How to behave like loony tourists in a leading global city

 

Roaming the streets of London, exploring the home of British monarchs…and a few million expats

 

Tower of London Beefeater.JPG

Tower of London

Beefeater guide

So, what do you do when your eldest son has flown the nest, migrating like a bird from the southern hemisphere to the north to become an expat in a leading global city? You do what all expat parents do. We visit him of course and use it as a good excuse to see another country! I like to think we’re not the only ones that behaved like loony tourists where royalty lives.

In May and June of 2006, we left our den and roamed our way around the streets of London as well as a few other places too. Everyone knows it’s the home of the British monarchs, but I think we’d all be surprised how many expats there are too. A few million! This time we were staying for longer than just four days, unlike our last visit to London.

 

 Fan of the Beatles? Collect some memorabilia.

Fan of the Beatles? Collect some memorabilia.

 

What can I tell you about the City of London that you haven’t heard before? Undoubtedly not much but browsing through our photos might just be worthwhile. We took an excess of pictures as all tourists do. The pictures will tell most of the story and I’ll add a few snippets. This is not a city guide with tips and highlights to see, but a glimpse of what we did and how we survived on a fairly low budget.

 

 Cutty Sark revamped since our last visit

Cutty Sark revamped since our last visit

 Love the detail inside a cabin of the Cutty Sark

Love the detail inside a cabin of the Cutty Sark

 

We dashed around the usual tourist traps. Some we’d seen before. It didn’t matter, we enjoyed seeing them again. Those we hadn’t, we enjoyed even more.

 

London and outskirts.

War Museum

Tower of London

Cutty Sark

London Eye

Harrods

Camden Town

Strolling through parks in London

Chelsea Flower Show

Greenwich

 

Outside of London:

A quick trip to Lake Districts

An even quicker trip to Edinburgh.

 

Imperial War Museum

 Dressing up in the gear for shetering from air raids

Dressing up in the gear for shetering from air raids

 
 Silhouette of London Eye

Silhouette of London Eye

 
 Looking down on a London Eye capsule

Looking down on a London Eye capsule

 
 Pity about the rain, but we still had a good view

Pity about the rain, but we still had a good view

 
 Large, medium, small...

Large, medium, small...

 
 Tower of London

Tower of London

 Overlooking a garden and the Tower of London

Overlooking a garden and the Tower of London

 Suit of armour for King Henry VIII and his horse at the Tower of London

Suit of armour for King Henry VIII and his horse at the Tower of London

 Tour through the Tower of London

Tour through the Tower of London

 Suit of armour for The Earl of Worcester

Suit of armour for The Earl of Worcester

 Display of guns - Tower of London

Display of guns - Tower of London

 
 Drooling over Harrods chocolates

Drooling over Harrods chocolates

 

Camden Town

 Walking the streets of Camden Town

Walking the streets of Camden Town

 
 Taking in the sights of Camden Town

Taking in the sights of Camden Town

 
 Admiring the gardens in the parks of London

Admiring the gardens in the parks of London

 
Chelsea Flower Show 2006 4head Garden of Dreams, Marney Hall & Heather Yarrow
 
 
Greenwich British yard - foot size
 
 Standing on two time zones

Standing on two time zones

 

Fragments of our personal experiences:

 

We strode along the streets of London, trailing our resident son like faithful puppies, or rather the men sauntered ahead and I jogged behind at speed. Picture this: three men walking ahead like royalty and a short woman a few steps behind, puffing and panting, while trying to keep up (I had bronchitis at that stage too, to add to my lack of oxygen).

This was when we commenced with the 'ostrich'. Where it originated from, I don't recall. Let me explain: if we couldn't always see each other in the crowds of tourists, especially me, being of short stature, we would raise an arm, stretched up high and make an ostrich like beak to identify each other in the crowds. The people around us must have thought we were just slightly deranged or perhaps they shook their heads at what looked to them like a few country bumpkins or loony tourists that have been set free in a top international city for the first time. We had fun though and certainly laughed nonstop.

 

Canal boat London, moored
 Canal boats in a lock

Canal boats in a lock

 Canal boats going down canal

Canal boats going down canal

 

Transport

To get around we used the underground or tube, which is an integral part of any commuter in London. The three tourists didn’t always know where we were going or which line to catch, but Mr Expat chortled, “Don’t worry, I know where I’m going.” We had to agree, he did, but we hopped on and off like grasshoppers, with the odd “Come on, Mom!”

