The end of the ICS Florence conference signalled the end of the holiday was close. Still we tried to cram as much as we could into those last couple of days. Sadly on the morning of our departure from Florence there was a devastating attack on the London Underground at the morning rush hour with a crude homemade bomb – only partially detonating – but still severely injuring quite a few commuters. This news of course crushed the previous confidence I had been feeling with London, but the Londoners themselves just keep on keeping on which I suppose is born of necessity (they have to work, eat and drink at pubs) but also from a history of years and years of attacks and battles. I admire their strength in adversity.
We cabbed it from The City Airport, which is out near Greenwich and had a great chat with a cabbie all the way to Soph’s place. He filled us in on his twice yearly holiday to Turkey and apparently men love their pampering as well as girls, because when he goes to Turkey he always has an hour and a half session at an old fashioned barber which involves a shave with a straight blade (his head also), massage, hot towels etc.
Looks a trifle scary to me
We have caught a mixture of cabs and Ubers on this trip and the Ubers are definitely cheaper – but news after we returned to Australia was that Uber are not able to continue operating in London after September 30th – apparently they are not necessarily good employers and have to make some serious changes to their company conditions.
Friday night was a return to The Warrington for a pub meal and then a visit for Bob to the townhouse, Soph’s friend, Laura is now living in- that used to be The Vienna Hotel 41 years ago. He was wandering around, visualising where he and Mark, his travelling buddy for 6 months used to bunk down. It must have been surreal for him – I know I still have to pinch myself that this coincidence has happened.
Bob concentrating on taking the selfie at The Warrington
Before we headed back home we decided to catch the tube to Piccadilly Circus and walked up to Oxford Circus along Regent Street with all its lights and grandeur. It was about 11.50pm and the streets were hustling and bustling – it seems London never sleeps.
The next day we went to Regents Park to watch Soph play AFL against the English team – yes you heard it right. Soph whose sport is netball – came to London and got herself in an AFL team (Go the Mighty Demons) because one day she was watching Jimmy train and she got asked if she’d like to trial – she got in and her all girl’s team ended up winning the Grand Final. As they were the winning team for the comp they got to play against the English AFL team (which sounds incongruous) to give them some practise. It was amazing watching the game in real life as opposed to the ‘streamed’ game at 1am like we had to when the Grand Final was on.
The game in action A nice scone with jam and cream and muffin may have been consumed in this cute cafe
On the way to the game we passed some magnificent architecture (read very posh homes) and then as we entered Regents Park saw many lovely sculptures – scattered through the gorgeous parkland. I love art out in the real world as opposed to locked up in galleries – such a nice thing for kids to see and play around and on.
Regents Park London
After the game we walked and walked to locate an English pub that had pork pies on the menu and unfortunately that was harder than we thought it would be. We ended up with another sort of pie at a pub and then dropped into Sainsbury’s on the way home and bought some mini pork pies to have as a snack with a gin and tonic – thanks to Elaine for my pressie of some gin and flash tonic.
Elaine’s Gin and Peach Tonic and the mini pork pies
Topped up with those deliciousness we then headed for another local tradition in Soph and Jimmy’s stamping ground – we lined up at 6.30pm outside the Camden Head Pub to get an entrance to the Angel Comedy Club – its free but there is an expectation that if you laughed hard you will make a donation.
We laughed hard and we gave our donation. There were 6 acts and a fabulous host – all very funny and the atmosphere was so happy. I’d definitely recommend this to you if you staying in London, just catch the tube to Angel. Then when it’s over do what we did- go to Franco Manca’s for the best (and cheapest) sourdough pizza I’ve ever had.
After a sleep-in on Sunday, we decided to earn our breakky by walking along the canals near Islington to a gorgeous restaurant, The Towpath Cafe, (36 De Beauvoir Crescent, London N1) set in two storage units facing the canal.
The food was delicious and so different to the normal take on breakfast. We then headed off to the Columbia Road Flower markets – it was very very busy, vibrant and colourful – and the flowers were very cheap.
The long walk continued then to a craft beer festival at Clissold Park and Jimmy was underwhelmed with the craft beers (and he is a bit of an expert) but the grounds were magnificent and we did get to sit for a bit.
The next stop on this great big walk around London was back to Islington and the Myddelton Arms for a famous Sunday Roast. These are legendary and our roast lived up to the stories – it was simply enormous. We met one of Katie’s friends from Australia, Steph, for a drink and a meal and we were all suitably filled to the brim after it was over.
Settling in for the Sunday Roast at the Myddleton Arms
This was to be our last hurrah in London. The next stop was Heathrow and the plane home. It was an amazing holiday and wonderful stay both times in London and Soph and Jimmy did a great job of showing us London. We have lots of lovely memories, but writing these blogs with the photos does help us both remember them even better so thank you for humouring me while I write them.
I know that more important than my travel blogging is the information gleaned form the conference in Florence. I will be writing it up as I kept lots of notes but it may take a few more weeks. The conference was a great success, with lots of inspiration and new ideas to try. One of these included a new class that we will be running when Amanda leaves (which is all too soon), to replace one of her 6.30am Pilates classes. It’s being taken by Jane Cannan, one of our physios and is called Physiofitness. It involves lots of exercises in standing, lying and sitting set to music and with an emphasis on the pelvic floor.
Hopefully the next blog will be lots of conference titbits.