Good bye London

I think I’m all blogged out. I’ve sucked the marrow out if my trip. The new term has commenced and, as regular readers will know, my postings will slow, if not go into hibernation for a while as work sucks the marrow out of me. 

I will leave you with some random photos of things I liked and  things I found strange. 

Off Portobello Road

Florist on Portobello Road

I never realised how big the V2 rockets were.  

V2 rocket in the Science Museum


Tiny house in Windor-Eton

 I get where they are and why they’ve been important in history. I don’t get why the Dardanelles are in a round ball of stone. 

At Windsor Castle


While this sign may be confronting, it might actually work. Never seen one like this in Australia.  

Sign on way out of London


Is there anymore “typical” Lindon photo than this one? A grand building, a green square and a bank of red buses.  

View from front top seat of bus, just leaving Victoria

Well this one comes close with all the black cabs.  

In garden near our flat

I was so excited to see a robin.  And he/she sung her heart out, in a blossom tree in a church garden. Gorgeous. 

St Stephen’s church, Westbourne

I like that things are kept, even if they are no use. Layers of people’s lives. 

In The City


The machine in the next photo was amazing. The lid is lifted, you lie down fully clothed and the lid is shut. Warm water is sprayed at high pressure with different rhythms. A sealed plastic sheets saves you from getting wet. The noise is calming, much like white noise and you forget you’re in the middle of a shopping centre. Next best thing to a real massage. 



Hampton Court garden pot

Talking to an astronaut at the Science Museum

 I kept telling Mr S, this is what our magnolia tree would look like if it wasn’t for possums.  


Beautiful blossums


Shabby chic at Notting Hill


All class. A cheeky supermarket red! 

When too much gilt is never enough.  On royal carriages at Buckingham Palace, of course.   

Australian made. We like to put this on everything made in Australia.

Top of a royal carriage

Trains on the Circle Line were one long carriage. When going around a bend, it was like an optical illusion, disappearing in repetition. Loved the clarity of sound and signs telling you which line you’re on and which station is next.   

Some think this building is beautiful. I think it the Lloyds Tower is ugly. I didn’t like the inside out Pompidou building in Paris either.  Your view? 


I much prefer the symmetry and elegance of the old structures with decorative features, like lamp posts. Utilitarian, I’m not. 



A last look back as we shut the door on our flat. Good bye number 24.  


Bike riding in London

We breathed sharply when we saw some of the risks bike riders took on London. All that traffic, narrow streets. Scary enough. But some riders squeaked between buses and the kerb where no driver could ever see them. 

Yet, London drivers seem more tolerant of bike riders. Maybe it’s a higher level of general good manners than Australian (or Sydneysider) drivers? Maybe it stems from a gladness that that’s one less car on the road?

Mr S is a bike rider and he is abused often. He has been forced off the road for nothing more than a dislike of bike riders and a dangerous belief that cars own the road and need share with no one. 

I wish we’d learn to accept bike riders and share the road. I know I could never ride in Sydney until there is a massive change of behaviour. A massive decrease in aggression. 

I also wish we’d adopt the Boris Bike system. Imagine! Fewer cars on the road. May lead to a different attitude from car drivers. The health ripple. 


I so wanted to hire a bike. But we ran out of time, enjoying the walking which gave us time to look at buildings and people. We nearly did it one late afternoon. But the air was very cold and my neck and face would have frozen with the air rushing by. As it was I had to hold my coat shut to protect my neck. I wouldn’t have been able to ride one handed!

Next time! 

It’s definitely going on my list!

Things I’ve learnt -pollarding

I first heard about pollarding from one of my favourite blogs – Ilona

A commenter thought it mutilation. Well, that person has obviously never seen how Australian electricity suppliers prune trees so they don’t touch the electricity wires.  A huge hole through the middle of the tree canopy or loping off half a tree without any consideration to aesthetics are the preferred practices. That’s mutilaion, indeed. 

Here’s some shots from around my suburb. 