Toilet art in London at urinals
 Love the toilet humour

Love the toilet humour

 Lovely detail in the cartoons inside the urinals

Lovely detail in the cartoons inside the urinals

 

Nosh time

As for filling our tummies, we survived on cheap student type food, following our son’s example. We ate many a meal at a reduced price making good use of specials such as two for the price of one or eat as much as you like for the next hour. Some of the supermarkets sold produce at reduced prices because they were reaching their sell by date too. We had our first taste of Subway – the fast food outlet, that is. Not too unpalatable for franchise food. You may ask why we chose to eat budget food; because we had to pay for all the sights we wanted to see.

 

Accommodation:

Our accommodation was at the Tavistock hotel. It is a huge tourist establishment with busloads of tourists being carted in. A full English breakfast was included. The mass production of rubbery fried eggs floating in oil and leathery bacon was not ideal, but at least we didn’t starve. The price of the accommodation wasn't too bad either.  

 

 Having a tourist breakfast at Tavistock

Having a tourist breakfast at Tavistock

 

Chelsea flower show – An overdose on floral exhibits 

One of the things on my bucket list was to visit the Chelsea flower show. Although it is expensive, (now about GBP 35 to 105) the Chelsea show was a "wow" moment for me. We were dazzled by the colourful floral exhibits as we strolled around the innovative garden designs.

Having designed and installed 3 show gardens myself in my own hometown at one of our local influential nurseries, I had a vague idea of what it entailed. The gardens at Chelsea though, were awe inspiring. The main marquee was so colourful and a cloud of fragrance hung in the air. Towers of flowers, pillars of strawberries and swathes of floral exhibits stood proudly in their stalls.

Did I mention we took photos? We took an overabundance of snaps at the flower show alone that I could dedicate an entire photo blog to that. I even hobnobbed with some of the gardening fraternity TV personalities in the flesh - almost! They obviously didn’t know I was there (or they just ignored me) I mean, really! But then I would have too, if I was in their shoes.

By the end of the day hubby and I were drooping like wilted flowers, and I could have happily kicked off my shoes to pamper my weary toes on the cool grass or in the soft loam of the flower beds, but it wouldn’t be fair to squish those magnificent flowers with my feet. I’m forever grateful that I had the opportunity to see it and I would recommend it to anyone. Even hubby had fun, although he, not being a gardener, is most likely to call a rose by another name.

I would advise though that you buy your tickets well in advance and expect to stand in queues.

 

 

Lake Districts

After having seen the sights of London, we boarded the train for the Lake districts. We stayed with family whom we hadn't seen for ages. The scenery around that area was stunning! Upon our previous visit to the UK, we had a glimpse of it but this time we spent a few days and could see a whole lot more.

We explored and browsed around, then popped in to the odd pub for a meal. I love walking around the lakes and enjoy the scenery, that’s before one even heads up into the mountains.

I think some of the gardens were affected by the floods from 5th and 6th of December 2015.

 

 Can you believe a family lived there?

Can you believe a family lived there?

 Beatiful lake scene - Lake Windermere

Beatiful lake scene - Lake Windermere

 Tiny house where a family stayed - National Trust Bridge house

Tiny house where a family stayed - National Trust Bridge house

 Beautiful gardens

Beautiful gardens

 Stunning gardens - were they affected by the floods in December 2015?

Stunning gardens - were they affected by the floods in December 2015?

 Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere

 Walking in the Lake District to a pub

Walking in the Lake District to a pub

 Wooden boats Lake District

Wooden boats Lake District

 

Visiting the Scots - Fleeting visit to Edinburgh

The guys had tickets to a rugby game in Edinburgh, so we drove up to Scotland for a fleeting trip. While the men watched a game of rugby, the gals visited a friend. We also managed to do a small amount of sightseeing before the rugby game. On the way back to the Lake districts we popped in at Gretna Green, before going back to London and saying our sad farewells.

 

 Streets of Edinburgh

Streets of Edinburgh

 Camera obscura

Camera obscura

 Projection of image

Projection of image

 Projected image at World of Illusion & Camera Obscura Edinburgh

Projected image at World of Illusion & Camera Obscura Edinburgh

 Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

 Edinburgh Castle - set in stone

Edinburgh Castle - set in stone

 Traffic cones - work of students?

Traffic cones - work of students?

 View over Edinburgh

View over Edinburgh

 Anyone for a game of rugby?

Anyone for a game of rugby?

 Going to the chapel...

Going to the chapel...

 Have a dram of whiskey instead

Have a dram of whiskey instead

 

** Apologies for the dates on the photos. They were taken in the days before I started blogging and took note of such things. **

Like what you saw? Pin it, please.

 

 

Have any of you become travellers by default, because your families are expats? I think we should start our own group. Who’s going to come up with a name? Although, my theory is, many of our children may have become expats BECAUSE we introduced them to travel.