Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...the highlights and lowlights of my trip

The title may not sound too optimistic as all in all it was a wonderful trip.  It did have its challenges though.  I have a feeling this is going to be a long post so put the kettle on and brew up a cuppa....okay are you ready?  Here we go....

It didn't get off to a smooth start when my WestJet flight from Calgary to London Gatwick was canceled.  Of course as with all these things you never know until pretty well the last minute. Maintenance issues were the cause which WestJet seems to have problems with on their London Gatwick route.  After a lot of lining up and mass confusion (no WestJet staff to tell us where to go) and going through Canada customs again  (because basically, we had been in "no man's" land)  we were given vouchers for a hotel for the night as well as for meals and taxis.  I was near the front of the line luckily.  I was put up at the Hotel Clique which is above my usual standard so that was a treat.  But I really had wanted to be on that flight to London!  The next day (after a long day at the airport...) we took off without incident.  Hello London!

The ugly?  I deliberately went earlier than normal for a Christmas trip so I could see the lights being lit on the Norwegian Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. This is always done the first Thursday in December.  Even though I arrived the morning of the tree lighting I knew that by 6:30 p.m. I would be very tired after being up all night.  (I can't sleep on planes, trains or automobiles...) Being in a crowd and exhausted is not a good combination - your guard is down and that's when bad things happen  So that is something I will just have to try for again sometime - and this time I will go a few days earlier!!

However stop your sulking Laurie - you're in London and it's Christmas!  I've said it many times before, London is magical at Christmas.

London at Christmas! 



The tree lit up - despite not seeing the deed being done I did see the tree lit up lots and it never lost its thrill.  It's decorated in typical Norwegian fashion.  Every year Norway donates the tree as a thank you to Britain for its help during the Second World War.


Loved this tree near St James Palace.


One of the things I love about London at Xmas is all the wonderful shows that are on.  "The Snowman" was fun.   "The Nutcracker" at the Royal Opera House was pure magic - I always make a point of seeing "The Nutcracker" every year even if it's just at the cinema.



Decorations outside Liberty's - one of those stores that is so posh I am almost afraid to go inside.


This dog reminded me so much of my Sandy I nearly cried.


I  never get tired of photographing the ice rink at the Natural History Museum.


Mustn't forget the wonderful Christmas dinner I had at St Martins in the Fields cafe.  Yes I went veggie as the turkey with sausages did not appeal to me.  Roast potatoes, parsnips and brussel sprouts..yum!!!


Oxford St - I love this picture. And no, I wasn't in any danger of being hit!


I got this shot of the Tower of London when I arrived to attend the 900 year old Ceremony of the Keys.

Bruges


A quick two night trip to Bruges was a break from the Christmas chaos of London.  Definitely fairy tale material!  I opted for a hotel this time which was right behind the main square.


These buildings are on the main square



Yes, I left a piece of my heart in Bruges....and I will be back.  I am so glad I visited at Christmas though.  Pure magic!!  Who can resist a town centre that is so pretty and then there's the chocolate....

Sunny Andalucia


After three weeks (more or less) in London it was time to head to warmer climes - to sunny Andalucia which is in the south of Spain.   I had booked three weeks at an airbnb in Malaga.  This was my view...not too shabby!


I must admit I never got tired of this view and most mornings when I looked out it was sunny and calm.  My host Pilar was so sweet and helpful and picked me up what I needed when I was sick and generally fussed over me.  Oh yes, did I mention I was sick?  THE UGLY.  I woke up on my first day in London with a sore throat and it progressed from there.  It was tolerable in London but it became much worse in Spain.  My energy was zapped and while I still tried to be out and about every day it certainly wasn't what I had planned. Some days were better than others but I tried to be the best tourist I could be! The cold went into my chest, rattling away and keeping me (and probably everyone else in the flat) awake at night.  I worried about pneumonia.  Oh well, at least I had this view to look at!  The cold lasted for pretty well half of my trip and it wasn't until pretty well the end of my time in Spain that I finally felt my normal energetic self again. I happily said to Pilar "This is the real me, the real  Laurie" as all she had seen until then was a hacking sniffly one with no energy. I think everyone would agree - being sick on holidays really sucks 

Despite that, I only have happy memories of my time in Andalucia. Will I go back?  Doubtful as there are so many other places to see but as I've learned...never say never!  A certain little place called Nerja pulled at my heart strings...



