London Olympics

London 2012 OlympicsI still remember the headline of the Metro the morning of Friday 27th July. My eyes filled with the first round of sentimental tears as a red bus rumbled by in the background (just to make the experience a little more authentic). It proclaimed, “Good Morning World, Welcome to Our City, and Your Olympics”. Maybe it was the first time I considered London “my” city. By the end of the Games it certainly was.

I think it is safe to say that every single Londoner, was, for a brief two weeks, caught up in the olympic spirit (before a swift return to the staple moaning and groaning). The papers were scathing about the Olympic Games, the Transport For London posters were menacing with their warnings, and it was safe to say that at least every second person considered vacating the city for the Games. Those who stayed (most people: empty threats), were given a treat. Weeks full of summer street parties, miles of bunting, hundreds of thousands of British flags, and a unified pride for Team GB characterised the city, and there were smiles on the face of every otherwise-miserable-sod! Continue reading “London Olympics”

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Bath

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If you know either mum or I well, you would know that regardless of having just returned to the UK from a truly ‘epic’ European adventure, this would not dampen our urge to do it all over again! With mum still having a week before she flew home, we decided to nip off to the historic English town of Bath for a few nights. Joel was exhausted from our jaunts around Eastern Europe and slightly bewildered that we were ready to get back in the saddle, so he opted to stay in London (hence he does not appear in the photos!).

Mum and I packed up our overnight bags and set off to this ever-so-cute Roman town, nestled in the English countryside amongst rolling green hills. After checking into our little room with an over-enthusiastic host, we set about exploring the ancient cobblestoned streets, finding something delightful at every turn. Sweet little cafes hid down well worn lanes, boutique clothing shops beckoned us in with their temptations, and we already felt in the ‘roman’ spirit before we reached the famed Roman Baths. As you probably guessed, Bath isn’t called Bath for no reason, and we were about to discover why… Continue reading “Bath”

Brighton

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If we cast our minds back a few months to September 2011, to the days when the sun enjoyed staying out for longer, we remember a little town known as Brighton.

Lauren and I decided that our lungs needed a good shellacking of salty air once again and to get acquainted with what the UK had to offer down by its seashore. It also happened to coincide with the London riots that were fast approaching our place, so we chained up our bikes and shot off out of London for the weekend.

It is safe to say that Brighton can be split into two parts. The ‘seaside’ and the ‘alleys’. Depending on who you ask you will get a very mixed response of answers as to what they prefer. In fact, even many Londoners when quizzed would say that they didn’t even know Brighton had something more to offer that the famous Pier. In my books, those people need to dig a little deeper. They have missed out. Continue reading “Brighton”

Living the London Life

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Today marks the 3rd week that we have been in London and life is starting to become a little more normal. Street names are becoming more recognisable, tube maps are staying in the back pocket and we have figured out that ‘Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s & Waitrose’ are all supermarkets. We have been spending a few days in St Albans, with the Mckern crew, and a few days staying with our amazing friends Jim & Julia in Clapham.

London life is starting to roll into motion. We have secured a place to live in Wandsworth or for all those that are only familiar with the snobby regions it is 10mins walk from Putney High Street. I must say that the whole job of finding an apartment over in the UK is quite an experience.

Foxtons. That is the name of the Real Estate company. If you have had the UK experience before of finding a place to rent then you may have just cringed or felt a cold shiver go down your spine by reading the above ”F” word. Here it is again. Foxtons. These guys know how to work. They apparently have the biggest turn over rate in staff out of any UK company. These guys make people from LJ Hooker look like they are on a constant holiday… They work from 8 to 8, six days a week (at a minimum) and move at a thousand miles an hour. We may have felt confused, highly anxious and we felt an overwhelming desire to find the nearest corner and assume the recovery position, however, the most important thing for us is that Foxtons were able to secure us a place to live. Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of the inside yet, but to give you a little idea we will be living in the 2nd and 3rd floors of this period conversion flat and it does come with a very nice loft bedroom*

I have never seen so many bicycles in my life. Cycling is the National form of transport in London. The roads are too narrow to drive. The tube is too hot and crowded. The overland train is manic. So that leaves walking. Why walk when you can cycle think the Brits. So that is what we shall be doing. We have ordered some bicycles for when we get back from our trip and look forward to getting into the cycle-thon.

Flat White. Thankyou God! I found a place that knows how to make decent coffee. I even ended up downloading a coffee app to help my cause. It is unfortunately a bit of a problem that I will have to get used to. You will notice a picture of me sitting out the front of Flat White in Soho. I certainly enjoyed that cup and yes I have made some “out-of-the-way” trips back there. London just doesn’t get it! Starbucks doesn’t = coffee. I will hopefully find a way out of this trap and am hoping that our new place in Wandsworth will have a little gem cafe down the road.

