Destination: Home

60 days away from home is a long time to live out of a suitcase. So, home can be a welcome destination to relieve some travel weariness, to get back into a familiar routine, but also to provide opportunities to recall and relive some of the experiences from our travels.

Different locations, cultures, and the people we met when travelling away from the normal environment provide some real pleasures. Often these experiences, many on a “bucket list”, will never be repeated and are to be treasured.

Another often under-estimated aspect for ensuring enjoyment from travelling and getting the most out of the experiences themselves is the planning for, and anticipation of the holiday. A recent Huffington Post article advised that a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that “planning or anticipating your trip can make you happier than actually taking it.” We certainly put a lot into the planning for our trip.

So now, we have enjoyed the planning and build-up to the many places to be visited, and secondly seen many parts of the world we have never seen before as well as renewing acquaintances with other more familiar but faraway places. It now remains to enjoy that third aspect of holidays – the memories.

So, out come the photos for examining, editing where necessary, identifying and naming and arranging for albums, slide shows and hopefully a photo book of selected shots. Although now at home, it is anticipated that we will be able to continue to enjoy our 60 days away for many years to come.

 

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London Revisited

So, what can you really achieve in a few days in this great city? By way of a disclaimer, firstly we had already been here several times, we were suffering from a little bit of travel fatigue after more than six weeks away from home and lastly with one very sore foot our normal enthusiasm for sightseeing (requiring walking) was somewhat diminished.

London celebrates

London celebrates the Queen’s 90th birthday

Tower Bridge from the Greenwich ferry

Tower Bridge from the Greenwich ferry

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel, not far from Paddington station, was well situated for both our arrival from Oxford and our intended departure to Heathrow. Armed with 48-hour hop on – hop off bus passes and an Oyster cards for the tube we were ready see a few sights but at a slower relaxed pace.

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

london kensington palace2

 

As we all know timing is often very important in life. We managed to time our visit to arrive in London on the Friday of a long weekend along with the thousands of other visitors. There were people everywhere and I couldn’t remember such crowds but, London is geared to cope with tourists and it is amazing how everything functions so well. Did I mention timing? This particular weekend also saw the London 10k fun run on the Sunday with many inner city roads closed resulting in diversions to the ho-ho bus routes.

So in a way the crowds and the road diversions contributed to our being able to sit back on the bus and relax while taking in the sights. Taking full advantage of our 48-hour tickets, on the Sunday we spent a couple of very pleasant hours travelling up and down the Thames to visit Greenwich. All in all, we certainly got full value from the ho-ho bus passes.

At the National Gallery

At the National Gallery

A Streeton

A Streeton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But what else did we do? We spent a couple of hours relaxing among masterpieces in the National Gallery, including one Streeton. We had a ride on the London Eye enjoying the view, which when we last took the ride was limited to about 50 metres. We spent some time savouring the historic journey that Westminster Abbey provides, topped off by a visit to Kensington Palace and an exterior inspection of Buckingham Palace.

Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station

Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station

 

There was a little shopping, a very little, and a visit to Kings Cross station and Platform 9¾ on behalf of grandchildren. Evenings saw us retiring early mostly but we did see a couple of shows in the West End, namely The Book of Mormon and the Carole King story of Beautiful, both extremely professional and enjoyable experiences.

These few days were punctuated by light lunches and dinners mostly at local pubs where we love the wholesome meals (and for me, the local ales). For our last night we were tossing up between a nearby Greek taverna or an Italian restaurant, either of which would remind us of our recent enjoyable cruise.

We probably have not done London justice on this occasion, if that is ever possible, but we have reacquainted ourselves with the wonderful variety that this great city has to offer.

PS      The Greeks won last night, taking us back a month or so to our visit to that favourite part of the world with a quite memorable meal.

 

 

Oxford

Oxford – the first and still one of the primary places of learning in England.

Oxford is all about education and its development over the centuries, and one cannot fail to be impressed by how this permeates every aspect of the city’s life. Most of the magnificent array of buildings are dedicated to learning although the city was also of strategic royal importance being situated in the centre of the country.

Among the buildings we were privileged to visit: the Ashmolean Museum, the Sheldonian Theatre, the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Camera and the Christ Church College with its Cathedral.

Christ Church College

Christ Church College

Access and transport in and around Oxford is dictated by the narrow medieval streets. For day visitors the pain is eased by park and ride facilities for local buses, with another option being the hop on – hop off buses stopping there too. Walking in the town centre is easy, but it seems that the twelve thousand odd students all own bicycles. Watching the skill with which cyclists, motorists and numerous buses and tourist coaches co-exist is quite intriguing.

Our hotel was some distance from the centre of town and on arrival we decided to walk onto town along path beside the River Thames. It was about an hour’s leisurely stroll dodging other walkers and cyclists and watching the dozens of eights crews practicing. It was lunchtime by the time we reached the town and the Head of the River pub so we naturally had (another) pub lunch (and ale). Between the cycling and the rowing, the Oxford students appear to be a very healthy lot.

Oxford was the end of our road touring that started in Edinburgh three weeks ago. The Peugeot 308 had proved a pleasure to drive on all types of British roads. Handing back the car quite close to the Oxford railway station we were able to walk to our train to Paddington, London.

PS      Even though constantly on the lookout, we did not manage to see DI Lewis or his sidekick Hathaway but we certainly saw many of the locations from that TV series.