The sunniest place in the UK

The sunniest place in the UK
Eastbourne, United Kingdom

Eastbourne, United Kingdom

After a week in London, it was time to move on. It hardly seems like a week ago that we arrived in England and had our first meal at an English pub. It seems like so much longer than that. We’ve done so much and seen so many things, yet barely scraped the surface.

After getting a minor hiccup with our next hotel reservation sorted, we checked out of the Imperial Hotel in Bloomsbury. We had to get to Victoria Station for our train to Eastbourne, and decided that the best way to do this with luggage would be without having to change tube services. So rather than walk the couple of blocks to Russell Square Station and have to change onto the Victoria line, we got a cab to Kings Cross Station so we only had to get on one train. It was £10 well spent.

The cab driver might have muttered something like ‘feels like you’ve got a house in there’ as he helped us get our luggage out of the cab, and we’re still not sure why the bags are suddenly 5kg heavier than when we arrived. I just hope I’m not 5kg heavier.

The train to Eastbourne was with Southern Rail, and it took about an hour and a half. Somewhere along the way it started to rain, and I wondered if finally I might get some use out of the extravagant purchase that was my travel coat. I packed for cooler weather and possible rain, neither of which have eventuated. I have way too many cool weather clothes and nowhere near enough warm weather ones. Who’d have thought.

We arrived in Eastbourne just before midday and took another cab to our hotel. First cab on the rank rule applies here, as we found when we thought we’d take the second-in-line van for our luggage, rather than the sedan at the front. It fitted easily though, so we were fine.

We have a beautiful sea view room, and the hotel feels very swanky. I feel very under-dressed.

I think if you add my and Lil Sis’ ages together you might get the average age of the guests here.

Unlike our London hotel, this one has a fridge in the room, and it even has a library. There are small bowls of sugar cubes on the table in the bar complete with little tongs. It’s a bit posh!

We can see the Eastbourne Pier from our window – part of this burnt down a couple of months ago, which is sad, as this is one of Eastbourne’s iconic attractions. I believe the rest of the pier was re-opened to the public on the weekend, so we should be able to go and have a look.

Our first stop after checking in was the Rainbows Launderette in Seaview Road (the road doesn’t actually have a sea view). The man there was lovely and very helpful and I give this place the thumbs up. While our washing was washing, we walked through the town to the Visitor Centre to pick up some brochures. Eastbourne seems to be one of those places where there’s the tourist centre (aka the beachfront, with its row of massive hotels) and the town centre which is the real world.

Right now we’re in the bar looking out over the beach, sampling the different beers. The WiFi is a lot better here than in our rooms (the receptionist asked if we wanted WiFi when we got here, adding ‘you look like the type of people who do’ – I guess pulling out the iPad to give her our reservation details gave that away), so sadly I might be spending a lot of time here.

I’m very sad about this.



I love Paris in the, er, autumn

I love Paris in the, er, autumn
Paris, France

Paris, France

(or I crossed a road in Paris and didn’t die)

The original trip wasn’t going to include Paris, but Lil Sis saw a ‘Luxury Paris Day Tour’ in the material from the travel agent and suggested it. It sounded like a good idea, so we included it in our package.

We knew it would be a long day. We had to be at St Pancras station at 6am to meet our tour group, and the Eurostar service left just after 7am, arriving in Paris 2 hours 15 minutes later. Another time zone shift, but one we’d make up at the end of the day.

It’s a pretty cool service. In about the same time as it takes to get from Hobart to Launceston, you’ve covered the 500 or so km between London and Paris and are in another country. The train carriages are small compared to the one we travelled on in NSW recently, and we drew the short straw in the seating game and had to sit in one of the four sets of seats that faced each other. We were sitting opposite a couple who did nothing the whole trip, just sat there silently. Awkward.

But the service is quick, and it got us to Paris in time to be able to spend a whole day there.

First up was the bus tour. We didn’t get to see as much as I’d expected, but we saw enough to get a feel for the city and its history. The only other time I’d been to Paris was 25 years ago. I remember I loved the Montmartre area and Sacre Coeur, but unfortunately that wasn’t on the schedule today.

I loved driving down a road and looking down every side street to see the street lined with those gorgeous white buildings, snaking off into the distance and around corners. Everywhere we went I saw a shop I wanted to go into and explore. But we were on a tight schedule and, even if we hadn’t been, I doubt the rest of the group would have been happy stopping off to let me poke around in shops.

The tour took us through the area around Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, through the 9th arrondissement and down streets like the Boulevard Haussman, L’avenue d’Opera and la rue de la Paix, We drove down the first part of the Champs-Elysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. Like yesterday, it was a fast paced (as fast as a bus can go in Paris traffic) snapshot tour of some amazingly old and significant buildings and monuments. In a way, the sheer number of things we saw made it difficult for me to appreciate just how spectacular everything is. I’m sorry to say that today, like yesterday, I have a lot of photos of things I’m not sure what they are.

