Posts Tagged ‘London’

My journey started today at precisely 13:33 when I left the house in Oxted with Pepe (my backpack) settled firmly on my shoulders. I made my way to the station and boarded a 7000 horse-powered beast heading for London.

Arriving at London Bridge within 33 minutes I set off on shanks pony to visit Southwark Cathedral where I would collect my Pilgrim’s Passport

 and view the Chaucer window.

 I obtained my 1st pilgrim’s stamp 😀 and bought a small booklet featuring Chaucer’s story; The Wife of Bath 😉 who was one of the pilgrims featured in The Canterbury Tales. While I was walking around inside the cathedral a young lady wished me Buen Camino which made me cry. I was already feeling so emotional and overwhelmed at the journey ahead, so her greeting just tipped the balance. She had seen the scallop shell secured to Pepe. 😊😊 I was delighted.

 On the way I walked through Borough Market

and passed The Sentinel

before stopping to look at London Bridge and the Thames; “There are two things scarce matched in the Universe The Sun in Heaven and The Thames on Earth“.

Then once again using shanks pony I walked along the banks of the River Thames to my weekend lodging stopping briefly to see a favourite sculpture; The Navigators – seemed apt since I’ll be navigating my route to Canterbury.

After a few hours of sleep

 I walked back along the river upstream to Bermondsey beach to watch the sunset.

Then heading back downstream to Thameside, the intention was to have supper at The Mayflower Pub but it was so full and too noisy,

 so instead I returned to the hostel for tea and hot-cross buns, along the way passing another of my favourite London sculptures; The Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket.

In all a brilliant start to my #Southwark to Canterbury walk #inthefootstepsofChaucer

Distance walked 8.70 kms / 5.44 miles. 16,823 steps. Temperature: wayyy too hot!!!  🌞🌞🌞🌡 

In case you were wondering, I’ve named my backpack Pepe in honour of my Mom. When I was a wee girl my Mother took me to see a film after my Grandmother’s funeral. In the film was a donkey called Pepe. Since I feel a bit like a donkey with my 7+kg load on my back and I’ll be using ‘shanks pony’ for 60+ miles, I thought the backpack deserved something more dignified than just being referred to as ‘the backpack’ 😉 Yes I know…too much time to think 🤣🤣🤣

Southwark Cathedral, the oldest Gothic Church in London is absolutely fascinating. There’s been a place of worship on this site since AD606 when it was a convent. A fantastic place to start my journey.

Famous people asdociated with the cathedral include: Chaucer, his friend John Gower, Shakespeare, Fletcher and Dickens amongst others.

Gower’s memorial; John Gower, Poet Laureate to Richard II and Henry IV.

William Shakespeare memorial.

Some of the memorials are very colourful and the stained glass windows are amazing. Definitely worth a visit.

I’ll be posting photos of my journey on instagram @notjustagranny 

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After much soul-searching and serious consideration I’ve made the heart-wrenching decision to close or more accurately shut down (since it’s an internet based entity), my ‘business’ 3 Days in London.goodbye

3 Days in London came about through my passion for sharing the many beautiful places and amazing secrets I had discovered in London during my many walkabouts. Born out of that passion the first few years were a labour of love, a joy that lifted my heart whenever I go into the city, and while that joy is still there, the business of 3DiL has become a weight on my heart.


I’ve invested years, months, days and many thousands of hours on my twitter account, sharing articles and snippets of information ….for FREE. Likewise the website and my facebook page.  I get very very little interest or activity on either despite spending money on facebook ads. I’m disheartened when I look at the analytics and discover that although I spend up to 8 hours creating a website article to make it as interesting as possible and adding relevant images, people spend maybe 22 seconds on the site….evidently the content is not of sufficient interest for them to stay longer. And according to the ‘experts; those gurus of social media’ we’re meant to post at least three times a week!!!

Facebook changes it’s algorithyms more often than I change my knickers, and Google do the same!! How the heck do you keep up!FB_IMG_1444374062426

During 2010-2012 I created 3 one-day itineraries of London, full days guaranteed to give visitors a full-on experience of London. Trying to find a suitable site to upload them to for ease of use and ensure I get paid something without most of the money going to the relevant site has been…what shall I say? Difficult!. Self-publishing sites charge a fortune and I don’t have the necessary skills to set the itineraries up by myself…as well as which the cost of installing a shopping basket is mind-numbingly expensive. And by the time the publishing site and paypal have deducted their commission, I’d need to sell hundreds to have anything resembling an income and thousands to cover the initial costs.

3DiL App

The 3 Days in London App

In 2013 I designed and set up the 3Dil app. The developer was meant to give me statistics and reports were discussed at the initial meeting. It took nearly two years just to get anything set up on-line, but to date I am still unable to get anything that resembles a decent format, certainly nothing that I’m able to access unless I have my computer with me, something that I can use, so that I can approach relevant businesses for a mutual arrangement so that I can start earning some money. Unless I sit down every day and obtain the information manually……but that was not the original agreement. Can you imagine if I approach a Boutique Hotel or Restaurant to set up a business deal for renting space on the app….. ”How many downloads do you have on a daily and monthly basis?” Uhmmmm. “Oh a lot”. “How many active users?” “Gee well, I’d have to look every day and add it up manually”. How many uninstalls do you have on a monthly basis?”  Uh gosh, actually my developer says that she is unable to give me that information”. “Oh well, sorry but we can’t do business on a wing and a fcking prayer”.  The App has cost me well over £3500.00 to date. The app itself is free for users to download. It doesn’t make any sense at ALL to continue if it can’t pay for itself.

