Monthly Archives: April 2013

Brighton by the Sea

Monday

Nerves again – I had to navigate a new route today, although I shouldn’t worry when I have the expert Natalia for directions. Catch the tube to here, change to this line and get off at Victoria – so easy when you know how. And, I caught the correct train to Brighton, yay!!

View from Ainsley House, Brighton, England

View from Ainsley House, Brighton, England

Caught my first English cab too, alas, not a typical black one;  it was the same shape but most of them are painted white and aqua in Brighton. The cabbie was a nice man, helpful with directions and tips about the Netherlands and Belgium too. Also I have to say I’ve made a g00d pick in Ainsley House – tiny room on the top floor but oh so cute and in a great location; 3 houses from the beachfront and close enough to town to walk there. There’s also a park running down the middle of the street, a bit like a traffic island dividing the two lanes of traffic but about 30 metres wide with a fence all round and flowers and grass throughout.While I was waiting for my room to be ready, I spoke with another guest-house owner, Tony, who was there to visit some-one. He, too, was lovely and entertaining; and the owner, Wayne, is a great host.

Not much left of my hotdog!

Not much left of my hotdog!

So, the Brighton Pier is maybe 500 metres from the guest house and was my first stop. And, I learnt a good lesson, don’t expect to buy food on the pier and walk along eating it unless you keep it hidden in a packet. I had no sooner spent a couple of pounds on a hot dog, walked away with it, than a bloody huge seagull swooped and took the lot, cardboard container, breadroll and sausage on the ground with about a dozen birds fighting over it. I didn’t even get a good pic because most of them had taken off again with my lunch before I could get the camera out. I stopped at a place further down the pier and had a hot chocolate and muffin instead!!

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And now for something different – Camden Markets

Sunday

Sunday was the Venezuelan elections and Natalia and Ricky were off to the city to vote and hang out waiting for a miracle to happen. I took myself off to Camden for a taste of their markets today. To tell you the truth I would just as soon have curled up with a good book but thought I shouldn’t waste time.

Camden London

Camden London

I’ve actually not seen markets with such an alternate feel about them, there were some traditional sort of stalls but totally dominated by the younger grungier types. Of course, I did wander around for a couple of hours, just couldn’t help myself.  Found Natalia a small thank-you gift then headed back on the train to Stratford and some food shopping at the Westfield there. Imagine there being a Westfield Shopping Centre in London – they’re everywhere!!

Looked through Marks & Spencers, and marveled at their food hall. I remember seeing food halls in the basements of big shops years ago but you don’t see them often in Australia any more. Anyhow, caught the bus back to a stop just metres from the flat and ensconced myself on the couch to catch up on some blogging.

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Walking in water in London

Saturday

HUGE DAY, ABSOLUTELY HUGE!!!

Thank goodness Natalia slept in and then took time out to cook breakfast and dry her hair this morning because if we’d have left any earlier I don’t think my feet would have lasted the distance.

Portobello Rd Markets

Portobello Rd Markets

First stop was Notting Hill and a wander from the tube station down Portobello Road with me oooohing and aaaaahing all the way.  I have never seen so many vintage cameras in one place; and the number of old printer’s trays and blocks was mind-blowing.  A random observation to some, but for the scrapbookers/art journalists out there. finding a stash of old printer trays and blocks would be awesome – if you could fit some in your luggage that is. Me, I had to be content with photos. You name it in the world of vintage and I’m sure you’d find it there, all sorts of silver and china, watches and furs – bloody brilliant.

Printer trays and blocks

Printer trays and blocks

Natalia’s younger brother, Ricky, joined us when we left there and caught the bus back to central London to wear my feet down to the bone. I felt very ignorant again when I was surprised by just how many apartment blocks I saw and then realised that London’s population is about a third that of the whole of Australia – midn-blowing. I  don’t think I’ve seen a house yet, they are all terrace houses or apartments and they just go for blocks and blocks, all the same.

I didn’t appreciate how lucky we were with the weather at the markets because by the time we reached the city it was really miserable, drizzle and rain for the rest of the day.  They say only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, I think Englishmen would go out in any weather at all. It’s amazing to me, being from such a temperate climate, that so many people go out – for fun – in such terrible weather. But like Natalia said, if they wait for a nice day, they may never go out!!

Anyhow, we did a massive walking tour of places on the Monopoly board; Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and the theatre district – where I’m sure you could see a new show every week,  as well as Oxford St  and Soho. It would have been much nicer if it hadn’t rained the whole time but I enjoyed it massively, even though we did duck into the Portrait Gallery for 10 minutes just to get out of the rain for a while.

It’s quite unbelievable for someone who lives in a town where there’s a choice of 4 pubs and a chinese restaurant to choose from that when we decided to have an early dinner we backtracked and zigzagged back about 15 blocks – and passed about a hundred places to eat – to go to a particular Italian place called Princi Pizza. I didn’t want to upset Natalia and Ricky because they were trying so hard to show me their adopted city, but honestly, by that time I would have been happy to not even eat if I could just stop walking. Mind you, Princi Pizza had great food and an atmosphere well worth walking for and by the time we finished dinner my poor old feet had recovered enough to make it home.

Sorry guys, I am having trouble with my internet and finishing this at an internet café so can’t upload more pics but will put some up when I get it sorted.

Cheers

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Friday night at the Pub, London style

Friday

Natalia and her friend, Carol, found me sitting in Starbucks at a window seat happily trying to sketch the building across the street. We headed off to some new bar that had amazing views according to Carol.

the inside out building central London

the inside out building central London

I hadn’t realised that London is becoming well known as housing quite a large number of unusual buildings. The “Gherkin” is famous I think but we also passed what they called the “inside out” building where all the pipes, lifts etc are on the outside of the building.

We waited outside the building for about half an hour for entry into this trendy new bar, caught the lift to the 39th floor, spent 10 minutes trying to find a space to stand or sit comfortably and then gave up and decided to leave. Before we left I made a trip to the loo and found the amazing views they were on about – took a couple of pics out the bathroom window – typical, hey!!

the Gherkin from a new 39th floor bar in London

the Gherkin from a new 39th floor bar in London

Anyhow, we then zigzagged around the banking district where the girls pointed out a number of interesting places and bars. I know I haven’t frequented bars in capital cities for many years and things could have changed but I found it astounding the number of people standing outside the bars drinking and talking.

We ended up at a bar next to the Spitalfields markets for a few hours before heading home again on the tube. London keeps surprising me in so many ways, even late at night in the East end I felt totally safe.

Nat’s suburb of Leyton looks a little down at heel on first impression, is hugely diverse culturally but is so very quiet I had no trouble sleeping in every day – oh, that’s right, I have no trouble sleeping in any time….

 

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