London and Bath

So we arrived into London on Thursday afternoon (6th August) from Paris after catching the EuroStar train across the channel.

We were expecting a little more from the EuroStar – the name builds up a certain expectation – and we were left wanting. It probably didn’t help that the air conditioning in our carriage was on the blink either – making for quite a warm journey indeed. Thankfully one of the staff members was extremely helpful and did everything he could to make our journey more comfortable. He initially started handing out bottles of water, but seeing the sweat pumping out of Archie he decided to try and move us. After a little exercise in seat logistics he eventually found us two sets of two seats – we wouldn’t all be sitting together, but at least we would all be a little more comfortable in an better air conditioned carriage. The journey would have been horrible without this – as Archie was really getting quite irritable in the heat.

The train journey from Paris to London was around 2 hours, with barley 20min of that spent in the channel tunnel. Emerging on the English side of the tunnel you immediately notice grey sky… We are definitely in England.

Coming from the dry and often dusty 34-36c daily temperatures of Paris, the lower 25-27c temperatures that were forecast for the next few days in London would be very welcome.

After arriving into our station we discover that there is a tube strike on today – meaning no trains running at all in the Underground. This was going to be interesting. The queue for taxi’s was long, and after getting in one, the roads were quite clogged. Thankfully we got a nice driver who got us to our new home as fast as he could – and 20 Pound later we had arrived.

Our new neighbourhood is a bit rough – I suspect the local riff-raff live directly across the road – and fully expect to be kept up to all hours with dogs barking and kids screaming. People seem to park their cars wherever they want and on whatever side of the road suit them.

I feel like walking across the road to that house and setting a few things straight before we get started – Kensington Palace… who do they think they are…

Well so it seems William and Kate are our neighbours – literally a misguided drop-punt would have your footy over their fence – I suspect Will would be a pretty good sport and kick it back however.

So it appears we are not in a scrubby neighbourhood at all, but rather the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – the X-Trail would look rather ‘out-of-place’ here I can tell you. Most car bonnets seem to be emblazon with either a three-point-star, four joined hoops, a horse, a big B or R. I think you get my drift – not to many Toyota’s or Nissans.

Most of the cars are pitch black, with drivers at the ready. Our street (Prince of Wales Terrace) seems to be some sort of a waiting bay – drivers come and sit in their expensive luxury cars, some get out and polish the duco back to an immaculate shine – all waiting for whoever they work for to call.

Anyway, Will and Kate have been pretty good neighbours so far – not a peep – I’m not even sure if they are at home. I was hoping Will might sneak across the road for a quite pint at the end of the day (once the kids are in bed) – but we haven’t seen him in the Goat (our closest pub).

On the last two evenings we have enjoyed having a picnic dinner in Kensington Gardens, right at the back of the Palace – Archie has become quite fond of the ducks at the big pond.

Yesterday (Friday), Laura, Jo, Archie and I all jumped on a regional train and headed for Bath. Mum had been there recently so she did her own thing in and around London for the day.

The trip up to Bath took around 2hrs, but the journey was well worth the wait – Bath is beautiful… and I think next time we might have to stay there for a few days.

Big old streets, white sandstone buildings, big blossoming gardens and all immaculately clean. We spent the whole day wandering around Bath – there is just so much to take in.

Laura and Jo went to the Jane Austin house, while Archie and I went to check out the smallest pub in Bath and have a local pint. Small was right – no room to swing a cat, let along a pram. The pram got folded up and Archie and I sat on the remaining 2-seater table next to the bar (there were only 4 in total inside).

After our (my) pint of local ale, we headed back to meet up with the girls and headed down to the river for some lunch.

We continued to drift around Bath for the remainder of the day before catching the train back to London in the late afternoon.

Today we set out reasonably early and caught the train to the Tower of London. Getting there early was a great plan – there was no queue and we went straight in. Laura and I missed the Tower of London last time we were here (2008), so had it on the list to see this time round. We spend a good hour or so wandering around the grounds, and Archie seemed to enjoy himself – entertaining the Beefeaters.

Laura, Archie and I left Jo and Mum at the tower (not literally) – they had booked a show in the afternoon and we wanted to see a few more sights before heading home to get Archie off to bed for the afternoon.

We caught the train up to Westminster – Saturdays in London in summer are full on. Tourists everywhere. Coming out of Westminster station we could hardly move. I think it took as about 25 min to get from the station, across the road to see Big Ben, across to Westminster itself before heading back toward St. James Garden – it was packed.

The walk up through St. James garden was beautiful, and London turned on an incredible day for us to be out walking. We wandered up through the gardens to Buckingham Palace then continued on to Hyde Park Corner before diverting off to see Harrods.

After a walk through Harrods, and some lunch, we headed back to the train station and home.

We are not waiting for Jo and Mum to get home from their show so we can ‘change the guards’ and leave Archie with Mum and Jo for the evening while Laura and I head out for dinner and a few drinks – Soho is the plan… but we will see what eventuates.

Tomorrow we fly to New York!