Cycling North France Day 3: Forges Les Eaux to Ry

Friday 26th September

Friday we woke at a decent time, got up, and, as you do, went to get breakfast from the local patisserie.  More cheese, bread, pastrys, oh no!

Breakfast spread.  Those things I am holding are little pastry balls of delishusness
Breakfast spread. Those things I am holding are little pastry balls of delishusness
Breakfast tart :)
Breakfast tart ūüôā

It did take us a while to get all sorted and out the door, as it was our first proper morning, but we weren’t in a particular hurry, and the whole day was kind of like that, just pootling around, looking at whatever we felt like, going wherever. ¬†The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, with just enough of a breeze to keep you cool. ¬† I imagine summer would be quite hot.

Hanging Basket, Forges-les-eaux
Hanging Basket, Forges-les-eaux
Un petit chien!
Un petit chien!
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
All kitted out
All kitted out

We headed back over to Avenue Vert, which turned, very suddenly, from wide, paved, smooth, to rough grass with a bit of a dirt track in the middle. ¬†It was certainly interesting, but you wouldn’t want to follow that forever. ¬†Quite bumpy. ¬†Lovely and peaceful though, heading through the farmland and trees, with no city noises or car noises.

To this way!
To this way!
After Forges-les-Eaux, the Avenue Vert turns a little less pavement-like, and a little more like a dirt track...
After Forges-les-Eaux, the Avenue Vert turns a little less pavement-like, and a little more like a dirt track…

We got back onto normal roads, then kinda lost the trail a bit, headed down a few little side roads and had a bit of a map consulting session, before we headed off down some more back roads.   We saw a tiny town up on a hill, and off-roaded it up a steep hill to have a look.  La Ferte-Saint-Samson, a tiny little village on a hill, with very cute buildings (tudor style, and Henri reckoned with Germanic influence), probably 15th-16th? Century.  It was quiet and lovely, and we biked around for a bit.

Vines growing out of the chimney La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Vines growing out of the chimney
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
An adorable little house. La Ferte-Saint-Samson
An adorable little house.
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Old church La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Old church
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Headed to the top of the hill to check out the cute little church, where the bells rung for midday.  Whoever was ringing them, seemed to enjoy it, and they went on for quite a bit.   Found a little orientation statue thing, and a very old tree, which I climbed.  Carefully.  It was so lovely and peaceful and sunny.

The lookout. La Ferte-Saint-Samson
The lookout.
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Countryside
Countryside
The lookout
The lookout
A bowl
A bowl
Coutnryside
Coutnryside
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Church La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Church
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Someone at some point during the morning had mentioned that we hadn’t had any flat tyres or problems yet, so heading out of town, Henri got the first flat tyre of the trip. We went back to the pretty village square to fix it, so not a bad view to have to endure.

First flat of the day.  Dale is "helping".
First flat of the day. Dale is “helping”.
We weren't too sad though
We weren’t too sad though
A map!
A map!
Lovely and sunny
Lovely and sunny
Clear road ahead
Clear road ahead

Finally managed to leave town, looking forward to doing some decent biking, and Dale got the second flat tyre of the hour, just down the road. ¬†There was a french horse, whom I greeted in French, although he was quite uncommunicative. ¬†He didn’t mind that I brushed all the flies away from his face though, and we had some pats, before parting, and we continued on our way.

One thing I noticed, and kept noticing throughout the trip, was that even in the peaceful quiet of the countryside, there always seemed to be some passenger plane or other going overhead.  Just the sheer amount of plane traffic in the sky above Europe is amazing.  So. Many. Planes.  So many people going places.  It is honestly a bit ridiculous.

Another little town
Another little town
Second flat of the day!
Second flat of the day!
Mon petit poney!
Mon petit poney!