Besides being unable to get the information I need, most of my emails, phone calls and text message are ignored. When I follow up, I’m told ‘oh I didn’t get the email’ or ‘ oh my phone wasn’t working’. Yeah right.

Lesson #1 don’t do business with a friend.

In 2014 I redesigned my website, to make it more user friendly and useful; provide a resource for visitors to London. Gave it to a website developer, someone who should have been trustworthy. After fiddle faddling for months with excuses and delays, bearing in mind I had already paid her a substantial sum of money to get started, I put a bit of pressure on to get the first draft – that alone it took nearly 6 months!!!, and the total cock-up she sent through sent me into meltdown. I fired her immediately. I didn’t get my money back.

In 2014 investing a whole lot of time, I created a calendar for 2015 showing annual and traditional events in London. That met with some success with some of my friends and family buying their copies….it was so thrilling! I didn’t make much profit on them, but I so enjoyed making them and when someone actually bought them!! Wow 🙂

2015 London calendar

so, inspired by this, I spent weeks compiling the 2016 calendar, sorting through photos, sourcing quotes to suit the images, and researching the dozens of annual and traditional events in London over the year….a few of my facebook friends bought some and an ‘Angel’ saved the day and bought 4 copies.

0 2016 calendar collated 2016 The rest lie on a shelf at home; I made a loss due to the total lack of interest… I put some money into Facebook ads, promoted it on Twitter, on my website, on instagram, but sadly there was no real interest.

In 2015 I spent months compiling the ‘While You Are There…53 Places to visit in London’ book, painstaking hours of finding interesting information and photos to fit, designing and rearranging the pages, the formatting is sheer murder; if you change one sentence you could end up having to reformat dozens of pages…after all that I sold 3 copies and made £13.46 in profit after deductions and tax.cover image sq - While You Are There Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted!!! Thanks to my one facebook friend for his support )Peter B, you know who you are 😉 )and to my lovely instagram friend for her support (Jaeden, you know who you are 😉 ). On the plus side, I sent one to The Queen last year in September and apparently she liked it 😉 I even got a letter of thanks from her Lady-in-Waiting. – what a cool title.

Besides all of this, the website keeps crashing. I’ve got all the correct security in place, the spam blockers…et etc. But each time it crashes I have to phone the hosting company to fix it. They now won’t help unless I pay them £40 a time! It’s just getting too much. It sends me into a spiral of frustration and depression when I try to log on and a message tells me ” Bandwidth has been exceeded”. wtf??? Seriously. grrrIMG-20141203-WA0005

I can’t compete with the likes of Visit London, Londonist and Time Out. Clearly whatever it is I’m doing, is not working.

Over the last 6 years the business has cost me well over £8,000. I have maybe made £150 turnover from the sale of products. There is clearly a discrepancy here and I won’t be retiring any time soon on the proceeds! I wasn’t even looking to retire on the proceeds, I was however hoping to generate enough income to allow me to spend more time in London and have a life besides working.

They say you can’t flog a dead horse…..well at the moment that’s what it feels like…..I’m flogging a dead horse. I reached breaking-point in September 2014 at which stage I nearly shut the whole thing down out of sheer frustration. After I recovered my equilibrium I decided to give it one more go….but nothing’s changed, I still can’t get what I need from the app, the website keeps crashing, I’m not prepared to spend another £900 on having a new site designed and what’s the point of having products if no-one buys them…..clearly it’s not what people are looking for. …..I’m fed up. If I look at the reality, then it’s time to say goodbye and move on.IMG-20150311-WA0017

So after almost 6 years of working at the business every spare minute, starting early in the morning and finishing late at night when at home, seldom even getting up from my chair even to eat, and snatching every spare minute while working away from home.

Am I sad? Yes, I’m devastated, having the dream has kept me sane the last 6 years. I adore London, I love to share information, I love to attend the events and explore her many streets and alleyways, but I can no longer support what is not serving me. London will always have a very special place in my heart and I certainly won’t stop exploring and enjoying.FB_IMG_1444420460011

An ‘Angel’ said to me a few weeks ago…..”What would happen if you closed this door?” And so on the premise that when one door closes another one opens, as of 31/03/2016, just 38 days short of the 6th anniversary, 3 Days in London will cease to exist.

On the plus side I have met some wonderful people, many of whom have become really good friends. I have through one of those friends been able to participate in some fantastic events; The Green Man in 2013, The Tudor Pull in 2013 & 2014 and the Magna Carta River Relay in 2015….thanks Joe (and Malcolm) 🙂 I’m forever grateful for those opportunities.2013.01.06 Green Man Event & trinity Tide

I’ve been invited to a number of previews with Historic Royal Palaces…I remember receiving my first invitation…..thrilling just doesn’t describe it.2013.08.21 Press Preview - Line of Kings ToL  I’ve also been invited to previews of exhibitions in the City of London, mostly notably through the wonderful people at Guildhall, and invited to do a few reviews at restaurants…again, what a thrill to receive the invitation. I hope I did them justice.2015.02.02 Press Review - VOC Bar

But now I can go to events and exhibitions to just enjoy the moment – without worrying about an angle to follow, without feeling like I have to share as much information about said event so that folks don’t miss out, and without feeling like I have to do anything more than just enjoy myself.

As well as which, I can now start travelling – there is so much of the UK and Europe I still want to see before leaving this earthly coil, and time is running out. Am I tired of London?13. cover No…..In the words of Samuel Johnson “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Love London
I love London and it will always be my most favourite place on the planet, and I have no doubt I will return again and again.

