of going back to all the same places and never exploring new spots. That is of course unless you can stay for weeks which I would so love to do. And there are so many places to explore. Of course we did all my favourites as well.

Our apartment “Scampston Mews” in Cambridge Gardens was perfect for us. Booked through an agency “One Fine Stay” it was actually someone’s house and they rent it out when they go away. It was on 3 levels with a winding staircase to our huge room complete with a fireplace and sitting area and then up again to Soph and George’s attic room and ensuite. The room Ed was meant to sleep in  had a tiny bed that could only fit a small child or a dwarf so he dragged the mattress and couch cushions up to the floor of Soph and George’s room. It was very comfortable and had the comfiest couch and chairs – seems it was an old stable and is in a cobblestone area off the street with several other old stables – all fully renovated. Really lovely and pretty central to everything as it pretty much is in London with the tube.
Our tube station was Ladbroke Grove.

Sophie is such an expert on London and the tubes so we just followed her around from line to line to end up where we needed to be. It was very busy in London – or so I thought although the taxi driver on Saturday night told me otherwise. I think it’s just that it’s so different in Sydney that naturally it seems so busy. One time on the tube it was packed – with people squashed against the doors. Sometimes when you’re in a really crowded tube it’s just such a sea of people. Luckily if you don’t get on one tube another one turns up only a minute or so later. Although they say there are cameras on the tubes now I do think about some mad bomber being on the tube especially when warning messages are coming over the loud speakers. The escalators are SO long and so steep too and some of the tube stations go on forever – making you go up and down dale to get to the actual train.
So this is what we ended up doing in London:

Day 1 which was really only 1/2 a day  (Friday 30th March)

Headed downtown from Paddington. As it's a Friday this area would be busy as opposed to the weekend when Sophie had visited this area and it was dead. We left all our bags at the luggage minding place as there are no lockers here. It was I think 7 pounds per bag. There wasn't really many options and we certainly didn't want to drag our bags around London with us.

Got off at Temple tube station - strolled along the Thames and headed over to Fleet Street. It was lunch time by now so we went to THE OLD BANK OF ENGLAND - a beautiful old English pub. It was a lovely day so we sat out in the courtyard and had good old English fare - chicken pies.

The inside of the pub.

St Paul's was next. We didn't go in as it was 15 pounds per person and when you x that by 5 it makes a very expensive outing. Anyway we've seen it on TV! We sat round on the steps to take in some of the atmosphere. Walked over to Leadenhall Market where Harry Potter was filmed. This is a shopping arcade with lovely high ceilings, shops and pubs.

Walked to Bank tube and caught the tube back to Paddington to pick up our bags as we had to meet the person who was checking us into our apartment. Picked up our bags and as we had so many we decided to catch a cab to Scampston Mews. Well that was absolute bedlam as the taxi area was really really busy and full of impatient people and the cab driver was really rude and uphelpful. Hope they improve at such a major train station for the Olympics!! We couldn't all fit in the cab with all our bags so George and Eddy caught the tube to the Mews.

Driving through Notting Hill we were getting really excited as it was all just buzzing and so busy - so many fantastic looking pubs and cafes and shops and just busy and fun.

As I mentioned our apartment was fantastic. The girl who checked us in showed us around. We received a "welcome pack" which was a box of things for our stay - tea, jams, biscuits and all shampoo and soaps were in the bathrooms.  This is actually someone's home that they rent out for holidaymakers so it's very homely and lived in.

After the boys arrived and we had had a couple of wines and a short relax we headed out for dinner, walking to the tube we then caught the tube to Baker Street and walked to Marleybone High Street and to the Marleybone pub. It was fantastic - really busy and fun although Andrew and I were alot older than most people there! It was happy hour so Soph and I had a 1/2 price cocktail. Stood outside on the street as it was too crowded inside - and we were allowed to drink there as long as we stood behind a barrier. We were so excited to be there and be altogether.

Next door to the pub was this amazing cheese shop called La Fromagerie with a window full of wonderful cheeses.

It had been a wonderful sunny day and not too cold at all. I really like Marleybone - I hadn't been there before.  It was really lively with lots of pubs and people around.
Walked along the High Street  through St Christopher's Place which was fantastic and over to Sth Moulton Street to Rocket. We had been here before, last time we were in London.  The lane way is full of bars and there were so many people there. It was packed. We went upstairs for dinner - Sophie had booked. It was pretty busy and the service wasn't great by any means. Food was average but for Mayfair it's not expensive. Andrew was really jetlagged and falling asleep at the table so after dinner we got a cab back to our place. I didn't feel too bad!

