As I head to end of the fourth week after returning from my tour to Turkey and an extra lovely lovely week in London with my daughter Hannah, I feel very fortunate to have experienced a month of beautiful warm weather sharing gorgeous days with a charming tour group and getting to know London by walking everywhere. I feel especially lucky since we are working our way through a rather brutal Winter here. (In saying that I am sitting in my study on a very sunny morning)
Each day on our Turkish tour was exciting and full of surprises and its an enormous thrill for Alison, Hasan and me to bring all the planning and decisions to fruition.
A couple of my ladies wrote : It exceeded my expectations. Everyday was brilliant ; When asked what was the highlight, for me I can say that there was one everyday .
London was busy from morning until late at night. Coming from small town Dunedin it takes time to adjust to the crowds and you must remember to stand on the right hand side of the escalator so the’ walkers’ can pass you.!!!
When it’s finally time to return to New Zealand and embark on the long haul flight home. I think many people look back and struggle remembering what happened each day, where they went and when. Photos , Diaries, Tour Notes and even entry tickets help put each day in place.
The joy of traveling has a never-ending outcome. As we endure the cold winter this year and as the years go by sitting in little pockets in our memories are our travel stories – where we can delve into at anytime and they never go away.
I have been thinking a lot about my special week with Hannah in London. From the ‘Lion King ‘ show, the outstanding Alexander Mc Queen exhibition , my wonderful stay with Tom and Susan in Highbury, buying heavy Chippendale vases to lug home to London’s vibrant markets, walking along canals , through lovely green parks and eating in the many great cafes and restaurants .
We returned to the borough market. Several years ago I did the London visit when our son Matthew was doing his OE and I was keen to go back. It is so vibrant and busy, especially over the lunch time period. It was the obvious place to go for a beer and something appealing to eat and boy what a selection. Of course, we had to have the obligatory pork pie.!After wandering around and choosing between hot corned beef in delicious bread with hot mustard , luscious looking pies and colourful healthy salads we chose a duck confit roll full of dripping meat and rocket.
The awesome medley of vegetables and cheese, especially in the famous ‘Neals Yard’ which is outstanding . Shelves lined with wheels of specialist English cheeses. Cut and wrapped in greaseproof cheese paper to store easily at home.
The oyster stalls were so much fun. We watched the expert oyster shuckers open bins of oysters and you could choose small, medium or large . We settled on 6 medium size beauties and accompanied them with a glass of Prosecco. It took Hannah a couple of oysters to get used to their slippery texture.
While we were eating our oysters we listened to the producers yelling out loudly – encouraging people to but their produce.We should have waited, since our blueberries and raspberries at 1 pound 50 were now 2 for 2 pound . The joys of a market I suppose and it brings home the importance of looking before you buy !!
On Saturday after a tube and train trip Hannah had me walking along the Canal to the Broadway Market . We sat and watched two canal boats being steered by two women who delicately manoeuvred into a lock side by side while their partners opened and closed the gates. The boats had pots of herbs lined up on top and they obviously lived here for long periods. The market was mainly food and craft stalls . It was packed with a Saturday morning brunch crowd, all happy sitting around the crowded stalls. We ate our shared laksa and steamed buns sitting on some very small seats – The market obviously takes over school grounds in the weekends.
I am in heaven whenever I am in a gorgeous garden and the next best is a flower market. What a treat and thank goodness we had Tom and Susan with us so I had an excuse to buy a big bunch of pink lilies. They have a ritual at the flower market on many Sunday mornings where they stand and eat a bacon buttie with a hot chocolate while listening to the buskers. I met their very good friend who has a stall and a big nursery out of London and he was from ‘Winton’ ( unbelievable )
London has cafes, restaurants and traditional English pubs side by side, street by street – they are everywhere. In the city people spill out onto the paving, meeting friends for the end of day drink and obviously enjoying the warm summer weather. We ate a diverse range of ethnic food from Japanese Bao’s , Stunning salads at my icon Yotam Ottolenghi’s Islington shop, Indian after the Lion King Show, Tapas in Carnaby St and delicious family dinners at Tom and Susan’s.
A highlight was dinner at the ‘Grain Store ‘. Watching the 12 chefs in an open kitchen was like being in a theatre. The wait staff glided effortlessly around the huge restaurant putting ‘Service’ into the word service, the food was delicious and for me it was ‘Food for Thought”
I not only have a wonderful successful tour of Turkey to look back on but a special week with my daughter Hannah. Her chance to show me her city ‘London’ where she is living the OE experience . It enabled us to take up one of those rare opportunities in life – to spend time with your adult children. I can certainly recommend never letting these times go by.