So for now it’s au revoir 3 Days in London, and c’est la vie

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So, here I am just under a week since I made the momentous decision to close down my business!   Yesterday morning and this morning I had a major panic-attack…a real wobbly and almost reconsidered the whole thing…..except that of course nothing has changed. The reasons for disconnecting myself from the business of 3 Days in London are still the same and much as I loved my business and loved being identified as 3 Days in London…it became me and I lost myself in the process.

timeous quote

timeous quote

Roughly 4.5 years ago I designed an itinerary for an American friend who was coming to London and wanted my suggestions on what to do with 6 hours in London…Out of that I started a new business called 3 Days in London and spent days and hours in London charting new routes and created 3 full-day itineraries ‘3 Days in London’ that would take in all the top attractions as well as many of the hidden and secret London places that are so amazing and yet so many visitors to our incredible city never get to see. I started a new website, got onto twitter, opened a facebook page, started a pinterest profile, opened a flickr account, got going on instagram soon after it appearedinstagram and signed onto so many social media platforms that I totally lost count. After years of steadily tweeting, blogging and posting photos and providing what I hoped was interesting information about the city; the history, hidden places, events, races and exhibitions I started to get invitations to Press Previews….. finally I was being noticed and was now going to the openings of new exhibitions…wow!!!   I can’t tell you how delighted and thrilled and amazed I was when I got my first invitation: to the opening of a new exhibition at the Tower of London.

Line of Kings at the Tower of London

Line of Kings at the Tower of London

Around the same time I created and had an App built….it was/is great. To date there have been almost 3,000 downloads and of course bearing in mind it’s free to download, it was still exciting nonetheless to see the download numbers creeping up!

developing the App

developing the App

I adore London; it really was my passion and of course having learned via the Personal Development journey I was on in 2007/2008 that to start a business by doing what you loved was the best way to ‘Turn Passion into Profit’ (I am part quoting the title of a book by Christopher Howard) I decided to turn my love of London into a business. However….and this is a big however….that did not happen. I got so wrapped up in trying to be the ‘google of London’ that although my love for London never waned, my passion has.

I’ve seen the Queen and the Royal Family, been at the Royal Wedding, the Diamond Jubilee, was at the gate of Buckingham Palace when our future king was born

waiting for the arrival of a future king...

waiting for the arrival of a future king…

watched numerous Trooping the Colour events, been rowed along the Thames in the beautiful Trinity Tide (the 1st),

The Trinity Tide

The Trinity Tide…not the year I got to ride 😉

participated in the Tudor Pull twice, stood on the Gloriana (a highlight), been to watch the arrival of ‘The First Georgian king’,

The Glorious Georges

The Glorious Georges

climbed the O2, been up the Orbit and had numerous rides on the London Eye and walked 80% of the streets, courts and lanes in the City of London.

The City of London

The City of London

I’ve climbed The Monument (3 times), climbed to the Golden Gallery of St Paul’s (5 or 6 times) & the tower of Westminster Cathedral, been up The Shard, down the Tube (travelled on every line and visited nearly all the stations),

Going underground...

Going underground…

I’ve sailed down the Thames in various craft including a tall-ship, and over the Thames in the cable car, walked beneath the Thames via the Greenwich tunnel and tramped along the beaches wherever possible. I’ve been to both the London locks, walked across every bridge from Hampton Court to Tower Bridge, watched all the river races, explored and investigated nooks and crannies, learned to drink a lager: London Pride (go figure hahahaha) and pulled a pint at The George Inn.

pulling a pint at the George Inn

pulling a pint at the George Inn

I became a tad obsessed with trying to see and do EVERYTHING, and go everywhere; visit every palace (which I have done), explore every historical house (still a few to go), attend every exhibition, every attraction, visit every ‘views of London’ (I’ve done most), visit all the churches in City of London and Westminster and many more besides (only a few to go), all the parks (still many to go), all the events (been to all the annual ones!!).

I’ve seen the Lord Mayor’s Show (5 times), and watched the fireworks at the London Eye at 5 New Year’s nights and stayed out all night in 2014, seen the tree being switched on in Trafalgar Square. I’ve tried to visit every hidden place, every secret place, visit all the famous cemeteries (3 to go), go on as many tours of different areas as possible, learn about the many kings and queens, about the famous

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

and infamous people who had shaped the city and all this while taking thousands of photos – to date I have over 60,000!!   Ironically I missed quite a lot of the events taking place in front of me in my endeavour to capture the ‘perfect’ photo or the ‘best’ video to share, to share them without overwhelming the social media platforms….all this while trying to blog about everything I had done, update the App (which, like a baby, needs constant attention) and still work and have a life…..in the process I forgot about me, in my desire to do everything and to share everything I knew about the city I exhausted myself, sometimes staying up till 3am in the morning and back at my desk by 6am setting tweets, updating the blog (some posts took anything up to 8 hours to craft in my need to have the full and correct information), editing and uploading photos etc etc etc…..London is such an amazing place and I became quite obsessed with trying to make sure that I didn’t miss anything (not possible) and share everything…..which of course is impossible.

seeing everything....

seeing everything….

