Today is the end of our big adventure …. we have had a wonderful time with great friends and created enduring memories to share and treasure forever… now is the time when what we have seen and done starts to sink in, and I will be posting reflections as they come to me, along with more photos… here Frances and I are relaxing at a place we loved so much – Radicondoli- on the rooftop terrace at La Pergola on our first night… this will keep me going until I get home and start recording some of my impressions more fully…. Ciao for now.
well kind of…. dreaming of keeping the the sun and taking it back home to New Zealand. It sounds like we may be going to some very cold weather! The sun is lovely here, not sticky, just warms your bones and I adore it. LA beach dwellers around Manhattan and Redondo seem to take great care of their properties and gardens – on our early morning walks we have seen the gardeners starting early and the water sprinklers on – makes for very pretty walking….
Here is Phil on the well-kept walking track which runs parallel to the Strand, soft and no doggy do here….
Shopping all done for today – MAC counter has taken a bashing at Macy’s and visited Victoria’s Secret and Baby Gap – J. Crew and Banana Republic seen off too. J. Crew seems to have become a lot more upmarket than it was when I was here previously. I must say that I think Auckland has caught up well in the mid-range fashion stakes. I can pretty much find what I want at home for similar prices here, though USA is still much cheaper than the UK. Zara is still one of my favourites for mid-range clothing – did a bit of damage in the UK, but still have make a visit to the Santa Monica store when we go to get the kid’s stuff from Disney… the bags are bulging and the wallets are nearly empty. Tonight we are visiting our favourite local restaurant, Open Sesame at Manhattan Village Mall for some more great Middle Eastern food……
Hallelujah- the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky – we are staying in Redondo Beach LA with Roger and Frances. We had a wonderful time in the UK with Kim, Ivor and the kids, but the sun didn’t come out to play much – well it was shining when we left!
Luckily we got our upgrade to business class for the Heathrow to LA leg – being able to lie down and sleep makes such a difference and the food wasn’t half bad either! Not only that the flight was extremely smooth.
Our morning began with a fabulous walk down to Manhattan Beach – 40 minutes in the sun, no marine layer and it was really warm, despite having started at 7.40am … after a nice coffee at Peets which we discovered on our last visit, the 40 minute walk back was even warmer…..
It’s Prosecco time now…. just a little habit we picked up in Italy – a bit of a reviver after the shopping….
After a lovely evening out with Kim at the George and Dragon in the village of Swallowfield, today we all set off for a day in Bournemouth.
Then we set out to explore the town – it was overcast but the town has a lovely feel to it. The seafront and promenade are set up well for families to enjoy and the stroll along the stream to the town centre is very pretty.
Later we walked along the seafront – and yes there really are beach huts – these ones revamped in lovely shades of blues, greens and purples.
Now we are back in Reading, sipping beautiful French champagne – it was great to come home to the news that The All Blacks had smashed Ireland 60-0!!
London was very dull and miserable yesterday – I love London if I am staying in Central London in a nice hotel where I can come and go as I please, but yesterday as we wandered the streets, really just to see how things are progressing leading up the Olympics, I was pleased we weren’t staying. Having said that, the buntings are out everywhere, there are refurbishments happening wherever you look, and you can feel the excitement building …
Liberty even has the buntings out
As for the shopping, the couple of iconic shops I wanted to visit like Liberty are as brilliant as usual but incredibly expensive.
As for shopping in Oxford Street, it remains a nightmare for me when the sales are on as they are a the moment…. Topshop in particular at sale time is scary – clothes everywhere in a huge muddle, I beat a hasty retreat after getting lost in there. Give me a quiet suburban shop anytime though we really enjoyed the re-vamped Carnaby Street and had a tasty lunch at Carnaby Burger Co.
