And, finding the familiar

Ever since I can remember, as a young boy growing up on a farm in Wongo Creek, in country NSW, I’ve always wanted to visit London.

Now, after enduring a record breaking 45 degree day in Sydney a week ago, I’ve just been out for a walk around some of the places which have been so familiar and yet, until now, so distant.

The flight via Dubai consisted of around 21 hours flying time to arrive at London Gatwick airport where the entry process was hassle free and soon saw me aboard the Gatwick Express and, 30 minutes later, alighting at London Victoria Station. I’d booked a room at the Grosvenor, right next door to the station and, after a shower to wash away the grit of a long flight, set off to the nearby Shakespeare Hotel to sample some of the draught cask ale, still hand drawn by pump.

An uneventful night’s sleep and an orientation walk was on the cards.

First stop, a few minutes up the road was Buckingham Palace. buckinghampalace







No sign of the Queen, but the remnants of snow on the lawns snowoutsidebuckinghamoutside the gate and the sight of guards,






heads warm in busbies, marching at their stations to keep warm.




It was a good opportunity to test out my cold weather clothes and, after a few hours out in the London Winter, I figure it’s manageable.


I might even have a go at one of the great share bikes which are everywhere throughout the streets.

lawnmowermanDown by Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, it’s clear the jobs still need to be done, as the mower man plies his trade, below the towering sight of Big Ben.









Along past Big Ben, and the massive Houses of Parliament, and the reminders of the development of parliamentary democracy, I am taken by the lonely statue, just past the Sovereign’s entrance, emilypankhurstof Emily Pankhurst; whose actions and drive were so important.

As I wandered through the streets back to the hotel for a midday checkout, I found an 02 shop and managed to get connected with a 2gb prepaid nano sim for the iPad mini.

Now, off to check out the tube to Aldgate and check in at my Air BnB apartment for the week.

So far, it has been a fascinating revelation; around every corner, of places and things previously only ever part of my imagination.  As educators, or as humans, we need to remind ourselves of the value of creating dreams and aspirations, and the resolve to achieve them, wherever possible.

4 Replies to “And, finding the familiar”

  1. Try Fleet Street ar 5pm on a friday afternoon, or Borough Market on a Sunday when the market is on, two completely different vibes, but SO London. I could name many more , but the best thing is you can walk round a corner and be completely surprised! South Kensington (Michelen House, Terence Conran) and Brixton markets (West indian extravangza!!) just to name but a few….. i wish i was with you :@)

    1. Thanks Adrian..summary of my Sunday adventures for Lynnie follows…

      What an amazing city this is! On so many levels.

      I spent a few hours this morning plotting plans of Sunday music and entering plans into TripIt.. anyway…

      I then headed out to Piccadilly Circus, by tube from Aldgate East to Embankment and change to the Bakerloo Line for the coupla stops North to Piccadilly Circus. It was amazing changing levels between lines at Embankment.

      It was then a very long way to Tipperary. Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square. Along Highacre Street to the huge Lodge, a double back past Drury Lane and down past the Covent Garden Royal Opera House to the Covent Gardens Markets..I have some shots of great looking paella pans a la Byron.. Then, out the back of the markets and: ‘BANG!’

      There, dead ahead were the columns of St Pauls Church Covent Garden..looking just as it did on the backdrop at the Tamworth Town Hall back when, as an adolescent agog, I saw a production by a touring company of Pygmalion – which you’d know as the basis for My Fair Lady.. There was a woman busker called Felicity Footloose performing.. With all of the vowel sounds of Eliza Doolittle 🙂

      I then wandered around the streets near the markets. Some amazing shops which; knowing how much I usually like shopping, was a really interesting outcome.

      I posted a pic of a shoe shop, United Nude, for Steph on Facebook.

      Had a late lunch of Bangers and Mash at the Sussex Pub and then meandered through Soho. The way that character can change within a hundred metres or so makes every walk a journey of absolute adventure, as turning corners reveals the spires of a distant tower, Nelson on his column, Eros, and erotica, tobacconists and theatre.

      Then: Regent Street. I was drawn into lots and lots of shops and amazed at the amount of Menswear shops catering unashamedly to the whim and fancy of men. Rugged outdoors at Timberland, funky urban post modern ( or something like that..was on a poster) at Ben Sherman, no boots big enough at any one of about a dozen sales and a gorgeous wool and cashmere overcoat at Moss Brothers.. Reduced to 109 pounds, umm, agh, In any event, it made me think about the variations I’ve seen in the way that men here relate to each other and to women.

      I spent a number of hours in this area alone and was absolutely happy just wandering and looking. It’s absolutely beautiful, with the stately curve of the buildings down to the circus. Funnily enough, I could find no presence for the Royal Bank of Scotland anywhere. Surprise.

      One of the gigs I’d looked at was at The Living Room, which is clearly part of a chain. I’ve some nice pics to show, but it was just a very nicely done lounge and restaurant. You’ve seen the links to Emma Jane. She was great. The Living Room is in Heddon Street which was probably once like those lanes near Market Square in the Hunter Street Mall which have then been redeveloped with restaurants etc..there was another ‘eat’ precinct toward Piccadilly Circus.

      They had a great beer there which was an IPA with a good full taste: but only 3.6% !!

      Walked back down to Piccadilly Circus and looked in a few more shops. There was a bikini and swimwear shop with a brand from Sydney which I can’t remember but, when I’d walked past earlier they had a guy who looked quite a bit like Thorpie standing in the entry in modern look jeans, bare chest and denim jacket having his photo take with tourists!

      Tube back to Aldgate E via Embankment, then home. Was going to head over to Islington to an Open Mic night but think my best option is to head out to a nearby restaurant and order something with greens.

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