I tried to learn about SEO, key words and phrases, back-links, how to craft a blog to make it interesting, I bought books and downloaded ‘useful information’, I gathered boxes and boxes of flyers, leaflets, brochures all carefully collated into categories and alphabetical order for easy access when doing research, and dozens of books on London – all this stuff, except for the books, are now in the recycling bin along with a little bit of my heart!! 😦

my London books

some of my London books

I downloaded articles on how to write a Press release, how to do this, how to do that, what to do and what not to do when writing a blog…..gahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! I tried to figure out the best time to send tweets, to update the facebook page, upload photos to pinterest, when was the best time to post a blog…..and on and on and on……the ‘experts’ all had an idea of what/when/how was best…and I had no idea who was the best expert.

Amongst all this madness I decided to redesign my website; to make it into a super duper resource….a place where people could visit and easily find out everything (almost) there is to do and see in the city. Lists of things to do, places to visit, Top attractions, what to see, museums and galleries, churches, places, parks and gardens and squares, annual events and and and….lists and lists and more lists…..you don’t want to miss a thing!   One thing about me….I LOVE lists!!!  I have spent months and months researching, learning and crafting interesting and useful (I hope) articles for the website….all of which I would now have said is wasted time….

down the toilet....

down the toilet….

I met with the website designer at the beginning of the year and the first draft was beautiful..I got so excited. Now I would be able to confidently upload the itineraries I had created 4 years ago (nope, I had not yet put them up…despite walking them a number of times and having other people test them for me, lack of confidence stopped me at every turn, what if the information that was on the itinerary was incorrect!! What if they didn’t like them). I planned that once the website was completed I would approach possible sponsors for the App etc. I wanted to be taken seriously, to have a professional website, to show I was serious. So when things started to go awry with the development of the new website, I started to get concerned. Time and months went by with no indication of when it would be ready…finally I started to put the pressure on. I eventually got a link, clicked on it and was sent to a porn site….apparently my new website along with 4 others had been hacked. I won’t go into the subsequent details except to say that by now my confidence in the end result was beginning to wane….why didn’t the developer have sufficient security?

pretty much says it all really..

pretty much says it all really..

After many emails and phone calls, many of which went unanswered and quite a few months went by, I finally got a link to the site……suffice to say I was dismayed…I was shocked at quite frankly what looked to me like something that had hastily been cobbled together to meet my demands (after nearly 7 months) and in that split second I was…right that’s it!!! I’ve had enough. I’m out!!!!



There was so much that was fundamentally wrong and although my initial list of errors only took into account the big stuff I had discovered that was incorrect, the fact that the name of the company had been spelled incorrectly in not one but two places really upset me a lot…..the response I got from the developer of ‘quick fix’ or ‘easy change’ just didn’t after all cut the mustard. This had come right on top of the double whammy of the day before and I really just couldn’t take it in. I didn’t want to see so many errors on what really should have been a professional presentation…..TIME to quit!

time to quit!

time to quit!

The reality is that I am a very small fish in the very big London pond….there are HUGE London websites that employ dozens of people to research, report and update their websites….the enormity of what I was trying to do finally hit me square between the eyeballs….my love-affair was over.    Not with London, but with the business of London.

I had lost my passion for the city, I was exhausted with trying to be everywhere and do everything and tweet, instagram, facebook, flickr, pinterest and write about it. I was tired of trying to get stats that I needed, to learn about the different platforms that keep changing their algorithms, facebook changed theirs so often I got heart-palpitations trying to keep up….. and layouts; don’t even talk to me about layouts!!!…I got heartily sick of logging onto a platform that I had used just the day before and the whole appearance had changed and I had to learn all over again where to find things. I seriously believe that the developers are too clever for their own good and should not be allowed anywhere near the platform once it’s done! I got fed up with all the spam that appeared on my blog every day (despite having akismet installed), with nasty people making shitty comments or complaining about my tweets on twitter, or spending hours editing and uploading photos, or creating videos and only 5 or 6 people even liked them. I also had to tackle bloody Windows 8 along the way after my previous computer crashed and I had to get a new one…it has also cost me a lot financially. I had to stop and really question why I was still doing this.

& what am I doing?

& what am I doing?

On the plus side, I did get to conduct a few guided walks with groups of people, bespoke walks that were fun to research, fun to plan and in reality quite tiring to do. I was terrified that they would get injured in some or another way while on the walk with me and frankly even having insurance doesn’t cover that stress. I’ve written a short story…my great Victorian novel I like to call it…LOL in reality it’s a short story, but it was fun to write and I actually sold quite a few, I’ve created 2 blurb books, one my daughter made for me out of some of my more interesting blogs and one I made for a friend who visited Twickenham, and I have been to so many places, seen so many amazing things, visited so many fantastic venues and attended some brilliant events and exhibitions. I have connected with some absolutely wonderful people along the way… some from as far away as Russia and Ukraine, Toronto in Canada, Texas, California, Florida, and other American states; some of whom I have actually met, many of whom have become very very good friends 😉 as well as wonderful people from the UK and London.  These are just a few of the wonderful people I have met….


On this amazing journey I discovered that not only was Queen Lizzie’s birthday close to mine, but my birthday falls on St George’s Day and I share the same birth date as Shakespeare!!  How cool is that!

