Saturday, 31 May 2008

Nothing too exciting

I had a relatively low key weekend this weekend.

On Saturday I was heading into town when I got a call from a job I had been doing for the last two weeks but finished on Friday to ask if I could come in for an hour or so, I jumped at the chance as I didn't have a job lined up for next week. After a couple of hours in the office I headed down for a walk alongside the river Thames past Shakespeare's Globe, which I will have to book in to see a play, Tate Modern not really my kind of thing and over the old wobbly Millennium Bridge although it didn't wobble for me. I had the house to myself as my flatmates had gone to Spain so popped in a movie, The Green Mile which I brought for three pounds at Tesco. I know its relatively old but I hadn't seen it before and if you haven't seen it, its really good.

On Sunday they were showing a live video performance of Romeo and Juliet straight from the London Opera House and since it was free and not to far from home, Hayley, Nicki and myself headed down to Canary Wharf. It was a good show and the ballerina's were amazingly flexible, the only let down was I think they watered the grass before the show and it was wet and damp but otherwise not to bad for free.


Friday, 30 May 2008

Monday, 26 May 2008

Cheese Rolling

On Sunday we headed out to Glochester for the annual Cheese Rolling Festival.

With a disputed history dating back to at least the 1800s, the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake involves hordes of fearless competitors chasing a weighty 8lb Double Gloucester cheese down a death-defyingly-steep hill. The slope on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester, the eponymous setting for the world-famous event, is in fact so steep that few contenders manage to even stay on their feet, instead tumbling head over heels down the hill in a desperate effort to catch the coveted prize.

While in reality the cheese can never actually be caught – with a brief headstart it soon reaches breakneck speeds – the race winner is the first person to cross the line at the bottom of the hill. Some contenders sadly don’t make it all the way down though, and instead lie in wait for the St John Ambulance crew who are on hand to fix-up the daredevils or whisk them away to the local A&E.

The highest injury toll in recent years occurred in 1997 when 33 competitors were treated for everything from splinters to broken bones, and in 2005 races were apparently delayed as ambulances delivered victims to the local hospital before returning to wait for the next batch of casualties. Spectators have also be known to receive their fair share of injuries – one year an off-course cheese took out an innocent bystander – but you can rest assured that such occurrences are rare.

It was a cold, wet, miserable, muddy day but we still made the effort. After getting an average possie on the hill it was exciting when the first race finally started. Now, you can't understand from the photo how steep this hill actually is, the hill is on about a 45 degree angle and as stated above, people run down it after a roll of cheese and many of them don't stay on their feet. The first winner of the day had to actually be taken away by a stretcher!

It was fun to watch (what you could see) and a crazy tradition! Was nice to get back into the warm car though and heat/dry off.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

London Sevens

On Sunday Hayley had scored us (Hayley, Nicky, Sheree, Marty and myself) cheap tickets (woo hoo and they were actually really good seats) to go to the sevens at Twickenham Stadium. It was raining in the morning but fortunately it stopped just in time for us to set ourselves up in our seats and start watching (or drinking and talking!!) the games. See this link for more info on the day - London Sevens. A lot of people dressed up and it was fun to see them all. Unfortunately we didn't really have time to dress up and it was cold and wet in the morning to really feel like making an effort but once the sun started shining and the drinks started flowing we had a fantastic day getting into the atmosphere and cheering for the kiwis.

Eating chips and homemade kiwi dip

Below - Hayley, Toni and Sheree

Chris and Craig (Aussies we met), Hayley, Toni and Sheree.

More pictures in the photo gallery and more reading about the event on Hayley's page!! (our pages are going to mirror themselves :) ).


Monday, 19 May 2008

The Tube

Today I started my new job for two weeks in Oxford Street. I had logged onto TFL to suss out my route to work. Walk, bus, tube, walk – good. It was similar to my last way to work just a few more tube stops and I started at 9am rather than 9.30am. So I thought I could manage it in one hour. So the jumped on the bus and headed to the tube station and went inside to catch my tube. As I have mentioned before generally the tubes are jam packed in the morning and as 2 people go out 10 squidge themselves in. But at 8.30am, 1 person goes out and 20 people try and squeeze in, as tube after tube goes past (I think five in total) I decided that was enough, I had to bite the bullet and be one of “those” people who jam packed myself into one of them. Lucky I had lost a bit of weight lately, cause even breathing in was a

tight squeeze to get the doors closed! Phew I managed it and we are on our way and I can breathe out again. What I didn’t think about in advance is the doors opening. Ohhhhhhhh, a smack on the funny bone is a good reminder to also breathe in again when the doors are being opened at the next stop!! So in the afternoon I decided to take the bus, a bit longer but at least I get a seat, although I was at the back of the bus with some “youths” who were yelling out to some other “youths” that they were going to shank them!!

