UK Trip 2013

UK Trip 2013

This has to be the longest blog dry spell for as long as the blog has been in existence! 5 months of no posts, you’d think I’d have abandoned it, well that’s not the case, blogging is still fun to do, it’s just the time now goes on work and baby feeding!

In July, Amy, Oscar and myself embarked on a 6 week trip to the UK, so that my parents could meet Oscar for the first time and we could have a holiday. I’d been worrying about the flight to the UK before Oscar was even born but when it came down to it, it was not as bad as we’d thought!

Oscar on his first international flight

Dubai is a great stop over point, it’s 14 hours from Sydney and then an “easy” 6.5 hours to London. We stayed for a few nights in the Atlantis Hotel, which was very kid friendly although I think Oscar was a little bit too young.

The temperature was crazy though, some days it was reaching 47 degrees. We went outside just to see what it felt like and I felt like I was melting after about 2 seconds. Amy did go for a few drips in the pool whilst Oscar and I sat under a sunshade, then after about 5 minutes it was back into the air conditioning.

Dubai in 47 degrees

Some of the nice things you can do in Dubai is look at all of the fish in the massive fish tanks they have in the hotel and at the shopping centers. We even visited the shopping center that has the indoor ski slope and baby penguins! We ate in our hotel room every night (things are a bit different with a baby!) but we managed to go out for lunches at some nice restaurants, including a french one in the hotel.

Our second flight to London was followed by a 2 hour drive up to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we checked into the Alveston Manor hotel for 4 nights to go to Gin and Alison’s wedding. Gin came to visit me in Australia 9 years ago and we had a great time, his trip out here even got a mention in the best man speech! It was a fantastic wedding at the church where Shakespeare is buried and in the evening I got to catch up with all of the old Ettington crew which was great, it felt like nothing had changed seeing them all.

Gin and Alison Wedding

The next day we organized to meet up with some of the wedding crew, including Ian and his wife who was 9.2 months pregnant! It was great to see them all and hang out in what had just luckily turned out to be some of the best weather England was having (just in time for our trip!) –

Ettington crew and wives and children

After a few days in Stratford and some visits to Carluccio’s restaurant we headed for the drive down South to my parents house in Dorchester, it was a nice drive down and great for my parents to finally meet baby Oscar!

Parents meet Baby Oscar

We spent three weeks with my parents in total and did lots of things with them. One of the first things we did was visit a model train railway which had lots of model trains. I used to be really into these when I was younger and still am, but now the reality of how much it all costs to have the awesome setups means it’s probably not going to happen on the scale I’d like, let’s hope Oscar is into trains –

Model Trains

We took a guided boat trip along a stretch of water called “The Fleet” near an Island called “Portland” that is just off the coast, we also went to a Prison for lunch up there, where the people who serve you the lunch are actual inmates of the prison (it’s not a high security prison).

We also accidentally went to a socialist fair, which was funny, we drove in, paid the 20 pounds per person, thinking we were going to a cool festival and then we asked what it was and they said “a trade union festival” at first I thought she was joking but this is what it was and it wasn’t very good (we actually came to look at the tolpuddle martyrs museum).

How did this happen?

We also had an electric bike ride tour which was good fun, the electric bike tour around Dorset was with Marshwood Trials, we covered a lot of kilometers and visited the gravesite of Georgy Markov who was assassinated on London Bridge by a poisonous dart from an umbrella.

On a lighter note we visited a fantastic sand sculpture center in Weymouth that had some fantastic sculptures that it was ashame they were not permanent!

Sand Sculptures

My parents babysat for us for a couple of nights so that Amy and I could go out for dinner for the first time in a while, it was really nice but Amy and I kept going a bit over the top when we got to the restaurants, the first time we ordered three main meals between the two of us!

