Hop on Hop off

Hop on Hop off
London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom

Our first full day in London. I woke up feeling relatively normal, which was a relief. Breakfast was included in our hotel rate, so we didn’t have to go anywhere. S

peaking of the hotel, you’d think our room would have a fridge wouldn’t you? Maybe this is just an Australian thing, because it’s not something we’d even thought about. However, at this hotel, you had to ask for a room with a fridge in it. We didn’t, so no fridge for us. Not a major deal in the grand scheme of things, and I certainly wasn’t going to ask for a different room, because we hadn’t realised until we’d unpacked yesterday. Repacking and unpacking again was not something I had any intention of doing.

We had tickets for a hop on hop off bus tour of London. There were several routes taking in various areas around the city and a stop for the ‘museum’ route was close to our hotel, so we duly hopped on the bus and plugged into the headset commentary. At one point the commentator reminded passengers to take all of their belongings with them when they got off the bus. This included their bags, coats, cameras and, of course, their children. We weren’t sure if this was supposed to be a joke or not.

After a couple of stops, we changed onto the route with the live commentary, which was a lot more personal. Our guide, Steve, was friendly and gave a really interesting commentary. During the day we learned that Steve doesn’t like modern art, and that jokes about no work ever being done in public servant offices aren’t just an Australian thing. There was a lot of information about the things we passed by and I don’t remember any of it.

We saw most of the landmarks you’d expect to see in London. Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament! (Although as we all know, Big Ben is the name of the bell, not of the tower, which is called Elizabeth Tower. The Great Bell chimed 12 as we went past.)

We played Spot a Monopoly Square (I’m sure we aren’t the first people to do that) and were basically overwhelmed by how much there is to see and how much we wouldn’t get to see in only a week.

The bus took us past Buckingham Palace, which is open to visitors at the moment while Her Majesty is away on holiday. (I noticed that this was how Steve referred to her, where we Aussies would just have said ‘the Queen’.) It’s tempting, because this opportunity isn’t available very often.

We crossed the Thames several times, including over the Tower Bridge, and ended up at Westminster Pier, where we took a river cruise back up the way we’d just come. The river cruise guide told us about the history of London’s watermen, and explained that it was a tradition dating back 500 years, carrying people and goods across the river. In recent years their role has changed to taking people on pleasure cruises. He said he was very proud to carry on the traditional profession of waterman.

The river cruise took us under the bridges we’d crossed on the bus, including London Bridge, Waterloo Bridge (built by women during World War 2) and up to the Tower Bridge, where we got off to visit the Tower of London. I didn’t have much of an idea about what I might want to see in London, but as soon as we passed the Tower in the bus, we both decided we wanted to go and see it.

After a quick lunch break, we made our way in, past the security guard whose job it was to confiscate any chocolate visitors might have, just in time for the start of one of Yeoman Warder tours. The Yeoman Warders are the bodyguards on duty at the Tower.

The tour was a little over 30 minutes and then we were free to explore the Tower on our own. We saw the Crown Jewels, the tower where the two princes were supposed to have been imprisoned, walked along the wall, saw the ravens (there is a legend that the Kingdom and the Tower will fall if the 6 ravens leave the tower, so Charles II insisted that they be protected – there are currently 6 captive ravens at the Tower -plus one spare).

We shopped for tacky souvenirs – which is going to be a theme of the trip, as always. If you haven’t worked it out yet, this will be a feature of the whole trip.

At the end of the day we hopped on another hop on hop off bus, but we were too late to catch the one that would take us back to our hotel, so we got off at Baker Street Station and caught the Tube to Kings Cross, where it was an easy walk back to our hotel, having dinner at a pub on the way.

Slabs will appreciate this, but when I was talking to the barman, he asked if I was from New Zealand. He was surprised that I wasn’t, because he said he thought he’d heard a Kiwi twang in my accent.