In this next one it is hard to believe that all the growth to the left is the tree, a jacaranda, that has been pruned, I mean massacred, on the right. How unbalanced is that? 


Do you like the hole through the canopy in this tree? Sometimes the top of the hole closes up, leaving the tree to look as if a canon ball has been shot through it.   

Walking around London, I see pollarding seems to be the usual practice. 

A much better management of trees in the urban environment. I can imagine the fresh, green growth that will come in a few weeks. And the trees will physically fit in the area while still providing foliage and shade. 

Of course, we have eucalypts which don’t have a time when they hybernate. But there are still plenty of deciduous trees planted. Councils seem to think there are two choices for trees on street verges – pick an “appropriate” tree (ie one that doesn’t grow) or massacre it. 

I’ve seen a third way. Imagine if our arborists practised pollarding?  And not just for trees on the street verge. But in smaller plots. And let’s face it, Sydney blocks are shrinking, being subdivided to smaller and smaller plots which will discourage the planting of trees – because they “don’t fit”. Well, here’s our answer. 



Things I’ve learnt – beds

Double beds seem to be the norm in England. Whereas in Australia queen is the norm. And I have a king size bed. 

It is hard downsizing bed size, whilst sharing. 

I slept on the lounge for most of the night, most nights. But then I do that at home! 

Be warned if you’re visiting England as a couple. You’ll get close!


Things I’ve learnt – fashion

I much prefer the high street shopping experience in England. Which we’ve lost in Sydney, being overrun by mega shopping centres. Not that London doesn’t have mega-complexes. 

From the outside, London Westfields was the same concrete windowless behemoth as any Australian Westfields. Inside, I was lost in a time-space vortex. Felt I could have been at any Westfields in Australia.  Same shops! Same outlets!  (Though the London Westfields was a reverse Tardis – looked larger on the outside than it did on the inside!)

I had hoped for more difference in fashion. Yes, we access online shopping. And yes, the trends are global. And yes, many clothes are made in the same factories in China.  Still … One can hope. 

But there’s definite regional differences out on the street. 

I have never seen so much black, grey and khaki as on the streets of London.  Look at the people on Piccadilly. 


And on the Tube. 


OK, maybe I need to come back when everyone is not in their coats?

I would still say Australians dress more colourfully. I know that those from south-east Queensland dress more colourfully than Sydneysiders. But by golly, Sydneysiders are peacocks to the residents and tourists of London. 

Still it is heartening or soul destroying (depending on your view) to note that I saw manky teenagers who could slip right into Blacktown. 

Things I’ve learnt – seasons

When most trees hibernate and lose their leaves and flowers die down in winter, spring is certainly more interesting. 

Obviously, I haven’t gone through the winter in the UK but I felt the buzz of spring in London. 

The daily changes. The bulbs popping up. The early blossoms. The budding trees. The warming sun. Each day a new reveal. 

The warming and the growth infects everyone. 

In Sydney we miss this. Our seasons merge. Yes, in Sydney winter is cold and summer stinking hot. But we don’t have the thrill of life and colour returning to gardens. And window/fence boxes are rare.

Window box in Westbourne Gardens, Bayswater/Notting Hill.

There is a haunting beauty to bare deciduous trees. The outline, the view of birds’ nests. 

Willow with new leaves at Regents Park

And the beauty of daffodils, in mass, springing forth from no where (as in not a garden bed, just a yard or field). We don’t get that. 

Daffodils at Kensington Gardens

I so want to spend a whole year in the UK and see the seasons change.  

Things I’ve learnt – clothes washing

The washing powder in London seems heavily scented. More so than ours. 

Maybe it is to do with my previous post? (You know, the no washing thing.)

The sheets in our flat gave me a headache they were so heavily scented. 

And I smelt people’s clothes on the Tube. That horrid fake chemical scent. 