More lovely countryside, green rolling hills, farmland, and the occasional bit of wooded forest. ¬†We had a vague destination of a local castle, though google maps couldn’t pinpoint it, and we ended up biking around in a big circle, before stopping to ask directs from a local French lady. ¬†She spoke lots of fast french words, until Henri asked her to slow it down a little, and we ascertained that we had to go down the road, left at the corner, then a few kms along, then you couldn’t miss it. ¬† I think we were a bit excited about asking and getting directions in French!

Farmland
Farmland
A little road
A little road
Dear Josh (ieBear), I thought of you, every time we saw cow eggs.
Dear Josh (ieBear), I thought of you, every time we saw cow eggs.

 

We eventually found the castle, Chateau Bremontier-Merval, which was a massive four storey thing, very pretty, which is now a school.  It was on a hilltop, surrounded by lots of huge, old trees, all leafy green and knobbly.

Tall!
Tall!
I had to back right up to get the whole thing in the photo.  This is now a tertiary school.
I had to back right up to get the whole thing in the photo. This is now a tertiary school.
Built in the 1600's
Built in the 1600’s
Pretty
Pretty
Smile!
Smile!
It's this tall!
It’s this tall!

 

 

After the castle, we headed towards our destination, somewhere to the South and West. ¬†We stopped for lunch in a little town, I think was called La Feuillie. ¬† There was one patisserie, where the lady didn’t speak much English at all, but we managed to get all we needed. ¬†We met a Brit, who had lived in France for a while. ¬† ¬†There was no supermarket, but we managed to find a couple of dairy/4 square type places (I’m not sure what you call them in England.. Newsagents maybe?) ¬†where we bought enough food for dinner and breakfast.

pre lunch snack
pre lunch snack

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View
View
Bonjour, little schoolkids
Bonjour, little schoolkids
Lunch!!!
Lunch!!!
Road
Road
Totes saw a baloon
Totes saw a baloon

We had to follow some main roads, which really wasn’t as fun, but not much choice. ¬†We had a lot of trouble finding our destination – gmaps doesn’t always like French places. ¬† Eventually, our lovely Airbnb hosts came to pick us up, which honestly made me happy, as the lived at the top of a massive hill. ¬†They were very happy, as we were the first bike tour people they had had stay with them, and also the first New Zealanders.

Our accomodation was an adorable little cabin, with all the amenities, a pull out couch, and an adorable little loft bed up top.  We had a quick dip in the pool, met the local ponies, goats, geese and chickens, and then got clean and dry for dinner.  Henri made us a lovely, lovely dish, of layers of potato and raclette (we had this in Bordeaux, it is the cheese that is for melting, it is so, so delishuz).   For the sake of feeling better about ourselves, we also had some stirfry veg.  And baguette.  I put the raclette/potato mix on the baguette.  It was amazing.   Lovely pastries and tarts for dessert, and I think we also had some macaroons.

Our accomodation for the night
Our accomodation for the night
A pool
A pool
Goats
Goats
A seal
A seal
This is the most amazing thing!   A raclette and potato pan pie.
This is the most amazing thing! A raclette and potato pan pie.
This was our dinner, and it was amazing
This was our dinner, and it was amazing
IMG_1726
One giant macaroon!
Secluded
Secluded

 

I guess I should have felt bad for the sheer amount of food I was eating, but I really didn’t, because, hey, so very delishuz. ¬†Also, we were biking like 50km a day.

We lay out on the deck chairs, surrounded by the gathering dark, and watched the stars start to twinkle, and the bats flitter about through the trees.  Bliss.

We must have seen half a  dozen planes go by while we were lying there (plus one shooting star).  Do they ever stop?

Another decent nights sleep, however this time, we intended to be up and gone early the next day, so we could get to the next town with plenty of time to look around.