I have learned so much about the history of this great city, the greatest city on the planet in my humble opinion, that I can only look back with great joy at all I have done and the people I have met and I can tell you one thing for sure….okay make that two things…I Love London, that will never wane and I know more about this city than I know about ANYTHING else on the planet!!!

when a man is tired of London......

when a man is tired of London……

I LOVE London, but, I am no longer trying to be ‘google for London…..’queen_elizabeth

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So there’s a new kid on the block….pinterest!  I joined 5 days ago and already I am addicted! 🙂 What I love about it most of all is that unlike twitter or facebook where if you want to see a photo you have to follow a link…with pinterest when you log on all your ‘friends’ photos appear on the from page….a smorgasbord of exotic travel destinations, recipes, cute animals, funky interior design, fashions, yummy food dishes, flowers and much much more.  You can scroll through all these marvellous photographic exhibits and like or comment on a favourite or repin the photo to one of your own boards.  The variety of boards is amazing and the amount of creativity that abounds in the world of photography is amazing.  I am loving it…..not sure when I’ll get to blog again…but if you dont see me here….you can find me on pinterest 🙂 http://pinterest.com/3daysinlondon/

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royal wedding 2011, william and catherine

all the Queen's Horses and all the Queen's Men...photo courtesy of Stop and Think Photography http://stopandthinkphotography.wordpress.com

I had the great fortune last weekend to be a part of what was one of the most well-publicised and delightful weddings in many a year.

If I live to be 100+ I will never forget the fun, the excitement, the joy and the sheer exhuberance of the day and the people who shared it.

I learned a lot over those 2 days and this is a light-hearted look at some of the things I learned:

1) People still believe in fairytales – we love a good romance and the romance between a Prince and a Commoner still has the power to spellbind most of us!

2) Princess Diana is still dearly loved by millions of people – I heard hundreds of people speaking about her over the 2 days and many, many bloggers mention her in conjunction with their reporting of the day.

3)  You don’t have to be British to be a Royalist – thousands of people travelled from all over the world to share in the day and wish this lovely couple a bright and happy future.

4) The British know how to throw a good party – all over the country people put out the tables and the bunting, blew up the balloons, cooked up a storm, put on a good bash and put the beer industry into profit for the next decade!!!!

5)  The British are Top of the Pops when it comes to Pomp and Pageantry – the sight of those horsemen coming down The Mall, the sound of the horses hooves on the ground was overwhelming! The sheer power!

6)  There are thousands of people who truly love the young Princes – despite their priviledged upbringing and the illusion of freedom, many people are aware that they live in a gilded cage and still have their wellbeing at heart.

7)  We love that Kate is such a down-to-earth lass with no airs and graces – I loved the moment she stepped out her car at the Abbey and waved to the crowd, and then when she said ‘Wow’ as she stepped onto the Palace balcony and saw the crowds.

8)  I learned that people are prepared to endure the most uncomfortable of nights for a good place to view the proceedings.

9)  That people are essentially honest – we left our bags outside the tent all night and no-one touched them.

10) The Mall is very gritty and with thousands of people walking by the amount of dust generated could put the Sahara to shame!

11)  That it is easier to sleep on the ground when you are 16 years old than when you are 56!!! 🙂

12)  That people who are complete strangers are more than happy to share their worldly belongings and engage in conversation, even thought they don’t know you.

13) That even in this world of me, me, me……there are many generous people still around.

14) That the sun comes up real early at this time of the year and Buckingham Palace looks fabulous in the early morning light.

15) That I can survive without eating for longer than I thought 🙂

16)  That I can hang on without going to the loo for 14 hours!!

17)  That some people are very enterprising – the number of memento vendors I saw on The Mall the day before was entertaining!

18)  That people are not afraid to dress up in ridiculous outfits and make a spectacle of themselves – bravo to all of you!

19)  The words of ‘God Save the Queen’!

20)  That the British on the whole are MAD…. mad/ly patriotic that is –  there are many, many people in Britian who sang this lustily and with pride.

21)  That they sang the National Anthem with equal pride!

22) That the Policemen on duty carry lunchpacks in little brown paper bags. 

23)  That my camera doesn’t work too well when its clogged with dust!

24) That pop-up tents don’t pop-down as easily as they pop-up!

25) That after only 3 hours of sleep a cup of tea tastes like nectar.

26)  That despite only 3 hours of sleep from the night before, I was wide awake when the fun began.

27) I learned that I am truly grateful for my bed.

28)  That my daughter is a real gem; prepared to give up her home comforts to accommodate her Mother’s mad impulses and sleep on The Mall.

29)  That London is the best city in the world………but that I already knew! 🙂

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Monday brought a visit to Hampstead to meet with a potential Business Coach for 3 Days in London:

a school in Hampstead - reminds me of a school i went to in South Africa...a million years ago!

my kinda house. Hampstead is filled with delightful houses

and a visit to starbucks for the 1st 'gingerbread latte' of the winter season

Tuesday a walk to the village and I found these discarded pumpkins looking sad and lonely, waiting for the trashman

Wednesday and a walk on the Heath is in order. a dark wintery day didnt deter from the beauty of one of my favourite places

the fishing pond on Hampstead Heath... a favourite spot (much photographed)

Thursday was a wet and rainy day, and I got to walk through Waterlow Park on my way home from the village, the beauty of the foliage is much to be admired

the beauty of this particular spot catches my breath every time I walk by (this too has been photographed many times)

the pond looked suitably dark and mysterious

Friday I had the afternoon free so headed into my favourite part of London….the Square Mile

Guildhall, from whence the Lord Mayor starts his historic journey

the interior of Guildhall. the features are fabulous and it was awesome to walk in the footsteps of history.....

