Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunshiney Days

The sun is out!

It has been hidden for a long long winter and finally it has decided to come out, heat up the temperature and allow Londoners to enjoy a weekend full of picnics and basking in the rays.

It is actually incredibly amazing how much the sun in London makes a difference - in a matter of minutes the parks are packed full of people trying to get the best of the good weather. I was no different! My whole entire weekend was spent outdoors exploring the city and hanging out with friends.

First stop was the Borough markets my favourite fresh food market followed by a wander along the Thames from London Bridge to Waterloo taking in the weather and atmosphere. After grabbing a ice slushie and basking in the sun we made a snap decision to tube up to Hampstead Heath to meet up with Emily and have a wander. We passed the lidos and some of the other fellow sun revellers and found a nice grassy patch to lay down and chill out while we people watched and chatted.

If that wasn't enough sun drenching for us the next day we decided to hit Hyde Park but this time armed with food and booze for a looonng afternoon of lazing around, listening to music, eating yummy food and drinking ciders in the sun. Our crew of 5 soon turned into a group of about 14 of us as word spread and we met in the city centre. We weren't the only ones of course the park was packed so it provided a perfect place to people watch. In my case it was perfect place to puppy watch and I spent lots of the afternoon gushing over lots of the gorgeous dogs that people walked through the park. I miss having a dog so much and I very nearly stole the cutest sausage dog!

It was the perfect weekend and one where London really came alive. I just hope that the weather stays that good for awhile but knowing London - its sure to fade. Even more reason to make the most of it when it does come out!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tower Bridge

It had been a little while since I had ticked off something new from my Top 100 book and with Shea recently ticking off her London Bucket list she had given me inspiration to do something I had never done - see the Tower Bridge open and close. I'd wandered past the Tower Bridge before and sat at pubs with a view of it but never seen it open and close. Once I realised this I was itching to go so I looked it up online to see the next date and luckily it was only two weekends away.

It was opening at 9.50am so it was a pretty early start for me to get to the other side of London but luckily Lauren my PIC (partner in crime) I made it in time. It was cool to see it open and close but it was a bit of an anti-climax with it happening so quickly. It took all of 5 minutes to go up and down but a highlight was watching the navy soldiers wave to us from the ship passing through.

After snapping a few photos we took refuge from the drizzle and decided to tick off another thing in my Top 100 and visit the Tower of London. I vaguely remember visiting when I was younger (I think - that is how vague it was)so it was good to check it out again. It was £20 entry which I thought was a bit steep but still wanted to check it out.

We arrived just as a guided tour was about to start so we decided to follow one of the Beef Eaters who guard the castle and hear some stories. About five minutes in after getting shoved out the way by fat american tourists and my foot run over by a pram we decided to bail and take it at our own pace.

The next couple of hours we spent wandering around the turrets of the tour, visiting the kings apartments, the royal beasts exhibit but of course the best part about the Tower was the crown jewel exhibit. They are just so sparkly! It was really cool to get up and close with some gorgeous jewelry. We weren't the only ones who wanted to see them but to keep the crowds at bay they have installed a travelator which was ingenious! Because other wise I would be stuck there starting at the crowns for ages.

We also checked out the Ravens that have been stationed at the Tower and who are specially trained to keep guard. They were kind of freaky if you ask me but a tradition is a tradition!

Was glad to tick a couple of things off my Top 100 and see an iconic part of London. Sometimes I get so bogged down with work and social things that I often don't stop to think - wow I'm in London and seeing the bridge go up and visiting one of the Royal palaces definitely made it hit home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Goodbye

After two years in the UK its getting to the point due to visa issues a few of my friends are going home. Sadly for me it meant that one of my closest friends and partner in crime, Shea, was due to leave. Thankfully she has the opportunity to renew her visa to a highly skilled visa however it wasn't guaranteed so when she left we weren't sure if it was see you later or an actual goodbye.

Although to distract us from this inevitable tear jerker we partied instead. Her final weekend in London coincided with St Patrick's Day so what better way to celebrate then dress up in all green and go out clubbing. As we already had our green dressed from a previous party all we had to do was grab some glitter hats and green stockings and we were well and truly in the spirit!

We went for pre-drinks at a friends house to kick start the evening and had a few drinks and nibbles while we all got green-ified. It wasn't only us that got green-ified as the glitter from our hats had fallen all over Dan and Katies apartment - so much so that they were cleaning it up for weeks afterwards. By about 10 we were ready to head off to the club where we spent the night drinking green drinks and dancing the night away.

It was a great night out and was so good to see everyone. One of the best things about going away parties is that they usually bring out absolutely all of my friends. Dancing and drinking the night away is one of my favourite things to do with Shea so it was a pretty apt way to say goodbye. It will be a blow to my London life to lose her but thankfully her visa situation looks positive!

Saying goodbye is one of the downsides of living in a city filled with people from all parts of the world and this year I have to say goodbye to a few close friends. But I wouldn't trade living in London with these people for anything!