London daze (sorry, this is a long catch-up one!)

16 Jan

It’s been a bit quiet on the old travel front since Christmas, so Matt and I are busting for our upcoming ski trip in early Feb to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. Since celebrating new year, we’ve been struggling to get back into work mode and rising at 6:30 every morning to get to work (and you know what, we have to do this Monday to Friday!!). We still feel like sleeping in till noon on the weekends, but it was this weekend that we actually had the motivation to get out of bed at an earlier hour to fit more into our day.

During these hours, we’ve just been hanging out in good ol’ London town and spending time with friends we’ve made who hail from all corners of the globe. Last weekend, our street’s party house held a party (as they do) for Nadja’s return to Germany. Nadja is a friend we made when I helped her with her CV after she arrived in London and was on the job hunt (she works in events and marketing). She returned the favour by buying us pizza and wine, but unfortunately she ended up getting a job back in Germany and has now returned to her home. Her going away party was the typical expat London party – party-goers from Italy (the gay kind), South Africa, an English girl, Brazilians (who were the most spectacular dancers), girls and guys from France, a guy from Switzerland and of course, the Aussies. We only intended on going for a quick drink as I was still feeling the after-effects of the flu, but in true party style, we stayed for the drinking games, and then we stayed for the food, and then we stayed for the dancing and shenanigans. It was fun…

That same weekend, we spent the whole of our Sunday basking in the sunshine, which lasted, incredibly, for the whole day. The weather didn’t even turn to grey and cloudy, which is quite unusual for London. It was exciting to have to wear sunglasses again! After an awesome suggestion from Amy and Troy, we spent the day at Richmond Park, a massive nature reserve located on the outskirts of London. It’s something like 1000 hectares and has wild deer roaming throughout. It’s a beautiful park and we spent a couple of hours trekking through it. We spotted red and fallow deer, which were quite tame (there are about 650 in the park alone). We couldn’t touch them, but we could sneak up for a good look. We also found ‘King Henry’s mound’ which offers some incredible views. The tiny hill overlooks the town of Richmond and you can see Windsor castle in the distance. This is also the spot we can see the dome of St Paul’s cathedral in London, which is 10 miles away in a straight line from the spot we were standing. The trees in front of us would usually obscure the view, however they have been cut away and the dome can be seen in as straight a line as possible. It’s quite an amazing view… and it’s very London. All the walking and exercise we did in the park made us very peckish, so we headed into the town of Richmond for a pub meal. We came across a typical British pub and indulged in a traditional Sunday roast, including Yorkshire pudding.

That same night, we indulged in our second Sunday roast of the day. We were invited by another neighbour of ours… Jess, an English girl we made friends with courtesy of the party house. Thankfully, dinner that night was quite late as I don’t think we could have eaten two roast meals within the space of a few hours. It was the most delicious and filling home-made English meal we’ve ever had. Roast beef, roast vegetables – potatoes and parsnips – peas and ham, cheesy cauliflower, Yorkshire pudding, traditional English gravy… it was the works. While eating our very English meal, we were surrounded by people from across the world. It was fun to get to know other cultures all in the time it takes to eat a very English meal. Thank goodness Jess was given an Xbox Kinect for Christmas (which is similar to the Wii), which we all played games on to work off the meal we had just consumed. Did we mention, we love our neighbours?!

We also had some excitement through the week – we received packages from across the world. Firstly, a care package from Australia arrived with all our favourites – chicos, Shapes, Arnotts arrowroot biscuits, Kraft peanut butter, strawberry and creams, Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs, DVDs with the V8 racing (especially for Matt), and also a Christmas gift from Matt’s grandparents (thank you!). We also received a care package from Japan and our friend Haruka. While we were in Japan, Haruka took us to eat Japanese pancakes, so Haruka sent us the ingredients to make our own at home, plus she included some other Japanese sweet and savoury snack food, tea and other little pressies. Haruka is so sweet, as most Japanese people are – we love her!

If that wasn’t enough culture, through the week we got together with Amy, Troy and Jaime to see Mamma Mia the musical, complete with cheap Chinese buffet food for dinner in Piccadilly. The show was fantastic, however we did agree that the Hollywood movie did have more action, more actors and more dancing, but still, seeing the show live with live ABBA music was spectacular.

This weekend has been a little more low-key. Today, we spent some quality time with each other… we did a quick gym session (which, we have now both quit. There just isn’t enough time to do everything we want to do when we are spending a lot of our time at the gym running away on a treadmill!). We made our way into the city to check out the British Library and saw some of the oldest documents known in history on display – original manuscripts of Shakespeare, original sheet music from Beethoven, Mozart and Handl, sheets of random paper which The Beatles had written songs on, original published works of Alice in Wonderland, and various other historic religious documents, scripts, scrolls and books. The books and documents on display were amazing. The British Library also houses the King’s Library – the collection of books set up by King George III. We were glad we stumbled across it. It boggles our mind seeing this sort of stuff and thinking about how old London really is. We also went to Kings Cross station to see Platform 9 3/4 (in Harry Potter movies in case anybody doesn’t get the reference) and got kicks out of seeing a luggage trolley stuck in the brick wall. I also took Matt on a little show and tell – taking him to my work place so he can see just how amazing the area I work in is.

Did you know we’ve now been here for just over six months and we’ve spent a lot of time travelling to all the places we’ve ever wanted to see. We are also happy that we’re able to further our careers with all the incredible opportunities that are available in this lively metropolitan city. I’m now on the list of contributors for a newspaper over here called ‘The Australian Times’. It’s a newspaper designed for Aussies living and working in London. They were looking for volunteer travel contributors so I sent them some of my blogs I had written and I was asked to join. I’ll be able to submit articles about some of our upcoming trips and then hopefully they’ll like my articles enough to publish them! It would be amazing to see my name in the newspaper next to something personal I have written.
 
Matt is also working on furthering his career. He has started studying a Diploma of photography course – he has started his first module and the whole course that takes from six to 12 months to complete. After that, he should be armed with all the tools to better his photographic skills and the knowledge to start-up his own freelance business (eventually).

We are absolutely loving our time over here, but we are missing our family and friends to the point where we would love to just ‘pop’ home to visit everyone and then ‘pop’ back to finish our time here. The care packages are definitely helping though. We feel particularly homesick seeing the news of the floods in Toowoomba and down to Brisbane. I was in Sainsbury’s on my lunch break the other day (a supermarket over here) and I came across the newspaper stand. About 10 different papers all had the picture of the young boy from Toowoomba who was washed away in the flood waters on the front page. It made my eyes well up with tears. We hope everyone is staying safe and well!

We love you all and hope to hear from you soon!!!

M&M xoxox

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today was meaningful

a collection of thoughts, life lessons, and days full of meaning.

Liv Hambrett

An Australian in Germany

I am the world's oyster

Photography, Aviation, Nature, Culture, Nikon, Canon, Qantas, Airlines, Emirates, Airports, A380, 747

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