Monday, August 15, 2016

Leaving England

Friday - Sheffield:

We had a fabulous evening at the Real Junk Food Project. Several of the volunteers I've worked with regularly came.  The cafe had been decorated with flowers and balloons and party table cloths. Jo, Freyja and Russ cooked up a storm.  We had a Mediterranean style vegetable stew, with tomato bruschetta and mushroom toasts to start with, then sirloin steak and spare ribs for the meat eaters, butternut squash tortellini for the veggies, chips and salad for everyone for the main.  For dessert we had banana cake.  All the food was from rejected food by the supermarkets and the delivery services (although some of it, like the steaks, had been waiting in the freezer for a special occasion. We had wine and beer brought by the volunteers (and us). It was a great evening and a fitting farewell to almost two decades in and around the Sheffield area.

Here is a selection of the photos I took:

Carlos and The Builder talking to


Hannah, Russ, Rene and Jo chatting at the other end of the table

Jo testing the steaks in the kitchen

Freyja about to plate up tortellini

Saturday - London:

The Builder and I took the 9:30 train down to London.  Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn drove down.  Freyja and Simon took the 12:30 train down.

The Builder and I took a taxi out to Stepney to collect the keys to the place we were all staying.  We had booked it through Airbnb, which I haven't used before.  We had booked it at short notice, and needed a reasonably priced place that could accommodate all 8 or us.  The place we found was very cheap and looked very basic on the website - very much like a student house.  We figured that it would do for an overnight stay where we weren't expecting to be in for very long.  The location was fabulous - a short walk to both Whitechapel and Stepney Green.  The house was exactly like a student house and would have been ideal except that it was very dusty and the floors hadn't been swept in a while, and half the light fittings were without light globes (so exactly like a student house :-D ) There was a small garden, but we couldn't use much of it because of the abundance of nettles.  But there was an outside table set and so we spent the evening out there eating an abundance of food from the Turkish takeaway place that was a five or ten minute walk away.

But before that we made our way to the British Museum, where we were meeting Freyja and Simon. Cally was beside herself with excitement that she was going to one of the biggest and best museums in the world.  She LERVS museums, and ancient ruins, churches, art galleries, cathedrals.  When we walked in she gasped at the size of it.  Then she saw the stairs leading up too the other levels!!!!

A selection of the photos I took in the British Museum.  I didn't get any useable ones of Cally - she was moving too quickly!

Tabitha, Gareth and the  children went off for a wander around London.  Freyja, Simon, The Builder and I headed to kings Cross to collect their luggage and to buy new luggage for us (one of our cases was showing distinct signs that it wasn't going to make it to Osaka, much less to Melbourne!), then we headed back to Stepney - ON A BUS!!!!!!!!!  I have never travelled by bus in London.  It's amazing.  It ties into a lovely mental map all sorts of places.  For example, I had no idea we were so close to the Gherkin, until we trundled past it.  And as an extra bonus, the bus took us down the road which houses the swanky building where I used to go for the meetings with the Building database people.  I hadn't expected ever to see it again.  A surprise Last Thing!

Sunday - London:

On Sunday morning, Gareth, Simon and Flynn took all the luggage from the Saturday night house and moved it to the house in Richmond that they will all be staying in until mid-week.  Tabitha, Cally and The Builder went to the park.  Freyja and I took the keys to the house back, and had a quick wander in Whitechapel. Then we met the others in the park and we took the bus into Holborn.  It was much like being on one of those tour buses that takes tourists around central London, except that we didn't get the commentary, and it didn't cost us anything (the oyster card reader wasn't working so the driver just waved us all on!).  We had a little potter in Covent Garden, where Cally was fascinated by the street artists. She is finding London a bit puzzling.  There are no circuses at Oxford or Piccadilly Circus.  There is no garden at Covent Garden. Aside from these little oddities, however, London is a place of magical excitement for her.

We had lunch in the Giraffe cafe on Southbank, where Gareth, Simon and Flynn met us

Then we took a boat down the river to St Katherine's Dock:

And THEN, we made our way to the Tower Bridge Exhibition. There are many, many things to look at in the exhibition, but we had mostly gone because we wanted to walk along the upper walkways over the bridge.  They have recently put in glass in parts of the walkway.  It's lots of fun

Then we went to Richmond, collected our luggage, and Tabitha, Freyja, The Builder and I headed out to Heathrow on another bus. No bus riding in London for me for almost twenty years, then loads of it on the last weekend.  I should have done it before!!

We are now in the Kuala Lumpur lounge, having had a great flight from Heathrow.  I pushed the boat out for this trip and bought Business Class tickets. It did mean that we had to come via KL, but that's no real hardship.  By the time I looked for Premium Economy tickets the direct ones were all gone, or astronomically expensive.  Flying Business Class has given us access to fast track checkin and security checks, access to the lounges, some quite nice food - and a "bed" to sleep in on the flight here.  Worth almost every penny!

It seems a bit odd to think that we won't be heading back to Tupton in a month or two.  Even odder to think that we are to some extent now Of No Fixed Address (although we do still have the Tupton house so do have an address to return to if we are so minded - for now :-D). But although the weekend in London was absolutely chockablock full of Last Things, we know that it is unlikely to be the last time we do any of them. We are intending to do what we have always done - visit every year or so - but this time in reverse.

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