A day tour to Granada was interesting.  Sad story...I had actually booked two nights in a hotel in Granada.  Just before I left home I thought "guess I should book my ticket to the Alhambra" only to discover it was fully booked up until the day before I was due to leave Spain.  There is absolutely no point in going to Granada and not seeing the Alhambra.  So I booked myself a day tour from Malaga which of course provided reserved tickets and a tour throughout the Alhambra.  I am so glad I did this.  While I found the tour a bit fast paced I don't regret doing it.  My mobility isn't the greatest right now and also I am a keen photographer so it was frustrating to have to snap photos "on the run" so to speak. Let's just say I was at the back of the pack! I will definitely be doing a blog post on the Alhambra.



I then had three nights in Seville in early January which was the perfect amount of time as I feel like I saw everything I wanted to with leisure time as well.  I loved Seville and it was definitely one of the high points of my trip. By then my cold had pretty well run its course and I got some of my energy (and appetite!) back.


The huge cathedral that was impossible to frame in one picture.  I found it more impressive on the outside than the inside.  I stayed close enough to hear the chimes.  Christopher Columbus is buried here.


One of the many side streets in Seville where you can sit at an outdoor cafe and enjoy tapas which Seville is known for.  I tried quite a few different combinations.


The Real Alcazar (means "Royal Palace" in Spanish) was just a three-minute walk from my hotel and while there were lines every day I purchased a ticket online which the desk clerk kindly printed for me.  I highly recommend doing this as I walked past the long line up and walked in.  I spent about four to five hours there looking at things at my own speed.  It is absolutely beautiful.


I  will definitely be writing a blog post on the Alcazar and lots more on Seville.


And then there was Plaza Espana....lots more on this as well as the pretty park that is close by.  Definitely not to be missed!

I enjoyed  Malaga and staying with my host Pilar.  As I have mentioned many times I do love Airbnb. It's not for everybody I realize but it's definitely for me.  Living in a local's home I feel like I am experiencing more rather than the anonymity of a hotel room.  I love taking the bus back and forth to town and feeling like a local.  Being as I was there three weeks I was able to totally unpack and make myself at home.


I sometimes sat at the window, had my morning coffee and "people watched".

One of the highlights was seeing the Christmas lights that Malaga is famous for.


By the time my three weeks drew to an end  I must admit I was ready to get back to London.

It's a Surprise! 


A week later the day of my "Surprise trip" dawned.  I had gotten an email ahead of time to tell me it would be cold and snowy so it was no surprise really that I learned I was going to Prague. While Prague has never wormed its way into my heart I will acknowledge its beauty and I can see why people fall in love with it.  When I was there almost two years ago I didn't care for it but I was tired and grumpy from four months of travel.  I had no clue where we were in the city half the time...well guess what?  It was the same this time..I was constantly lost.  Even my map didn't make sense to me and yes I admit it...I did my fair share of swearing...out loud...in public.. That said,  I would never discourage anyone from going there - in fact, I would encourage it as it is absolutely beautiful.  It's not you Prague, it's me.

Prague did have one big advantage though - I finally got to see Český Krumlov which I totally fell in love with. 





Like a fairy tale right?  I am already planning a return trip (in my mind that is...my mind has lots of trips going on in there) where I will stay a couple of days and roam this place in warmer weather.  I fell hard for this charming little place - in my heart that is and I came pretty darn close to falling for real on the icy cobblestones! 

