Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Weekend in Bristol

After a few days hard research and umbrella carrying, Sam and I got the train from Paddington Station to Bristol Temple Mead, a lovely old station that had hanging baskets with flowers out the front.

I think commuting in Melbourne would not be so awful it featured more fresh flowers! The reason for our visit to the west of England was to attend Cary Comes Home for the Weekend, a celebration of the man who was Archie Leach.

As anyone who has spent any time with me knows, I'm a huge Cary Grant fan and this weekend was seemed designed to perfectly meet my interests. There were some great academic talks in the morning followed by an afternoon tea at the Avon Gorge hotel.

This was the first time I have ever tasted clotted cream and oh my God!!! It's amazing. I can't believe I've spent so many years developing my scone-making technique when in fact I should have spent that time figuring out where to buy clotted cream in Australia. The scone should really just be a cream-delivery vehicle. I now truly understand the excellence of the cream tea.

Before tea was served there was a rare moment of sunshine. We dashed outside to take photos of the terrace on which Cary Grant famously posed:

It was very pretty. Then it started to rain again so we went inside.

There was a gorgeous little park next to my hotel. In the right of the photo you can see a building. That is the Temple Church, a ruined church that leans more than the leaning Tower of Pisa. It seriously looks like it's about to fall over! I couldn't take a better photo because I refused to go too close to it for fear of getting squashed but apparently it's perfectly safe. I don't believe it!

We went to the Drawbridge for dinner and I had a yorkie - roast beef covered in gravy and wrapped in a giant Yorkshire pudding. I don't eat meat very often but I just couldn't resist! It was pretty amazing, although I felt like I needed to eat only salads for the next two days.

It was a very fun weekend and a fun city to spend time in.

Next time: all the leftover bits!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hi honey, I'm home!

Hello! I have just returned from my very whirlwind trip of a small part of the UK. I am totally exhausted and jetlagged (so forgive me if this entry is a bit scatty!) but I had a great time. I'm not going to recap the whole trip (for even the politest of readers doesn't care about someone else's journey that much) but I can't resist talking about it a little bit. It's the most exciting thing that's happened to me in years!

On the first 14-hour leg of my flight, Sam and I got upgraded to the extra leg room rows. This is quite funny because I am only 5 foot tall, so I got all sorts of dirty looks from the tall people crammed into the tiny seats behind me. 

We weren't so lucky in the second eight-hour flight, but the amazing view of the sunset over England that we saw on arrival made up for it a little bit.

London is pretty amazing. It's so full of people and life even though the weather is so terrible it sucks the will to live from Australian tourists who did not bring their vitamin D tablets or a big enough umbrella with them. It's such an amazing city - I think you could live in London for a year and do a different, fun thing every day without any repetition. You would have to be a millionaire, though, because London is unbelievably expensive. I live in one of the most expensive cities in one of the most expensive countries in the world and I was still surprised at the cost of things.

One thing I did love was how London and the UK catered to vegetarians. Just as each pub seemed to have a local butcher that created special sausages just for that venue, they also also had their own vegetarian versions which were just as good. This vego sausage from the Leinster Arms was so meaty that I actually had to check with the waitress that I hadn't been given a meat sausage by mistake! 

I paid AU$7 for those veggies, because when you order bangers and mash in a pub you get sausages, potato and gravy, with nary a green veggie in sight. I ate more potatoes in the two weeks I was in the UK than I had the entire previous nine months!

(I wasn't complaining. I love potatoes - they're delicious. I am a bit fatter now than I was before I left, though...)

One of my favourite places (and this is one of favourite photos) was the National Gallery. Like so many national galleries around the world, the building itself is gorgeous and interesting in its own right... 

..but is overshadowed by the remarkable works within.

And there were amazing, wonderful, gorgeous works of art. If I hadn't had to catch a train I could have spent the whole day there, just looking at the work of the Impressionists (although there was a lot of other remarkable stuff - Rembrant, Gainsbourg, heaps of stuff painted by dead white men. If it wasn't for all the boobs I saw, I would almost think there were no women at all before about 1900).

But enough snark - I enjoyed my visit immensely and recommend it to anyone going to London.

Next time: my fun trip to Bristol and hopefully a return to a regular sleep pattern.