Monthly Archives: September 2013

A few things done in London so far (part 3)

Standard

Today is Sunday 29th of September and I am a little 😦  that it means I only have two weeks left of being overseas. We got the tube into London Bridge and then got a ferry down the Thames to Greenwich Village. One of Dad’s very dear friends, John, loves Greenwich Village so I thought I would check it out. We went to the painted hall section of the Old Royal Navy College which had marvellous paintings by James Thornhill, it took him 19 years to paint the inside of the building. It is a feast for your eyes. They have mirrored trolleys so that you can look at it in better detail without straining your neck. His work was truly wonderful in it’s enormity- lots of wow factor.

I should have taken more photos so that you could see how amazing this room was.

I should have taken more photos so that you could see how amazing it is

Here is a link to some more photos of the dining hall that is the painted hall

I was still a bit “all museumed out” so we went for a walk around the grounds and then off to the  Greenwich Markets.

Had it not been a Sunday, had there been no people with large breeds of dogs, kids on scooters or people with prams. it may have been bearable. It was hard not to get frustrated. If you ever do go to the Greenwich Markets don’t enter near all the food stalls or go on a weekend . So crowded! I have no regrets going though, it was certainly eye-opening.

2013-09-29 14.16.36 2013-09-29 14.16.33

Then we went to look for lunch. There are lots of pubs in London that say they are the best, we went in to one and the only table was in front of the toilet doors so we walked further and stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Italian in Greenwich”. We were pretty quickly seated and the service was great. You can see that they have good team ethics.It is very family friendly and there was no smoking even out on the patio. 😀

We had the Jamie feast which was about 5 or 6 dishes that all came out at once. They were all delicious and so was the Rosato wine that he imports from Italy in tetra paks. It was a stand out meal. I would go back in a flash.

a very yummo rissoto

a very yummo rissoto

a seefood pasta

a seafood pasta

a roast chicken dish with potatoes and a cacciatore type of sauce

a roast chicken dish with potatoes and a cacciatore type of sauce

a bad photo of a antipasta platter

a bad photo of a antipasta platter

some great polenta chips

some great polenta chips

2013-09-29 15.25.29

the rosata , a raspberry and peppercorn daiquiri and some lemoncello

the rosata , a raspberry and peppercorn daiquiri and some limoncello

tutti fruitti lemon meringue pie- with With limoncello & crunchy pistachio brittle.

tutti fruitti lemon meringue pie- with With limoncello & crunchy pistachio brittle.. it was extremely nice to  eat.

We got on an incredibly packed tracked train and made our way home. A lovely day out.

Advertisements

A few things done in London so far (part2)

Standard

2013-09-28 15.40.29 2013-09-28 15.54.56

I had asked Sarah if we could go for a drive in the country so I could see what it looked like outside of London. We set off for a castle in a town called Arundel and then down to get some sea air from Brighton. ( not pronounced the hoity toity way the people of our Brighton pronounce it). I was not in a very good mood , as I had a bit of hay fever ( i am blaming the cat) and I was just a bit moody.Sarah did well not to leave me on the side of the road.We had trouble getting on to the M23 as there were roads blocked every which way we went so by this time it was approaching 1pm and I had not had anything to eat  I am not the happiest camper if I am over hungry. So we went into a town called Crawley and went to a chain Mexican restaurant and ordered lunch. It wasn’t the best food in the world and the service was only spasmodically good. So at least the hunger beast within me had been calmed down. We then headed back on our way to Arundel to see a castle built in the 11th century. It has been used in tv and movies that involve historical re-enactments . ie “the young Victoria”. The castle was just incredible. It was under siege in the 1600s and we got to see all the things the castle had to protect the occupants from the intruders. The work gone into it was mind blowing , so was the land it was on. Descendants of the original Arundel family moved back into a section of it in the 1990s. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the castle but the rooms and corridors and everything about it was a whole lot of wow.

This was the dungeon (their version of the naughty chair)

This was the dungeon (their version of the naughty chair). It is possible Sarah was having thoughts of locking me in it.