X marks the spot.....beneath this very unpreposessing looking slab, 20 feet below the surface lie the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre..which I visited of course

then a visit to another Wren church

St Lawrence Jewry - a Wren Church

and Saturday brought a visit to Keats House

the house where John Keats (poet) lived before he left for Rome where he died of TB at the age of 25

the chaise lounge in his parlour, Keats used to sit here and enjoy the view and write his poems

a fascinating discovery on the way home...a house in Hampstead

Sunday I stayed in 🙂

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Last week I had a few days of much needed rest and relaxation!  aka a few days off! Although I was ok to stay in the house whilst off duty it was my preference to head on over to spend some time with my daughter on the other side of London.  A lovely side of London if I may say. Initially I was meant to travel through on Thursday and stay till Sunday but she suggested that since I was free would I attend a presentation that she was conducting at the Westminster Library in Leicester Square.   She has been giving these presentations for some months now about Social Media and whilst I often get to preview them online and edit them beforehand, I had not yet actually seen the ‘Angel’ in action!  Since I was on leave and technically free I accepted the invitation with alacrity and delight.

So with a smile on my face and my packed bags trailing behind me (they are well trained) – I made my way to Leicester Square.  I was amazed to find that the square was lit up with the Xmas fair already firmly established and lighting up the night sky (I will blog about that on 3 days in London.info).  It was quite dark by then and the first thing I did was grab my camera (of course) and hanging onto my bag I whizzed around the square snapping away.  I love the seasonal events that happen in London and although winter is a long and hard slog of cold, wet and windy days (much like a baby’s nappy) I love how beautiful everything looks with all the lights that are draped everywhere for Xmas and the carousel looked fab!

the faire comes to Leicester Square

Then, avoiding the crowds, I slipped down the narrow lane that leads to the library.  Eagerly anticipating the event; I was not disappointed. The ‘New Media Angel’ is a genius and an excellent presenter.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening and even though I had pretty much seen the material beforehand, still I was totally engaged and learned a lot.  It fascinates me just how much knowledge she has and how entertaining she is; keeping you totally involved the whole time.

Unbeknownst to the audience she was in fact not very well and during the Q&A afterwards collapsed with a blackout and we then made a very unwanted trip to St Thomas’s hospital for a thorough check up.   It amazes me just how long patients are kept in ‘the system’.  We could probably have left at least 3 hours before they finally discharged her.  I applaud the ambulance services who were there in no time at all and tended to her without fault; kindly and gentle.  The hospital staff were lovely and then we met the Doctor!!! What an eejit!  Bear in mind please that he is a Doctor and that we have a huge problem with MRSA in this country due to lack of hygiene in our hospitals.  He popped his head around the curtain and without further ado and no introduction he proceeded to draw blood.  First attempt was painful and unsuccessful and it is beyond my comprehension why he tried to draw it from her wrist!  So off he goes to get a 2nd set of blood-drawing equipment and without washing his hands or swabbing her arm he set about trying to draw a sample. STOP!!!!!! The first time around I had not noticed what he was doing, but 2nd time around I was horrified to note that not only was he poking at her arm to raise a vein with his bare finger; his bare unwashed finger but he had not swabbed her arm with the usual cleanser!!! I was like….’Hello! arent you supposed to clean her arm first?’ and then the eejit (I could use a much stronger word here but I won’t batter your sensitive ears) says ‘Oh! yes I suppose so’ and off he goes to find a swab!  U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E!! I was ready to give him a slap.  Anyways, he takes the blood and I’m getting ready to give the Doctor an account of this useless individual when he minces back in and says ‘ Hello, I am your Doctor’.

Geez!!! My jaw hit the floor.  Anyways long story short they did all sort of tests and finally let us out the zoo. It is of great concern to me that despite the bottles of readily handy bottles of anti-bacterial gels and the notices everywhere about the ward, warning patients and staff to ‘WASH YOUR HANDS’ this numbskull did not!  No wonder that patients end up contracting the nasty MRSA virus!  Anyhow, finally they discharged her and we hailed a cab to whisk us off through the dark and quiet streets and at just after 4am we reached home and to bed.  Thereafter I lost a day….not physically but mentally.  I do not know where the day went or even how the day went except to say that not only did I forget to phone as friend as arranged but I also completely forgot to phone my sister for her birthday…only remembering late on the day! 😦

But what a delight it was to see my daughter’s new home, to walk about the neighbourhood and discover new places.  The next day, we went into London by train for a business meeting,

off to London by train

which was great fun and I got to do a 60second presentation on 3 Days in London which was pretty cool.  I love those kind of meetings; the members all do such interestings jobs or have such interesting companies and the food was good! Yummy. Then I headed off to Marble Arch to take photos for my blog and to just meander about town to see if I could discover something new….and I did!  I strolled along a street in Marylebone and discovered a quiet square just off Great Cumberland Place with a beautiful memorial to someone, someone whom after reading the inscription, I think should have a far more prominent position in town. Roaul Wallenberg who saved 230,000 jews from the Nazi war machine.

Raoul Wallenberg

Thereafter we, me and CJ met up and headed back home and settled in for a night of R&R and TV.  Next day I managed to drag myself out of bed at a decent hour and headed off to Teddington for a tweetup with Guide2Richmond aka Patriona, and a friend of hers and their kiddies at the most delightful ‘Happy Potter’ tearoom for chat and tea.  The Happy Potter is just lovely; a bright and airy venue where you can take the kiddies along to paint and decorate different pottery items, perhaps a xmas gift for granddad or nana  or something fun for Mum or Dad.  A terrific place to happily enjoy an hour or two.  There is a couch there with my name on it….. I will be back!! 🙂

a couch with my name on it.... at the Happy Potter

After tea I went walkabout to explore the town.  Teddington is pretty much a duplicate of many towns in the UK, towns that have seen history come and go, Kings and Queens, Popes and Princes, plague and pestilence.  Breaking with tradition the high street is named ‘Broad Street’ but in keeping with other towns and villages, is lined with all the usual High Street shops: clothes, food, greengrocer, florists, hairdressers, toyshops, a butcher, a baker, no candlestick makers but plenty of little charity or antique shops, banks, pubs and restaurants and to my delight….Greggs!!  yay…lunch. Although my diet is primarily meat free I have a weakness for Greggs sausage rolls.  They are delicious, most likely laden with enough salt for a week, but quite delicious.  Fortunately I only get to eat these yummy bits of unhealthy food about 1x a month….so hopefully no harm done.

