Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trip Report Part 2-Hampton Court Palace

Our stay in London was short and our itinerary circumscribed by a combination of the girls’ interests and Boy Genius’s rather, mercurial, behaviour.
One of the first things we did was visit Hampton Court Palace. I must admit that I had no particular interest in hiking out to Hampton Court but a few people told me it was a great family day out and I do think it was worth the trip.
The architectural and decorative features of the palace are magnificent (I particularly liked the chimneys) and its history fascinating. In the morning we tagged along with a guided tour that looked at court life through servant’s eyes. We had hoped to do the complementary tour from a courtier’s perspective later in the day but Boy Genius found the king (or at least the actor with the huge codpiece playing Henry VIII) upsetting-I suspect it was the loud carrying voice-and so we retired to the gardens for a picnic.
The gardens were lovely, the roses being in full bloom, and the afternoon was warm enough that I was grateful for the shade of large trees. I think the children enjoyed the maze in spite of the school group that was also there racing about and squealing as school groups are wont to do. We returned to the palace and managed to get a quick glimpse at most of the state rooms before Boy Genius deemed it was time we left.
I would have to agree that it is a great family day out and I would consider returning there for a couple of hours without the entourage so as to get a decent look about.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trip Report Part 1

I shall not start the recount of my grand journey at the beginning, though it could be argued that wherever one begins a tale that is, by virtue of its placement, its beginning. But with all due respect to the title of this blog, the details of the train trip and connecting bus ride out to the airport are of such mundanity as to be unworthy of mention, unless it is to comment upon their very ordinariness. (Which I have now duly done.) Suffice to say I found the airport bus to be a cheap, convenient and fast way to get to the airport. Likewise uneventful was the 3 hours spent skulking around the airport lounge before our flight (a time frame insisted on by the airlines that seems a little excessive to me-but it’s their plane so it’s their rules).
Upon check-in QANTAS acknowledged my, as yet untold, greatness by upgrading us all to premium economy. This meant more leg room, wider seats, bigger TV screens, larger tables and champagne on boarding. Having since travelled long haul in economy (and don’t worry you’ll be hearing all about it later), I, for one, am sold on the premium seats and will be booking them for all my future long haul flights.
The flight was comfortable and enabled me to catch up on a couple of movies I’d missed (Yes Man and The Changeling). I ate well, drank moderately and slept minimally.
We walked straight through customs at Heathrow without slowing down and were met by a nice man with our name on a card that drove us to our flat in Earl’s Court. Our accommodation at The Mansions in Earl’s Court was excellent and much better than I had expected for the price. The two bedroom flat had a kitchen complete with dishwasher and washer/drier and great water pressure in the shower-particularly considering we were 5 floors up. It really was only a 5 minute walk to Earl’s Court tube station and not much further to a large Sainsbury’s (which immediately become boy genius’s supermarket of choice-no Tesco for him!).
We were in London for five days, six if you count the morning and night of our day in Paris, seven if you count the morning we flew out to Belfast. This served the twofold purpose of allowing us to acclimatise to local time before we descended on family and to justify taking the children out of school for six weeks by marching them around some of the historical sites of the city. And let’s be honest I had a bit of a wish list of things to see too.
Our Adventures in the Great City of London to follow….