A window to shoot arrows through

A window to shoot arrows through

A sleeping guard ;)

A sleeping guard 😉

A badly taken photo of the view of the town Arundel from the castle

A badly taken photo of the view of the town Arundel from the castle

2013-09-28 16.01.33 2013-09-28 16.02.32

Goats kept the grass short

Goats kept the grass short

2013-09-28 16.04.08 2013-09-28 16.07.06 2013-09-28 16.10.31 2013-09-28 16.50.59 2013-09-28 16.51.04

Then we headed off to Brighton to walk along the pier and get some sea air. It is a really beautiful town/city. Driving along the foreshore is very reminiscent of St Kilda but better. It was great for my head to get a great big burst of sea air and hear the waves. On our walk back along the pier we stopped in to one of the bars for a quick drink. When Sarah went to the toilet an old man said something to me. I had to ask him to repeat himself three times and after the third time I said to his young friend. “i’m sorry I don’t understand English, what did he say?” the young guy said “he doesn’t speak fluent English only fluent git”.

The countryside was different to how I imagined it . It was very wooded, some of the small towns along the way were just beautiful. I wish I had’ve taken more photos and not been in such a bad mood

A few things done in London so far ( part 1 )

Standard

Dinner by Heston. We ( My cousin Malcolm and his son Henry) and I went to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for lunch. The restaurant is in a very luxurious setting, if I had the money and the desire , I could have bought a McLaren racing car from the store two doors down.The restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental hotel,they haven’t tried to cram in as many people as possible and the tables were set far enough apart that you could not hear what was getting said at the next table. I really liked that as I don’t like feeling cramped. There were an abundance of wait staff , gotta love that. We had the set lunch which was 38 GBP with the wines to match for 29.50 GBP,well Henry didn’t have the wines as he is only 16.

We got an add on to the set lunch of two serves of their famous Meat Fruit. Which is chicken liver pate with foie gras encased in a Mandarin type of gel.

Picture pinched from smh.com.au website as mine was blurry

Picture pinched from smh.com.au website as mine was blurry.

It was really good eating and I am glad my nephew suggested that I add it on.  Offal can taste so good. (apologies to my lovely vegetarian friends)

Then I had the sardines on toast

Smoked Sardines on Toast (c.1892)Anchovy butter, tomato, capers & lemon

Smoked Sardines on Toast (c.1892)Anchovy butter, tomato, capers & lemon

and the guys had Lemon salad (c.1730)Smoked artichoke, goats curd and candy beetroot.

For mains we all had Slow cooked Pork Belly (c.1710)Smoked cabbage, apple & mead. The crackling was so good.Smoked cabbage just so so.

2013-09-26 13.45.30

Gooseberry tart. very nice but a little rich. I am quite the fan of a gooseberry.

Gooseberry tart. very nice but a little rich. I am quite the fan of a gooseberry.

The matched wines were great,  we both appreciate a good matched wine. They can really make a dish and the dish can really make the wine. Their “house” champagne was a vintage Moet and Chandon (2004) quite reasonably priced too. ( it you don’t convert it) . I have been trying not to convert the money in my head when I pay for things. If I did I wouldn’t be eating.

Unfortunately they made a mistake on the bill and didn’t fix it properly. I didn’t notice that it hadn’t been fixed properly ( due to 5 wines) until I was on the tube so I had to ring them when I got back to Sarah’s. They have  now refunded me the mistake and the service fee. ( we also left them some GBP ) They  got their 2nd Michelin star the night before we went so it was all about making me happy. I am sure they are like that on any other day as well though. I felt a bit disappointed with the “experimental” aspect of my dishes . ( other than the meat fruit). I wanted experimental fun food.

They had an ice cream cart that makes the ice cream on the spot, it wasn’t on the set menu though 😦  .