Day 2 - 31st March 2012

Woke up this morning feeling good after a great sleep in the really comfy bed. We were all excited so got ready and set off . It was cold and overcast today which was really disappointing as the weather had been really hot for London for the whole last week.  Luckily it wasnt' raining.  Walked through all the streets up to Portobello Road where the markets were just setting up. It was so exciting. Last time we were here we could barely move but now it was deserted! All the fruit and vegetables looked so fantastic.

Walked into the really divine part of Notting Hill - Westbourne Grove. Lovely shops and cafes - very upmarket. Went to a cafe for breakfast that Soph had found on Streetview - called 202. It was very exclusive and often has famous people eating there (not today :() and often there are queues out the door. We were pretty early so luckily we didn't have to wait.  It was a mixture of tables and fashion. We were served by a lovely Spanish woman. Had a yummy breakfast - It was expensive though - 95 pounds although we all had full breakfasts and the coffees all add up too! But it was worth it. So nice.

Headed off to the tube and caught it to Westminster, changed to Jubilee Line and got off at London Bridge.  Walked past Southwark Cathedral to Borough Market. This was another new experience.
It's a huge produce market, really busy and so much yummy looking stuff. We all wondered around, bought fresh juices and then some yummy chutneys and cheeses from France. It was really worth visiting.

Caught the tube to Waterlo and walked over Golden Jubilee bridge to Trafalgar Sqaure via Northumberland Avenue. Trafalgar Square looked fantastic as ever. It was really busy. Saw the sign telling us how many days it was until the Olympics which is exciting.

Walked down Whitehall, had a viewing of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the Westminster Abbey. Walked towards St James Park via Horseguards Road.

Entered St James Park which looked lovely with geese and birds all around. Went to Inn on the Park which was a lovely cafe in the park. It was really cold today and it was full inside so we had to sit outside on the verandah. There were heaters but it was still icy - around 8 degrees. Such a change from yesterday. We had soup and crusty bread and wine for lunch with Jenny and Ian who were in London for the weekend from Florence.

  After lunch we walked up to Buckingham Palace which looked as wonderful as ever

then up the Mall. Took photos of the guards then to Malborough Road to the suburb of St James. Walked along Pall Mall to St James Square. It is such a lovely area. Last time in London Soph and I  had lunch in the square but today it was all closed up. Walked up Duke of York Street to Jermyn Street to Picadilly. I love Picadilly!! Walked along to Picadilly Circus. Went to a tourist shop to try and buy the dilly bag I bought last time but sadly 3 years later I couldn't find them. The shop was still there but not the same bag.

Continued onto Carnaby Street and wandered through there which I love and to Oxford Street - to Regent Street - my favourite Street in London. Ducked off into the little secret area of Heddon Street and to the cafe we had planned to have breakfast at yesterday - Aubaine. It was really lovely. We had wine, coffees and were talked into pastries by our cute (but very gay) waiter. It was such fun and a good relaxing "lude" (as we came to call them) after a manic day of walking.

Walked down Saville Row to Burlington Arcade. There's so much work going on around London in preperation for the Olympics. Lots of shops boarded up - e.g Fortnum and Mason. Still open but closed off.

Went to Burlington Arcade - which I love, full of beautiful jewellery shops and onto Old Bond Street and Bond Street - i just love this area. So posh!! Lots of very expensive shops I'm sure I'll never set foot inside.

Got a cab back to Scampston Mews, had a quick relax then got a cab back to Trafalgar Sqaure. It was bitterly cold and I was shivering! We walked across Trafalgar Square to Terroirs Wine bar in William 1V street. The bar was really crowded but great. We met Jenny and Ian there and Penny and Peter. It was great to see them again. We stood around barrels. The waiter was French and very knowledgable about wine so tried some very nice ones. It was a very cool bar - and has been written up in lots of magazines (latest being Gourmet Traveller) I noticed. You could also have dinner there.

We went to Penny's Club for dinner - down a really cute narrow alleyway and hidden. Right neare thte bar. Penny had to press an intercom to enter and once inside it was fantastic - full of little rooms so we had our own individual  room. It was very British and felt like our very own dinner party. The food was fantastic and it was so much fun.

