Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Day One: Arrive London

My journey from Adelaide to London took 31 hours, door to door. That is pretty good, given I went via Melbourne. I did that deliberately to avoid a change of plane (and terminal) in Dubai. Instead we had a simple refuelling stop of about an hour and a quarter, leaving early and arriving in London 45 minutes ahead of schedule. It was a good flight. I finished a book and did quite a bit of embroidery - as well as getting about 6-7 hours sleep. I thought the food was good - sensible, modest serves. I really enjoyed the small mushroom linguine. Heathrow was relatively efficient apart from a bit of a wait for luggage. My painted flowers did help with identification, but didn't speed the bag along.

The drive from the airport to a hotel always leaves impressions. Today the traffic was light. The numerous luxury car headquarters I noticed on my last visit were nowhere in evidence on the route we took.                                                                                      There are odd things - like a 24 hour Tesco.
The stand-out feature this time were the apartments being built - huge blocks that I didn't photograph. Amongst them are elegant rows around Kensington, Paddington.

The trees are still bare. There was little wind. It was 33C when I left Adelaide and 6C when I arrived in London.The first time I visited London, in August 1968, Winter in Australia, Summer in England. It was warmer in Sydney when I got on the plane that it was in London when I arrived and the first thing I did was buy a coat. Today the absence of wind helped to allay the shock. By late in the afternoon, it was, however, raining.

Baker St hasn't moved

and Madame Tussauds has lost none of it's attraction

The Royal Academy of Music is still impressive and Regent's Park still an attractive space even with the trees still bare.

I chose The Wesley Hotel purely because it was the closest I could find to Euston Station which is where I need to catch a train the day after tomorrow. My room met my expectations, It is quiet, clean, comfortable and compact, with a small desk, a giant bed and a very limited view.

What I hadn't expected, is the history. It was originally the Methodist International Centre (MIC) one of a series of places set up by the Methodist Church at the instigation of Hilda Porter, a missionary returned from service in the Far East, who was horrified that accommodation in London often openly refused people on the basis of race. Conscious of the hospitality she had received overseas, she campaigned for the Church to set up comfortable and affordable accommodation for overseas students studying in London. The MIC fulfilled this function for 60 years.

Now, as the Wesley Hotel, it endeavours to maintain a social change philosophy in keeping with its Methodist roots. It bills itself as the "First Ethical Venue in the UK" , working for sustainability, socially responsible  business and supporting a number of charities around the world. This added an unexpected interest to my stay.

HI kept myself awake until I had an early dinner in the hotel, hoping to sleep well tonight. I completely forgot to bring or take Melatonin tablets this time. Dinner was pleasant - duck with pureed sweet potato and bock choi, chocolate ice cream and mango sorbet.

The restaurant is crisp and modern, obviously patronised by city workers.

I planned my day and a half in London as R&R rather than sight-seeing. Given the weather, I plan to stick with that and have a quiet day tomorrow. The focus this time, is largely in the Lakes District.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Ready to go

By way of a test blog, here I am, just about ready to set off on a five week
adventure in England. This trip takes me to London for two nights, then on to the Lakes District by train for an eight day Embroidery Retreat at Lake Windermere with The Crewelwork Company, two weeks staying in Keswick with cousins, then 8 days at a hotel at Hampton Court so I can do a couple of day courses at the Royal School of Needlework before returning home.

My trusty travel handbag has been dusted off, my passport inside, itinerary and receipts printed and on my phone. I have tidied up, washed everything in site, left my plants soaking in tubs of water, turned off the water and arrived at Adelaide airport ready for a flight to Melbourne - so I can go all the way to London on the same plane.
Because it will be, to say the least, chilly in the Lakes District (4C compared to 29C here in Adelaide) I bought myself a slightly larger suitcase than my usual. It is the maximum approved carry-on size. I don't intend carrying it on aircraft, but it will be manageable on trains . Unfortunately, the shop only had it in black so I have tried to make it recognisable with a few abstract flowers in acrylic paint and a range of tags.

My on-board bag was to be the trusty shoulder case given to me as a farewell gift when I left Education.au Ltd. It is a little narrow but I persevered until just before I left home, when I gave in and swapped to an open bag that fitted more in.

At the airport I indulged in a new zip-up carry-on. Jim had at least 8 of these that I could have used - but I seem to have given them all away. So here is my new, boring black one now holding my laptop, iPad, Kindle, alpaca poncho, connector cords - and embroidery project.

I resisted the temptation to take an overcoat at the last minute. My trusty fold-up waterproof coat with hood is ready to retrieve from my suitcase when I arrive in London - hopefully enough to get me to my hotel.

Future postings, will, I hope be more interesting. My mobile and email should work while I'm away - you need to use the full +61 phone number even if in the UK. Voice mail may not work so send me a text message if I don't answer the phone.