Harrods – icon or ho hum?

This weekend we had the pleasure of meeting up with 2 mates over from Australia in London. So having purchased our coach tickets we set off for London on Saturday morning. As you may while know from subsequent emails, conversations etc the weather here has been constantly overcast and rainy for 2 weeks now. So we kitted up as per usual and hit the streets of London to sightsee. The main target was Harrods. This is a place that you have to go to at least once during your stay in London.
I was quite surprised at the lack of grandeur of the store when we first spotted it. We only realised we had reached our destination as there were protesters with a picket line outside the building. It would seem that Harrods stocks furs. Not a good start to my introduction to the store. Having paused and checked my conscience I chose to continue and have a look through the store anyway. At first the overall sense of the place was gradeur, wealth, opulence and chaos with tourists everywhere. However, after a while it actually began to remind me of Dubai – it is all these things taken at face value but once you touch the stone columns, peer up into the cornices and scratch the surface a bit more it’s all for show. There is nothing wrong with this but I imagined Harrods to be more solid (if that makes sense). I loved the Eygptian room which continues up through all the floors via its escalator. The lighting here was great and it was a lot quieter than the rest of the store. It is in this area on the ground floor that you find a tribute to Dodhi and Diana. Actually you could probably more call it a shrine with a photo of each of them and a table set up with the wine glass and candles they left “as is” at the restaurant before the accident. Included in the arrangement is the engagement ring thought to have been purchased by Dodhi for Diana. Even more interesting is the statue at the other end of the building that depicts Dodhi and Diana with the inscription “innocent victims”. It is very well crafted sculpture and the facial features are incredibly lifelike, but again, it all seems very Disneyesque.
For the rest of the day we wandered around Kensington Park, Bayswater and finally ended up having dinner at a great Italian restaurant. We decided to splurge out a little seeing as I start my new job on Monday. The 2 meals we have had in England that have been great – both Italian!
Sunday we caught up with our mates from Australia. It was really cool to see some familiar faces. It seems like so long ago that we lived in Sydney. Gosh I miss that blue sky!

Rainy days

We were all g’d up this Saturday to catch the train to Cardiff, Wales. However the weather has been rather overcast and on occassion rainy. Into the 5th day of it now and I wish it would just crack it and pour down. So due to the forecasted weather conditions we suited up in thermals, wet weather jackets and walked into town to do another walking tour. By the time we got into the city we were very hot and the sun had come out. Wouldn’t you know it! So after having stripped off we fuelled up and set out. It think we probably did about 10 kilometres of walking. One of the areas that is really cool is the old Bristol Castle in Castle Park right next door to the shopping mall we frequent. Built in 1640 by the Normans it was later destroyed through an Act of Parliment. However you can see the remains of a keep that have been partially excavated. There is also a couple of old churches still standing. Again, I forgot to take photos of the church but Steve did capture the ominous looking weather rolling in. It never rained once while we were out!

Movie: Pirates, Ocean’s 13 and F4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Ok, so some things will never change no matter where we are. Even though I am sure there are plenty of other things we could be spending our money on, there is one thing we must get in on a weekly basis – movies.
So far we have seen Pirates of the Caribbean – At Worlds End, Ocean’s 13 and today, the Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer. Garrison and I used to listen to our record of the Fantastic Four with his fav character being Ben (The Thing) and mine was the Torch (with the cool “flame on”).
Pirates was a bit of a let down, although a third instalment always bodes ill. In short the review would read, far too long and seemingly centered on one of the least interesting characters (the chick). However the intricate plot was not hard to follow (as per other reviewers statements), the graphics were totally cool and the ending not a happy one really and that always surprises seeing as we are so accustomed to these. In all probably a 5 out of 10.
Ocean’s 13 was not as well done as the first or second but kept my interest all the way through. The “reveal” of how they did it was unexciting as there wasn’t anything to “reveal” as it was pretty transparent. The pairing of Pitt and Clooney is always great as they work really well together. Thankfully no chicks to centre on or pull away from the story. I would give it a 6 out of 10.
Finally, F4. Graphics were awesome, storyline really good except for the wedding palava continuing through and ruining a really good ride. Seriously need to replace the Invisible Woman as her acting is just that – invisible. Is she using botox because the lack of expression seems to be a give away? Same goes for Julian McMahon. Again the graphics were incredible. Go Weta! I would rate this a 7 out of 10 and an enjoyable rainy afternoon activity.

Leaning church

Went into the city again today to sort a few business items out when we came across this old church. It was built in the 12th century and had been through a bombing blitz during the war. It has never been rebuilt since. The fasinating thing about it however is the leaning tower. Apparantly this is how it turned out after it had been built. It has never been straight. I think the builder might of had a few too many!

City of Bath

Saturday we took a day trip to Bath. After getting up reasonably early we took a bus into town to get our FirstDay SouthWest Ticket. Transport is proving to be quite costly here. However this ticket is a real gem. Only 6 pound each you can go anyway in the South West region on any bus run by the First group up until midnight. It pays to do the research! Going by train is a lot quicker but I enjoy the bus.
The countryside is delightful, incredibly green (more so than NZ), lush fields, incredible willows, oaks and silver birch. Arriving in Bath we were rather hungry and opted for a quick bite. OK so immediately it is evident that Bath is quite a bit more expensive than Bristol in relation to food and accommodation. I am thinking that we have made the best decision in making Bristol our home. We wandered around taking in such sites as the oldest house in Bath (where Sally Lunn a young French maid made her home and baked the famous Sally Lunn buns). Wandered through the Bath Abbey, visited the loos at the Roman Baths having decided not to pay the 10 pound for entry this time round.
At midday we met up with Tony (complete with Aussie green and gold) for lunch and a day of browsing the streets. The weather was stunning, the company great and a brillant day all round. It has given us a brief taste of Bath and I think we both agree that we will come back again once we are settled and earning the pound. I for one am keen to get into costume and do the Jane Austen sites especially with the September festival drawing near. Tony and I went into the Assembly Rooms where all the dancing and socialising used to take place under chandliers and string quartets. I could quite get into the part there in my Regency style costume! I just need to convince Steve of the same. 🙂

Moved in

Just in the nick of time we found some shared house accommodation in east Bristol. Sharing with 4 others we have a nice big room at the front of the house that is furnished with a bed, wardrobe and couch. We then share the kitchen, lounge, bathroom etc. Pretty big place and thankfully we are on the ground floor so no stairs to climb, hooray! We are very thankful for finding somewhere that is quite close to the city, has great transport (bus and train) outside the house and seems to be a nice, quiet household. Thats what we like. The hubby has been sick with a cold the last week so we have been taking it easy. Went to see Pirates of the Carribean the other night. Was surprised that it was actually on par with Australia, cost wise I am referring to. The other great thing about the new place is that we have broadband included in the monthly rent along with water, gas and council taxes. They seem to love their taxes over here. Taxed for everything but the services seem to be very limited. For example the rubbish collection. Each house has a small wheelie bin which obviously is not big enough for the average home as there are always bags and bags of extra rubbish lying next to the bins. Apparantly the rubbish collectors don’t pick these up though if they are not in the wheelie bin. Go figure. Recycling seems to be a new thing over here and the councils are trying to push it big time. However, if you provide people with the correct tools i.e. proper sized collection buckets then you might be more successful! It would seem they could do something about packaging first and foremost in order to decrease the amount of waste they take off in the first place. We got a delicious Turkish meal the other day however it came in a styrofoam container, wrapped in butchers paper then placed in a plastic bag! What the…?