31/01/2012

I'm back & London was better than I could have hoped.
A story of a wild adventure to a capital city.

View from Westminster Bridge.
As neither of us are working at the minute, we decided that we would take a trip to London to visit some great friends we met whilst working in Holland over the summer. To save money we opted for the National Express, the daunting thought of spending six hours on a coach was the least of our worries it was having to set the alarm for 5am that troubled us the most. Leaving the house when it was still pitch black outside actually made it far more exciting. We arrived at the bus station, early. 
The journey went surprisingly fast, I had my knitting and lots of Karl Pilkington Podcasts to listen to, it was heaven, besides the horrendous motion sickness I always get on coaches.
Camden High Street.
The Hawley Arms - Camden.
After finally finding our friends apartment, just North of Camden. We settled in freshened up and headed straight out, first stop was Camden Town. The area really lives up to it's reputation, the bustling  quirky atmosphere fills the air. The independent shops lined the street, I was intrigued to say the least. Wall art and 3D sculptures lay above the shops, bringing everything to life. After a short walk we arrived at Camden Lock Market's, this is a place to be seen to be believed. The Stables are incredible. The food stalls entice you in, the smells mouth watering how can you possibly pass up. I'm usually one for giving bargain hunting tips, but this place truly gives you value for money. You can sure haggle for anything in this place. The variety of nationalities under one cove of quirky mayhem allow you to become lost in translation. You soon forget the REAL world in The Stables. 

The Stable Market - Camden.
After a fairly early night and catching up with Mel & Simone our second day in London had a lot of living up to. Henry and I have both visited London before but never really been true tourists, we were determined to cram as much in as possible.
Taking the Piccadilly line directly from where we were staying, we managed the tube pretty well. We purchased a seven day pass for around £30 each, at first I was reluctant but transport is essential in the city, the most efficient and coherent transport system I have ever used. It is fool proof.
We were agreed that the first stop had to be the Natural History Museum. At first glance the overwhelming size of the building is breathtaking. 
Henry Outside the Natural History Museum.
Firstly I have to thank all the museums in London for having free admission, I, and I know many others think that the wonderful sights on display here and in many other museums should be free for everyone to enjoy. The vast collections from Dinosaurs to Birds and the Human Body to Space really lived up to everything I had heard over the years. The gigantic replica of a Diplodocus welcomed us into the grand hall. Like over excited children we hurried straight for the Dinosaurs. The impressive display left me speechless. The Real life animated T-Rex was the most impressive, we spent a good fifteen minutes observing the life like characteristics on display.
Possibly my favourite part of the day had to be the Mammals wing of the museum. As a huge animal lover I was completely blown away to see such a variety under one roof. 
As I'm sure I have mentioned in previous posts my pet name is Minnie Moose.
I named him Melvin, Melvin the Moose.
Child's Play at The Natural History Museum.

Big Ben - Tuesday 24th of January 2012 5pm.
After spending the afternoon at the Natural History Museum, we really wanted to go somewhere that really looked like London. We jumped on the tube from South Kensington to Westminster, we climbed up the steps only to have this welcome us, this really is what we had pictured London to look like. The sheer size of Big Ben really hits you when you're this close. We were also lucky enough to hear him chime. 
I do not drink Monster by the way, one of Henry's dirty habits. 
We took a romantic walk along the South Bank. We wondered for hours, it was beautiful. 
Along the way we came across The National Theatre, it had just started to rain so we took cover there this is where we found Bow and Bellows. In the foyer a classical duo from Germany played an eclectic mix of Romany Gypsy.
Tower Bridge.
Nelson's Column.
Sunny, Happy Couple.
Trafalgar Square.
The Tate Modern.
Monet - Inspiring.
The amazing display of classic to the complete insane, you are sure to see it all here. From Picasso to a pile of ceramic seeds. I was inspired, collections from such legendary Artists as John Heartfield, Meredith Frampton, Pablo Picasso and of course Claude Monet. But out of all the brilliance came one exhibition which I must say was my favourite. Boris Mikhailov during the 1960's photographed normal people in day to day situation in his home town in theUkraine. It is definitely one to go and check out.
View from the fourth floor of The Tate.
Millennium Bridge.
St. Paul's Cathedral.
Berty & Gerty 
I will always refer back to Camden as being my favourite place to visit in London. Definitely aimed at the younger hip market, tucked away one corner of the Camden Lock Market is Berty & Gerty, the diverse selection of all things vintage left a keen thrifter like me weak at the knees to say the least. All in all they spread their collection over three shops, the helpful staff guided us along to each one. The mixture of 50's & 60's pretty dresses to eighties denim and baggy knits are reasonably priced, the staff are equally as cool as the clothes they are selling. Keep up to date with their Facebook page, they let you know every time they are having a new delivery in and of what, for example yesterday was all things denim. Starting out as a stall on Brick Lane Sunday market this is now a thriving part of the heart of Camden. 


Buckingham Palace.
I couldn't believe how big the palace was, lots of rooms for one lady. We didn't manage to see the changing of guards, but we did see them walk up and down a few times. The thing that shocked me the most were the guns, everyone seemed to have guns. At the Palace the police had guns and the guards. At Downing Street they had machine guns and hand guns. It really scared me. 


The British Museum.
WOW!
The incredible collection at the British Museum is one not to be missed. We took a late evening tour, the grand rooms housed the most incredible artefacts I think I have ever seen (well coming close second to the Sistine Chapel at number one) The Egyptian display is overwhelming to say the least, taking into account the age of these piece got me thinking, could we now create something as sustainable which could stand the test of time? The dark winters evening gave us an atmospheric experience, slightly eerie, one down side some parts were closed off, you really need a whole afternoon to appreciate the sheer mass of history in this grand building.
Portobello Market - Not for the faint hearted.
Early start on Saturday and we headed on the tube to Notting Hill. This was one part of our adventure that I was most excited about. After a crammed sweaty tube ride, I was now agitated and just wanted to get there. I hadn't eaten yet and if anyone knows me at all, no food or a cuppa first thing make Laurie a naggy pants. The pushing and shoving was becoming slightly tedious by this point, my mind was taken off the crowds for a second when I noticed we had just passed by the great George Orwell's house, my day was sure to brighten up. We had a spot of lunch and moseyed along Portobello Road. The variety of stalls blew me away, this is a thrifters paradise. Everything is on offer here, from jewllery to fine antiques, but my favourite by far were the independent clothing stalls, not to be confused with the covered vintage market, this I found was over priced and the clothing pretentious. A few hundred yards away and you come across the down to earth sellers, rails of knit wear for a fiver, dresses marked down for quick sale, vintage shouldn't have to be pricey to be cool. I stuck to what I know best, reasonably price clothing with the sweet smell of vintage.  


More reviews of Berty & Gerty and Bow and Bellows to follow,
Something Henry put together.


Laurie Rose x

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