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Entries about london

Brussels and London

Reporting from Düsseldorf

sunny 15 °C
View Road Trip on aboo10's travel map.

So after a few quick days at home, changing clothes and sleeping in our own bed, and driving our real car... we headed off on the next stage of our Spring Break... a train to Brussels.

Brussels was gorgeous. We stayed in a Novotel, and split the kids - one with us, and one with Mum and Dad. The hotel was just off Grand Place, which was stunning. Overwhelmingly stunning. We checked out the churches, the mussels, the Mannekin Pis statue, and the beers. And some chocolate. Was perfect!!
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Then after two nights, we jumped on the Eurostar and headed to London for my little nephew's christening. Once again, the whole of my side of the family was together again, with Mum and Dad, all of us staying at my sister's house. The christening was at their house, and was a sweet little service, followed by a sumptuous BBQ reception. Great chance to also get my brother-in-law's family together, so very special for them having both sides of the family all together.

We left Mum and Dad in London for a week, because sadly it was the end of the Spring Break and we had to get back home to go to school. It had been a great 2 weeks - full of activities and seeing so much.

Posted by aboo10 11:14 Archived in Belgium Tagged churches children london belgium uk brussels train_travel family_travel Comments (0)

Pregnant Sister

Reporting from Düsseldorf

overcast 10 °C

Jie Jie and I went on a very quick weekend trip to London in November, to visit my sister who was expecting her first baby in December. We went to help her prepare!!

We left straight after school on Friday, and arrived in London at 6.30pm and were greeted at Gatwick by a tremendous crowd trying to get tickets for the trains into town. Fortunately my sister had sent me a fabulous birthday present of tickets for the Gatwick Express, so we just waltzed on by!! She met us at the station closest to her house, and it was a delight to see her in full bloom!! We got to her house around 8.30pm, but because England is an hour behind Germany, poor old Jie Jie was collapsing with each step, after a long day at school and now hungry and travel weary.

On Saturday we headed in to John Lewis. It was a delight for me to see all the Christmas decorations, properly done, after years in China. We looked at all the baby supplies, muslins, cot sheets, nappy change set ups, and bought several bags of necessities, and then headed out to a show! We went to see a puppet show called 'The Night before Christmas' - loosely themed around the traditional Christmas poem, but quite creatively done too. It was at the Little Theatre in Islington, apparently a long time puppet theatre.

The next day we had breakfast, packed up and headed back out to the airport, as our brief sojourn in London was over, and we were heading back home, to start another week at school!!

Posted by aboo10 12:11 Archived in England Tagged children london family_travel Comments (0)

The day after...

Reporting from Jinqiao

all seasons in one day 12 °C
View London Wedding on aboo10's travel map.

There's a bit of a feeling of relief the day after a big event. Everything went off smoothly, the rain didn't really upset the day, it was good to catch up with friends and family in such a convivial environment, the dresses were a success, the flower girls were too cute, and MARNIE AND JAMES GOT MARRIED!!

Also because Mike was only in London for 3 days we had arranged to meet some friends for lunch. So partly because I hadn't eaten enough over the last two weeks (lie lie lie) we decided to go to Jamie's Italian for lunch. It was great!! I do love the way Jamie puts his restaurants together!! We have now been to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant in London, and Italian restaurants in Kingston, Cardiff and now Islington - loved them all!! We went with a friend of Mike's from Uni and one of his longest term friends ever, Diana, who did a reading at our own wedding, and spotted my Mum and Dad on the station at Kings Cross on her way to meet us! She said to them, 'are you Abby's parents?', and they were caught a little off guard as the point of this trip to London has been as 'Marnie's parents', and Diana hasn't seen them since our wedding years ago. Anyway, was lovely to catch up with them both, despite the pouring rain.
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After lunch we headed back to pack up the flat and check in for our flight the following morning. After two weeks living there we had to check every nook and cranny carefully for hidden objects. Mike had rather cleverly brought over a suitcase within a suitcase, so my purchases from Sainsburys, Tesco and Marks & Spencer could all be packed to take home to Shanghai, and we wouldn't exceed our bag limit as we were all entitled to a piece of checked in luggage up to 23kg.