I was pleased with my hotel in Prague even if I seemed to always have trouble finding my way back to it.  Over a month later I can say that yes, I would try a Surprise trip again when I am in the UK.  If I have the time that is...this time Prague will be on the "no go" list! (you are allowed to list three places)  They booked me so I would have maximum time with flying out at 9 a.m. and back at 9:30 p.m. three days later  (which turned into 10:30 but let's not go there...it all worked out in the end) 

I'll be writing more about both places including the Jewish area of Prague where my hotel was located. 


London



Back to London for the last three weeks and oh London...what can I say.  I will be writing lots more about what I got up to.  

Of course my love for London doesn't mean I don't love the rest of England.  I did manage to get out of the city twice.  Once up to York (for probably the tenth time at least) on a cheap ten pound return ticket and then to Winchester (for the first time) in south west England on a "seat sale".   Both cities are steeped in history and now Winchester is slotted into number three (behind London and York) on my list of favourite cities in Britain.  I can't wait to take you for a "walk" around these two cities.  

Some of the highlights of my January/February time in London?  Doing the Womens' March in London in January, visiting Charter House which has only recently been opened to the public, attending musicals like "The Girls" and "School of Rock" and just getting  in the morning up knowing that I was in my favourite place in the world.  Of course staying with my friends Claudia and her ten year old son Alessandro in Streatham was wonderful.  We yakked over cups of tea, shared stories and laughs over morning coffee while watching for our greedy squirrel friends Chip and Dale to show up for some peanuts,  had movie nights and even had afternoon tea at Browns. 



I was always getting scolded for bringing back so many treats but it was fun to buy them as then I could share - not as much guilt (or calories!) that way!  It was so comforting to be in a home environment knowing a friend was nearby yet I had the independence of bopping around London or just settling in for an evening of telly in my room.  I can say without hesitation that despite a bum knee I had way more energy than some of her younger guests. 

My mobility issues made stairs difficult and to say I tired much more easily is an understatement. I have always had lots of energy so this part is hard for me to accept.  However I took lots of breaks (I should write a guide on all the places to park your butt around London as well as the best place to find a free loo) and paced myself and I was fine.  It has made me appreciate what disabled people go through on a daily basis - mine is nothing compared to others and it is temporary.  I have to admit it was frustrating not to be able to take part in walking tours or heading off on a path to explore what's along the way.  I've always been a keen walker and I do miss it dreadfully.  However my beloved Thames Path will still be there next year waiting for me.   

Now I am home for seven to ten months while I await knee replacement surgery which they tell me is approximately three to five months away.  The optimistic part of me hopes for surgery sometime in late April/early May with time to recuperate and get that knee ready to do more adventure by mid autumn.  (I've been asked to dog sit my little buddy Casper in Chicago in mid October and I would certainly like to do this..followed of course by trips to foreign climes)   And then just try to catch me!  I will keep everyone updated on what's going on.  When I get a surgery date I will be shouting it from the roof tops - living in limbo is really not my thing!  

I'm making the most of my time at home (because I sure as hell don't intend to be at home for this length of time again if I can help it) and have made a vow to lose weight and become healthier. On Friday I joined Weight Watchers as to me it is much more realistic and I will be monitored weekly.  

I have made a goal to produce at least one blog post weekly.   These posts will go into more detail on the places I have gone to with more photos and much more information.  I hope you'll follow along and enjoy until I can produce fresh content near the end of the year.  

A big thank you for reading my blog - it means a lot!  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

My last few days in London

I am home again and up at 4 a.m. because why not?  Good old jetlag - I always suffer much worse heading west than east.  Of course, it didn't help that I went to bed at 8:00 last night because I didn't get much sleep the night before.

