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30th March - Day in the Country


We asked our host Sophie if we could stay one more night in Blackheath and she was fine with that. 

So instead of spending the day in the country and staying the night in the country, we spent the day out and about and came back to Blackheath. Saved the hassle of finding somewhere else to stay, even if it meant a few more K's.

So we headed to Guilford, which is 43 km southwest of central London mid-way between the capital and Portsmouth. Ryan wanted to visit the Andertons Music Company a place he visits many times on-line and wanted to see in person. Ryan loves guitars and this place is heaven for him. Ryan got to speak to the boss 'Captain' Lee Anderton which was a thrill for him. Rayls got to check out a 50% off Laura Ashley Store, no purchase made.

Afterwards we drove east to Wiltshire and to Stonehenge, one of the most famous sites in the world. Fascinating place, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Only problem at Stonehenge was the cold, there was a biting cold wind and we walked around with our hands in our pockets. That made it hard when you had to listen to the audio of the history.

After Stonehenge we returned home, KFC for dinner. Ryan did all the driving - 403 K's. Good job.

29th March - London

Hard to sleep overnight, the cricket World Cup started at 4:30am here. Ryan and I awoke with NZ 3 wickets down for not many and I checked the scores a bit here and there as I dozed. A bit later I looked at the score on my iPhone and my tired eyes thought they saw 6 wickets down but as I rubbed my eyes awake I saw it was an 8. Pretty soon 10. When we left the room the Aussies were 2 down for nearing 100. It was a 30 minute train trip to Victoria Station and then a frantic search for wifI. Stupid Maccas made it tough as both Ryan and I struggled to get reception. Finally Ryan got through and gave us the news that it was all over and we had won. There was much excitement and hugging between the 3 of us. Nobody else in Maccas had a clue what we were on about. We left Maccas without actually buying anything. We celebrated with bacon, eggs, toast, etc at a nearby restaurant.

We bussed it to Oxford Street, the Victoria Line was down. Rayls checked out Selfridges, Marks and Spencer and Debenhams whilst Ryan and I wandered around. It was cold, wet and windy. 

Eventually we reached Oxford Circus Station and caught the tube train to Charing Cross Station where Rahls caught the train back to Blackheath whilst Ryan and I caught the 11 bus to Victoria Station and then caught the Gatwick Express to Gatwick Station. Here we rented a car for our day and a half in the country coming up tomorrow and Tuesday.

it was around 6pm when we got back to Blackheath. Tired and cold. Been a busy few days, I think we lost an hour last night to the start of daylight saving. Sad, won't get it back at the other end.

So good to see the Aussies win the Workd Cup. Nice to hear Mark Taylor say "Australia are Champions of the World".

28th March - London

Big Ben
Big Ben

We must have been tired, slept in till after 9am.

Headed into London and from Charing Cross Station, walked down Villers Street to Embankment station and boarded a westbound Circle line train one station to Westminster, low and behodl there was Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament right in front of us.

We walked halfway across Westminster Bridge for a photo op. I am reliably informed that Westminster Bridge is the oldest road bridge in central London (1862). We walked past Big Ben and into Parliament Square, lots of interesting statues there. Churchill, Gandhi, Mandela, Lincoln and many more. We checked out the outside of Westminster Abbey, Rayls would have liked to have gone inside but is was 20 pound entry, close to $40 - one of the biggest rip-offs of the trip so far. She decided that was not worth it.

We caught a bus, it was heading to Liverpool Street Station which I mistakenly though was close to the Tower of London, wrong! Caught a taxi the rest of the way.

At the Tower of London we were looking at the prices, I was not keen to go - didn't really interest me. As we were mulling over our options a guy walked over and said he had two tickets he was not using and we could have them. Wow, nearly $100 saved. So Rayls and Ryan checked out the Tower whilst I sat in a KFC with one drink and surfing the net. There was a photo op of Tower Bridge before we caught the tube back to Oxford Circus, down Argyle Street to Liberty which is a department store that took Rayls fancy. She was 90 minutes there whilst Ryan and I walked down Carnaby Street and onto Denmark Street which has a number of music stores that Ryan checked out. We caught a bus back to Oxford Circus, nice lady driver. Met up with Rayls and tubed back to Charing Cross before catching train back to Blackheath.

Ryan ordered pizza for dinner, that was a challenge.

World Cup final starts at 4:30am here - be nice to sleep through it and awake to a win.

27th March - London

Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus

Wow, today was a long day! Back to our room just after 7pm and we are all exhausted. 

I am very lucky to have a good friend called Glen, a fellow Perth bus driver, who loves London and knows so much about it. By following his directions we can find places fairly easily. 

Rayls has been a bit cranky at me for my negative comments about Paris and from previous expereince I though we may have the same problem here in London. However, I enjoyed today, apart from the walking - very tough on the knees.

We started out by catching the Jubilee Line tube to St Johns Wood Station where we wandered down to Abbey Road to have our photograph taken at the cross walk seen on the cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road. I feel for the traffic at that location becaue people are always walking backwards and forwards across the crossing to have their photo taken. There was a few people there so it took some work but we got some photos. Nor sure how the Beatles managed it back in the Sixties.

From there it was a 10 minutes walk to Lords, the home of cricket. We did the tour and museum. All very interesting for cricket tragics like us three. This really is a great place. Our tour guide Steven Murray was excellent.

From Lords back to the tube and we caught the underground train to Green Park where we alighted to see Buckingham Palace, we weren't following Glen's instructions here but managed to see the Palace OK, one flag up so I think the Queen was home????

From the Palace we walked along Constitution Hill to Wellington Arch and more specifically the Australian War Memorial. The memorial is a semicircular curved wall of grey-green Western Australian granite, with the names of 47 battles in which Australia was involved and the names of 23,844 towns in which the soldiers were born, carved into it.

Across the road to Hyde Park Corner and then along Piccadilly to the Hard Rock Cafe where we arrived at 4pm for our first meal of the day. Great place and very nice meal. We checked out the Hard Rock Museum across the road, Ryan was in heaven, especially the six million pound Jimi Hendrix guitar. Ryan does everythig right handed other than play the guitar, therefore he feels a closeness with Hendrix who was naturally left-handed but his father tried to force him to play right-handed because he believed playing left handed was a sign of the devil. Hendrix took right-handed guitars and restrung them for playing left-handed. Paul McCartney plays a true left handed guitar.

We caught a double decker bus, a 38 service and had the top tier to ourselves. Just a couple of stops to Piccadilly Circus where we spent some time and even had a photo taken with a cop. We shopped at Lilywhites a sports store. Then down to Trafalgar Square where I had my photo taken back in 1980, we tried to recreate the photo with no success. Finally a walk back to Charing Cross Station before catching the 6:48pm train back to Blackheath.

26th March - Paris to London

Today we caught a train from Charles De Gaulle Airport to Paris Gare du Nord station where we caught the Eurostar train. This is a high-speed railway service connecting Paris with London. The service traverses the Channel Tunnel between France and the United Kingdom and France. iI was a 2 hour 47 minute trip, 478 kilometres with a highest speed of 299.56 kph and average speed of 234 kph. Interesting experience, fastest i have been on land.

Thanks to my friend Glen we had very thorough instructions on how to get off Eurostar at St Pancras Station in London and make transfers to get to our Airbnb stay in Blackheath. 

When we left the hotel in Paris, India was 0/81. Nice to get a positive result when we reached London. Sadly no Wifi on the train.

We have had a pretty hectic schedule so instead of heading back into London we camped out in our room. Rayls did some laundry; we went to the nearby village of Blackheath for a pub dinner. Early night.