 

Zoomy!
Zoomy!
zoomy
zoomy
Yeahh
Yeahh
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Built in the 1600’s
IMG_1723
I am LOST!  (we knew how to say this, in case we were)

 

 

Cycling North France Day 2: Dieppe to Forges-les-Eaux

Ferry arrived in Dieppe about 4am. ¬†It was dark. ¬†And cold. ¬†And we‚Äôd only had a few hours sleep. ¬†Uncomfortable sitting up sleep (Henri and I both had blow up neck pillows, an excellent idea of hers!). ¬†But we were quite excited about being in France, so we weren’t that sleepy. ¬†Well, a little, but in all the effort of finding bikes, getting them untied, bags reattached, and off the ferry, we managed to stay awake. ¬†Out¬†through customs, then off down the dimly lit streets of Dieppe. ¬†It was dark, quiet, and a little bit misty. ¬†We rode beside the water for a time, then across a bridge and through the town. ¬†Nice and quiet streets, barely any cars, however it felt a little weird, not really knowing where we were… when the sun came up, we would be somewhere different!

Made it through customs!
Made it through customs!
Night mist in Dieppe
Night mist in Dieppe
Night mist in Dieppe
Night mist in Dieppe

 

We biked for a while found the start of the Avenue Vert (Green Avenue), then stopped by a little lake, where we put more clothes on (including jackets, as the mist made everything a bit damp), used the cooker to cook up some hot water, and had some tea/coffee and biscuits.    We then rode on through the night (well, early morning, really.  Was about 5.30am ish).

Our breakfast lake
Our breakfast lake
Our little lake spot
Our little lake spot

The first part of the Green Avenue was very easy, the first 50km is a wide, flat, paved bike trail, lined with trees on ether side.  It was lovely, but easy, and more than a few times I just wanted to close my eyes for a bit.  Would have ended up in a ditch.   About 7am ish, the sky started to lighten imperceptibly, and every time you looked, it seemed lighter and lighter.   We finally saw the sun shine through the mist, and then we started waking up a bit again.

The sun finally started to come up through the mist
The sun finally started to come up through the mist
Cobwebs
Cobwebs
Misty fields
Misty fields
All rugged up
All rugged up

 

Quick nibbles stop
Quick nibbles stop
Such a wide path!
Such a wide path!

We found a little town with a cute little castle, and with the mist and sun coming up, was quite romantic.  Le Chateau de Mesnieres-en-Bray.  A quick ride around the village revealed cute little houses, an old well, and lots of pretty gardens.

Cute little house!
Cute little house!
Little town
Little town
Housee
Housee
House
House
Well
Well, well, well, what have we here?
Fontaine
Fontaine
A castle!
A castle!  Le Chateau de Mesnieres-en-Bray
More along the Avenue Vert
More along the Avenue Vert

 

Our first stop was in Neufchatel-en-Bray,where we bought baguettes, delishuz pastries/tarts, and, of course, some cheese. ¬†Neufchatel is known for it’s cheese, made in the shape of a heart. A creamy, smooth, tasty, cheesy heart. ¬†Neufchatel cheese is apparently one of the oldest cheeses in France, dating back to the 6th century. ¬† It is delishuz.

Musee
Musee
Neufchatal
Neufchatel-en-Bray
Breakfast baguette
Breakfast baguette

We headed further along the Avenue Vert, until we found a nice place to sit and eat our breakfast, which had been a long time in coming.   MMmmmmm finally, french baguettes and cheese, custartd and fruit tarts.  So much better than being at work.  It was also very lovely to see the sun.   Henri had packed us a cheese picnic set, complete with plates, chopping board, and both soft and hard cheese knives.  Perfect!

It was very interesting to call up my mum on Skype and have a quick chat, and show her where we were, and then to call Garth and Neke (who were in Fiji) and have a chat to them too.. the wonders of modern technology!

Delishuz pear and custard pastry.
Delishuz pear and custard pastry.
Mmmm neufchatel cheese
Mmmm neufchatel cheese
Breakfast tart
Breakfast tart
Breakfast apple pastry
Breakfast apple pastry

We continued along in the lovely sunshine, until we reached our destination of Forges Les Eaux. where we were staying at Hotel St Denis, in the middle of town.   We gladly stored our bikes out the back, and headed up to put our bags away.  The rooms were quite nice, the beds very wide, with the weird pillows that they have in France Рone long pillow across the head of the bed, and then a few square pillows.

