Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

I went to wander through parts of the East End, taking in Brick Lane and two small museums in one day.

I have actually been to Brick Lane once before, on the night Jon and I first arrived in London, but I thought I’d explore the place in the day time to see what it was really like. On the North end of Brick Lane, it’s a bustling place with cosy cafes, vintage shops, and specialist stores. Quite young and trendy. Then as you progress Southwards, the place is fringed on both sides with restaurants – the Brick Lane I met on my first night. In the day time that area is much less bustling as the touts are not on duty; and the streets are filled mostly with locals going grocery shopping at the local store (which stocks all types of South Asian supplies) or emerging from the mosque after prayers.

The colours of Brick Lane

I had heard that the Brick Lane Beigel Bake had the best bagels in London, so since I was there I had to try it didn’t I? I was happily munching away while wandering about the place. But I have to say, I think the best bagels I’ve had are still those from New York! Mmm…

I then head to the Geffyre Museum which traces the changing styles of interior design in London.

It’s like peeping into people’s houses cos it’s basically a series of spaces decorated in the style of various periods, from 1600s to the present. Fairly interesting to see the change in styles – from simple and functional, to ornate and flowery, then on to minimalist and modern.

The museum also showed the evolving style of chairs over the centuries.

This chair is, I think, the most comfortable of the lot :) When you sit in it you really melt into the cushion and feel like you’ve become part of the chair.

The Geffyre is a small museum and quite off-the beaten track. Not really a main attraction for a passing tourist unless they’re particularly interested in interior design. So having walked through the entire place without taking too long, I moved on to the last destination for the day, the White Cube. It’s a minimalist art space that has changing exhibitions. The day I went there were two photography exhibitions of mild interest. I think there are probably more interesting exhibitions at other times.

Anyway, having covered everything I wanted to during the day I went home feeling mighty pleased with myself :)

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There’s a weekly antique market in Islington called the Camden Passage Market, which is actually not that near Camden. It’s a cosy little place, and all the wares line narrow passages behind the main row of shops lining the road. The Camden Passage Market also takes in the Pierrepoint Market, which is similar in nature, just a little distance off the main thoroughfare.

It was fun poking around the place looking for interesting buys. Quite a lot! But most out of my budget :) So just browsed…though I did get my parent’s Christmas present from there! Was quite pleased with myself :)

When I went to visit the day started nice and sunny, then it suddenly burst into rain, even though the sun was still shining. That’s the crazy British weather for you. But it did make for nice photos :)

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After the excursion to Goodison Park, there were more activities lined up for us at the Peak District National Park, which lies just south of Manchester. This was a bonus trip for us because we had not planned to make a trip here. Since we were going to Liverpool and had to head south to get back to London (for us) and Exetor (for Ernest), we thought we’d take the opportunity to visit the area.

We headed for the small village of Ollerbrook Booth just off Edale (itself a small town), and which lies between the White Peaks and Dark Peaks. The roads there were winding, steep and as we were arriving at night, they were also pitch black! It took us a while to locate the place. The B&B was the most lavish Jon and I had ever been to – we had a spacious room complete with a sitting area, stereo, TV, a full sized bathroom with a jacuzzi sized bathtub and shower, a walk in wardrobe…wow!

The B&B and trusty ol’ Suzie (Ernest’s car)

Evidence of spring – Snowdrops!

Around the B&B

Near the B&B was a field with plenty of sheep, which reminded me of the super tasty dinner I had the night before – lamb stew in a giant Yorkshire pudding :)

After having our fill of a full English breakfast, we headed off to explore the Peak District proper. It was lovely, bright and clear day, which was perfect for sightseeing. Our first stop was to Mam Tor – a mountain overlooking Hope Valley. But we didn’t climb that; instead we walked to the top of another hill also overlooking the valley – which was lovely except for a tall industrial chimney spewing out smoke. From the top it looks like you’re on the top of the world, even though it really isn’t that high.