Meeting a legend 

When I left you I had just attended the travel conference in London.  Well now I am going to get into more detail....  I did get a few shots of Michael Palin but they aren't very good.  But still...Michael Palin!  While in line to get my book (the paperback of "Pole to Pole" for those interested - it was the smallest one to carry home!) I stood behind a fellow who was a huge Michael Palin fan.  Not for the travel books but because of Monty Python.  He had bought two copies of the "Monty Python years" for Michael to sign  - one for his mate (as they call a friend in the UK) who has been down in the dumps and he thought it would cheer him up.  I thought that was so sweet.  When I innocently asked which film he thought was the best Python film he looked at me as if I was crazy and said "definitely The Life of Brian".  Well I've seen that film but only once and can't recall much but he said he and his mate had watched it again the other night and were actually rolling on the floor with laughter. Okay...hey I can't say much I used to scream nonstop back in the 60's when the Beatles were on TV and try to kiss Paul on the screen.  Anyway guess it's time to rewatch the Python films!  Michael was very gracious and hey not a bad looker for an old guy.  When I said I was from Canada and a keen traveler (and how much I enjoyed his travel films) he told me he is coming here later this year and will be visiting the Arctic.  His talk was very interesting and of course he has a great sense of humour.  Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to pose with him as we were with Levison - fair enough as the line was long and he is way more popular than Levison. (for now!)




In between Levison and Michael I wandered around looking at the different booths - this travel show is huge.  I tried to restrain myself from picking up too many brochures as I know from previous visits that I end up recycling most of them.  I had to go back to the Intrepid Travel booth just to double check that the one pound and 20% off deal was really for trips that had to be taken by this August....because I am like that.  (If you recall I was all set to book a tour to South India for next February and would have only been out a pound if I had to cancel 60 days ahead but it was pointed out by the co-worker of the lady ready to book me that I couldn't do it)

Getting back to Streatham was a bit of a pain as I couldn't even get on the first train as it was so crowded.  I must say the crowds in London are a pain in the ass.  That's the one thing about London I don't like and I think it's an age thing.  When I was younger I loved it all and envied the commuters.  Now I look at them and think "poor sods" and I would not want to be them one little bit.  With a population of over 8 million and tourists flocking to it year round it is no wonder it is crowded to bursting point.  I can't even imagine it what it must be like in the summer.  That is the only thing I can really say that I dislike about London.

A visit with an old friend (and Twiggy!) 

On Friday my knee was letting me know it did not like standing for Mr. Palin one little bit so it was a day of sitting down lots and not really settling on one thing.  I headed out a bit earlier than I should have and it was a dreary day that turned into rain in the afternoon.  My intention was to walk along the South Bank but that didn't last long as I was just too sore.  Besides being sore I was having one of my "pee every five minute days" as I call them.  So let's just say I was not in a good mood as I hobbled over to the expensive loo (one pound - yes one pound!) as I could not face walking further. Well at least I got a laugh out of the toilet seat. As one woman who was exiting as I went in said "for that price I feel like I should just have lingered in the cubicle".  At least they were clean!


I then decided to see a sculpture I had been reading about for ages and was "on the list".  I took the Jubilee line from Waterloo to Bond St. and found my way (thanks to google maps on my phone - my trusty A to Z was left at home as it's just too heavy) to Bourdon Place .  There is a set of three sculptures - Terence Donovan, the photographer shooting images of Twiggy with a passerby in the background.  Being a child of the 60's and so happy when Twiggy came on the scene (someone my size - yay!  Can't say that now!)  I just had to see it.



Unless you work in the area it's not a place you would ever see as it's in a quiet area in Mayfair.


Then I wandered back to Oxford Street passing the huge department store, Selfridges so had to take a photo of this amusing sign.