Suns up!
Suns up!
Zoomy
Zoomy
All in a line
All in a line
Not called the Green Avenue for nothing
Not called the Green Avenue for nothing
French ponies
French ponies
French signs
French signs
Huge sunflowers, and a bit of a garden
Huge sunflowers, and a bit of a garden
Pleasant
Pleasant
Tree
Tree

We headed out to the nearest patisserie, to get more bread, cheese and tasty treats, and a couple of bottles of cider. ¬†We had more neufchatel cheese, some emmental, and some lovely cheese complete with a layer of ash (not volcanic, it was vegetable in origin!). We achieved lunch in our rooms, and then retired to nap for a couple of hours. ¬†A good nap, to be sure. ¬†A shower, non riding clothes, then a wander around to take in the sights of the town. ¬† We ended up having pizza for dinner, with french cider and wine, and got a good nights sleep. ¬†Overall a good start to our trip, and we’d managed about 65kms since beginning.

Lunch
Lunch
Emmetal, and ash cheese
Emmetal, and ash cheese
Tasty breakfast
Tasty breakfast
Cute house
Cute house, with beams, and bricks in patterns
Custard raspberry tart
Custard raspberry tart
The little blue dot
The little blue dot
Adorable little houses Forges Les Eaux
Adorable little houses
Forges Les Eaux
Pretty Gardens - Forges Les Eaux
Pretty Gardens – Forges Les Eaux
Pretty buildings  Forges Les Eaux
Pretty buildings
Forges Les Eaux
Forges Les Eaux
They seem to really like their flowers and window boxes.  Forges Les Eaux

 

 

Cycling North France Day 1: Off to the ferry!

After a busy weekend of work, getting final bits ready for our ride, and a long ride out to Faring, we counted down the final days.    On Wednesday my padded seat and padded pants arrived, with no days to spare!  The girls at work sent me home early, so I could finish packing, and we packed the last of our stuff, loaded our bikes, and wiggled on out the door. And I do mean wiggled:  with paniers on both sides of the bike, it was a tight fit out the narrow and bendy hallway of our flat.

Henri and Alastair met us outside, where we had final passport and ferry ticket checks.  A few final adjustments, and we were off!   It was getting dark, so lights were on.  The first thing we noticed was that the bikes were a whole pile heavier, what with moderately full panniers on the back.  Very hard to lift the bike, and if you were standing, it liked to try and roll out from  under you in awkward ways.

 

Dale's Bike, all ready to go
Dale’s Bike, all ready to go
All ready to leave. Dale, Myself, Henrietta, Alastair
All ready to leave.
Dale, Myself, Henrietta, Alastair

We took the waterfront trails, and then the bike route from Brighton along the coast to the east, to Newhaven, where the ferry was leaving from.  Check-in was supposed to start at 9pm, but didn’t actually start till 9.30, so we zoomed back up the road to the nearest pub, so we could have dinner.  Cue our first attempt at locking up the bikes and removing all the gear.  It seemed to take forever.  Putting it all back on again, seemed to take just as long.  We hoped we would get faster at it!

It felt super weird going through the ferry check in on our bikes, with passports in hand.  I have never done anything like that before, so it was quite exciting.  More stamps!  (for me anyway, not so much for Dale, with his British Passport).

Tying bikes up on the ferry
Tying bikes up on the ferry

Had to walk onto the ferry, as the ramp is apparently slippery for bikes, then we headed to the little alcove that they directed us to, where we unloaded the bikes (again!), and tied them up securely in a pile against the wall.  Picked up all our gear, and situated ourselves on the least uncomfortable seats we could find, for our 4 hour ferry trip.

 

May 2014 – Visit to New Zealand

We had barely been in the UK a month, and¬†I planned to head back to NZ for a few weeks, to attend my brother Tommy’s wedding. ¬† I was going home for a few weeks, to make it worth the trip.