We next headed through the steep-sided Winnats Pass to Castleton, where we were going to go down into Speedwell Cavern – a flooded mineshaft. Inside you take a boat ride down a narrow flooded tunnel to a natural cave where a huge subterranean lake lies. Unfortunately although the pictures on the brochures look like you will get to take a boat onto the lake and explore deeper into the cave, in actuality, you only get to stand in the cave and peek at the edge of the lake. Still, it was a fun experience, and we got to stay down there longer than expected cos some silly people from a second group got on our return boat, taking our places, even before they had a chance to look around the cave! So we had to wait for the next boat to arrive. Good thing the return boat comes every 15 minutes so we didn’t waste too much time.

After Speedwell Cavern, we drove on to Millstone Edge to check out the view, which was supposed to be spectacular. The scenery there was supposed to be more craggy compared with the White Peak area, consisting of cliff edges that stretch for many kilometres. I really enjoyed walking around the park area surrounding the lookout point, just being in the outdoors on a sunny day and being near to nature :) The rock formations were intriguing, some aerodynamic looking, some were huge monuments standing up in the middle of nowhere. And of course being the monkey, I climbed everything I could haha :)

As the sun was setting we decided we’d better start making our way South, but we thought that before we left the Peak District we’d stop by Bakewell to try their famous Bakewell Pudding. It’s very sweet, has strawberry jam, almond essence, and some other ingredients.

After a good dinner and the Bakewell Pudding as dinner, we drove on to Birmingham where Ernest dropped us off at the train station where we caught a train back to London :)

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Finally! We made it to Everton’s home ground at Goodison. That was the same stadium Jon had seen on the telly since he first started supporting the club. It’s a great thing that they’ve not yet moved. So silly as the pillars around stands are, it was a fuzzy and exciting time for Jon :)

The night before I was being nagged at to make sure I wake up on time, cos we can’t miss the bus, cos if we miss the bus we’ll not get to Liverpool in time, we’ll miss the match…etc etc etc :O) Actually he was excited for the whole week! He kept asking “when are the tickets going to arrive?”

So it was a grand outing to Liverpool. We caught the bus, and got there in good time. Met Ernest who had driven up from Bristol – he was joining us for the match. From the city centre we decided (actually Jon dictated ;) ) that we take a cab cos he was worried we’d get there late and miss the match and not have time to go to the shop to buy the jerseys…. hee hee… I was just enjoying watching him so excited! =)

It was fun taking the cab cos the cab driver was really friendly. Turns out he was a Liverpool fan and Jon and him were chatting about soccer, about the history of Everton and Liverpool, and making light-hearted jibes at each other :) The cab driver was telling us that actually most people in Liverpool support Everton, it’s just that on an international scale Liverpool has more supporters. Anyway, I think the funniest part was when we were trying to get out of the cab somehow the door wouldn’t open, and the cab driver joked “that’s cos you’re Evertonian!”

Jon went on a shopping spree at the Everton Club store! He went in with his old ‘Kejian’ jersey, and out he came donning the new ‘Chang’ jersey! :) Add to that the scarf he bought and he was all decked out for the match!

Ernest and I were all made into Everton supporters for the day as well :) (yepp..the old ‘Kejian’ jersey went to me)

Jon had even downloaded the lyrics for all the Everton cheers to his blackberry! He really came fully prepared. We were actually listening to the cheers/songs a couple of days before as well to familiarise ourselves with the tunes! Too bad where we were sitting wasn’t too spontaneous with their cheering, partly cos they were frustrated with how the team was playing heh…

Everton wasn’t playing quite so well that day (even though Reading is wayyy below on the table), so we were so happy for Jon’s sake when Everton scored!! Final score was 1-0 to Everton! Yippi!! At least Jon could go back satisfied that his team won!

I appreciated how the place had wheelchair access for supporters who required them. I had not noticed this at the other stadiums we had been to (but perhaps I had just overlooked it).

After the match on the walk back into town we passed by the St Domingo sign, whereupon Jon proceeded to give us a history lesson on how Everton FC used to be called St Domingo FC :) Altogether now, “ooohhhh!”

For all the anticipation, excitement and thrill of going to Goodison, this was certainly the highlight of the trip for Jon!