Everything is just old. It has been a bit of a change of mind-set to come up out of a tube station and see a church that has been standing for hundreds and hundreds of years or to walk along a cobbled stoned road that dates back to who knows when. And it is just apart of the London furniture. No local will take any time to point or look, it just is what they are used to. I think we are both still in awe of the architecture and how different everything looks.

In two days time we are in for a whole new architectural & cultural experience as we are heading off to Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Prague. Both Lauren & I are looking forward to this adventure. Look forward to updating you all on the tales we will have along the way.

*pictures to come in July…

Cambridge

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Hi everyone, it’s Lauren here! I thought I would let you know a little bit about our trip up to Cambridge. We are so blessed as my amazing Auntie Donna & Uncle Iain (Bunkle Lemon) have let us use their car to get out and see some of the English Countryside. It has not rained a single day since we arrived, even the Brits are starting to say how dry it is. However, as Australians used to brown fields, we thought everything was amazingly lush and green!

Cambridge was amazing! Right up my alley… hundreds of students, gorgeous colleges and chapels, a river…. and thousands of bikes! Seriously I have never seen so many bikes in my life. I’m pretty sure I saw some professors riding their bikes down the cobbled paths, and saw more than one grey hair through a helmet. It’s a great culture, everyone is active and out and about. The college students were in exams, but we still spotted a few in the late afternoon punting down the river with a beer in hand.

The colleges themselves were beyond spectacular. We thought we would get an overview by punting down the river Cam. The river is like something out of a fairytale, with big willow trees leaning from the banks. The English dream. I half thought to enquire how much it would be to send our children to Cambridge for College so they could enjoy this fairytale oasis. Then I remembered we would both have to change our careers in order for that to happen! The College “backs” run down to the river Cam, so it is a good view of their sweeping lawns and breathtaking architecture. However, after renting a punt, we realised that we might not take much of this in, as all our efforts were focussed on trying to keep our boat straight! Joel put up a valiant effort, as did I. However the most positive thing that can be said about our punting, was that we did not fall in! It was actually quite hilarious! We did make it to the ‘Mathematical Bridge’ and the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ which was replicated from the same bridge in Venice. Quite awe inspiring to punt underneath this one!

We retired from our punting and gladly handed over our pole, and walked the streets of Cambridge. It is a beautiful place, if you ever get the chance to go I would recommend it. It’s what you always dreamed your college experience to be and you could get lost riding in and out of little alleyways, fresh markets and across the many bridges that span the river Cam. Our next point of call was to Kings Chapel, built to impress that’s for sure. It does not cease to amaze me that all these breathtaking structures were built in honour of God. Every intricate detail is inspiring. Have a look at the photos, (which still don’t do it justice). The ceiling and glass panes were enough to stare at all day. Joel and I sat and stared for about an hour, and Joel had a moment of pure bliss when the organs started resounding…. truly, I have to say it… ‘epic’.

Our day was rounded off with a delicious pub lunch at ‘The Anchor’ in the afternoon sun, watching life pass on on the river. The first point I think I actually relaxed and took our journey so far in. A glass of white and smiles all around.

Enjoy the pictures! (if you are on an iphone you can’t view them because it’s a slideshow so you will need to have a look on your computer) xx

A trip into London town

After two days of tired eyes, confused minds and weary bodies who were doing their best to adjust to a new time frame we felt it was time to head into London Town. You couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was a barmy 22 degrees and the sun was on good behaviour and giving its best for our first big day trip.

We started our journey in from St Alban’s (up North) and caught the over-land train which goes at about 5000km/h and in a blink-of-an-eye you have arrived at the famous Kings Cross Station. There are screens upon screens of information, hundreds of different transport choices to take, announcements being given in an array of languages and a thick blanket of people who are all busily rushing around with their swinging briefcases and coffee in hand. Now, just a side note on the coffee, I tried one in the station… Oh dear. Fatal error. Let’s just say that I didn’t finish the coffee…

Our next introduction was to the depths of the underground and the famous London Tube. I am pleased to announce that as we signed up for our Oyster Card (transport card) we were given a limited edition Wills & Kate Royal Wedding transport card. Although it holds no monetary value we hope to not lose this precious memento which will always remind us of when we arrived in London.

Down we went into the London Underground and after Continue reading “A trip into London town”

Hello United Kingdom!

So we have arrived in London on the 1st May, to sunny London may I add. It’s not hard to fall in love with a place that has had beautiful sunshine for our first week. The flight was awful so it gets no more attention or airtime than just a simple mention. It got us here.

The incredibly long group email is a thing of the past and thus we will be using this blog as the main way for us to share our travels and journey’s whilst over here in the Motherland. Sometimes it will be me writing and sometimes Lauren. We will keep the posts flowing…

So after the flight from hell we were greeted at Heathrow Airport by the never aging Iain McKern (Buncle Lemon). So so great to see a familiar face when arriving to a foreign land! We jumped in the car and our weary bodies slumped into the seats as we drove back to the town that the Mckern’s call home, St Albans. Continue reading “Hello United Kingdom!”