All over England

Trip Start May 02, 2012
Trip End Nov 01, 2012

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Since my return from Scotland I have been very busy. I had a couple of days in London. In that time I caught up with a few friends and an Australian ex pat which was lovely.
Friday started with a trip to Greenwich. I was hoping to see the observatory but was sadly dissapointed when, after a lovely ferry ride up the Thames with a very funny commentary, I discovered that nearly all of Greenwich is fenced off due to the olympics. I couldn't get into the park. Not even up the street to get to the park. So no observatory for me. The naval museum was partially fenced off. To be more exact, all the interesting bits were fenced off. I tried the Cutty Sark, only to discover that it was international youth ambassador day and there was a cue of school kids out the door and I didn't have the enthusiasm to stand in the rain waiting. I jumped on the train and headed back to London to have afternoon tea with chris, which was much more satisfactory. I also squeezed in the national gallery. It was really enjoyable and the architecture of the building is just as impressive as the paintings it houses. Too be expected, there were just too many people to see the art properly. Cues of 5 or 6 deep, made it a tad frustrating. I may well go back when the Olympics are over.
On Saturday I got up early and headed to portobello markets. If you are ever visiting London, this is an absolute must. There are some amazing pieces and gems to be found. You could literally kit our your entire house in antiques from the market. The only downside was the gypsies and travellers who were there in their droves trying to make off with people's bags.
Saturday afternoon was a trip to Hampton court palace. I underestimated the time I would need to see it all and as I was meeting a friend for a late afternoon tea, I really didn't leave myself enough time to fully appreciate the place. The gardens alone are staggering. Particularly the rose garden. Alas, it was raining rather hard yet again, so I didn't give the gardens the attention they deserved. It was really fascinating to see how the Tudors lived and to go through the kitchens which would have fed up to 600 people every meal!
Sunday was largely devoted to lunch with my cousin, who I obviously don't see a lot of and I met up with a friend's sister, Hannah, in the late afternoon. I cleverly forgot the tim tams I had brought all the way from Australia for her

On Monday I set out for my friend Ann's place. I will always love going back to visit Ann, as it is just like going home. And she has the added bonus of being able to let me have my horse fix. Ann very kindly took me up to Cambridge for a tour of the university on Wednesday. It was again raining but it didn't matter. We went into kings college Chapel. In places the decoration is a little over the top but you cannot fail to admire the craftsmanship that has gone into the elaborate interior carvings in both stone and wood. On the way home we went into Newmarket racetrack so I could have a look. We were going to get up early the next day and go and see Ann's steeplechaser having his morning gallop, however he was on holidays so that never eventuated.
On thursday we had a jumping session with most of the horses in the yard. I was lucky enough to get to school Ann's grandson's super cute pinto, called Eligh. He was a lot of fun and has been very well educated. I then worked Ann's hunter, Eric. Eric is a Gelderland warmblood which I have never come across before. He is quite green but we did jump some bigger fences and he gave me the feeling that he would still be going cleanly at 1.5m. I could happily have taken him home.
On Friday afternoon I trundled back to London and stayed with Hannah before my very early train on Saturday morning.
I got to Penrith without any hassles and was warmly greeted by John and his partner Jo. John was a gap student at grammar 10 years ago. We went walking and driving around the lakes that surround him. I cannot recall the names specifically, but if anyone is ever in England, the Lake District is a must see. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday.
On Sunday we started the day with a traditional English breakfast. Notable only because it was my first of the trip and also because it was absolutely delicious. We then went walking around the lake where they filmed 'Swallows and Amazons'. I think it is the Derwent. We probably covered around 6 miles. A late afternoon tea and a spot of shopping rounded out the day nicely. John and Jo went to a huge amount of effort and presented me with a mini birthday cake for desert. I felt so spoilt. I had such a lovely weekend reminiscing with John about his time in Australia and laughing with Jo. I will remember it as a highlight of my trip.
This morning I made the train with a few ticketing dramas. If you are ever travelling in England, always buy a return ticket. They are only one pound extra. Silly me didn't know this and bought a single going up and then had to shell out another 90. So it was a rather expensive mistake.
So now I am sitting on the Eurostar on my way to Paris. I leave on busabout at the end of the week. I have 11 countries to cover in about 11 weeks, so it is likely to be another jam packed schedule, but I'll keep you posted.
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