 

Wed 23rd April, 2014

Packed my bag, seems to be half full of clothes and running gear, and half full of presents, and maple syrup.¬† Delishuz.¬†¬† A little nervous. ¬†It was looking like around 40 hours of transit time. ¬†I had to catch a bus from Brighton, up to Heathrow, then fly to Auckland, via Dubai, then Melbourne, then would get picked up by family in Auckland, and a 3+ hour drive back to Rotorua. ¬†Eeek! ¬† I had what supplies I thought I would need: ¬†trusty travel pillow, eye mask, noise cancelling headphones, face wipes, moisturiser, ¬†snacks… I planned to get a little toothpaste travel pack from the airplane, as apparently they give them out.

It was the biggest plane I had ever been on, it had 2 floors, a double decker plane! ¬†There was a staircase at the back, to go between floors, though it had a gate at the top, so you couldn’t actually roam around each floor. ¬†I could walk up and down the stairs though, which was good exercise.

Huge!
Huge!

The leg to Dubai I had three seats to myself, so I got to lie down and sleep.  Fantastic.

Amazing views over some of the desert countries while flying, sun just starting to peek over the horizon, the edge of the sky a soft blue and the lights in clusters below, of cities in the desert.  Once the sun was up, there were views out over the cities, but instead of green, the buildings were surrounded by sand.  Sand everywhere.  Dubai airport was sticky and hot.

Flying over desert
Flying over desert
Dubai dates
Dubai dates
Dubai
Dubai
IMG_1094
Walkway tunnel to the lower and upper floors of the plane

Decent tail wind heading to Melbourne, so we will probably arrive a bit early.  Not really relevant for me, just means more sitting around.  I am sitting next to a lady who is also travelling to Auckland, and we have a spare seat so we get to share that for our feet.  Much better than sitting upright.

Quantas has been pretty good to fly with, chairs are relatively comfy, decent food, and tons of snacks over the course of the flight.  I would walk to the end of the plane, and, along with some of the other passengers, do squats, jump on the spot, and walk up and down the stairs, then get a snack and go back to my seat

I had a couple of hours at Auckland airport before my ride arrived, but I was greeted by Craig (Dale’s brother), who, very kindly, bought me Tim Tams, which I happily got into.

 

Rotorua

The week before the wedding was good, went bike riding with dad, ate lots of delishuz NZ only food with Nicky, hung out with Trish, Tommy, Kathi, and Baby Theo, Kathi‚Äôs mum Barbara. ¬†Also there was Trish’s family,¬†Jasmine and Ari and new addition Azalea.

Dinners were fun, if very crowded, and quite a mission to prepare for the hordes of people there every night.  Dad and Trish didn’t seem to mind having their house full of people, even though they were just coming and going with work n stuff.

Theodore is a few months old, and he is adorable.  He seems to have a very serious expression most of the time, and will stare at you a lot.

Sorry to those who aren’t immediate family, but most of the pictures I took on the trip were of family¬†people, mostly the young ones ūüôā ¬† Cue hundreds of baby photos.

 

Sleepie Teddy
Sleepie Teddy
IMG_1105
Adorable jumper

IMG_1104

Such serious face
Such serious face
Shanti, asleep on my clothes as soon as I put them out.
Shanti, asleep on my clothes as soon as I put them out.

IMG_1116

Yawny Teddy
Yawny Teddy
Nic and Azalea
Nic and Azalea
Ari
Ari

 

Ari, Myself, Nicky, Azalea
Ari, Myself, Nicky, Azalea

IMG_1124 IMG_1128 IMG_1130 IMG_1131 P1250031 IMG_1132 IMG_1138 IMG_1139 IMG_1148

 

The wedding went very well, and was a lovely day!  I have made a separate post for the pics of the wedding.

The next week was spent relaxing, eating, spending time with family, and doing the usual Rotorua things.