And apart from that, the streets were very wet and slippery underfoot. In fact we were just talking about being careful as we went down the stairs to the Tube at Oxford Circus, and a woman fell down the stairs behind us. We managed the Tube quite well again this time, and actually got a seat on the train back to Reading – previously it has been standing room only! The Tube trains are SO hot and crowded too, I can’t imagine what they will be like during the Olympics…..
Today we have had a very quite day, pottering around in Reading, much quiter and easier to find what you want. This evening Kim and I have a girls’ night at the George and Dragon gastro pub – bring it on!
Today we set off for London from Reading on the train with an express and quite sombre purpose in mind. Courtney’s friend Shelley Mather died in the London bombings and Courtney really wanted us to visit the memorial to Shelley in the beautiful park on Russell Square. It was a very moving experience for us both – the memorial plaque on the simple park bench speaks volumes about Shelley and how well loved she was. The setting is beautiful and tranquil, in stark contrast to the violent act that took Shelley from her family and friends… the memory of our visit will remain with us always and I hope one day Courtney will be able to see it for herself.
Today we set off from Reading with Ryah for a lovely day out in Cambridge – 2 tube rides and one overland train saw us arrive nice and early at the station. We walked from the train station into town which was buzzing as today it is May week, where the end of term is celebrated with what seemed to be called “May Balls” . There was certainly a party atmosphere – marquees set up in college grounds, party supplies being ferried in and out, and sadly, many colleges closed to the public today due to the celebration – like this one (Corpus Christi), with the most beautifully manicured grounds:
We went into beautiful churches, viewed lovely old buildings, went down to the river where the punts were getting a good work out, with many nice young blokes offering cheap outings, which we declined.
The Cambridge vibe was great – I think it would be a great place to live and study, and I certainly enjoyed the pedestrian areas. I would love to go back again and see the Colleges when they are open. It is a very pretty place:
I can’t really finish this part of my blog without mentioning our great friends Roger and Frances.
My blog so far has been about my personal observations and reflections on the places we have been, the wonderful people we have met, the brilliant cultural experiences we have had and much more. I have purposefully keep the blog pretty anonymous as it isn’t my place make public the private time that my friends chose to take, especially those with a public profile. But I know they will be happy for me to put a couple of photos that will remind us all of great times had together. Rog and Frances helped to make the trip the best it could be, not only because of the fact that they are so much more well-travelled than we are, but also because they know us so well and we are very comfortable in each others’ company.
Three weeks is a long time to spend continously together, but because we so at ease with each other, we knew when we needed a break from each other, and when to take it.
Frances was an absolute trooper throughout the trip. She has the most amazing sense of direction, and often knew better than our GPS lady where we should be. Not only that , she is a great shopper like me, she put up with Phil’s jokes, my absolutely hopeless sense of direction, which must have been frustrating, and my blondeness….
As for Rog, he is hilarious and so good to travel with, finding humour in absolutely everything. I cannot expand on the horse incident, but here is the horse which took Roger’s fancy during a cultural moment in Florence:
I have to also mention that Rog and Phil drove brilliantly over a huge distance, encountering crazy and sometimes hilarious antics from other road users. They did it well and for the most part calmly – thanks boys!
Thanks Frances and Roger, you are best ! Au Revoir, Ciao and see you in LA soon.
Monaco -what a wonderful way to start the day – its fabulous – outstanding scenery, beautiful architecture, pristine streets, deepest blue water, sunny skies – just gorgeous.
We started off with a wander through Monte-Carlo near the Casino and later drove to the Monaco Ville area, where we spent the rest of our time, and where did a short tour in a wee train-like affair which took us up to the palace on the cliff.
Its a truly lovely place in the most amazing setting but so obviously meant for the rich and famous… so I left with no regret.
We have spent the late afternoon chilling by the hotel pool. Rog and Phil are just returning our rental car before we venture out for the last night of our France/Italy sojourn… and its been fantastic – we have seen great sights, shared great meals and some hilarious times . We have met amazingly warm and friendly people while in the company of two wonderful friends whose love and friendship we value so much – it simply couldn’t have been better!