I continued my march about and whizzed along the winding road and passed the usual little church tucked away behind a hedgerow, the yard dotted about with ancient headstones and memorials, timeless reminders of folk long gone, and in many instances largely forgotten.  I love to wander though the churchyards and read the inscriptions, some of which are mostly invisible with just the occassional name or date still readable.  It is always so sad to read how in some instances whole families die within months of each other or to see the name of a beloved child that died within a few days or weeks of birth.

St Mary with St Alban Church - Teddington

The key to visiting these villages/towns is to walk just off the main street where you can find some fascinating cottages or houses that date from the 1800’s or even as far back as 1500’s, and Teddington was no different. 

Peg Woffington Cottage - 1753

 Closer to the river – the Thames flows nearby, I found a row of delightful fishermens cottages, one of which had been converted into a pub with a history. 

The Tide End Cottage - pub on the banks of the River Thames at Teddington

 I took a quick walk across the suspension bridge that spans the water at what is known as Teddington Lock. A short walk along the other side, just because….and then I made my way back into town and along the way passed a magnificent church designed in the French Gothic style by architect William S Niven.

Landmark Art Centre - formely the Church of St Alban the Martyr - Teddington

Formerly the Church of St Alban the Matyr, after years of neglect and vandalism, this magnificent structure has been restored, listed as Grade II and converted into an art centre – Landmark Arts Centre.

Walking through the churchyard I was lucky enough to pass the side door as someone else exited…..and without qualm I slipped through the open door and into the church for a quick exploration. What a gorgeous interior; a lofty ceiling that soars skywards, beautiful stained-glass windows and dark corners make for an interesting visit. 

lofty ceilings that soar to the sky and colourful stained glass windows

 I had my camera in hand and despite that there were a number of people about, no-one even glanced my way. Probably thought I was there for a local paper or something 🙂  When I went to the office to ask for historical literature, was the first anyone queried how I got in and informed me very politely that the church was actually closed……..yeah!!!! Too late. haha!  The evening was spent with a friend of hers from way back when for supper at a lovely restaurant in Richmond.  The waitress was superb, the food was good and the company great.  After the meal, leaving what was by now a very noisy restaurant and venturing out into the chilly evening we strolled along the banks of the Thames and wandered around town then headed home on our god-given transport 🙂 It is but a short walk from there to there.

The next day was spent just relaxing and chatting with some business planning to be done.  So off out into the chilly air in the afternoon we had a quick walk to Sweetie Pies where we enjoyed the yummy cupcakes and a pot of tea and plenty of laughs. 

cupcakes at Sweetie Pies

At 5pm we got turned out; nicely….. of course, and took a very short walk along the river to photograph the river.

that lazy ole river just keeps rolling along....

 …it was too darn cold for a longer walk, then home for supper and more R&R…. hey I was on holiday! 🙂 Along the way we discovered an old cemetery and not to leave any stone unturned (joke) we enjoyed a few minutes wandering about and reading up on the history.

1800's cemetery

Back home, it was supper ‘a la Cindy’of braised sausages, mushrooms and mash with rich thick gravy, then we settled in for a night of Strictly Come Dancing and X-factor; a late night topped off with a hug then off to dreamland.  I slept on the couch in the lounge and snuggled into the cusions and so to sleep….mmmm or not!  The blokes upstairs were really noisy and clomped around the room above till 3am in the morning!

Next day was an opportunity for me to just laze about in bed and read……a rare treat!  We had planned to take a walk to the deer park but the day was chilly and the house was cozy, so we didnt get very far….a late breakfast was enjoyed and then we got stuck into some strategy and planning for 3 Days in London.  Brilliant. Finally got the bones of a plan on paper. And so to home and back to work….on duty from 11:30 this morning I am already missing my freedom.

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There is a lot of talk in the Personal Development world about ‘finding your passion’ – (and they’re not referring to sex 🙂 )!  In the past I wouldn’t have put much store in that kind of talk – there were lots of things I enjoyed and I had loads of interests…..but ‘passionate’ about them…no, not really!  

So what does that have to do with today? Well today I celebrate 9 years of  ‘freedom’ and in so doing I have also found my ‘passion’!!  I arrived in London on 9th October 2001 enroute to Ireland, to help my sister celebrate her 30th birthday and for what at the time I thought would be a nice long holiday.

Cut a long story short…. I adored Ireland – I discovered what freedom meant and in the first 2 months I travelled the length and breadth of  that tiny island with my delightful sister and brother-in-law, subsequently cancelled my ticket home (South Africa), and lingering for another 4 months till I was forced by law to go back to SA….which I did, but only long enough to get my Ancestral Visa and return to London.  And therein lies the passion.

London had me at……no not at ‘hello’, it had me when I saw the chimney pots 🙂  Right through the years I had always maintained that I was never interested in visiting London, that if I ever visited the UK, I would merely pass through London on my way to the countryside….well fate/life/the universe had other plans for me and as we exited the underground enroute to Heathrow I fell in love.  I found my passion.