Nicky and Azalea
Nicky and Azalea
Nicky and Azalea
Nicky and Azalea

IMG_1188

Climbing wall
Climbing wall
Climbing wall
Climbing wall
Climbing wall
Climbing wall
Had to make my way through all the yummy kiwi food
Had to make my way through all the yummy kiwi food

P1250212

Tommy, Teddy, Nicky, Me
Tommy, Teddy, Nicky, Me
Mini Golf, serious business
Mini Golf, serious business
Check on Teddy, who would rather sleep than golf.
Check on Teddy, who would rather sleep than golf.
Sleeping soundly
Sleeping soundly

P1250222 P1250223

Some of us like the added challenge of getting our ball out of bushes
Some of us like the added challenge of getting our ball out of bushes
Awake!
Awake!
There seems to be something on the green!
There seems to be something on the green!
Is this one a boy?
Is this one a boy?
Bunnies are distracting
Bunnies are distracting

We¬†went climbing at The Wall, in centre city Rotorua. ¬†Good fun, and I climbed a scary chimney. ¬†Also¬†went mini golfing, near Skyline Skyrides which was cute: they had bunnies and birds all just hanging out on the course ‚Äď Nicky had to move some bunnies so he could play.

Parent saw me off on the bus on Friday morning, 9th May.   A wee bit sad.  Have enjoyed the time with all the family, and not sure when it will happen again.  Headed off for the weekend in Wellington.

Tommy and Katharina’s Wedding, May 2014

The point of going home in May 2014 was for Tommy (my brother) and his then fiancee, Katharina’s wedding. Lots of prep leading up to it, cake baking, cake icing, decoration making. ¬†Mostly, it was fun hanging out with all the family, and getting to know little Theodore (aka Teddy), their 2 month old baby, and also Kathi’s mum, Barbara.

The wedding went very well, the only sad part was the fact that the Rotorua marathon was on the same day, and the reception was held at the Arts Centre, which was actually on the running route.  So traffic was a bit of pain.  As in millions of traffic!

The ceremony started late, as it took between half an hour to an hour to get to the ceremony site ‚Äď a trip that is usually only about 15 minutes.¬† But the weather was lovely (didn‚Äôt rain!), the food was great, the company was great, and Theo didn‚Äôt barf on any dresses. ¬† He was super cute, he wore a tiny suit with tails (that Trish made!).¬† The bridal pair looked amazing, and the reception tables were incredibly pretty.¬† Her dress was ivory, and her bouquet made of dark red roses, baby’s breath, and green ferns.

Such a lovely place for the ceremony, it was held in the amazing garden of a friend of the family, near the redwoods.  The garden is full of trees, bushes and flowers, and is just a wonderland of secret passageways, hidden seats, and lovely foliage.

The rest of the evening was very lovely, everyone had a wonderful pot luck dinner, and talked and shared and just generally enjoyed themselves.

Nicky piped Barbara and Kathi in
Nicky piped Barbara and Kathi in
A bit nervous..?
A bit nervous..?
Nicky doing a reading
Nicky doing a reading
Reading!
Reading
Dad got to look after Teddy, who was very obliging, and slept quietly throughout the ceremony
Dad got to look after Teddy, who was very obliging, and slept quietly throughout the ceremony
Rings and vows
Rings and vows
Rings and vows
Rings and vows
Signing
Signing

P1250077

Father handing over grandon
Father handing over grandson

 

Teddy is awake!
Teddy is awake!