I guess in this sense, a bus tour doesn’t really give you a feel for a place like exploring a small area on foot would – but then you get to see a lot in a short time to give you a snapshot of what the place looks like. And because we don’t have a lot of time, we have to decide whether we do the overview of a big area, or a detailed look at a small area. The traveller’s dilemma.

We were booked in to the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant on the first level of the Tower. When the guide said that lunch on the Eiffel Tower was included I imagined the restaurant would be higher up and we’d have great views while we were having lunch. Unfortunately not.

The lunch was really nice, but by the time we’d eaten there was only 45 minutes before we had to meet our guide for the River Seine cruise. Not enough time to take the stairs up to Level 2, so we had to be satisfied with photos from Level 1 of what was a day of low visibility, and postcards.

The river cruise was on a large flat boat that took us under many of Paris’s 22 bridges, including Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts. We saw several of the buildings that we’d seen from the bus, this time from the water. There were even some wedding photography sessions in progress along the river bank, with one bride perched precariously on the edge of one of the bridges.

After the cruise, the bus took us to the Louvre, where we had a choice of taking a private highlights tour of the museum (Lil Sis), exploring the museum on our own, or free time to do whatever we could manage to do in an hour and a half (me).

I decided to take a walk around the area and go to the Île de la Cité, which is the part of the city its oldest inhabitants, the Parisi, lived in. I made careful notes of how I’d gotten out of the Louvre, because I had to be back at the meeting point at 5.30pm. Following a friend’s directions, I made my way across le Pont des Arts and back across Pont Neuf to the Île de la Cité. Here my impressive French language skills came to the fore and I was just capable of asking for some stamps for postcards to Australia. It’s to the Post Office lady’s great credit that she understood me. Three years of university education paid off.

I also managed to cross several roads by myself without being killed. This is a bigger achievement than you might think. Traffic in Paris is bedlam. Lil SIs and I were saying we’d never want to drive in London, well this goes double for Paris. Pedestrian crossings? Red lights? Correct lane? Don’t you worry about that. On a motor bike and can’t get through the traffic? That’s ok, there are footpaths.

Having made it back alive (tacky souvenir acquired on the way), the challenge was then to get back into the Louvre. The entrance I’d come out of was closed. Mild panic. I imagined getting all the way back and then getting left behind because I couldn’t find my way into the building.

In the end it wasn’t that difficult to find where I needed to be, and it was time to get back on the bus. All we had to do at the station was go through French border security, English border security and the obligatory bag check. Then it was back onto the Eurostar to try and catch up on some sleep. The train was running late, so we didn’t get back into London until 9pm.

P365 – Day 363 – fun afternoon (and year in review 10/12)

For today’s ‘let’s get out of the house’ trip, we ventured a little further afield and went to Alpenrail in Claremont. 
It’s a model Swiss Railway, which has been operating since 1985, and apparently is one of the biggest in the world.
Juniordwarf had already been there with his Grandmother and was very keen for a return visit, but neither Slabs nor I had been.
It’s rather cool to watch the show and see the trains running around the track, and the amount of work that has obviously gone into the model is phenomenal. It took seven years to build, plus ongoing work sine then.
There are also some smaller models that visitors can operate themselves, as well as the most beautiful faery garden, which I would have loved to have taken the time to explore, but which Juniordwarf rushed through at his standard pace.
After that we went to the Montrose Foreshore Community Park, where there is a huge climbing rope structure in a great kids playground. Every time we drive past the park, Juniordwarf tells us how he climbed to the top of the climbing frame the day he went there with his class.
When we got there I appreciated exactly how tall it was, and thought that Juniordwarf meant he’d climbed to the top platform.
But no, he meant to the actual top – as high as you can go.
I was terrified watching him. Even though his climbing skills have improved dramatically in recent months, I thought that this was a bit much of a challenge for him.
As I watched him go higher and higher, past the platform, I was preparing myself to have to get in there as quickly as I could in case he fell off. I was fully expecting him to.
Oh mother of little faith.
He had no fear, was completely sensible about the whole thing, navigated the route that suited him best, made it to the top and then all the way down without a hitch.
It was all I could do to stop myself saying, ‘be careful’, but I bit my tongue. He knew what he was doing, he’d done it before and I had to let him know I believed in him.
Once he’d made it safely back to earth, we tried out the exercise equipment, and then set off on the recently opened Boardwalk, which is part of the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP)
I have a photo of the boardwalk in development from back in April.
As the boardwalk was being build, Juniordwarf had been fascinated by it as we drove past each morning. He’d say, ‘I like all the blue-y bits. I like all the orange-y bits.’ And so on until the end.
This was my second (and Juniordwar’fs third) walk along it. I think it looks a lot better when you’re actually on it than it does from a distance. The different colours are fascinating and I love how the main colours blend from one to the next.
I wonder what the walk is like from Juniorwarf’s perspective, as he’s not quite tall enough to see over the top. I get the impression he’d get the feeling that he was basically walking through a giant liquorice allsort.
It was a fun afternoon.
Year in Review (10/12)
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.

I loved so many of my October posts. It was impossible to pick a favourite, so I settled on this one, because who doesn’t like choc-chip cookies?