Gotta love London.


Sunday, 18 May 2008

Wellington Arch

On Sunday after staying at Pam's after Hayley's (as I live ages away), I headed to Wellington Arch to have a look around before meeting Hayley, Gina and Niki for a picnic in Hyde Park.

Wellington Arch, also known as Constitution Arch or (originally) the Green Park Arch, is a triumphal arch located to the south of Hyde Park in central London. The arch, and Marble Arch close by, were both planned in 1825 by George IV to commemorate Britain's victories in the Napoleonic Wars. The Wellington Arch was also conceived as an outer gateway to Constitution Hill and therefore a grand entrance into central London from the west.

Also near the arch they have memorials for New Zealand and other various countries.

Sorry of these blogs aren't interesting but they are a good diary for me of all my travels and sightseeings.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Hayley and Niki's Flat

On Saturday night we all went around to Hayley and Niki's new place to take a look and have some drinks. It was a pretty low key night just hanging out and playing some drinking games.


On Saturday Pam and I decided to head out to Greenwich so I could have my photo "on the line". Pam had been before and had her photo but she also wanted to look at some markets. So we headed out there unfortunately the weather was not ideal but after a trek up a Giant hill we finally made it to the line. For those of you who don't know what line I am talking about, read below.

Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and as giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time.

The town became the site of a Royal palace, the Palace of Placentia from the 15th century, and was the birthplace of many in the House of Tudor, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was rebuilt as the Royal Naval Hospital for Sailors by Sir Christopher Wren and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor. These buildings became the Royal Naval College in 1873, and they remained an establishment for military education until 1998 when they passed into the hands of the Greenwich Foundation. The historic rooms within these buildings remain open to the public, other buildings are used by University of Greenwich and the Trinity College of Music.

To help others synchronize their clocks to GMT, a time ball was installed by Astronomer Royal John Pond in 1833. It still drops daily to mark the exact moment of 1 p.m. (13:00) year round (GMT during winter and BST during summer).

Friday, 16 May 2008

Bank of England Museum

Well since I haven't been working the last three days (a job got cancelled) and I have a few big expensive holiday's coming up I have needed to limit my site seeing to cheap or free options. So on Friday I headed to the Bank of England museum because its free!!

It wasn't the most interesting museum and I was a little bummed the gold display wasn't there for some reason but I did get to see some other real gold bars and got to hold one which was pretty cool (in a heavily-secured box, of course!)
ps - As I am trying to keep my posts in order, some of them have gone down to the end of the page :)

Sunday, 11 May 2008


On Sunday Pam had organised for us all to have lunch in Putney. As I live a million miles away (refer to tube map - Bow Road to Putney) it took me one bus and a tube to get there and 1.5 hours (am looking at getting something closer!!).
Had a good lunch though and was great to catch up with everyone. After lunch a few of us headed to a park nearby via a dairy (to pick up some booze, yes you can by booze from dairies here) to sit in the sun and hang out. On hot days in London a park is the place to go for sunbathing. Everyone is there lying on the grass having bbq's in their bikinis. Its just like a beach without the sand and obviously the sea, although the Thames was right behind us.
I have also just put a deposit down for a big tour in September. Can't wait. Here is a link about it - Summer Fun and Sailing. Now I don't want to here any negative comments or alternatives or "you should have done this" as I have paid for it already!!!
And looking at doing Italy in August - so just need to save heaps of money or else apply for a credit card and pay it off in the winter!! :)
See also my photo gallery for more pictures of my adventures so far.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Tower of London

This was actually really cool. Its located near the city by the Thames River. Is so full of history like you wouldn't believe. I totally recommend going to see it and if you can, buy tickets in advance as I waited about 1/2 and hour in a VERY slow moving line in the sun.
I recommend doing the Beefeaters tour, as they are funny and more interesting than maybe a tape recorded tour thingee (can't remember what they are called). I would allow a couple of hours, as I sorta went at the end of the day and missed a room, but saw most everything else.

My highlight would have been the crown jewels (a scepter in there has one of the biggest diamonds in the world). The Beefeaters were quite cool as well, they actually live in the tower compound.

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London (and historically as The Tower), is a historic monument in central London, on the north bank of the River Thames. It is located within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and is separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill.

The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat.

The tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison (particularly for high status and royal prisoners, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I). This last use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower" (meaning "imprisoned"). It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The Tower of London was founded in 1078 when William the Conqueror ordered the White Tower to be built inside the southeast angle of the city walls, adjacent to the Thames.[1] This was as much to protect the Normans from the people of the City of London as to protect London from outside invaders. William ordered the tower to be built of Caen stone, which he had specially imported from France. He appointed Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, as the architect.