By now I was really tired so I got on a bus heading north and got off near Baker Street station.  I planted myself in a cafe and had a bite to eat and a coffee while catching up on my journal and reading one of the books on my Kindle.  I was meeting my friend Irene at 6 p.m. at Baker Street station so walked over (by this time it was raining) and wanted to be close by.   We had a great visit in a nearby pizza/pasta place that we hadn't been to before.  My trip back was a bit of a nightmare as the trains I needed to take were late or canceled so I took a tube to Brixton and my bus did not turn up.  So took another bus that got me as far as Streatham station and then waited for the bus that would take me "home".  Finally, it turned up and promptly "broke down" at the next stop  The front door would not open so the driver ordered us off and I figured I may as well walk so I did. Of course, as I'm about half way back (it was about a 15-minute walk but felt like 45 minutes as I was so sore) the bus sailed by and yes, I did give it the finger.  And it felt good!  It wasn't a total waste of a day as I got to see Irene and the Twiggy sculpture but I really should have rested until mid afternoon.  Ah well.

Digging up the past in Putney 

Saturday I decided to go and visit Putney Vale Cemetery in Putney.  It involved two trains and a bus but I was there an hour later.  I had bought a small book on the Cemeteries of London last year and that has been my guide for this trip and the one in the Spring. What I didn't know was that I walked in the wrong entrance - well the bus stop was Putney Vale Cemetery but little did I know this place has about four entrances.  The instructions just weren't making sense!  And it didn't help that my bladder was saying "hello, it's me again".  After snooping around I found a public toilet in the columbarium.  Yes!  Finally a cemetery with a toilet!  My main focus was to see the graves of  J. Bruce Ismay who was the Managing Director of the White Star Line (remember the Titanic?) and Howard Carson who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king of Egypt.  There were some interesting graves.






Above is the tomb of J.  Bruce Ismay - I was expecting something a bit more elaborate and it was only thanks to the cemetery map (at another entrance) that I found it.  There are reliefs of ships on his monument but they are pretty hard to see now.   It is said he went to his grave still feeling guilt over the Titanic going down even though he was hailed as a hero that night loading people into lifeboats and only getting in himself when there was no one else. (despite the movie making him look a coward)  It was Captain Smith who was in control of the ship, not him.  I patted his grave and said "it's all right, I forgive you" because I'm a softie like that.  How can we judge anybody until we walk in their footsteps?

I will be writing more about this cemetery in the future.  I took the bus back to Putney and gave my regards to my old friend the Thames.  I walked these banks (the left side of the picture) back in 2015.


I then walked over to the Putney Pantry as I fancied a coffee and something sweet.  Walking in, I let the door swing closed behind me - or what I thought was swinging behind me. Turns out it didn't.  I heard a voice say "thank you for NOT closing the door" and turned and a middle-aged prick was closing the door.  I looked at the things on offer and nothing appealed so I walked out and said pointedly "okay I'm closing the door now".  He sputtered "I was only joking".  Sure you were. Tosser!!!

That evening we ordered Chinese food to take out.

Sometimes you do daft things

After feasting on Claudia's pancakes on Sunday morning I had every intention of going to the City of London cemetery and then on to the East End markets. The Circle/District line was shut down as maintenance work was being done on the tracks so that made getting there a bit more difficult. We checked the options for getting to the cemetery which involved getting off at Leytonstone tube station then getting a bus and Claudia told me no way as that is one of the worst areas of London and I was absolutely not to go there. Okay. So that idea got kiboshed.  So that left the East End markets.  I got as far as Bank tube station and found the main entrance was closed and I just could not face the long walk and then trying to find the right bus stop to continue my journey.  I made a split second decision to hop back on the tube and go to Camden Market.  MISTAKE!!!!

These were the crowds on a Sunday morning on the street to the market.  The market itself was a nightmare and if you stopped to look at something you held up other people trying to get by.  Not fun!  I was on the look out for the booth that sold t-shirts with the designs I liked. When I was there in the Spring I got myself one and it was agonizing to pick so had wanted to buy another design. (being as my wardrobe these days in my lovely retired life is t-shirts and yoga pants/jeans)  In the meantime, I bought a couple of pairs of handmade earrings and asked the bloke who ran it if he knew where the booth was. He told me they are usually in the corner and went to look for me but nothing. (I had already looked)  The manager of the market walked by so he called him over and asked and turns out they were on holiday.  So no new London t-shirts this trip.  Ah well, next time!  I turned around and left not bothering to go further into the market.