And on the TV they advertised a product that does nothing except add scent to loads of washing. Add the product as well as detergent to give a long lasting “fresh” smell. Vomit! That isn’t fresh. Fresh is having your washing dry in the sun and fresh air. That smell is headache-causing, artificial, fake, sickening. God, I hope it doesn’t take off in Australia. Please, don’t let it take off.

I hate those plug-in room smelly things. They give me headaches. But st least I can ask for those to be turned off. What am I going to do if people’s clothes stink? Ask them to talk to me in the nude?


Things I’ve learnt – washing & sweating & smelling

In Australia we joke that Poms don’t shower every day. 

This potential myth was confirmed for me by two very popular English frugal blogs I read. Both bloggers said they don’t, and there is no need to, have a full shower or bath every day. Waste of hot water, waste of water and thus a waste of money. 

Mmm! Really? No way!

Heaven knows, in Australia it is common to have two showers a day. God, in summer sometimes I can’t get to sleep unless I’ve had another shower because I am so sticky. And teenage boys definitely need to be encouraged to have a couple of showers a day for the sanity and comfort of all. 

Well, now I know why. (OK, don’t get upset if you’re English and tell me it’s a load of old cobblers. Just bear with me on this. And as another aside, 25 years ago I visited my mother’s cousins in Germany. They didn’t shower every day either. They complained by phone to my mother that I showered every day. In fact one of their showers was used to store things and obviously had not been used as a shower for a long time. Another German relative I stayed at, I couldn’t work out how they showered. They only had s hand held attachment with mo means of hanging it up and no shower curtain around the bath. But I digress. Back to knowing why showering every day might not be necessary.)

You actually don’t sweat in England. You don’t get sticky and smelly. It’s amazing. Even with all the walking, Mr S and I didn’t sweat! Unbelievable! And with all the heating, your skin dries out so actually having a hot shower a day dries the skin even more. 

Of course, I still had a shower every day. It’s just what I do. But I could see you wouldn’t really need it. No underarm smell at all. No stickiness. 


Today I went for a walk with a friend. It may be autumn and cooling down but temperature in the low 20° and high humidity meant I was sticky at the first hill. 

Things I’ve learnt – cold weather 

I quite like it. 

But this is not really new. Knew this in NZ. 

And cold seems mostly in the mind. The 13° in London felt quite warm while back home the 16° felt like zero and I didn’t want to get out of bed. Maybe less the mind and more wearing the right clothes? 

Though I think people In London overdressed. Mr S and I were in a shirt and winter coat, sweltering in the Tube, and all around us were Michelin men and women with oversized  scarves. How they weren’t fainting, I don’t know. 

Actually, for me, I think it’s less about liking cold weather and more about not liking hot weather. 35° and humid can be hard to take. 

Wonder how I’ll like Tassie in the summer?

Maybe it’s the place for retirement?

Things I’ve learnt – money conversion 


Simple. Just don’t mentally convert when buying something. Think the pound symbol is the dollar symbol. 

See, nearly everything is double what we pay in Australia. Oh sure, some food stuffs are the same. My favourite French jam. £2.49. Yep, I pay $4.99. So works out the same. Loaf of bread £1.49. Yep, fine at $3. 

But other goods. Whoa there!

That small mug of hot chocolate. £3.50? Really? $7? For one!

That underarm deodorant at £3 is not worth $6. I only pay $3.90 at home. 

Those pair of boots (nice as they are) at £295, I would never pay $600 for. 

Entry into St Paul’s. £17? Ok I could get £2 off for buying online. But $32. Each!!

Tiny souvenir at £2.99 looks OK in comparison to everything else but that converts to $6. For something made crap from China. (Yes, everything the world over comes from China.)

And most of all don’t convert when eating out. 

Just don’t convert. Think of that pound symbol as a dollar symbol. 

Fantastic. $7 for two hot chocolates. Great. $3 for toiletries. Spot on. $17 to visit St Paul’s, well they do have to maintain the cathedral. 

Definitely don’t convert for eating out. Or you’ll faint.