2013-09-26 14.34.50 2013-09-26 14.58.49

If I was to go back I would order a la carte (and check the bill 😉 ) They were very welcoming and accommodating. Heston should be proud of how comfortable his staff make his guests feel.

*****************************************************************

I am a little ” all museumed out” so I haven’t been doing an overload of them. I have been back to the V and A museum

hell yeah!

I saw this bus on the way -yes, get over it.

A really cool "mobile" of flattened horn instruments.

A really cool “mobile” of flattened horn instruments.

a lot of camp things are prety good.

a lot of camp things are pretty good.

I like doll houses.

I like doll houses.

2013-09-26 11.22.06

a door made from little wind mills

a door made from little wind mills

the obligatory photo of a telephone booth.

the obligatory photo of a telephone booth.

Patrick and Lucy had recommended Churchill’s war rooms. It was interesting seeing how they had to live during the second world war. The things that surprised me were- his clothes were SO big! He was a pretty damn good painter! He kept stuffed animals ( given to him by his grandchildren on his bookshelf).

I was more interested in his life and the rooms than the war side of it all. My brain shuts down when I read war stuff. ( so eloquently said 😉 )

This is one of his paintings. He got professionally trained. It was one of his major loves

This is one of his paintings. He got professionally trained. It was one of his major loves

A telegram from the abdicated Edward thanking for his support Wallis drama.

A telegram from the abdicated Edward thanking for his support Wallis drama.

a bad photo of one of his paintings

a bad photo of one of his paintings

He liked keeping stuffed animlas on his bookshelves he thought if the humans were more like animals the world would be a better place. hmmm" lion's tigers and bears"

He liked keeping stuffed animals on his bookshelves. He thought if humans were more like animals the world would be a better place. hmmm” lion’s tigers and bears”

a bedroom . you could tell how important the occupant was by whether there was carpet on the floor or not.

a bedroom . you could tell how important the occupant was by whether there was carpet on the floor or not.

sometimes 11 secretaries worked in this space. he was not an easy person to listen to dictation from due to his cigars etc and apparently he was a hard task master and a bit of a p^%$k. hmmm

sometimes 11 secretaries worked in this space. he was not an easy person to listen to dictation from due to his cigars etc and apparently he was a hard task  master and a bit of a p^%$k. hmmm

When Churchill died my dad was making the back room on our Hawthorn home and he put a copy of the newspaper of the day of his passing (wrapped in plastic) in the steps. They would have found it when they did a big renovation a few years ago

I am glad I went, it was thought provoking and showed a side to Churchill that I would not have imagined existed.

London

Standard

When I arrived in London I had time to kill, ’cause I was meeting my friend Sarah after 5 pm. So I checked  my luggage into the “left luggage” section and went to Searcy’s Champagne bar and had one of the nicest sausage rolls I have ever had. Their bread and butter was also pretty damn good. A couple of glasses of Henri Giraud and life was good. The Portuguese waiter was lovely, it was really nice being able to understand what he was saying.

A friend at work had lent me her oyster card that had been topped up. It made life so easy. Such I nice thing to do for someone .I found my way to Croydon East with amazing amount of ease.

I stupidly rang Optus, as the bridge alliance deal they said they would provide did not work. I ended up a little distressed and in a bar called “the slug and the lettuce” where I waited for Sarah.

Today I , as you can imagine, had a bit of a hangover so I wasn’t really up to much. I wanted to go into the city and get my bearings. Another customer at the kiosk I bought my bottle of water from was highly amused by my accent. I was highly amused that he was speaking English but I could not understand a word he was saying. A very nice and handsome man made sure I knew where I was going when I got to Victoria Station. I should have asked him to come to the Victoria and Albert museum with me ;). Victoria Station is HUGE. Without his help I could possibly still be there. I am not sure if today was smile day, but a lot of men smile in London.