To be honest I am not a big fan of Camden Market preferring the East End markets.  However, I think everyone has to see it once when they visit London - but avoid the weekends!

From there I headed up to Golders Green just to revisit one of my favourite areas of London and where I spent so many years (12!) on my holidays staying in a bed and breakfast in Hampstead Garden Suburb.  On the spur of the moment I decided not to take the H2 bus and  I decided I wanted a Sunday roast so googled and found one a short bus ride away. It was a lovely pub but was full - I've put it on the list for warmer weather and a revisit to beautiful Golders Hill Park which is directly opposite.

Not deterred in my quest for a Sunday roast I headed south on the tube to Balham and bingo!  I found a pub that not only had Sunday roasts but had space for me.  Yay!!  Lamb was sold out but I went for chicken.  It was delicious!  Nothing beats a Sunday roast at the pub.  They even cater to the veggies of course.



 Roast carrots and parsnips are  hidden underneath that big hunk of chicken...yum! With a glass of wine, it was pure bliss.  What can I say, I do love my food!  I couldn't quite finish it but I gave it a good try.  Then it was back to relax and catch up a bit with BBC programs on my laptop.

A day of Nostalgia 

I decided Monday was going to be my last day "in town".  But first I had a mission and that was to donate a couple of books to the charity shop in Balham and return three books to the Balham library. I had a lump in my throat as I walked out - I love that little library! (yes, I am a saddo) I got back on the train to Victoria and walked to my beloved St James's Park.  This is where I first truly fell in love with London and it's always been my haven in central London.


If you look really carefully you can see pink blossoms - Spring is coming!


Ducks on a mission - someone further down was feeding the birds and they wanted some of the action.


Having a discussion


Got any food?  I did feed bits of bread from my Prawn and Mayonnaise sandwich from M & S (last one - sob!).  But it was one of the best ones I have ever had and they weren't getting much!  Even though it was chilly I sat and enjoyed my sandwich on a nearby bench.  Hey I can't sit on a bench and eat a sandwich at home in February!


This is the classic view of Buckingham Palace and Whitehall from the Blue Bridge.  Everyone has to have their photo taken here at some point.



No, you aren't seeing things.  That is a coloured pigeon.  Some woman was standing with these poor pigeons wanting people to pose with them - and collecting money no doubt.  I refused to participate. I am sure their wings were clipped as well.  Didn't stop me snapping a few photos though!



In 42 years I have never grown tired of this park...to me, it's my happy spot in London.


This is the sad reality of the Horseguards for the past couple of years (since the Ottawa shooting of an unarmed soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier).  In fact there were armed guards everywhere due to London being on very high terrorist alert.  This is the world we live in now and sadly it is only going to get worse.


I thought this building on Long Acre in Covent Garden was so cool - when in London always look up as you never know what you will see.


Another beautiful building in the Covent Garden area.  Even though Covent Garden is tourist central it is still one of my favourite parts of London.


To be honest I've never gone into any of the shops here but I love the colours in Neal's Yard.


I loved the look of this pub near Covent Garden.


Soho Square...I've spent quite a bit of time in this square over the years so it had to be included in my nostalgic walk.  And it has lots of benches so I sat there for quite a while thinking of all the happy memories I've had in this square!

Then it was time for fish and chips one last time.  I chose a pub that I can't even remember the name of now and the meal was "okay".  Far from the best fish and chips I've had but not the worst.  I chose it as it was close to the theatre I was going to that evening.


I attended the musical comedy "The Girls" based on the true story and movie "Calender Girls".  It was hilarious and I enjoyed it very much - recommended!

