Saturday, 19 January 2008

January in the wrong hemisphere

While in the midst of the December spend-now-think-later-sure-I'll-have-one-more season, Tane and I decided that we really needed a quiet and cheap January. Due to the wintry weather and short daylight hours of London, however, what seemed like a common sense idea threatened to turn January into a long, boring, cold month. So, to counter obsessing over the fact that NZ is warm at present and in order to ignore that nagging feeling that we are very much in the wrong hemisphere right now, we have made a real effort to enjoy London and what it has to offer.

Yay for corny London photos!

We have seen some of London's best landmarks, including Tower Bridge, the Globe Theatre, and St Paul's church. Although see St Paul's every time I look out my window at work, Tane hadn't been there properly yet.
A highlight, though, was the Tower of London. I loved it - the Crown jewels were blingy, the history fascinating, and the Beefeater guard that gave us a tour hilarious. The guys in fluffy hats carrying far from from fluffy-looking weapons were pretty neat too. I wonder if they have to go to marching school as part of their training?
Inside the Tower, where the Beefeater asked if there were any Americans in the audience. A few stuck up their hands, at which point the Beefeater laughed and said "if you'd paid your taxes, this would be your history too!"

Another place we have visited this month that's worth noting is the beautiful Hampstead Heath. The heath was so overgrown, it could have been a park in NZ. That was, if you ignored the dogs being walked in coats from the Gap. Oh, and this house filled with paintings, including a couple by Vermeer and Rembrandt.
A great house to visit. Art aside, I particularly enjoyed the aniseed balls you could buy inside, even if I did binge on them and cut my tongue. Mud, mud, everywhere ...

Hampstead Heath, overlooking the city to remind us that we're not in NZ now, Dr Ropata

The most recent trip was to Kent (the region south of London) for a look at the fabulous Leeds Castle and a winery. The castle was fantastic. As fantastic, in fact, as the maze nearby was confusing. The castle was built back in Norman times and lived in by Henry VIII's first wife, the divorced Katherine of Aragon. It felt a little odd actually to see her rooms so soon after seeing where the woman she was replaced by, Anne Boleyn, lost her head at the Tower.
Alice and Stephen in the maze, right before a giant bird started swooping around their heads. Not that I was there, though, as I was concentrating on eating the toffee bought in the castle shop. I am sure you are seeing a theme here about what I really deep down like the most about these historic places ...

Between these trips and other fun times often involving drinking pints (all in the name of enjoying the tourist side of London of course) Tane and I have realised that perhaps we didn't have the cheap month we needed. But, I don't care - I managed to enjoy a January in the wrong hemisphere without wanting to cry when walking past the poster in Ealing promoting cheap flights to Auckland. And that's what counts, really.

Some very impressive guns outside the Imperial War Museum. I would not want those loaded and pointed in my direction. Once inside though free museums are O for Awesome when it's cold.


Bonnie said...

That last photo? Suddenly I see where the special effects monkeys at the Beeb got their idea for the Dalek design.

Helen said...

Have you heard about "The Other Boleyn Girl" being released as a movie? It's definitely my favorite of Philippa Gregory's books on Henry VIII. You guys are so lucky that you're just a short hop away to where a lot of the stuff happened that shaped so much of England. Have I told you how envious I am of you guys, in spite of the weather? :)

Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren said...

I can't wait either, esp as Eric Bana is playing the King!

Orange Dwarf said...

All your friends must be warped Tane. I too looked at this picture and saw a dalek!