I went to the paid exhibitions at The V and A museum, one was one fashion and one was an adaption of a book about memory. It is a pity I couldn’t take photos as they were share worthy.I needed lunch so I got

A tasty lunch for 11 pound. which, if you don't convert it seems very cheap

A tasty lunch for 11 pound. which, if you don’t convert it seems very cheap

I went and visited the shop, which is SO good,a winner in the Gallery shop stakes so far. I ,of course, bought a few things ( i like getting cheap rings from gallery shops).

I felt like some fresh air , as it is very hot in the museum and I was still hungover. I will do the other floors before I leave.

I went for a walk around the city and bought a data sim card for my phone as Optus have really dropped the baton with my data plan. I walked around and got my bearings, bought a map, all that sort of daggy stuff. I am good at daggy!  When I was on the train back to Croydon there was an announcement that the train was going to split in two and go off in different directions. This freaked me out a little but a lovely lady across the way reassured me that it wouldn’t affect me and that sometimes they split in three. Crikey!

I’ve only been here for a day, so might change my opinion but so far the train system is very good. They are very well looked after trains too. My encounters with the public have been really nice, all very helpful and kind. In France to everyone I was American, here they recognise my accent.

There are no bins anywhere on the subway/railway stations, Sarah was telling me that they were taken away due to them being used as depositories for bombs by the I.R.A back in the 80s. I have really noticed that I must use bins a bit as I have missed them

English tv! great! like a walk down memory lane. So many channels . Currently watching The Professionals  which is fine by me as I think Bodey and Doyle are pretty good.

Tonight we went to the White bear pub in Warlingham it is a 16th century pub that is quaint and very traditional English. Low ceilings and mismatched decor and little alcoves everywhere. It was very nice to just be 15 minutes away from where you are staying and be at some old world English pub. Sadly I am still a bit of a suffering bear from yesterday so I am not much fun. There were some books on the window sills that were medical encyclopedias one volume was from rheumatic infections to syphilis HA there is some pre dinner reading for you!

.2013-09-25 18.51.25 2013-09-25 18.59.56

Au revoir Paris and watch out London.

Standard

So it’s Au revoir Paris and watch out London!

All the exercise in Paris has been wonderful . I haven’t weighed myself but my jeans are loose. If I hadn’t drunk alcohol I could have lost more.  I got up early and went and got my last French made croissant.They are  super flakey early in the morning. 🙂  I did as much cleaning of the flat as I could. Having been a housemaid I know the delight of walking into a room that has been left tidy. David ,the apartment owner, who I would like to bring home with me, gave me a little box of chocolates. He does an outstanding job of making people enjoy their stay.  The world would be a better place with more people like him in it. I had taken all my coins down to the nice but sad beggar down the road that had not taken advantage of my lost and distressed state after the wine tour.  It was probably only about €5 in small coins. I thought she was going to cry. She doesn’t speak english so I couldn’t tell her how much I appreciated her being another navigational guide to me. ( when I saw her I knew my street was just up a little further.

Taxis in Paris turn their meter on when they accept the booking, mine must have accepted the booking in the 19th arrondissement as it was already up to €13..  It only cost a few more to get to Gard de Nord so I left happy. The road out the front of the station didn’t seem to have any defined pedestrian crossing. So it was like a game of british bull dog dragging 20+ kilo across a cobbled road.Customs and immigration are very relaxed. Percy clenched his cheeks needlessly.

I forgot to tell you about Australian wines in Paris,  the French say Australia does not make good wine and while my lovely brother in law may agree with that, I don’t. I was a little horrified to see the choices that were on offer! Basically either Yellow Tail or Gossips! Gossips sells for $3.90 at Dan Murphys, we saw it on a menu for €24.99 . That is $35 aud! When asked about this bottle of wine the waiter said that they no longer sell it. Hmm wonder why? In bottle shops the only Australian wine I saw was Yellow Tail for around €7.99. Do Australians even stoop so desperately low as to drink Yellow Tail? ( insert an apology to those that do ) It is the Fosters Lager of the wine industry in my opinion.
French supermarkets do not have as much variety as we do in Australia.  It is like they have a ban on imported items. Maybe they do I’ll have to google it.