Now, no rude comments please, but…..I am a fan of ‘Mary Poppins’ (don’t laugh; I have seen it 20 times already…probably more) I can even say ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ backwards (ha! kidding).   But seriously, London has stolen my heart.  Since living here I have travelled to so many wonderful places, not only in the UK, but in USA and Europe as well and yet whenever I return to London my heart races and I get all excited.

The difference between here and there is so vast that I can’t even begin to describe it.  When I look back on my life in SA it looks squished and restricted in comparison to here.  I marvel at the sense of freedom in being able to walk through a city filled with history and stories, of discovering quirky and sometimes plainly absurd features and places, of visiting some of the most exquisite buildings you could not even imagine (although obviously someone did).  I could talk for hours about this city and never become bored. No matter where I go there is always something new to discover.  It has truly become my passion.

And in finding my passion I enjoy unending freedom.  So today I celebrate 9 years of freedom and the opportunity to live in, what is to me anyway, the most beautiful, fun, interesting, amazing, wonderful, incredible…… city in the world.

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Last week Saturday I went walkabout through London…well more specifically, through the City of Westminster, which is a city in it’s own right, albeit within the Greater London area.  This city is chock-a-block with fabulous ‘things to see’.  I have walked this route numerous times before and yet I always discover something new…..this was no exception.

to be found in the Horse Guards Parade

and this marvellous item, which I simply cannot believe I never saw before….

the wheel of a Turkish gun

these two fabulous guns/cannons are to be found in the Horse Guards Parade.  The following memorial is situated near St James’s Palace…..

gems of London

I also had the greatest of luck and managed to visit the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey.  There was some sort of ceremony going on so I just kinda walked in….. as I do. 🙂  There are some fabulous memorials scattered about, one of which is dedicated to Edmond Halley…….

memorial to Edmond Halley

and this for Capt James Cook, which I thought was expecially lovely….

memorial to Capt James Cook at Westminster Abbey

No matter how much time you spend, or how often to walk about this fabulous city, there is always something new to discover.

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 The last few weeks in the run up the elections and subsequent to the conclusion, has been a most interesting time, even though twitter would not allow me to say so!!

I have so enjoyed watching the political machine in operation and this time around it was quite different to the last, with much more emphasis on ‘honesty’, ‘change’ and blah blah blah…real American style political spin, and hugely entertaining.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Party Leaders’ televised debates and found the body language of the participants to be quite revealing; esp the photo on the inside page of a daily paper showing Mr Brown and Mr Clegg mirroring each others lecturn pose, whilst at the other lecturn Mr Cameron stood aloof, looking upwards and away from his opponents. I thought for sure this indicated a possible pairing if indeed we had a ‘hung’ parliament, which as it turns out we don’t, but do!

I was unable to vote this time around and fortunately too, as I would most likley have voted Liberal-Democrat since Mr Clegg came across as a safe-harbour in a storm of accusation and counter-accusation between the two major parties……as it turns out, I am glad now that I was not able to vote!

As you well know, we now have a coalition government, with the Cons and the Libs cosying up side-by-side, new bedfellows, with the Labs left out in the cold.

Mr Brown proved to be a reluctant loser, dug in his heels and tried to woo the losers into bed with himself and his party! Looking at it from the outside, I could have told him to forget it….the fresh young lads appealed far more to our ‘celebrity’ society that prefers prettiness to age. And so it was inevitable that we would say ‘Goodbye Mr Brown’.

Watching Mr Brown’s diginified, albeit by some accounts calculated resignation, I was for the first – mmm, no make that the 2nd time quite taken with himself; having not been a fan before.  The other time being the interview  Jeremy Paxman just before the voting.  His obvious emotion at giving up what had been the cherry on the top of a long political career after such a short time must have been a devastatingly personal blow. Much like studying for years to be a Doctor and failing your exams, or a marathon runner after years of practise and hard-effort losing the gold for bronze. Especially harsh in the knowledge too that millions of people in the country were eager to throw him out!

What particularly struck me while watching his address outside Number 10 Downing Street was the sorrow and stress evident on the face of his lovely wife; Sarah. I have long admired this particular lady, followed her on twitter and watched as she took what in my mind was centre stage, eclipsing her husband in style and grace, much as Michelle Obama did her husband.

My thoughts were…”why did we not vote for her to become Prime Minister?” Absurd perhaps, I am sure some readers would say, but how strong and fortitious must she be to have stood by her man through such an evidently difficult time and yet always managed to look graceful, charming and delightful with that wonderful smile that hides sorrowful memories and the knowledge that so many of her fellow countrymen despised her husband.

I for one am sad at the loss not of our ‘most powerful’ leader, but rather that no longer will we be charmed by the lovely Sarah on a regular basis. I do hope though that she continues to tweet, perhaps no longer as @sarahbrown10 but rather as @sarahbrown

So whilst the world looked on as Mr Brown tendered his resignation and stepped down to attend to his 1st most important job of Husband and Father, let us cheer for the lovely Mother and Wife as we say ‘Goodbye to Mrs Brown’, and let us be reminded that behind every successful man, stands an incredible woman.

I for one wish her well and hope that she stays in touch (so to speak).

photos courtesy of zimbio.com & topnews.in

p.s. I just noticed on the news section of yahoo whilst looking for photos, that Sarah will indeed continue to tweet, now as @Sarah BrownUK……..hooray! 🙂

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