It’s been awhile since I’ve written something on my blog. I thought my trip to England would be a better choice as a start. Since I haven’t been over two years back I was excited for this trip. It was going to be a time to relax and catch up with mates. I took a direct flight that wasn’t bad consider it was my first BA flight internationally from Cape Town to Heathrow. On the morning of Saturday 30th July after an 11 hour flight, the check-in through to immigration was bit smoother in terminal 5. Even though I had a little mishap with my finger prints as they didn’t register till third time. It’s not the first time the fingerprint misread, not my luck again.
Arriving on a sunny summer day and travelling on the London Underground tube felt so familiar with a constant announcement of ‘mind the gap’ and changing from Piccadilly to Central line. As I was heading to Bethnal Green station to meet up my friend and first host, Cara. After waiting for few minutes of waiting outside the station, we greeted each other with joy. We discussed about how our lives have moved on since I first met her with my friend, Miriam, on their visit to Cape Town, on our walk to Hackney where she was staying. To be honest, I never been to this part of London before when I was here. It’s a great and bustling area with interesting little markets. Later on, we went to Cara’s mate, Sophie, 30th birthday for drinks and chilling out in Finsbury Park. This ended up being a pub crawling and to her mate’s surprise party that stayed till 3am.
Next morning on a Sunday was bit of rest day. No comment how was feeling like. Well even worse since, I had to fetch the keys from my next hosts, Jill and Ross in Sloane Square. Who in my surprise I didn’t know were expecting. After being back, I took more resting but it all good after end of the day.
On Monday, it was off to my next place to Southfields in south west London which I was back in my familiar tube line, the District line. That day, I got myself familiar with the area again, even going for a walk around Wimblefontain (South African term used for Wimbledon), to Wimbledon Village. Not much changed, except places like B&Q been replaced by Waitrose. Then I headed back the house, sorting out most of my travel plans. Finally getting to see my hosts and having a wonderful dinner outside in the beautiful eve!
Then my first adventure was going for Premium Tours’ Stonehenge and Bath, with all afternoon in Bath tour that departed from Victoria Coach Station. Since I was on my own on tour, I spotted out for the group to hang out. Our first stop, started in Stonehenge, a great historic site but what bothers me it’s not as grand in reality. Then on after walk around, I finally introduced myself to the group, the three Aussies – Ashlea, Libby and Courtney. We ended up doing all our tour together. Then the next stop was to Bath, a picturesque town. Where we spent our time at the Roman Baths; street browsing; walked at park; eating a local cafe; and even go to Jane Austen Center for tea. Then after the trip in London, quick shots of Westminster icon (Big Ben) and we closed off for dinner at the pub with their mate in Soho.
Well the the next day, it was early morning again to Victoria Coach Station for Oxford on a Oxford Express coach which I found out I over paid for my ticket I booked through National Express! Well thanks. It was nice trip since it was an hour or do of coach drive with a little snooze. I organised a walking tour on Monday online with Oxford Tourism Centre. We had a small group with a very informative guide and pro-Oxford. He was so brilliant showing us and guiding through the history of Oxford. Even went to dinning hall at Jesus College that looked like something from Harry Potter. Once the tour was done, I browsed around the town and heading back to the coach station back for a London.
I made a quick dash to Southfields and then made my way to London Bridge to meet a great mate of mine, Louise, in the afternoon. We had few hours of chatting at a pub over my pint ‘Guinness’ and burger about how I’ve been since I have been away from London. She mentioned The Shard, as she works at the building site which soon to be the tallest building. It was great to catch up indeed.
The Thursday was a day of rest. Had a cancellation that day for lunch. Otherwise a much needed rest of catching up on UK telly I’ve missed and replays online on a BBC iplayer of Dr Who etc.
On a Friday, I planned to go Weybridge taking a South West Trains from Wimbledon to catch up with one of my close friends, Tam. Who I have known from years ago in Durban. It was so exciting to meet her precious little one, Emma again. We had amazing chats on her place for lunch and walking around this awesome town. Where there only apparently one shopping place, Waitrose! After that time, it was back to London Bridge again to meet up my old workmate and friend Patrycja. We just chilled and caught up at a pub called All Bar One. My last evening at my hosts place, it yet another amazing dinner.
Saturday, packing and moving places to my closest friends, Ellie and Justin, was cool. Later on the evening we ended up to night I organised for drinks at Suburban. Despite the poor showing it ended being an awesome catch up with Jill, Ross, Mike, Ali, Mike, Nicole, Ellie and Justin. Even caught up with an old school mate, Jason. It was quite rad to not being overwhelmed by loads of people and turned out to be a night of loads of cocktails. The next day was the late Sunday sleep and basically a lazy day! I went to Starbucks for a short-while… but after ended up lying around the flat. Later on evening, went to check out my old church, St Paul’s Onslow Square (HTB Church wing), which it turned out I arrived at the end of the service. Lol. But it was good to check it out.