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We’re off to Liverpool tomorrow!

Jon’s all eager to pay homage to Everton at their home ground – Goodison Park! We’re catching the Everton-Reading match with Ernest :)

After that we’ll be heading to the Peak District! More when we come back :)

I’ve decided to update current events and past events at the same time. All these technology troubles have taken too much time away from bloggin’!! January looks boring, like we’ve not done anything! But we’ve been keeping ourselves busy nonetheless!

Updates to come! Gotta go sleep! We’ve an early start at 5.30am, and Jon’ll kill me if I wake up late and miss the bus haha :)

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I had read about Piccadily Market in the London Planner – a free local tourist guidebook of sorts. It sounded interesting, but in the end the place was a bit of a disappointment. Not as exciting and interesting as the other markets I’ve been to. It was set in the churchyard of St James’ Church which is along Piccadily Road. There was one thing that I found out from there though. There was a picture of a monument I had seen on the cover of one of the tourist magazines in October, and I saw it again on a postcard at the market. I had been wondering where to find that monument cos it looks quite grand, so I decided to ask around. A few of the shopkeepers weren’t sure where it was, but finally one person solved the mystery! It’s the Albert memorial and is found at the south end of Hyde Park. I’ll go by there one day to take a look! I was feeling so pleased that the mystery was solved :)

Anyway one of things I like about the old buildings in London are their glass windows. They tend to be made out of many small pieces of glass, and I like how the glass pieces capture and reflect images differently. St James’ Church had these windows. It’s just one of those small pleasures that I enjoy :)

Having some time on my hands I decided to go check out Sir John Soane’s museum at Holborn. John Soane was an architect who decided to establish his home as a museum to ‘educate and inspire amateurs and students in painting, architecture and sculpture’. He collected numerous pieces of random fragments from as far as Rome and Greece, and even possessed an Egyptian sarcophagus! In accordance with his wishes, the house/museum has been kept in essentially the same state as when he left it.

It’s a fascinating place to wander about. It has to be seen to be believed. To see how Sir John collected everything and took care to display everything in the house. At some places you can hardly see the wall because there are so many marble fragments. He also left a huge collection of books on all topics – history, natural history, philosophy, architecture, etc. Very inspiring to browse the titles on the shelves. And I loved that all the books were old and worn. I love the look of old books :)

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Jon watched his first live Everton match at Stamford Bridge, and it was an exciting and entertaining night, both on and off the pitch.

We weren’t able to get tickets with the Everton away fans, and ended up sitting with Chelsea home fans. It was fairly entertaining hearing the fans jeer at the players and the referee. They were making snide remarks about the Everton players. Like when one player fell and was down on the ground, someone shouted “make sure he doesn’t steal the pitch!!!”.

But being in the home side meant that Jon couldn’t cheer freely. So when there was a call that the Chelsea fans weren’t happy with and were standing and shouting “boo!”, Jon would secretly go “woo!!” =)

Chelsea scored first, and I was hoping Everton would score for Jon’s sake.

And then they did!!


Jon stood up and cheered…

….and suddenly realised he was cheering alone and everyone else sitting around him was quiet…

then he quietly sat down…

From his point of view he saw the goal, then he saw the Everton fans standing and cheering and followed suit, forgetting he was surrounded by a sea of Chelsea fans. He was just so excited and couldn’t help himself! :)

Less than five minutes later a steward came by and asked Jon rhetorically, “Sir, would you like to follow me please”. Jon went..and never came back! I SMSed him to find out what was going on only to find out he’d been thrown out of the stadium hahahahaa…It is funny :) I had thought maybe he was escorted to the Everton side, but instead he was escorted right out of the stadium. Apparently the steward told him that they could not guarantee his safety, and that there were thousands of Chelsea fans out to get him. He couldn’t stand at the back, he couldn’t go to the Everton side, he had to leave. Period.

In a way it was good cos he left when Everton was on a roll cos the match ended with Chelsea scoring yet another goal in extra time. Final score Chelsea 2, Everton 1.

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