P1250094

P1250105 P1250125 P1250129 P1250130 P1250131 P1250144

Siblings
Siblings
P1250170
Barbara and Katharina

P1250156 P1250165

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Lovely decorations on the tables, each table had pictures from Tommy and Kathi's adventures
Lovely decorations on the tables, each table had pictures from Tommy and Kathi’s adventures
Table decorations
Table decorations
The cake
The cake
Beautiful Bouquet
Beautiful Bouquet
Treats
Treats
Somebody did this to me on my wedding night, so thought I'd return the favour. Nothing like having to strip the bed, and remove rice!
Somebody did this to me on my wedding night, so thought I’d return the favour. Nothing like having to strip the bed, and remove rice!
We did make the bed pretty
We did make the bed pretty

London: The Tower – Wednesday 16th April

Wednesday ‚Äď We were up early, grabbed a breakfast Panini as we were walking, and were ready and waiting outside the National Gallery, so we could go in¬†as soon as it opened. ¬†When we visited previously, we saw there was a Van Gogh exhibition, including some of his sunflower paintings. ¬†The line was kinda long though, so we decided to come back today, as soon as it opened, so we wouldn’t have to wait. ¬†And that worked perfectly, got to walk straight in. ¬†It was very lovely, no pics allowed in the gallery though.¬† More wandering, to see Michelangelo and Raphael, then¬†onwards to our next stop.. coffee..

Early morning at the National Gallery
Early morning at the National Gallery
Pretty springtime tulips
Pretty springtime tulips
Tulips
Tulips
Tulips
Tulips

P1240400

The gate on the North Bank of the Thames, back in the day
The gate on the North Bank of the Thames, back in the day

Jerome is a very knowledgeable about coffee, every time Dale needed some, would just ask Jerome what was good in the area we were in, and he would know.  !

Headed out to the tower of London (NOT A TOWER, IS A CASTLE!  Misleading), where we stood in line for a half hour to get tickets (sad), then went inside.  I was expecting a tower, but is so much more.

This is an old wall!  The terracota tile bits were laid down probably around 200AD, by the Romans, as part of the wall around London.
This is an old wall! The terracota tile bits were laid down probably around 200AD, by the Romans, as part of the wall around London.
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London
Lions at the Tower of London

Spent all afternoon there, exploring all the bits.   Definitely worth dedicating a full morning, afternoon or more to a visit.  Especially at the price they charge.  Did a yeoman tour, where he told us stories and was very entertaining; a torture dungeon; crown jewels (so very sparkly); The White Tower (built around 1100AD!), with its armoury, then a quick walk around the walls.

Mid March
Mid March
The White Tower
The White Tower
Trebuchet!
Trebuchet!
Our Yeoman (Beefeater) Guide
Our Yeoman (Beefeater) Guide
A clock
A clock
Armour
Armour

Lastly we crossed the Tower Bridge (pretty!), which you need to realise is different to London Bridge.  London Bridge is just your average run-of-the-mill street bridge, whereas the Tower Bridge is ornate and pretty!

The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
London
London
Self-explanatory-ie
Self-explanatory-ie
The Tower Bridge
The Tower of London, and the Tower Bridge

We headed to meet Jerome at the London bridge station to hand over house keys.¬† So many people.¬† Headed to green park again, for another loop around the palace, and to examine the statues, which were gift from NZ, then a pleasant walk via Cornish pasties to Victoria ¬†station, for the train back to Brighton.¬† Got seats which is good, as the train was very full, some people didn’t.

Buckingham Palace - they're having a meeting!
Buckingham Palace – they’re having a meeting!
Rawr
Rawr

IMG_1047

A herd of cranes
A herd of cranes

All in all, a good first visit to London.

Spikey edges
Spikey edges

P1240440

Old walls
Old walls
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The White Tower

 

 

The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge

 

London: Palaces and Parks – Tuesday 15th April

Tuesday ‚Äď We were up a bit later than expected. ¬†We had Oyster cards, which make travel really easy. ¬†Much like the Snapper cards in Wellington, you just top them up with an amount of money, then swipe into the subway system, or swipe on to the buses.

Took the tube to Green Park, where we walked through, past the deck chairs waiting to be sat on, to our first view of Buckingham Palace.

