This week the weather has turned a bit grey and wet so I have been reflecting on the great days we’ve had in the past couple of weeks exploring in absolutely beautiful weather.
Richard and I impulsively decided to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament because we realised we’d been in London for more than a month but hadn’t seen these iconic places! Due to our lack of organisation we enjoyed everything from the outside rather than waiting in ridiculously long lines for entry. It’s definitely something we will get to though so perhaps later I can gush about what Westminster and the House of Parliament looks like inside. The exterior is sufficiently beautiful to appreciate. My architectural knowledge is quite poor but I understand these buildings are in the gothic style. I’m astounded by the level of detail and take my hypothetical hat off to the craftsmen. Being able to stand in the shadow of the giant gateway to parliament gave me a sense of just how formidable Britain must have been at the height of its power.
Amongst the grandeur I found that the lion statues were actually kind of cute and looked very loveable. I think the AGGS lion must look like this in 3D!
(Opinions grammar peeps?)
Continuing along the tourist trail we were sucked into Southbank which was seriously crowded!
There were a lot of street performers which filled the area with music and vibrant colours. It kind of reminded me of the Hoopla festival in Sydney. We even caught the eye of a sparkly man.
The following weekend we went the British Museum with naïve ambitions to get through most of it. Upon arrival we were promptly put in our place – the British Museum is not a place to rush! In the photo below from the entrance, you can see a trail in the sky left from a plane as I mentioned in my previous post!
The main foyer should be its own exhibit! It was an incredible space to be in and we spent about 3 hours wandering through the upper level. Exhausted, we vowed to come back to explore more of it.
After the museum we went to Borough Market to pick up some supplies. We’ve been there a few times now and it’s a place a love to explore. Richard is mainly occupied with preventing me from buying all manner of food products. I can report that we left with only what we needed that time!
Right before this rainy week set in, we enjoyed a scorcher of a day at Windsor. The temperature was at 29⁰C! Thankfully the sun doesn’t burn like in NZ or we would be crispy fried versions of ourselves.
Windsor had a great small town feel but with plenty of decent food and shopping options. It’s probably one of my favourite towns so far because of that balance.
The main attraction is of course Windsor Castle. Thankfully Richard was organised and pre-booked tickets because the line was pretty long! We enjoyed the “Conquer the Tower” tour which involved climbing up 200 stairs to the top of the main tower in the centre of the castle. After the Monument, this climb was a piece of cake! The view at the top was absolutely worth it!
Just like Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle is still used by the royal family today. Since the Queen was away at her summer home, we were able to view the state rooms and also got great pictures of where the Queen stays when she’s in (which is most weekends!).
We could also see the Queen’s Rose Garden around the back of the castle. Those lawns were impossibly immaculate.
On the castle grounds is St George’s Chapel which was a wonderfully ornate place of worship. The stained glass windows blew my mind – incredible detail! A lot of gilded detailing right throughout which you will need to do your best to imagine because there is no photo taking inside cathedrals/churches. It was incredible to see since so many significant monarchs are buried there including Henry VIII, his wife Jane Seymour, Charles I and Edward IV.
Generally the castle is also occupied by the governor of Windsor but since he was away on summer break as well, they had the moat garden (his personal garden) open to the public. Despite the many other people around us, the garden felt relaxing and peaceful. I think the water feature helped a lot with creating that ambience!
For a couple of weekends Richard and I didn’t do much which was us falling back into our old routine. Things have been a bit challenging on the life admin front which felt draining but luckily it didn’t take us long to realise we were wasting valuable time! After fitting these excursions into our weekends we have felt revitalised and motivated to continue making the most of our time. Both of us still read the NZ Herald and Stuff so we’re aware of the recent article about how tough it is to find work in London. It appears to have sparked a couple of other response articles too. When I read the article I felt there were two conflicting sides in me. One could too easily agree and lament about how the wonderment and excitement quickly became stress and frustration because things were harder here than we could have imagined. But the other (thankfully also stronger) part of me knows that we understood coming here would bring a fresh set of challenges. We should expect nothing less than to be surprised and confused when trying to set up camp in a new country so the best solution is to avoid dwelling on the negatives and be mindful of our amazing adventures. I think both of us are getting better at simply accepting how things are done here and then getting an action plan together to get it done without complaining too much. This has left us a lot more energy to plan travel and enjoy ourselves! Case in point, Monday 31st August is a bank holiday (public holiday in southern hemisphere speak) so we are spending the long weekend in Bath. I look forward to sharing stories and photos from our weekend away!