I got out of Paris without stepping on any merde de chien, I only had to passively smoke about one pack cigarettes and only one bad beggar encounter.
I love Paris and I will definitely be back!

Image

Sorry about the blurry photo The Apartment I stayed in was attached to the building that was the old fonderie that made the gold coins for the Kings.

Here is a web page of the apartment .

Percy was quite happy with our solo seat in Premium standard. The ticket was bought so far in advance that it was cheaper than a normal ticket. The aim was to be in a child free zone. ( says she travelling with her teddy bear)

Percy was quite happy with our solo seat in Premium standard. The ticket was bought so far in advance that it was cheaper than a normal ticket. The aim was to be in a child free zone. ( says she travelling with her teddy bear)

Lunch was ok. The wine was very nice.

Lunch was ok. The wine was very nice.

the view out the window is as boring as the view down the Geelong Road.

the view out the window is as boring as the view down the Geelong Road.

they were very generous with the wine

they were very generous with the wine

Sunday – a day of rest

Standard

I had high ambitions of getting up early and heading out to the Marché aux Puces but my feet pleaded for a rest. They were really quite swollen.

So , as most of Paris rests on a Sunday, so shall I !

I wish I had’ve visited the Catacombes and had a morning at the Marché aux Puce. There are so many little obscure museums that I want to do next time.

I leave Paris Tuesday morning to head off to a week in London, it will be great to understand what people are saying to me. I have really enjoyed Paris. Their Metro system makes everything so accessible. Hopefully one day they will realise smoking is très mauvais et laid trop.

I have been using a 28 degree credit card it has no foreign transactions fees or conversion fees. The only fee is the actually ATM fee for the ATM used. I have constantly topped it up with savings so it has a zero amount owing. The interest rate is pretty crap so having money owing is not an aim. Essentially what xe.com says it will convert to is what is debited from your card.

At one shop the EFTPOS terminal asked if I wanted it in AUD or EURO. I selected EURO and checked to see which was lower when it appeared on the statement. Choosing Euro on that occasion worked in my favour. This card is a travel essential for me.

Dropbox is a virtual cloud that means when I walk in my apartment the photos I have taken on my phone are on my laptop before I even sit down. I have been very impressed with dropbox.

I have been using handbags by pacsafe they make you feel like you have one up on the pickpockets. I have looked at the gypsies of Paris as a training ground for when I get to Barcelona  These bags are another travel essential for me.

I went out to post a couple of postcards and had some really yum pay by the weight pizza and a beer. (just as well it wasn’t pay by the calories) 😉

2013-09-22 18.06.53 2013-09-22 18.10.14

a bientot

Louvre and Saturday 21st of September

Standard

I should have known better but I walked to the Louvre,I should have got the Metro .So I had done just over 2 kilometres before I got there and then walked the many many many corridors of the Louvre for 3 hours which made for a very weary me. It was all good though ’cause the Louvre was amazing even though it borders on overwhelming.

I also should have “workshopped” the map before I set off on  my walk of the museum, as there were sections that I have little interest in. That doesn’t mean those items are any less special, they just aren’t special to me.Next time I come to Paris I am going back to finish off the second floor, redo some of the rooms I really liked and  the ones I didn’t find.

The audio guides are nintendo 3DS. They know everything, they can tell you where you are, which is quite handy when you are lost in the labyrinth that is the Louvre. I was wandering around thinking ” i wonder if I am lost and it is past closing time perhaps they can find me via the GPS in the audioguide and come and guide me out”.

The paintings on the ceilings are as incredible as the art.

a roof

a ceiling

another roof

another ceiling

another roof

and another ceiling

I loved this piece as I really liked her facial expression. It made me LOL. to me it said...

I loved this piece as I really liked her facial expression. It made me LOL. to me it said…

"oh My GOD! hurry up!  I am so bored!

“oh My GOD! hurry up! I am so bored!