Week in review

So I’m not doing a photo and a post a day, but I still need to keep track of what’s been happening so that I can keep up to date with my 2012 Project Life album and don’t get five months behind like I did in 2011. The main point of me doing that project is so I can remember what all the photos I take are of, and why I took them.
Having said that, one thing I want to do this year is put the camera away sometimes. I think know there have been times when I’ve been so focused on taking the perfect photo of something that I’ve missed out on fully experiencing the moment at the time.
That seems a little ridiculous – if the moment is that fantastic it will live on in my memory without a photo (or at least without the perfect photo, and certainly without 10 or 20 photos), and what point is the photo if I didn’t really experience the event?*
So . . . I need to give myself permission to not capture everything and to not feel guilty about not doing it. I don’t need a picture of every little thing Juniordwarf does, I don’t need to record everything I do. I need to do it.
The photo a day concept is great, and it provides a time capsule of what my life was like over a relatively short time, which I think will be cool to look back on in years to come. But it is incredibly time consuming – even with the simple approach in Project Life – and I don’t want to spend my whole life catching up on recording things, rather than actually doing things.
One of my friends suggested a weekly approach, rather than a daily approach, might work well for this year.
I’m going to give that a go and just do one post with highlights of the week. That doesn’t mean I won’t post at other times during the week on other things, like Project Life or my struggle to beat my demons (because we all know that you love reading that stuff), but for the stuff that caught my eye during the week, I’m going to try and stick to one post.
So, here’s a selection of photos for the week:
(Monday) We went to Russell Falls.
This will make good topic for Sunday Selections on Sunday. (I think Kim is still running it. I haven’t done one of those posts for a while.)
(Tuesday) Juniordwarf made a person out of his salad – cucumber slices for the body and head, carrot sticks for the arms, legs and ears, and lettuce for the hair. He then ate the person piece by piece, from the bottom up, and every time he picked up a piece, he said ‘looking at the person now!’
I lied. There isn’t a photo for this moment.
(Wednesday) I went back to work. I was dreading it because the previous two days had been really hot and I don’t own any hot weather work clothing. Fortunately a cool change came through and I didn’t need it. There was a stunning rainbow over the mountain on my first day back.
(Thursday) The bus got stuck in roadworks at Granton. This is the scene from the window.
(Thursday) Juniordwarf had been asking for a Harry Potter book for ages and he was really expecting to get one for Xmas. I suggested it might be better to get it from the library so he could see if he really wanted it before he went out and bought it. It arrived at the library and he was so excited about it he couldn’t wait until Slabs came back to the car to start reading it. 
Slabs and I started reading it to him but he didn’t want to hear it. When I put him to bed he said he’d read the book to his teddy after I turned out the light. It seems like he tried to do exactly that.
(Thursday) Slabs and Juniordwarf picked me up from the bus stop and we went down to the Esplanade so they could go fishing and we could have dinner outside. It’s a shame the weather wasn’t particularly pleasant (what a change earlier in the week), but still it was a lovely thought from Slabs for us to do something a bit different, and it was a really nice way to spend the rest of the afternoon.
(Today) We went for a drive on a road we’ve never been on before.
* This the point where the camera addict acknowledges that her husband has said this to her on more than one occasion.

P365 – Day 356 – on the bus (again) (and year in review 3/12)

One of the lucky door prizes at our BBQ today was for someone who could prove they came to work on public transport or by means other than their car.
This was my effort.
It was a random draw, and I won.

2011 in review: month 3/12

Since my Project 365 is rapidly coming to an end, I’m going post a link to my favourite post from each month this year over the last 12 days of the year.

March: Gone Fishing

P365 – Day 354 – on the bus (and the year in review 1/12)

Juniordwarf doesn’t travel on buses very often, so he gets very excited whenever he gets the chance for a bus trip.
The first few times, he sat right up the front in the seat behind the bus driver. If you haven’t sat in that set before, let me tell you that there is not much leg room for anyone bigger than, well, a school kid.
After that wore off, he decided that sitting down the back was more fun, as was having an entire seat to himself and moving between seats during the trip.
Today we decided to go into town to do some shopping and meet Santa. Last year, rather than park in town, we went on Hobart Council’s shopper shuttle service where you can park at the Regatta Ground and catch a free shuttle bus into the city. Even though it was only a five minute ride, Juniordwarf loved the fact that we went on the bus.
He was very keen to do it again this year, so we did.
On the way in, he sat up the back.
On the way back he sat on one of the side-facing seats, which he was particularly taken with, because we were ‘going sideways’. So that was a bit different. (He’d also been fascinated, on his class visit to the Transport Museum recently, how some people sit facing backwards in a train.)
We saw Santa, he had an ice cream and we got some shopping done.
I think he enjoyed himself.
And now for something completely different. This:
2011 in review: Month 1/12

Since my Project 365 is rapidly coming to an end – there are 12 days left – I’m going post a link to my favourite post from each month since the start of the year over those 12 days.
Today, we return to January, and one of my very first blog posts. 
It’s about an event that I was terrified of attending, and very nearly didn’t, but was so glad I did because it helped me to believe in myself and my ability to go out and talk to people. I think that going set me up for a lot of the changes I’ve made over the course of the year.
Tomorrow: February