Getting the highlights touched up in the UK.

1 Jul

Touching down in the UK had me giddy with excitement. Even stepping out into the UK summer (read: driving wind and rain) couldn’t dampen my spirits. (Or perhaps I’ve just hardened up. I did, after all, swim in the Antarctic.). Aside from stocking up on a few small, missed luxuries (like trash-rag magazines and quality shampoo & conditioner) and dying the locks brown after 26 blonde years (another example of travel courage), we whiled away the days with some fun family time.

There was many a delicious home-cooked roast dinner, and cheeky tipples up at the Bakers Arms. We had a night of fish & chips and a DVD with MC’s mum, and raided her seemingly never-ending supply of nuts, crisps and chocolate. Ok fine, I admit, there was no mouse in the chocolate box, it was me that ate the Guylian Belgian shell chocolates. And yes, sometimes 7 at a time. I’m sorry, I’m incorrigible.

But aside from the above, there were a couple of added highlights…

  • Plymouth pottering

We had plans to meet with MC’s friend, James and his family, for dinner so decided to make a day of the trip south. We crossed over the ferry to Saltash, Cornwall, taking a leisurely drive through the pretty Milbrook, before stopping at Mount Edgecombe gardens for a walk.

Then we drove through Kingsand and Cawsand, along Whitsands bay, before having lunch in Noss Mayo outside (!) in a rare moment of English sunshine at a pub that overlooked the River Yealm, before it started to rain.

In the afternoon we stopped for an afternoon coffee in Bigbury and checked out the view of Burgh Island, which inspired the writing of Agatha Christie book, Evil Under The Sun (later made into a movie and filmed there).

Finally, we met James, Claire and their son Jack for an early dinner in a pub up the road in Modbury. Here is Jack learning the tricks of the trade from his father… (ps. had better make note before Child Services are called, Jimmy was designated driver and thus the Becks is NON-alcoholic!).

  • It’s show business, baby!

This being my third visit into the UK, I decided it was time I ventured up to the big city. We were staying a couple of nights with the newly engaged Hugh and Lisa at their apartment in Camden, but as we had time before we planned to meet in the evening, we decided to jump on the London City Tour bus to help me get acquainted with city.

London really is an amazing place. With so much to see, I think the tour bus was the only way I’d be able to cover just a little of it! Definitely recommend to those who don’t have much time to explore.

When we met up with Hughsy and Lisa, the first night was spent fighting for speech space as we tried to catch up on all the latest and greatest excitement. Lucky there was plenty of red vino to go around.

The next day started for me in Leicester Square with coffee and a catch up with Susan, a friend from my time in Melbourne, who is now living with hubby and very cute bub, Archie, in the UK. Then MC and I headed to the British Museum. This is truly one of the world’s best. The museum is over 250 years old, set in an archictecturally gorgeous building and is ridiculously enormous (you really could spend hours here), intrinsically covering a broad range of human history and culture. Most incredibly, admission is absolutely free. What a wonderful thing to offer society.

In the afternoon we then walked over the Millenium Bridge…

…to Tate Modern, the London art gallery housing the UK’s collection of modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day. The most momentous piece we saw was ‘For The Love of God’, a piece from a temporary exhibit by Damien Hirst. It consists of a platinum cast of a human skull with original teeth, encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a large pear-shaped pink diamond located in the forehead. It apparently cost £14 million to produce.We were not able to take pictures but here is one courtesy of Wikipedia below. The pic does NOT do it justice. In very small groups we were taken through to a dark room, where everything was pitch black, except for the skull lit up under strategically placed lights in a glass box. It sparkled so much I had to squint at it. Crazy.

As the sun waved another happy hello to us, we walked through the city, poking through shops, until meeting Hughsy and Lisa for an early dinner. We had tickets to Chicago, the musical, that evening. For an odd reason, going to a West End theatre show was a must-do thing for me in London, so I was really looking forward to it. Especially when our half-price, last-minute tickets ended up being in the stalls about half-way towards the front – not the nose bleed chairs we expected! And we weren’t let down, the show was worth every teeny tiny penny!

On the way home, we walked up Primrose Hill to score a glorious view of London. A perfect way to end my first trip to the big city!

  • Let the games begin!

From London, the crew head down to Brighton to meet with Roy and Nicky. Our designated meeting was to be Ditchling, where a village fair is being held. After an initial cheeky pint or two in the pub to get the ball rolling, we looked at what was on offer, only to find we’d arrived too late to witness anything more than the town ‘Tug-o’-War’, nor win anything more than a kids-sized Snickers. When we spot a lady promoting ‘Knock the coconut off the plate’, the smell of competition wafts through the air. All to be won was the coconut, but this didn’t stop the boys and Lisa from warming up their pitching arm. The greatest disappointment was not that everyone failed miserably but that they were followed by a local 9 year old who knocked one out on his first shot.

A great afternoon was capped off with a cheap and cheerful Indian feed (and even cheaper and cheerful jokes by the blokes) at The Elizabethan,.

Sunday started the only way it should – with a hearty eggs and bacon brekkie in Brighton, before we wandered down to the pier. The weather could not have been better. I believe “I’m roasting hot” may have actually passed my lips. With a light breeze and cloudless sky, it was the perfect afternoon to spend fighting it out over a Dolphin Darby race, a bit of air hockey and a round of mini-golf. Despite a giant seagull dropping one on my shirt, I still didn’t win. Mini-golf is clearly not my forte.

  • Bristol bevvies, banter and breakfast

Despite waking the morning of a said catch-up day with MC’s old friend Melissa feeling terribly unwell, I came good by the afternoon and we decided to head still down to Bristol for a few cheeky drinks. Missy conveniently lives right near a street which houses a couple of quality pubs and a fine Mexican eatery. What better way to spend a Saturday night by taking in a few too many tipples, before topping things off with tasty gourmet tacos!

The next morning, we decide to head to breakfast at a small café on the River Avon. The fresh air and gorgeous scenery was enough to pep anyone up, though clearly Scooter, Missy’s cheeky 2 yr old Field Spaniel, felt he needed a little extra and threw himself into the river. Not only did he require fishing out, he also deemed it necessary to then shake off the excess water smack in the middle of a group of morning walkers. Funny. But, with a face like this, who wouldn’t love him?

Has been a perfect time back in the UK. While away, though we really missed home comforts like a comfy bed and a good roast dinner, mostly we missed the company and happy banter of close family and friends. Thanks so much to all who made so much time and effort to see us. It has really meant alot, and we can’t wait to see you again soon!

x kel

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