This post has been a long time coming, trust me I’ve heard it from all angles, & I have no excuses,…..just reasons, I’m so busy filming mad videos on my GoPro & taking breathtaking pics on my DSL650 that I leave all the writing up to Tash;) haha
So I need to give you the new definition of ‘last minute.com’ – everything in between us leaving Istanbul & arriving in London. Taking the adventure race to a new level. Shooo! Before leaving the boat on the 2nd December, we had decided to visit London for 1 week, for 3 special occasions, before jumping on our already booked flights from Nice (France) back to Cape Town on the evening of the 10th December. The 3 special occasions included;
- My best friends 30th, Scotty Young, at Winter Wonderland (Sat 5th Dec)
- Visiting Mike, Natasha’s brother, at Oxford University since he’s there on a scholarship (Sun 6th – Tue 8th Dec)
- Cross off one of Tash’s dreams by watching Mumford & Sons live (Wed 9th Dec)
Since there was no word on my UK visa, there were no flights or accommodation booked on the morning of leaving the boat. Then the following happened between the 2nd & the 4th; left the boat – booked an Airbnb for 2 nights – got VISA word the next day – booked flights – fetched passport – left Airbnb early – booked crew house in Antibes – flew to Nice landing middle of the night – bus to Antibes – got bags out of storage – packed for London & home bags – slept – taxied to Nice airport – placed home bags in storage – arranged accommodation in London – flew to London. SUCCESS!!
Was great to be back, the last time I was here was 2004 on my GAP year while coaching sport at King’s School Canterbury. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKFjWR7X5dU). It was cold though, slightly under dressed but thank goodness for the Turkish scarfs we’d bought. We definitely made the most of our short time…
Red busses & the underground tubes – a true directions test between partners. Tash is amazing at blog writing;)
BOBBYS! & walks in Hyde Park – resulting in bird chasing, bare windblown trees & feeding of the elegant swans.
A grand snowy Christmas affair setup in Hyde Park called Winter Wonderland, it’s impressive, Google it. It was here at the Bavarian Village we met Scotty & his friends for a festive 30th where we got dressed up in Christmas attire, danced to live bands, ate German wurst & drank lots of beer. Followed by tipsy strolls to an after party bar in Fulham – English style. Those are our ‘excited to see my brother’ faces below;)
Visiting South Kensington, Notting Hill, Portobello Street Market (where we had a warm cup of cinnamon rich mulled wine & a free top-up on the return leg) & bought the best Christmas jumpers ever.
Come chilly Sunday morning we embarked on the next journey, to the prestigious University of Oxford, just 90mins North. Double-decker bus, up front for a scenic tour.
You can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the history & knowledge surrounding you. Teaching in some form started around 1100 AD & now Oxford University is home to approximately 34 Colleges, which are almost independent academic communities. Tashes brother, Mike Day, was successful in securing a 1 year scholarship here & was housed in Wycliff Hall.
Visiting him “in his element” as a scholar, was high on our bucket list & we were fortunate enough to not only have a personally guided tour around town from Mike, but also got to sit in a 3 hour lecture by Alister McGrath on apologetics – mind was blown hearing this famous theologian discuss science & religion with precision & examples with not a single note in front of him. What an honour! It made me want to study again;)
We also went for a run through the meadows, attended a church service, visited some colleges, ate with Mike & his colleagues & lecturers, visited the Museum of the History of Science, climbed the spire of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, the Pitt Rivers Museum, & last but not least some traditional English pubs.
Okay, if you weren’t impressed with dinosaur eggs or the famous Bridge of Sighs, then our 3rd activity should give you goosebumps if you’re into music. Back to London we bussed & visited the Winter Wonderland again before getting ready for Mumford & Sons on the 9th December (Tash had surprised Mike with a ticket as well).
The tube system was so well organised – catching the Jubilee line to North Greenwich we popped out right in front of The O2 Arena, with enough time for a beer & supper at Tashes favourite asian spot ‘Wagamama’. Walking into the general standing we effortlessly secured a spot 10 meters from the stage. The London folk-pop foursome was amazing to watch, the sound quality was incredible & the impassioned earnestness of their songs was moving. Take a bow Marcus Mumford!
I am still editing a video & will have this up when done. But all in all, after a stressful & expensive VISA run in Istanbul, we had an incredible time in London & got to visit some special friends & family. We really are grateful for the opportunities which come our way.
We then left, back to Nice, fetched our bags in storage (faaaar toooooo much stuuuff & will leave it ALL at home), missed a flight due to fog & made it by 20 minutes on our flight back to South Africa. The primary reason for heading home was to attend James & Laura’s wedding, we then extended this trip to spend Christmas with our families. But this month holiday in sunny South Africa will be another blog with stories & recommendations;)