General diary entries

LONDON

So that’s it, our first break away since 2019 done. Gone in a flash and thoroughly enjoyed.
It has proved to us however, just how unfit we have both become over the last year.
Walking around London is hard at the best of times with the amount of walking you can rack up.
I think 24000 steps is our record for one day!
It’s made even harder by all the different surfaces you have to navigate, particularly cobbles.
By the end of each day we could barely move!

Anyway, Weds Aug 4th, we arrived quite early at our hotel and they were able to check us in early which was a bonus.
We unpacked and then headed straight to the DLR which was literally a stones throw from our room.

We’ve stayed at this hotel several times as it is out of the congestion zone, has cheap parking for London, has a restaurant/pub attached, has a supermarket over the road, the DLR on it’s doorstep and most importantly, it’s cheap!
we’re not looking for fancy when we go to London. We just need somewhere that’s clean, where we can sleep and have a shower and that has a TV and this ticks all the boxes.

So, first stop was at the Emirates airline for a cable car ride over the Thames to the O2.

Then we headed over to the South Bank and did our usual wander up and down. The weather was pretty good with lots of sunny spells and no rain, although it did look a bit threatening at times! We had a pint at The Thameside Inn before heading to our first meal of the trip at The Horniman in the Hays Gallery. One of our favourite haunts right next door to the HMS Belfast.

After this we were really struggling, so we headed back to the hotel for an early night and to catch up on some of the Olympics.

Thurs Aug 5th, we decided to start with breakfast at the hotel to fuel up for the day and then we headed over to Hyde Park Corner to catch a Big Bus Tour bus. I know, I know, that is SUCH a touristy thing to do, but it’s actually quite fun and a good way of seeing lots of sites in a relatively short space of time. It also means you can jump on and off the bus all over the major site seeing areas without having to go on the underground.
The start of the day was lovely and sunny and so we enjoyed the open top area all the way round to St Paul’s Cathedral.


We had planned and pre-paid to go into St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s something we have never done in our entire lives.
We always see it from the river or walk around the outside and we see the inside on the TV for occasions like Charles and Diana’s wedding, but we’ve never physically set foot in the place. It was worth it. The place is absolutely stunning!
What you don’t see from the outside and what you never really think about it the crypt beneath!!

After this we hopped back onto the Big Bus and headed over to the Tower of London where we walked down to Tower Pier to take a short boat trip over to Westminster pier. The weather was getting a bit bleak by this point and our meal for the day was booked at The Rooftop bar and restaurant at The Trafalgar St James!!

Anyway, Ian wanted to check out the Lego store after dinner so we headed to Leicester Square in the rain.
There was a HUGE queue still waiting to get into the store when we got there and this was 18:30 in the evening!
So after a few photos with the resident statues, we headed back to the hotel for another fairly early night and a catch up with the Olympics.

Fri Aug 6th, was our anniversary day. This was to be a shopping and wandering day and we started back at the Lego store and made sure we were at the front of the queue for when they opened at 10. Unfortunately what we were after was out of stock so we headed off to Regents Street. I wanted to go to the Burberry store to look at getting Ian some Burberry Hero. This is the new fragrance that has just been launched and that Adam Driver is the face for. Obviously we both wanted to smell it first to see what it’s like and I have to say that it’s bloody lovely!! On a par, if not better than Hugo Boss!

Shopping in Burberry was surreal!
We were greeted at the main door and asked what we were looking for. I asked where the men’s fragrances were and we were escorted there! We were introduced to a member of staff who showed us the fragrance and sprayed some onto Ian so we could really see what it was like and then she escorted us to a till where a colleague dealt with the sale while she took the bottle of fragrance to wrap. Our receipt was popped into it’s own little envelope. The fragrance that was already in it’s own box and shrink wrapped was placed into a Burberry box with a ribbon and then placed into a tough little Burberry bag , sealed with a Burberry ribbon and the bag had linen handles. We were then escorted back to the main door. The whole shop is covered with DEEP pile, pale cream carpet, and it was spotless!
I came out of the store feeling like royalty.
I was just a little disappointed at the lack of Burberry Hero posters….. and by lack of, I mean NONE!

We then had a mooch around Hamleys and they didn’t have the Lego we were looking for either so we heading for a mooch in Carnaby Street and Soho.
Of course, this is where the heavens decided to open and of course we just had to find a pub for a bit.

We headed over to Oxford Street to check out one of the few remaining Disney stores in the country and bought a few gifts for the Kids and Grandkids, and yes! we found the Lego we were looking for!! We then headed over to Covent Garden in anticipation of our meal for the day which was at the Hawksmoor Seven Dials. We were taken here two years ago for our 25th Anniversary and my 50th Birthday by my Brother and Sister in Law and my parents. It’s quite an exclusive steak house with a long history.

The restaurant is located in the old Watney-Combe brewery, tucked down a quiet street a few minutes walk between Covent Garden station and Seven Dials. The Brewery’s first owner, Alderman Combe, hosted an annual steak supper for London’s great and good, with his guests in 1807 including the Prince of Wales and Duke of York. A newspaper reported that: “At a late hour the company left the Brewhouse, highly gratified with their beef-steaks, on which the Duchess of York was lavish in her praise, and very pleased with their worthy host’s hospitality.”

I have to tell you that it still lives up to it’s reputation. The meal was amazing although I was a little disappointed that they appear to have reduced their cocktail menu but this didn’t stop me from downing a few!

Sat Aug 7th proved to be a really wet day which was a shame because we had tickets for a canal boat ride from Little Venice to Camden Lock to meet up with and do some shopping with Ian’s cousin Debbie and her partner Greg who moved back to England from South Africa a few years ago and they were planning to do us a South African BBQ for dinner. Anyway, the plan for the BBQ had to be scrapped so plans for dinner today were a surprise.

It took us longer to get into Little Venice than planned as there was a line closure that wasn’t very well announced so we didn’t have time to wander around and find breakfast anywhere. This was probably just as well because of the rain. We will definitely be going back to Little Venice in better weather. It looks like it’s a beautiful little place. The canal boat ride takes about 45 minutes and the crew give some history stories along the way.

As we arrived in Camden, the heavens opened again so it was a case of ducking for cover and having a little mooch.
But as is traditional with the English weather, the sun soon came back out and we ended up sitting in the garden at the Ice Warf having a drink and waiting for Deb and Greg. We managed to get a table underneath a parasol which was just as well as there was more rain. I couldn’t get my app to work (or so I thought) so Ian ordered two pints. Turns out my app was working and two more turned up 5 minutes later!!
Deb and Greg soon turned up and we went to do some more mooching around the market and stopped at Gabeto’s in the middle of the market for…. yes, another drink and a chat and some nibbles and when the weather turned again, we ended up in the Oxford Arms to have more drinks, more chat and to watch the Springboks BEAT the Lions much to Greg’s delight!
We ended the day at Wagamama’s around the corner.
All in all, it was a lovely day, if a little wet. We really should see more of Deb and Greg. Two years between visits is a bit much, although the pandemic hasn’t helped.

We had left Sunday 8th August open.
1 – we didn’t know what the weather would be like and 2 – we didn’t know if we would be up to anything physically.
Turns out the weather was horrendous AND we were not up to much physically.
The plan would have been to head over to Gilders Hill on Hampstead Heath to see the old Pergola and to see the Butterfly house and Zoo that is also over there apparently.
Anyway, this day has now been filed away for a future trip.

We had breakfast at the hotel and we headed home.
Despite the weather, it was a lovely trip away and it has given me something to think about when it comes to my own health and fitness level.

Categories: General diary entries

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