Ameli and I spent a day out in London today, with a visit to Hamleys Toy Store (more on that later), lunch at Planet Hollywood, and then a first-for-us visit to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Ripley was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist, who created the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd facts from around the world. He himself explored over 120 countries of the world, collecting the weird, the wonderful and the down right bizarre.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! certainly contains a collection of eclectic things, from the portrait of Brad Pitt made entirely out of cigarette ash, to the somewhat disturbing picture of Kennedy made out of butterfly wings, to the really clever snake effect portrait of Mrs Obama, made out of bottle tops.
Read more on our new travel blog Giving Up Normal
It’s not often these days that we get to eat out. It’s rarer still that ‘eating out’ doesn’t involve a play area. At one time, “eating out” meant one of us got to eat while the other walked Ameli around and then we’d swap so the other could eat. Fun times.
Read more: Pic Of The Week – Week 47 – Dishes And Dinners
Today Ameli and I participated in a Flash Mob in London’s Paddington train station.
So, what is a flash mob?
A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, then quickly disperse.
Read more: Breastfeeding Flash Mob London Paddington
On Sunday 7 March hundreds of men, women and children marched from the Elephant and Castle area of London to Whitehall to deliver a petition to the Department of Health and letters to the Prime Minister.
Speakers from the National Childbirth Trust, The Royal College of Midwifery, Independent Midwives UK, Association for Improvement in the Maternity Services, and the Albany Midwifery practice spoke in support of maternity services like the Albany across the UK.
Read more: Reclaiming Birth Rally – London 7 March 2010
I spent most of today walking around Richmond with my friend Gloria. Our initial intention was to visit Ham House and Gardens, but unfortunately it was closed for the winter. We spent about an hour strolling around the gardens, and had delicious scones and clotted creams at the Orangery Cafe.
Ham House, like most of the other palaces and stately homes that line the river Thames, belongs to a different time in history. It was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour who was the Knight Marshal to James 1. When he died the house passed to a succession of owners, ending up with Elizabeth Countess of Dysart and her second husband John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, in order to reflect their status in Charles II’s Restoration court. It housed their apparently amazing collection of fine art, textiles and furniture, much of which remains in the house today. The house itself was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1948, where restoration work has been done on the garden to return it to its 17th century layout.
The garden itself is an outdoorsman’s dream – from the large open meadow to the Fountain Garden, the Plats (eight squares of lawn with pathways between them), cherry garden, wilderness (a maze of different flowers) and the Kitchen Garden’s. Although empty now in the middle of winter, the garden is generally the main supply for the Orangery’s kitchen.
Gloria and I enjoyed the outdoor cafe area, soaking up the gentle rays of sunshine and lavishing clotted cream on delicious scones to replenish our systems from all the walking!
Ham House Gardens would definitely be worth another visit in the summer, when the flowers and trees can portray it in its blooming splendour.
A mile walk along the Thames and back to Richmond Station and so another Saturday was well spent in London!
For some reason the full circle of life has to also apply to holidays, and good things too, have to come to an end.
After an early morning cab ride to the airport, we boarded a very full plane to London Luton airport and had an uneventful flight. After waiting for what felt like forever for our checked in luggage to arrive we left Luton for London, Marble Arch where we sat for a few hours having another sandwich lunch before making our way for the last time as a foursome to Hyde Park Corner tube station. Edu and Simryn took the westbound train to Heathrow for their onward journey to Dubai, while Martin and I took the northbound train to Cockfosters to our friend Brendan’s house where we ended up spending the night.
Exhausted from not only a day’s travel, but also a very busy 26 days we had dinner and went to sleep.
I think it will take a few weeks for the past three and a half to really sink in, and I think we’ll have many days to come where we’ll have flashbacks and thoughts about the whirlwind that was our European holiday.
Of course, the best way to mourn the passing of a great vacation is to plan another, and Martin and I are already beavering away on plans for the next, so keep your RSS feed active or check in from time to time, cause we’re not packing those backpacks too far away!