For my birthday, which coincided with our stay in Dorset, my parents booked Amy, Oscar and me into the Holiday Inn at Portsmouth. Portsmouth has a redeveloped waterfront area and we spent a few days going around the shops there and having a birthday dinner at Jamie’s Italian restaurant which was really nice. Again, because Oscar is just a baby the nights were spent in but that was ok, for one of them we spent the entire evening waiting for the Royal Baby (who was born the day after my birthday) to emerge from the Lindo Wing on TV –

In Portsmouth waiting for the Royal Baby with another Royal Baby

Whilst we were in Portsmouth my parents had sorted us all out with a trip in luxury over to Guernsey, which is a little island south of the UK, near France but with British roots (although no tax or EU membership). My parents had got us into the nice part of the boat where you get free food and was behind a closed door. I decided to go out and have a look what was going on outside and due to the rough seas it was carnage, with people being sick all over the place, I was so pleased we had our little sanctuary as I think I would have felt sick as well! Here’s Oscar with his very own seat on the ferry –

On the way to Guernsey

At the end of our trip to the UK was my parents Ruby Anniversary party which they had organised to be just before we left. Lots of friends and relatives had come to visit, some of which I had not seen for a long time or not at all so it was great to meet so many people. The night ended with a meal in Poundbury which was really nice.

Parents Ruby Anniversary Party

Next stop after Dorest was to spend some time in London, London is the best city in the world so it’s great to visit it. We stayed right in the heart of the West End at the same hotel I stayed at last time called No. 5 Maddox. It is great because it had a separate room for Oscar to sleep in, can you see him –

Baby in the window

The trip to London worked out perfect because a lot of our friends from Australia who’d moved away had all booked trips to visit at the same time. Here’s Lorraine, Marcy, Chris and Sue walking down the street like nothing was different –

Sydney comes to London

Of course no trip to London is complete without seeing Matt and Lorraine and their new baby as well. Matt and Lorraine live 1 hour drive from us in Sydney but I always seem to meet up with Matt at least in London more times than I do here, this time was no different, we had a lovely picnic in Regents Park on a beautiful sunny day (there was lots of them) –

Baby meetups in Regents Park

The skyline of London has changed so much and I was only here last 2 years ago, with so many new buildings and a completed Shard. I went to the Shard with a lot of the Sydney crew to a restaurant called Hutong and then to the bar afterwards that Alex said was very “Essex” and I agreed with him. Hutong though was a fantastic Chinese restaurant even though some of the food was extremely spicy!

London at Sunset from the Shard

When we arrived in England, we thought we’d book a day trip to Paris on the Eurostar train for when we got to London. In hindsight a day trip to Paris leaving at 8am and coming back at 5pm is very short indeed. We got on the train, arrived in Paris, got a taxi to Concorde, had lunch down Rue d’Anjou, walked down the Champs-Elysees, took Oscar’s photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background, went to Zara outside Palais Garnier and then headed back to Gare Nord to get back in time for the train to London.

Very quick trip to Paris

Mark and Karine came to visit us in London which was nice as they live in Belgium, we went to a fantastic Indian restaurant called Dishoom which is next door to Peter Stringfellows! We also had a lunchtime drink at the OXO tower, visiting Pineapple Dance Studios and talked about the old times. Mark and Karine were also visiting Australia the same time Gin was over to circular that connection together!

Mark, Karine, Amy and Oscar at Dishoom

One last thing we had to do before leaving was visit Auntie Vi, my Grandma’s sister and Oscars great great Auntie who still lives in the same place that she moved into in the 1930ies! My parents were also down there to see Oscar one more time. It was a fun trip on the DLR and we even got to pop into Amy’s work in Canary Wharf to see some of her work friends and some of my old work colleague that I worked with for a short period of time 7 years ago.

Auntie Vi

It was a great trip and we’ve basically ticked off a lot of things Oscar might have considered doing as a rebellious 20 something, so now at least that is out of his system –

Oscar with eiffel tower, london underground, tower bridge, shard, big ben, burj and tower of london

The  trip back was one long journey which we should have really broken up into another stopover in Dubai, which is what we’ll do next time. It was a great trip and we were blessed with some really great weather the entire time!

Let’s see if I can get a blog post with a bit of a smaller gap in between next time!