Squishy subway ride
Squishy subway ride
Deck chairs in Green Park
Deck chairs in Green Park
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

We planned to view the changing of the guard, and had read that we needed to be there early. ¬† We arrived 45 minutes before it was supposed to start… Yet, People! ¬†People everywhere. ¬†Everyone else was also there early. ¬†We positioned ourselves at what we thought was a good spot, and hung around. ¬†Eventually they came, with their music and their horsies and their very straight marching. ¬†They yelled a lot, and marched around, and swapped places. ¬†The prim and proper guard band played some music for us, including Dancing Queen, and various songs by Abba.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Waiting patiently!
Waiting patiently!
All in line
All in line
So very many recording devices
So very many recording devices
::marchmarchmarch::
::marchmarchmarch::
Toy soldier
Toy soldier
Selfiee
Selfiee
Fancy gates
Fancy gates

Wandered up¬†along¬†Constitution Hill, grassy, cool, and pretty. ¬†The mounted police went past occasionally. ¬†They have horse crossings, complete with horse height buttons to press, to cross the road. ¬†We visited the¬†Nz war memorial, the Air corps memorial, and the Wellington Arch. ¬†Briefly stepped foot into Hyde Park. ¬†Literally inside then out, just to say we’d been. ¬†I’m sure we will go back there!

Bumblebee hat is off to somewhere important,,,
Bumblebee hat is off to somewhere important…
Patrolling Ponies
Patrolling Ponies
Constitution Hill
Constitution Hill
Pony crossing button!
Pony crossing button!
Ponies can't cross yet
Ponies can’t cross yet
Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch
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NZ War Memorial

 

NZ War Memorial
NZ War Memorial
They erected this statue!
They erected this statue!
Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch
Entrance to Hyde Park
Entrance to Hyde Park
Rawr ponies
Rawr ponies

Back to subway, over to Brick lane, ¬†where we wandered for ages, trying to find somewhere to eat. ¬†We walked past a lot of Indian restaurant people trying to convince you to come eat at their restaurant.¬† Apparently we are supposed to bargin. ¬†But the thought of sitting in the restaurant while they all stare at you and rush around to serve you just didn’t really do it for me ¬† We¬†ended up having a very late lunch + cider at a yummy burger place.

Cute little castle house
Cute little castle house
Abandoned buildings
Abandoned buildings
Unicorn house!
Unicorn house!
Street art
Street art
Do not disturb
Do not disturb
The owl and the pussycat
The owl and the pussycat
A pleasant lunch spot.
A pleasant lunch spot.

Then took the Toob to Greenwich.   Large boat, cutty sark, lots of lines!  Walked through the info centre, then up to the observatory, to stand on the gmt line.  It was such a lovely day.  Like everything else awsome that you want to get your picture in front of, there was a line to get a picture with the line.  Instead of waiting, I took a picture of it by itself, then we went down the path to the side, where there also was a line, but it was by itself, so we got our picture there.  Much better than waiting.

Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark
Cannon
Cannon
Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park, beautiful
The Prime Meridian Line, where time begins!
The Prime Meridian Line, where time begins!
A clock
A clock
The lesser known part of the, where you can get pictures any time!
The lesser known part of the, where you can get pictures any time!
Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park
Pop
Pop

A lovely walk back across the green, then the subway back to town, to Oxford Circus.  Ridiculous amount of people.  A seething mass of humanity.  We were meeting Jerome and Amy for dinner at a place called ping pong.   We waited for them at Oxford Circus, so I got to just stand back and watch the hordes.  There was a constant stream of people descending into the depths of the earth to ride the tube.  Constant and never ending.  Or so it seemed.

Masses
Masses
Hordes
Hordes
Oxford Circus
Oxford Circus

Ping Pong is my new favourite restaurant.  they serve Dim sum, and amazingly, a whole vegetarian option!   Mmm steamed bun, mmm dumplings.  Deilishuz vegetarian,  so good.  Home for raspberries and icecream dessert, and chatting with our hosts.

Yum
Yum
Steamed dumpling yumminess
Steamed dumpling yumminess