Then the rain stopped and the sun came out, as we headed up to the newlyweds house for a champagne and some more celebrations and to give them our wedding gift of two lamps made from Chinese porcelain candlesticks. (I think I might get us a pair too!) The extended family were all there, so was nice to catch up with my aunt, uncles, cousins and Grandma too. Also for Mike, who was still reeling from only arriving on Friday, and already preparing for the return journey!! There was much talk about how quickly the time has passed from arriving in London, to all the events scheduled occurring, to of course the actual big day, and now the end. It was all over.

Saying good bye to Grandma was sad, her flight back to Australia was the next day, and she and Tom left to pack their own stuff. We went back to the flat for another clean up, and to bath the kids, and then met up with the remaining family again for one last dinner. Ironically, we went to Magreb, the same place we had our farewell supper last August... maybe it will be a tradition...

Posted by aboo10 18:42 Archived in England Tagged london flight shopping goodbye family_travel Comments (0)

Wedding Bells

Reporting from Jinqiao

rain 10 °C
View London Wedding on aboo10's travel map.

OK this one is a photo essay:

We started the morning off by meeting at the hairdressers where our stylists were going to work wonders with our hair. I arrived and Mum was done, and Marnie was looking gorgeous. Kate was nearly done, and her hairdresser would be soon doing mine. I managed to whip in a super quick mini manicure as well at the beautician downstairs. And then of course Jie Jie wanted one too, so after her hair was done, she nipped down for a nail polish too, while Connie, the other flower girl had her hair done. We weren't having much luck with the weather, as once we were done and looking for a cab it started to rain, and I was convinced my hair would fall.

We got back to Marnie's house and had a little snack, and then the flowers arrived:
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Then we got dressed and helped Marnie with her gown.
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We started posing for photos. Marnie and the flower girls.
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Marnie and her parents.
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Then the wedding car arrived. It was a white London taxi, and it started shuttling us down to the church. The flower girls and I were in the first trip. We got to the church and went inside looking for familiar faces. Jie Jie found her brother.
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Then we found Grandma.
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Didi didn't like his buttonhole flower very much.
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And then once everyone got there, the ceremony started. Because I was walking down the aisle too, I actually don't have any photos of that bit! And where Mike was sitting wasn't a clear enough line. Needless to say, the flower girls did a lovely and quite thorough job of dropping rose petals down the aisle. Jie Jie even went back to straighten out a few. Marnie looked radiant, James looked happy.
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After the signing was all done, the family and bridal party posed for a group photo.
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After a few more professional photos and some chatting in the church, we headed up to the Islington Town Hall for the reception. Here they are cutting the cake:
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It was a lovely night, everyone looked beautiful, and I wish Marnie and James every happiness in their married life together. Much love and congratulations!!!

Posted by aboo10 18:34 Archived in England Tagged churches children london wedding family_travel Comments (0)

Build up to the wedding

Reporting from Jinqiao

rain 8 °C
View London Wedding on aboo10's travel map.

This has been sitting in draft form for 2 months now, so decided to give myself a little kick and get it published before we head off on summer holidays!!!!

So with 5 days to go to the main event, and a bit of London life to enjoy, we didn't really sit still although London didn't bless us with great tourist weather, that is it rained and rained and rained.

Monday -
My 90 year old Grandma had arrived in London with her youngest son, Tom as chaperone, after a mammoth trip from Batemans Bay, avoiding a landslide between home and Canberra, and then three flights to get to London. The kids and I went to visit on Monday morning, to see how a 90 year old travels in style! The kids had a great time playing in her hotel room, and were happy recipients of a collection of goodies brought to entertain them... it's not often she gets to see these great-grandkids! Mum and Dad arrived soon after to say hello, and then Jie Jie, Mum and I headed back to Islington, leaving Didi in Dad's capable hands, for Marnie's wedding dress fitting and bridesmaid catch up. By this stage, all had arrived in London and it was the first time since the day where we successfully purchased our bridesmaid dresses in Melbourne in January that we had seen each other again! Marnie's dress was gorgeous... then to celebrate (why not?) we went to lunch in Islington Green, then headed up to Marnie's to check if our dresses still fit... and to be honest, I was a bit nervous!!

Tuesday -
Marnie was running doing a stack of jobs and organisation, so Mum, Dad, the kids and I decided to venture out to the National Gallery, to see Titian's Flight to Egypt, which was a special exhibition just opened. This picture is usually displayed at the Hermitage in Russia, and was the first time in about 150 years that it was outside Russia, so quite exciting to see. The exhibition was quite small, but I was a bit upset by the kids behaviour... it wasn't good. The gallery is stunning.

