Well, I’m now writing from Will’s house in Leeds! Yesterday I caught the train from King’s Cross station (and yes, I did find Platform 9 and 3/4) up to Leeds, and spent the day hanging out with Will. We went to the Leeds Japanese Society’s karaoke night, and I caught up with Nanako, one of the girls from Hosei that I knew through the speech contest, who is here on exchange. I have a bit of a cold, so today is a lazy day, hence the time to update the blog!
Ok, so going back to London, I managed to fit quite a bit into my last days, including a catch up with Kelly and Janelle, who are on their way home after nearly 6 months in Europe.
On Sunday, I met up with Jasmin and Owen at South Kensington, and we went to the Natural History Museum. There’s an ice rink set up in front of the Museum, so Jasmin and I bought tickets for the 9pm skate session before going into the Museum. It was incredible! The main entrance hall was so beautiful!
We looked at a lot of dinosaurs, and took a lot of photos! There was a GIANT blue whale, woolly mammoth tusk moulds, and a big section about the human body.
We spent most of the afternoon wandering through, then caught the tube to Victoria to have Nandos for lunch. Nandos here is more like a mid-range restaurant than a take away place like at home, so we had an awesome feast (although we had way too much food!). We then went to the Tate Modern, mostly because I wanted to see an installation by Ai Wei Wei, a Chinese artist. I’d seen an exhibition of his in Tokyo, and heard that he’d put 100 million porcelain, hand-made sunflower seeds n the turbine hall of the Tate, so we had a look. It was pretty amazing – so many seeds!
We weren’t that impressed by the rest of the Tate (I’m more conservative in my taste), but was hung out for a while, before having hot chocolate just outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
We were all tired and a bit run down, so we ended up giggling a lot in the cafe, and once they closed, we headed back to the NHM for our skate session. I’d not been ice skating before, so was a bit nervous, but Jasmin was a great teacher, and I gained confidence with Bert the penguin ( a little penguin to lean on that kids use to learn to skate) by my side!
In the end I was able to go around the rink 3 times on my own, and I only fell down once! It was actually a lot of fun, and I’d like to try it again at some point before I go home. We hung out at Jasmin and Owen’s hotel a bit before I went back. Oh, and over the course of the day, I was invited to go on a short trip to Wales over the next weekend. So tomorrow I’m heading over to Manchester, before going with Jasmin and Owen to Wales in the evening. We’re also booked in for a late session of Harry Potter 7 tomorrow night! So excited!
Anyway, so I tried to catch up with Kelly and Janelle on Monday, but we had phone issues, so i ended up spending the day on my own. I went to Westminster Abey first, which was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately you couldn’t take photos inside, but I was amazed by just how many important people in English history are buried or commemorated there. I was especially moved by the Poet’s Corner, which memorialises the great authors, poets and playwrights, including the likes of Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Wilfred Owen, Oscar Wilde, and William Blake. I also found the memorial to the Unknown Soldier to be quite moving – I placed the remembrance poppy that I bought earlier in the week on the black marble in his memory.
I then made my way over to Shakespeare’s Globe, which was probably one of the main highlights of my London visit. The lady who took the tour was amazing, and it was just a real thrill to be there.
I had planned to go to the Tower of London before heading to Covent Garden for the Royal Ballet, but there wasn’t enough time, so I relaxed at the hotel for a bit before going out again. I saw Sylvia at the Royal Opera House, and it was magnificent! I was a little bit far away to see the costumes well, but the overall impression was of a beautiful, classical performance. I sat next to an older lady from Paris, and we spent the to intervals chatting about ballet and about travelling, which was really nice. It was a great evening!
I finally saw Kelly and Janelle on Tuesday! We met at South Kensington station for morning tea (we ended up going to a cafe at the NHM), and caught up on months worth of news. We swapped travel advice (they’re going home via HK and haven’t been there before), and shared three yummy cakes/slices. They had to meet a friend in Hyde Park, so we headed over there, and took some pictures before solving the phone problems. We organised to meet for dinner later on.
I then went to King’s Cross to pick up my tickets to Leeds. On the way back, I went to Notting Hill, mostly to wander down Portobello Road and sing the song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Portobello Road, Portobello Road, street where the riches of ages are stowed). I took a picture in a doorknob shop, of one that was like the magic bedknob. The market end was quite nice, and I discovered an awesome smoothie shop called “bee me”. I also finally had a cupcake from the Hummingbird Bakery – it was called red velvet, and was amazing! (Photos will come later, my camera is charging now).
I then met the girls for a hurried Mexican dinner – they were going to see Billy Elliot in Victoria, but I had to race to the Lyceum in Covent Garden to see the Lion King. It was actually AMAZING!!! The sets, the puppets, the costumes, everything! Zazu and Rafiki were the stand out performances, although Timon and Pumba were really funny too! I just loved the whole thing, and am so glad I picked that of all the possible shows to see. It would be so amazing to live in London and just go to see a show whenever you felt like it. Anyway, it was a fantastic way to end my last night in London.
Which brings us back to Leeds! Actually, I’ve spent a lot of time online today, so I should probably get dressed and grab some lunch! Will probably post again after the Wales trip. Ciao for now!