Day 3 - Sunday 1st April.
Up early and headed off to Covent Garden. Got the tube from Ladbroke Garden (our local) to Charring Cross. Walked up to St Martin's lane to Covent Garden. There was so much work going on. It was pretty early and not many places were open - and it was cold but I do love Covent Garden. We ended up at one of the few places open and had a pretty yucky but inexpensive breakfast.  Wandered up to Neal's yard. Sophie had been here a couple of weeks ago and it reminded her of Byron Bay. It was really lovely except we had to be really quiet as there were a whole lot of people on benches meditating!

Walked to Monmouth Street to 7 dials - a monument with 7 streets coming off it. It was a really lovely area.

We got the tube for Leister Square to Holburn and then to Marble Arch. Walked through Hyde Park - my favourite - to Kensington Gardens. 

Eddy had said something that made us all just crack up!!

Had a leisurely stroll through there - it was a lovely day but cold! Got a takeaway coffee and took a replica photo of Soph, Ed and George on the bridge - same as we took last time!

Walked along Carriage Drive to Sth Kensington tube station via Exhibition road - great area. It's all been done up and is really lovely. Walked for miles and miles in the tunnel to the tube! Caught the tube to Sloane Square. walked to lunch on Pimlico Road at the Ebrury. This area round Pimlico road was SO lovely. I must have gone here when I lived in London. It is so lovely.

Met Debbie and Susanne Barnes and partners Bob and Simon for lunch. Belinda and I went to Gordon West with them briefly - then we were pen pals.  Debbie was in Belinda's class and Sue was in mine. I saw Sue in the 80's when she came to Sydney - but we all found each other on facebook - as you do. We had a really lovely lunch there - it was very upmarket - and expensive!!(200 pounds for the 5 of us) But it was so lovely and the food was fantastic. I had a really yummy gnocchi and we all had lots of wine. After lunch we took lots of photos.

After lunch we said goodbye to Debbie, Susanne, Bob and Simon and headed over to King's road - one of my favourite spots. It was busy and lovely. Walked through Duke of York square -lots of lovely shops and cafes. Wandered up through Sloane Square to Cadagon Place - God it's so divine. Can't believe I lived here.

Stoppped at no 37 and took photos. I realised I was the same age as Eddy now when I lived here. The whole area is unreal. Headed into Motcomb Street (another favourite) Belgravia. This is the street that Harry took Sophie and I to lunch last time I was in London - on the day I arrived.  We went to the Pantechnican for a glass of wine and hot chips.  We had planned to go here for lunch but when we rang to book it was full.

Everywhere is so busy - everywhere you go is full, hard to get into restaurants. Walked up to Harrods. Went to the top floor to the souvenir section to buy a new cup and tin of tea with London designs on it. It was SO crowded. Got on tube to Paddington. George had to leave and head back to Cardiff as he has to go to work tomorrow.
We had to go back to Scampston Mews to pick up more money  - we had a huge day of expenses today. We're not being very good sticking to our budget but I don't actually think that we exchanged enough pounds.
Headed out via tube to Waterloo.It was such a beautiful evening with a lovely sunset.
There were masses of people around and the queue for the Eye was huge. It was also 20 pounds per person and we would have had to wait for hours.
I had planned to go to a pub in Clerkenwell but decided once we got to London that this was a very random place to go - and it would be much better to go to the city. We also wanted to go to somewhere on our list. We decided to got to St Christopher's place - although we had walked through it.
Walked all along the Thames - it was so lovely. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament looked fantastic as the sun set. There were lots and lots of people around - a really fantastic atmosphere. It's also the start of the Easter holidays. Had a lovely stroll all along the Thames and through Jubilee Gardens. It's daylight saving here so it doesn't get dark till late.
We walked across Golden Jubilee bridge to Charing Cross then caught the tube to Oxford Circus. Walked along Oxford street (lots of Olympic construction)but fun all the same to St Christopher's place. We met Stevee and Tory at a little Italian restaurant called Olivetti's. Soph had been here a couple of times. Had bruschetta, platters of anti pasta and pasta - it was really nice and great to catch up with Stevee and Tory. They are loving living in London.

We got a cab back to our little mews. Last night in London - I just love it. Wish we were staying longer.


  1. Jude, It's worth having a look at which explains how the bike system works in Paris. It is a really good way to get around and see the sites in Paris.

  2. cute!!!

  3. I'm so envious of your travels and your fun adventures! Enjoy Europe for us all! xo

  4. So stylish! follow each other sweetie?:X

  5. Great pics!!!


  6. It seems you had a great time there, wish I could go there someday !