This painting is by Hubert Robert. It is of the early Louvre but really the corridor was not that long. It was how he imagined the Louvre should be. The architect designed the Louvre extensions using Roberts interpretation of how it should be.

This painting is by Hubert Robert. It is of the early Louvre but really the corridor was not that long. It was how he imagined the Louvre should be. The architect designed the Louvre extensions using Roberts interpretation of how it should be.

Hubert Robert also painted it as he interpreted it would look if it was blown up by revolutionists.

Hubert Robert also painted it as he interpreted it would look if it was blown up by revolutionists.

This is another favourite  I would be quite chuffed to hang on my wall at home

This is another favourite I would be quite chuffed to hang on my wall at home

I have a fondness for little things made centuries ago.

I have a fondness for little things made centuries ago.

Thought to be the first figurine of Minotaure

Thought to be the first figurine of Minotaure

2013-09-20 19.32.14 2013-09-20 19.32.44 2013-09-20 19.49.10 2013-09-20 20.05.09 2013-09-20 20.09.27 2013-09-20 20.14.30

It was nice being there with not too many people. The Mona Lisa had a big crowd and it (the painting) was bigger than I had imagined it to be but some rooms were empty so that made for a nice walk.

I set off for the walk home and had a really nice marinara pizza at Le Second Empire. The 5 euro Mojitos is what got me in the door but the pizza was just what I needed. Something yum to eat sans a block of butter. 😉

Today there was a vintage market just up the road so I went up to that. It was every wealthy hipsters dream come true. I did not mind paying to get in the door but the only thing I could afford to buy was the canvas shopping bag that was 3 euro with the 2 euro entrance fee.

2013-09-21 11.53.17 2013-09-21 12.27.14 2013-09-21 12.27.19 2013-09-21 12.31.33

This didn't have a pulse. I checked.

This bag didn’t have a pulse. I checked.

Nivea always reminds me of a great photo of my sisters as little girls with some family friends and one of them is holding a nivea jar. (not nearly as old as this one) This old tin of Nivea was nearly mine but I opened it. My sinuses were horrified by the rancid smell of well past it's use by date NIvea. Had I of tried to get it into  Australia,  customs would have done bad things to me just in spite of them having to smell it,

Nivea always reminds me of a great photo of my sisters as little girls with some family friends and one of them is holding a nivea jar. (not nearly as old as this one) This old tin of Nivea was nearly mine but I opened it. My sinuses were horrified by the rancid smell of well past it’s use by date NIvea. Had I of tried to get it into Australia, customs would have done bad things to me just in spite of them having to smell it,

2013-09-21 12.54.22

voici Johnny

2013-09-21 12.49.34 2013-09-21 12.53.24 2013-09-21 12.54.52

There were some really beautiful examples of old Parisian clothes but nothing that would have fit me or my wallet. I am glad I went. If only my wallet was fatter and my waist smaller 😉

A quick lunch at Candelaria

2013-09-21 13.38.01

There was food involved.. honestly!

There was food involved.. honestly!

Then I went for a walk up to Boulevard Beaumarchais where  there was a flea market pretty much the length of the street.

This is a painting ( not Louvre worthy) of some police checking out an accident site. Where would someone hang this? the loo, the garage, above a bar?

I just had to show this painting again.

I loved this and would love it to be mne

I loved this and would love it to be mine. Not crazy about the orange drawer but I would learn to live with it.

I got a little excited when I saw this stall as I thought I might be able to find my sister the Le Cuisinart dish she has her heart set on. Sadly it  was not there.

I got a little excited when I saw this stall as I thought I might be able to find my sister the Le Cuisinart dish she has her heart set on. Sadly it was not there. I am looking though.

I went to Marche des Enfants Rouge for some tomato salad from the stall that giggle when they see me, I got a 1/4 of rotisserie chicken, a small amount of pre cooked rigatoni and some goats cheese from Rue Charlot and tossed it all together for dinner. I was going to take a photo but my taste buds wouldn’t let me stop long enough.

I , of course, left some tomato salad for breakfast.

A bientot.