On the Monday, I organised to go to Brighton to meet up with an old housemate and friend, Sarah. I left London from Victoria Station on the Southern Train. When I arrived in Brighton, I had two hours to kill till I meet up with Sarah and her little boy, Elijah! So I had a walk around the beachfront, taking picture and watching the world go by on the Brighton Pier. But I wasn’t impress with peddles on the beach. Love my sand beach! While waiting by the Clock Tower. I hope no one meets a vodka drinking man sitting by. Well he couldn’t stop swearing or complaining about immigrants. I couldn’t stop laughing about it while wating for Sarah to arrive. Then in time she arrived. We ended up all sorts of side streets markets just catch up along. I was quite impressed with especially the cup cakes shop we went too. Those were too nice to eat. Even more impressive part is that Elijah was asleep the whole the time and he only work up when I was heading off London. By the time I go home I was so exhausted. I watched a bit of telly about the London riots of Croydon burning burning with Ellie and Justin. It dishearten me to see this as I so much love for that city. Then I went to bed early.
Next was day, I headed near Battersea to take few photos of the Battersea Power Station which I really like the architect of it and took a little a bus trip to Tralfagar Square. While I was sitting, this crazy butch woman set next to me. Well she could stop talking and swearing to herself about incident that happen while getting in the bus. But so poor guy, who Somalian/Ethiopian descent, couldn’t get out from the seat as her dog was blocking her seat and scared of dog. Asked the woman to move her dog nicely by calling her sir by mistake. But that turned to be an ugly shouting. Anyhow, back to the bus trip. I was surprised how many tourist actually were out that day. Since there was an uneasiness over the riots… but it was cool to see the positive.
Getting back from London central to Earlfield, I managed to pass through my old work at a coffee shop, Refuel, seeing my old boss there. I was so glad to chat to him while ordering my mocca. But he was uneasy that time, since the rioters or looter were rumoured to come around. I left the place with loads of memories of hardship on how grown from that place. Did a little walk in old neighbourhood in Earlfieds, love it since I last stayed in Gareth Lane in Tooting. On my way to Southfields, some shops had an early closer since the PM announced there are going to be 16000 cops patrolling on that night. Respect to cops they worked hard. I give a clap to ours honest SA cops, who do brilliant job to a very stressful job! Otherwise, it was a night in-front of a telly with my hosts!
On the Wednesday, another busy day had lunch with my closest friend and former housemate, Miriam, in Holborn for lunch. It quite cool to chill out and rest at a park near by, I think it was called Lincoln’s Inn Fields on an awesome sunny day with our eatery from Eat. Then later on the evening had drinks at Halfway House with am old friend JC for dinner in Earlfield at a place called Fyre, a steak house. We caught up with her husband and friends. I had really an awesome burger served on a wooden platter. Then later on, we said our byes.
On my second last which Thursday, I had arranged to meet with Colleen a mate I met in Cape Town for brunch. Ha ha… ending up having a miscommunication where to meet in St Prancas / Kings Cross Station entrances. It took at least a half an hour to find each other. Eventually we did, talking about all sort of things and sharing stories while having our English breakfast at a pub called O’Neills. Then I walked her off to Kings Cross Station with her pink suitcase as she was heading for Edinburgh, Scotland for a holiday. After that, I headed one of favourite places in London, Camden, doing a bit of shopping around the markets. Then organise to meet my friend / host, Justin, for coffee who work around that area. Heading to my friend’s favourite, Starbucks. To my joy it was full, we headed to my favourite coffee place, Costa. Mmm how I missed that coffee.
Thereafter I took my old friend, the Northen Line, to South Wimbledon where I was headed to do tech shopping at PC World in Wimbledon. Later on the evening, me and my hosts (Justin & Ellie) went out to an Italian place near Southfields station. We had to wait an awhile for a table but it worth it. Pizzas were great as we tucked in. Another early evening too.
Last day in London, said my goodbye to Justin as he headed to work. I started to pack up my rucksack, not nearly full and had few pound notes left to spent. So a little trip to Wandsworth Southside was needed, few new clothing sorted! So love Primark. And last minute dash to Wimbledon. Then in the middle of this I had to organise a lift to pick me at the airport, which was eventually sorted.
There was little sadness as I left but nothing can be changed. It’s been awesome trip I was thinking to myself when I was checking in a Terminal 5 in Heathrow. While at the terminal I picked a few things for my last few pounds left. We got a bit delayed since few passengers didn’t want to board. So they retrieve their baggage from the plane, But not the most exciting flight back home. In future, I will try to avoid sitting behind big load pro-hunting Americans ‘I have nothing against them,’ also getting issued a middle seat! I arrived safely in Cape Town on the Saturday, 13th of August with a little delay… I was so happy to be back.