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We headed home, and then over for dinner at Marnie's house with Grandma and Tom too. Marnie and James entertained and fed us all very well with a delicious lasagne, which is apparently one of James' specialties!

Wednesday -
Mum was hosting an elegant "kitchen tea" for Marnie at none other than The Savoy Hotel on the Strand in the Thames Foyer. Dad was lined up to babysit... and Mum and I headed out in all our finery to The Strand.

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I think there were about 12 of us, including a number of her school friends from Melbourne, my aunty, my cousin and of course my Grandma, and afternoon tea was exquisite. My favourite were the salmon sandwiches, but also the egg sandwiches and the scones. And the little cakes, and the champagne! We were out a bit too long really, as Dad had reached the end of his tether with the kids inside the little flat because of the rain. But it was a lovely afternoon, and was so lucky to be able to have Afternoon Tea at the Savoy!

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Thursday -
After Dad's sterling effort looking after the kids, I decided to get them out of sight for the day and took them to the Transport Museum in Covent Garden. We braved the London buses without a pram, and despite the rain the three of us had a fabulous time. The Transport Museum though was overrun with children on school excursions and it was hard going letting my kids have their turn, as the children there were quite pushy, and I suppose confident because of being with all their friends, but the teachers sure didn't do anything about keeping the students in line! Didi loved a small train which ran the length of the the second floor, and would probably have spent the whole time just following it up and down! Jie Jie loved climbing on the model buses and trains and pretending to drive! I liked a display projected onto the floor of Tube advertisements, maps and stations.

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That evening we went to St James Church in Islington for a wedding 'rehearsal', where we met the minister and he instructed the bridesmaids, flower girl, father of the bride and bride how to walk down the aisle. And making it clear to the groom that he was not to watch his gorgeous bride come down the aisle - would miss out, because it was such a pretty church, framing Marnie in all her finery. Mum and Dad then hosted a dinner at Gallipoli, a Turkish restaurant not far away, to give most of the bridal party, and those who had travelled some distance a chance to meet up before Saturday.

Friday -
Super excitement this morning, the kids and I were on an early bus into town to meet Grandma, Tom and my cousin Vanessa at their hotel to join them on a flight on the London Eye. Tom had booked tickets for one of the first flights, but after standing the queue for a little while for some reason the Eye had not yet started operating for the day, and was experiencing technical issues. Of course the staff were assuring us that it wouldn't be too much longer, but bearing in mind we had our 90 year old Grandma with us, standing for half an hour is quite a job. So of course, we thought we'd go and have a sit down, again with the assurance that we could jump back into the queue once it was operating again. And yep, as soon as we were out of the queue, the Eye started moving! Nevermind, off we went for a coffee and then rejoined the queue refreshed and ready to stand again. True to their word, they let us in through the VIP entrance (accompanying a 90year old woman, is a big plus!!) and soon we were in our pod. And just after we started off and up, it started to rain, or pour!!

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The trip was still fabulous, and Jie Jie loved pointing out Big Ben and looking at all the bridges. Thanks Uncle Tom for taking us all on board!!

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We headed home again, and it was a long trip as Didi fell asleep, Jie Jie wanted to fall asleep, and I didn't have the pram with me... we managed to get on a bus back to Islington, Jie Jie managed to buy some chocolates for the trip beforehand, while I held a sleeping boy, and we made it back to Islington, carrying him all the way. Of course he woke up as soon as we reached our purple door in Cruden Street. It was very empty in our little flat as Mum and Dad had checked out to make room for the arrival of Daddy!!

We knew that Daddy was on his way for his whirlwind trip to London. We knew how bad checking through Terminal 5 was. We were eagerly waiting for Daddy to get to Islington, and when Mum and Dad dropped by again later, we all headed down to see if we could find him, knowing he was making his way to the Angel Tube station. The delight on the kids faces when they spotted him dragging his case was fabulous, and we were together once again as a family. To complete Daddy's whistlestop trip to London, we had arranged for his parents to come down to London to see the kids and him. We met them at Angel Station too, and then went to Bills (again) for dinner. So lovely to see them again!! Kids so excited to see Daddy though that they had to sit next to him!!

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Posted by aboo10 18:04 Archived in England Tagged london wedding family_travel Comments (0)

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