In the 12th century, King Richard the Lionheart enclosed the White Tower with a curtain wall and had a moat dug around it filled with water from the Thames. The moat was not successful until Henry III, in the 13th century, employed a Dutch moat-building technique. This king greatly strengthened the curtain wall, breaking down the city wall to the east, to extend the circuit, despite the protests of the citizens of London and even supernatural warnings, according to chronicler Matthew Paris. Henry III transformed the tower into a major royal residence and had palatial buildings constructed within the Inner Bailey.

It had been thought that there have been at least six ravens in residence at the tower for centuries. It was said that Charles II ordered their removal following complaints from John Flamsteed, the Royal Astronomer.[5] However, they were not removed because Charles was then told of the legend that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, the White Tower, the monarchy, and the entire kingdom would fall (the London Stone has a similar legend). Charles, following the time of the English Civil War, superstition or not, was not prepared to take the chance, and instead had the observatory moved to Greenwich.

Inside the torture chambers of the tower various implements of torture were used such as the Scavenger’s daughter, a kind of compression device, and the Rack, also known as the Duke of Exeter's Daughter.

Anne Askew is the only woman on record to have been tortured in the tower, after being taken there in 1546 on a charge of heresy. Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, was ordered to torture Anne in an attempt to force her to name other Protestants. Anne was put on the Rack. Kingston was so impressed with the way Anne behaved that he refused to carry on torturing her, and Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor had to take over.

Lower-class criminals were usually executed by hanging at one of the public execution sites outside the Tower. High-profile convicts, such as Thomas More, were publicly beheaded on Tower Hill. Seven nobles (five of them ladies) were beheaded privately on Tower Green, inside the complex, and then buried in the "Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula" (Latin for "in chains," making him an appropriate patron saint for prisoners) next to the Green. Some of the nobles who were executed outside the Tower are also buried in that chapel.

The Crown Jewels have been kept at the Tower of London since 1303, after they were stolen from Westminster Abbey. It is thought that most, if not all, were recovered shortly afterwards. After the coronation of Charles II, they were locked away and shown for a viewing fee paid to a custodian. However, this arrangement ended when Colonel Thomas Blood stole the Crown Jewels after having bound and gagged the custodian. Thereafter, the Crown Jewels were kept in a part of the Tower known as Jewel House, where armed guards defended them. They were temporarily taken out of the Tower during World War II and reportedly were secretly kept in the basement vaults of the Sun Life Insurance company in Montreal, Canada, along with the gold bullion of the Bank of England.
The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right, a point the Yeoman Warders acknowledge.

Changing of the Guard - Buckingham Palace


Now, in all the touristee books this is a must see. So I went and saw it and to be quite honest:

- I had no idea what was going on

- I couldn't really see anything

- I could harldy hear anything

- There were people, everywhere!

- You had to stand behind the gates (or anywhere you could find) to watch not much

- Its was extremely hot

So, I have added the following to tell me (and you) what was going on!!

Personally, I don't really recommend going, I would say you would have to be there fairly early to get a good spot and to be honest you can't really see a whole lot.

The Changing of the Guard takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. The St. James' Palace detachment of the Queen's Guard, led usually by the Corps of Drums, and bearing the Colour (if the Queen is in residence, then this will be the Queen's Colour; if she is not, then it is the Regimental Colour), marches along the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where the Buckingham Palace detachment has formed up to await their arrival. These two detachments are the Old Guard. Meanwhile the New Guard is forming up and are awaiting inspection by the Adjutant on the parade square at Wellington Barracks. The Band, having been inspected by the Adjutant, forms a circle to play music whilst the New Guard is inspected. The Guard provides a full Military Band consisting of no fewer than 35 musicians (usually, though not always, from one of the Guards regiments) accompanied by their Director of Music. When the New Guard is formed up, led by the Band, it marches across into the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Once there, the New Guard advances towards the Old Guard in slow time and halts. The Old Guard presents arms, followed by the New Guard presenting arms. The Captains of the Guards march towards each other for the handing over of the Palace keys. The new reliefs are marched to the guardrooms of Buckingham Palace and St James' Palace where new sentries are posted.

The sentries being posted. The Old Guard is from the Coldstream Guards; the New Guard is from the Australian Federation Guard.

During this time the Band has taken its place by the centre gate, formed up in a half-circle, where it plays music to entertain the New and Old Guard as well as the watching crowds. During this period, the two regimental colours are paraded up and down by the Ensigns (usually junior officers of 2nd Lieutenant rank or equivalent). With the Old and New Guards formed up once again, the Old Guard and the Band marches out through the centre gates in slow time to their Regimental Slow march played by the Band. At the end of the slow march the Captain of the Old Guard gives the word of command to 'Break into Quick Time' and with a brisk five pace roll from the drums, the Band leads the way back to Wellington Barracks.