Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back in the big smoke

We got back into London on Thursday afternoon, and started hitting the sights again on Friday. We decided to try and increase our gallery stamina in preparation for hitting the Louvre next week, and took a walk to the National Gallery. It is absolutely massive, and we spent hours walking through hundreds of amazing pieces of art, by all the big names, and even tried to look like we knew what we were doing...but really we just looked like tired tourists, and after several hours of one artist's impression of a naked baby Jesus after another, we decided we'd call it a day... only to find we'd seen a mere fifth of what the gallery has on offer. So we'll probably be back - good thing entry is free!
Friday night we decided to try a little pub we had read about, called the Jerusalem Tavern. It is apparently renowned for it's interesting and original private brewery beer varieties, and we were not disappointed! What was a little surprising was that the entire interior seated about 10 people all up, and so the road out the front was packed with men in suits standing around drinking... all very bizarre, compared to what we're used to - but very common here, where inside space seems to be always at a premium. Then again, it isn't prohibited to drink on public transport here till the 01st of June, so I guess drinking on the street shouldn't be surprising either. Anyway, the three of us ordered a honey porter, a cream stout and a spiced cinnamon and apple ale and all three of them were so intense and strong in flavour that we had to share them between us, and it took an hour and a half for us to finish one beer each! Super tasty, and a really fun [and cheap!] way to spend an evening 'out'.
Saturday morning after watching the Crusaders beat the canes in the Super 14 semi we headed out to the Borough Markets, one of the biggest and busiest markets in London. It was huge and everything looked so good, and it was absolutely packed full of people. So many stall with tables almost groaning under the weight of stacked up giant wheels of cheese, others with baskets and baskets full of individually made chocolates, stalls with delicious smelling fresh baked breads... and an awesome beer stall that had shelves and shelves full of individual beer bottles, the most varied range of beers I've ever seen in one place... including a 330ml bottle of Tui, pride of place on the top shelf, next to a bottle of Speights... yeah!! We just had to ask, and they were £1.70 each, but I guess they had a long way to come to get here... :)

Wandered back home via the South Bank and crossed Waterloo bridge for some impressive views, though we were struggling to hold the cameras still as the wind was so strong.
Sunday we missioned to the British Museum, which was awesome [and free, our favourite kind]. Some really impressive collections from a huge range of times and places, and you were allowed to take photos of everything, which was a nice bonus.
Yesterday was a bank holiday, and we decided to take a trip to the Science Museum...which, if we had of thought about it ahead of time... was probably not the smartest of moves. It's an awesome interactive museum, with lots of child-friendly exhibits [so perfect for us ;)]...and we went on a rainy public holiday... when all the parents in town wanted to get their children out of the house... it was PACKED full of tiny loud annoying children, so was a more stressful experience than we might have hoped, but was impressive all the same.

Went to a service at St Paul's Cathedral last night, which meant we could have a look around the inside for free rather than paying for a £10 tour, and wow it was super impressive. The dome is just huge, and all the interior walls are painted or carved and the whole place just feels so ornate and large and impressive - definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately you can't take photos inside, but it was awesome all the same.
And that's about all the exciting [or not so exciting] things we've done so far. We've got quite a few things left on the list to get done before heading to Paris next Monday [yah! Paris!], then the French adventures begin!! :-D

All there was to see and do...

So even though Alton wasn't the most happening of places, we did find some things to see and do after all...
It's an old brewery town, at one point the majority of the population was employed by one of the many breweries, but there's only one functional brewery left, which has gone through many changes of occupation, and is currently a Coors. Due to the beer-focus [we assume] there seems to be a ridiculously high pub to population ratio, but we were well behaved and only went inside one [honest!]
We took one of the twice-weekly walking tours [we were the only ones, I suspect most days the guide turns up, sees that no one is waiting, and happily goes home again]. It was quite interesting to hear a bit more about the history of the place, there are many very old houses there, as, I suspect, there are everywhere, but we're still new enough that they are interesting for us. The oldest house in the town that is still lived in as a house was built in about 1450. They also have the second oldest purpose built meeting house in England [the Quaker meeting house, at which meetings are still held]. One church has its first recorded use in 1070, and a civil war battle actually ended in the churchyard. They also have "Sweet Fanny Adams" grave, and seem to be quite proud of the fact that an 8 year old girl got kidnapped, murdered, and chopped up into tiny pieces in their town [quite possibly in the schoolyard...] ... The tour also included the duck pond, which was created by a dam in the Wey river to make a water supply for the mill [when there was a mill], but is now just full of ducks and geese.
We also walked to Chawton [the next town down the road] to see Jane Austen's house, though we didn't feel like paying £7 each to go in. So we just poked around the garden and outer buildings instead. It was cool, but the houses and cottages along the way were more interesting, with their thatched roofs [how do they not leak??], perfect English flat green lawns, and tiny doors that even I could almost bang my head on.
But after we'd seen and done all Alton had to offer, and spent a bit of relaxing time not doing much at all [except watch a lot of Top Gear, which is on five times a day!], we were definitely ready to head back to the big city.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Alton is quiet

So Alton, not a massively metropolitan place to be but quite nice to relax in withouth the madness of London city. The three main attractions are the Jane Austin house (not actually in Alton), the local brewery and ... ... the duck pond. Which has a steam train!! But only in summer. And only on weekends. But it is a nice place to ramble around and the weather looks mighty nice today. And John is awesome.

But all that being said we are looking forward to getting back to having things to do and see that aren't ponds. And to see Mel of course.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


So London actually turned on the weather for us after all and stopped being so grey, at least for a few days... the sun has been out, but it's still not that warm [around 14/15 degrees], yet people keep telling us it was 26/27 last week...not sure if we believe them yet.
We did some super touristy things on the weekend, visiting the houses of parliament, westminster abbey, big ben, buckingham palace, changing of the guards [all from the outside of course - London on a budget!] Had a great picnic in Hyde Park in the sun..till the sun went away.. then scared ourselves senseless at the overt decadence that is Harrods for about three hours..because that's how long it takes just to get around all the levels! Madness!
Now we're back away from the bustle of the city in rural Alton [about an hour by train out of London], and have plans to see all that there is to see around here... [several old breweries, Jane Austen's house, a steam train... woo] before heading back to town for the long weekend [hoorah-bank holidays]
Anyway, things all going well, and that's about it for now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


So, nobody looking at the blog yet? Fools!! Oh the things you will miss. London is cold and grey. So much for spring.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Winners, we are at Hong Kong airport. The most exciting things so far are that Amy is the tallest girl here and there are men with large guns walking around. Like, massive. A tad scary that they feel that they need them. Anyway, a few more hours and then it's off to London. 13 hours of being stuck in metal box. The plane is metal, the wings are metal, we're all going to die ...