Part 22 - 4.7.09

Tourist Tips...

It's still too hot here in London but it's cooled down a little and temperatures are now in the late 20s rather than the early 30s. I have it on good authority that Oulu is having a cold week - yeah, I'm homesick! I can't remember which day I last wrote, but Monday was a disaster. We went out shopping in Sutton but it was so, so, so hot and I had a stinking headache and felt sick and dizzy all day. Thus, I was encouraged to be more creative on Tuesday. We were due to meet my dad in London (he was doing some work here) for dinner... some dodgy Chinese restaurant where you can get a 2-course meal for 4.50!!! In London? I didn't think so! Anyway, the thought of travelling on the tube in such high temperatures, even in the evening, didn't really appeal, so I had to find a way of staying cold all day. We started ringing round the leisure/fun pools. There aren't that many around and most of them only open after school and in the holidays. Of course, it's our holidays but not UK holidays. Well, we eventually found Spectrum Leisure Centre in Guildford. (Tourist Tip No. 1) It was fantastic!!! We spent most of the day there for a very reasonable price and then had lunch for an extremely reasonable price. It was clean, fun, cool and we got to have a decent shower!

The meal with my dad was lovely! (Tourist Tip No. 2) If you come out of Euston Station at the M & S exit, cross the road and go down the side-street opposite, just on the left are some steps down to a grubby looking Chinese restaurant. Sure enough, a 2-course meal begins at 4.50 but I had my doubts as to whether it would be edible. When I popped to the loo (outside and very primitive) I knew that the food couldn't possibly be edible, however I was wrong. It was lovely. I had chicken wings to start with and lemon chicken for my main course. It was really tasty! We all ate well and then chatted for ages. It wasn't air-conditioned but it was cool, not busy and the staff were lovely!

The night was still young and my dad looked like he needed some R & R, so we headed back to the tube station and down to Leicester Square. (Tourist Tip No. 3) It's only a short walk to Covent Garden - I love the atmosphere in Covent Garden! On the way there, my dad spotted a building that he didn't recognise (he says this as though he should know every building in London) and we had to go and find out what it was. Then we walked back to Leicester Square, via Starbucks, and down to St James Park. We strolled through the park (by now it was dark), sat and admired the pretty scenes and then walked to the Palace (flag was flying but I don't think Her Maj was home). By this time, we had walked miles and it was getting late, so we dragged ourselves to the tube station and home.

Wednesday, we had exciting plans. We decided to try to get into the tennis at Wimbledon. We didn't want to queue long or pay much (Tourist Tip No. 3) so we joined the queue for grounds tickets. We were expecting a long wait and that we might not get in, especially given the high temperatures. We arrived at the queuing area at 4:45 p.m. and were quite near the front when we joined. At exactly 5 o' clock, the queue began to move forward and we were through the gates within five minutes. It was heaving!!! There were so many people there! We wandered through the crowd and joined the final set of a seniors doubles match which was very entertaining. Then we got some food before getting excellent seats for a juniors doubles match. From our seats, we could also monitor the scoreboard for Court 1 where a crucial match was being played. Later, we tried to find a spot on Henman Hill but it was too busy, so we had a look around the grounds and went to the shop. As we came out of the shop, we discovered the source of a wonderful smell - strawberries and cream!!! We expected this tradition to be quite expensive but we were pleasantly surprised. 2.25 for a large bowl of the tastiest strawberries and cream!!! Yummy! We finished up with a mixed doubles match on Court 3, which went on until close of play.

Thursday, my friend Debs had the day off work to spend with us. It was due to be another scorcher so we elected for a day at Bluewater (Tourist Tip No. 4) which is a great shopping centre. Obviously we started at Starbucks... then we shopped for a while, had dinner at Nandos and then went to see Ice Age 3 at the cinema there in the evening. I came away with some new clothes and the satisfaction of having had another great day!

Friday (yesterday) was a little cooler - only a little, mind. We went to the (Tourist Tip No. 5) London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It has been redeveloped since I was last there and it was very interesting, interactive and informative. I now know a lot more about the history of London Transport than I did before. Afterwards, we had Starbucks (there's a theme emerging) before trying to get all the way round Harrods before closing time. This is not possible!!! Still, we got lots of Christmas shopping done. Then we went back to Debs' house for a Chinese takeaway.

We are having a fab time but I am missing the peace and quietness and the cooler climate of Oulu. I can't wait to fly north and see all our family and friends there. I'll write more sometime next week.

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