After the performance, I walked over to nearby Tottenham Court Road station to get the tube to Balham (where I change to the suburban train to Streatham Common).  The beautiful tiles that the tube station is known for have been refurbished.  Another nostalgic visit as Tottenham Court Road was the very first tube station I ever walked out of in 1975 where a man with a bowler hat and umbrella (you don't see that anymore) helped me with my suitcases.  I've never forgotten it.  I stayed in the area for numerous years after that and it's also the tube station for Soho Square!




What a wonderful day from beginning to end!!!

Hanging by the Thames in Kingston 

Tuesday the 7th of February dawned bright and sunny.  My last day!  I decided I was going to stay in south London and ride the buses.  First of all though I went to the corner shop and got a bus travel pass and said goodbye to the fellow there who is so friendly and always interested in my travels. Then onto the train station where I picked up my one-way ticket to Gatwick airport and luckily my favourite ticket agent was working.  He is so friendly and so much fun - his picture is even featured on Southern trains. (I had mentioned that to him previously and he said yes the station should have a gold star on it and did I want an autograph?)  I handed him my phone so he could see the confirmation number and he not only produced my ticket but put the phone to his ear and pretended to call Mumbai this time. (he always does this!) He asked when I would be back and I said hopefully in a year and he said he would see me then and "safe journey".  I must confess I had a lump in my throat as I walked out of the station and am teary eyed just typing this.

 I got on a bus to central Streatham and visited the library there which looks great but I still prefer the Balham library.  I walked to a nearby bus stop and a bus to Kingston stopped so I hopped on and that's where I spent the day.  The bus trip there takes well over an hour but it was nice to relax and watch the world go by.  For once I sat on the lower deck as I was so tired.  Upon my arrival in Kingston I headed to the river...and sat there for a long while.





If anyone read the blog post of my trip to Kingston before Xmas they will have seen this narrowboat decorated for the season.  This is how it looks post season!


I walked a bit further along and sat again for a long while reminiscing on my walk along this part of the Thames.  To be honest I had thought of carrying on for a short walk from Shepperton to Chertsey this last day but I realized it was silly as I did not have proper footwear for winter walking on a trail and even a short distance would not be a good idea for my knee. 

Back to the main square I went - Kingston has such a history and I will be doing a blog post on this wonderful town.  


Yes, I had a cuppa in a church.  All Saints Church has a simple coffee shop but very cheap and kind of fun to say you had a cuppa in a working church.


Who can resist enjoying a beverage in these surroundings?  So much history in this church!  Stay tuned for more info.



All Saints church.


This is the market square.

I can never resist a picture of this sculpture although construction makes for an unattractive background.

After about five hours in Kingston (yes I dilly dallied) I headed back on the bus.  I decided to have a pizza at Franco Manca which is one of my favourite places in London.   They have several chains around the city now although the original started in Brixton Market.  I had never been to Wimbledon centre so looked around a bit before hunger stopped me and I devoured this delicious margarita pizza.



Then back "home" to finish packing up.

The next morning I was sent notification that my flight was delayed by two hours.  I decided to leave just a bit later rather than two hours later and it's lucky I did as my train to East Croydon was delayed on the tracks for a while. When I went to drop my luggage and print my boarding pass the line was crazy as there was a flight going to Calgary at roughly the same time.  The flight to Toronto the previous day had been canceled so the flight was full.  The pilots felt something was wrong so we had to taxi back to the gate where luckily things were looked at and deemed okay.  So it ended up leaving four hours late.

My flight from Toronto was delayed as well.  Normally I meet my sister when I have a long layover there but something made me not make arrangements - deep down I must have known as there is no way I could have gone into downtown Toronto and back as it turned out to be just four hours in between flights (even with the flight delay of an hour back home)

I got back to my apartment at 1:30 a.m. and plopped into bed.  It's good to be home...for now!

Say tuned for way more detail on what I saw and my impressions of my trip.