A week in London

In London we were staying with Andy’s friends Sam and Nicole who lived in the suburb of Tooting. They shared a flat with eight other people, including I think three other kiwis but honestly I struggled to keep track of who lived there. We were doing the classic kiwi thing, sleeping in their lounge.

Tooting turned out to be full of different ethnic restaurants and we quickly managed to tick another item off our Typical English Food list – an Indian curry. Various flatmates enthusiastically recommended Mirch Masala which is allegedly the favourite restaurant of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. I briefly tried to fact check this and couldn’t conclusively confirm that it was his favourite, but it was pretty delicious and the first proper Indian food we’d had in a long time.

For our first day in London we eschewed the central city and instead went for a walk/run to Richmond Park which is home to 630 deer. That’s right, there are herds of deer roaming around a London Park. It’s so epic. We were there during the roar (mating season) and it was the first time I’d been able to watch deer while they were booming or roaring or grunting or whatever it’s called. It was fascinating watching some of the male deer protecting their harems. Such a cool park.

That night we went out with Sam and Nicole for a craft beer (demonstrating how hip Tooting is) and more curry! This time at Dosa n Chutny which was possibly even more enjoyable than Mirch Masala. So good to be eating Indian food again.

Cans seem to be back in fashion

Thursday was our first visit into the centre of town which was exciting. We wandered along the Thames and then somehow ended up in the Tate Modern. We seem to end up in modern art museums a lot, in spite of the fact that we don’t generally like modern art. Although I can actually explain this one. We went inside because I needed to go toilet, in the process discovering that it was free to visit. Then our friend had to postpone lunch plans so we figured we might as well check out some of the exhibitions. Et voilà, Brittany and Andy were once again looking at modern art.

My personal favourites were the three-seated swings in the big lobby area and also one of the displays in the ‘Colour’ exhibition. It was framed supermarket receipt, but every one of the purchases was something that was white in colour. This, my friend, is art.

I couldn’t bring myself to photograph the supermarket receipt, you know what one looks like

That afternoon we caught up with our friend Lilly for lunch and another friend Michael for dinner. Michael had just arrived in London and had had three job interviews that day and got three job offers which was pretty awesome.

On Friday, Andy started working on his CV and I tried to buy train tickets for us and our bicycles to get to Cambridge which was half an hour of my life wasted talking to the most useless and unthinking call centre employee I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. I ended up in a terrible mood but with no tickets. Very much missing the ease of taking bicycles on trains in places like Germany and Italy. (We ended up going into the station and being told that we didn’t need to reserve bikes for that train which was different to the website and not something the woman on the phone was able to tell me. End rant. I’m over it, honest.)

That night Andy and Sam skyped their friend Simon back in Palmy. I promised Simon I’d give him a shout out on the blog, so HI SIMON AND ALICE!

We kept up the friend visiting on Saturday, meeting Andy’s friend Tim for lunch and more craft beer then heading to a pub with a big group of kiwis to watch the All Blacks play the Springboks. I felt like with all the different people we saw were were starting to get a feel of what it’s like to live in London which was cool.

My attempt at a ‘classic’ London shot – a red double decker bus in front of St Paul’s cathedral

Sunday we had more friends around for a roast which Sam somehow managed to cook to perfection in spite of putting it in the oven on grill at 100°C at one point. Maybe that’s the trick?

On Monday we figured it was time to actually go see some of the famous London sights, visiting the London Eye (incredible queues, good thing we didn’t want to go up), parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace (missed the changing of the guard, oops), 10 Downing Street (disappointed that you can’t walk up to the front door like they do on the movies) and countless war memorials. We stumbled across the New Zealand war memorials which was pretty impressive and also a whole range of other ones. Probably we had accidentally stumbled into the memorial precinct without realising. I can only assume London has a memorial precinct.

Finally that night we went to see the musical The Book of Mormon which was AWESOME. I loved it. There were so many hilarious bits and the whole show seemed to pass in no time at all which I take as a good sign. I would definitely recommend it and unlike most musicals I think it’s much better if you don’t know any of the stories or songs beforehand, so I won’t tell you anything about it. Although I think the ten minutes of pre-show googling I did on Mormonism was kinda helpful.

And that wrapped up our week in London. Thank you so much Sam and Nicole (and flatmates) for letting us sleep on your couch for a whole week. When we actually have a house again you are most welcome to any and all couches in our possession.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I also took about fifty photos of squirrels (thank you Andy for your patience). Here are three of the least-terrible, which will give you an idea of how terrible the rest were. Yes I still find squirrels exciting. Apparently you can also see foxes in the streets! But we were never out early enough so I had to content myself with squirrels.

Comments

  1. Is this a bad time to mention that the grey squirrels are an invasive American species, and that they brought a horrible disease with them, which is helping them to out-compete the native (and much cuter) red squirrel….? I still love squirrels, though – they’re great athletes.

    • I had heard that grey squirrels were invaders but I didn’t know about the diseases. We’re yet to see a red squirrel unfortunately. Apparently there’s a ‘red squirrel cafe’ somewhere where you can see lots of them. I also love watching them run and jump around, it’s amazing what they can climb!

  2. Tracey richards says:

    Yeh sorry about immigration…word to the wise obey the visa deadline. When I was in the UK in May my first objective was to find a squirrel. I missed them bounding over the park lawns. Nadda. I ended up buying a toy one at the gift shop in Richmond Park. My family live at the base of the Richmond Hill in Ham. My Mum had to call in the RSPCA for a fox in her garden. They get quite sick. I had a massive male fox saunter out of a bush by the door when I was entering my Clapham South home; gave me a hell of a fright. You may not have noticed their Magpies are a tad different to the Kiwi/Oz ones. Then there’s the cheeky Robins. Enjoy. Later…some of us have to work :). Trace

    • I can’t believe you didn’t see any squirrels! There were so many around when we were in London’s parks. Must be the different times of year. Richmond Park was awesome, it would be great to live near it.

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