The last week has been busy. We took the train from Dorset to Gerard's Cross.... a 4.5hr journey to visit the L.F.'s relies, who graciously put us up for a couple of nights very last minute. The weather was rather unkind while we were there so we took a few wet walks, went to see Planes and ate at their dinner table (reminding me very much of sitting at the Inksters dinner table, with A, 21 years earlier in The Hague...Waterford crystal, embossed tablecloths, impeccable manners & lively conversations).
As a complete contrast we headed from Gerard's Cross to Essex (another mega train trip) for a night to visit Miss G and The Fouf. We had a tour of Essex which actually reminded me a lot of St Kilda. Seaside amusement parks and a wide windswept boulevard. We ate homemade pizzas, stayed up laughing till late, ate more cream tea (with Rodda's amazing 'Classic Cornish Clotted Cream') and went to a pub in the sweet Old Town of Leigh-On-Sea for lunch by the seaside...in the sun. I am not sure what I imagine Essex would be like but it definitely exceeded my expectations. Thanks guys for the tour and hospitality. We really enjoyed hanging out on your home turf Fouf!
Back to London and we headed straight for Shari's place in Brixton. It felt like coming home. There was sheer relief from all three of us to see Shari's friendly face and to be staying put for 5 days. In the last 4 days it seemed we had done more rail travel than some Poms would manage in a lifetime (especially some from Portland). It was strange to think 3 months earlier we had taken off for Norway on this epic journey, it only felt like a week had passed since we were last here. Z and the LF have come down with colds and have been snuffly and out of sorts since we left Weymouth. It feels as though we have been limping to the finish line this week. Shari has been a brilliant host giving us plenty of space to make plans for our next leg and totally recoup.
I took off for a sleep over at Ladle's house one night. We went to Dock Kitchen for a meal and had pre drinks at Paradise By Way of Kensal Green where we chanced upon an open mike night & met an interesting fellow who rather persistently nuzzeled in on our conversation & proceeded to charm us with his flute (it was a little reminiscent of the time we were charmed in Istanbul, 6 years earlier, by Mike and his 'sweet apricots'. Somehow finding ourselves up in his 'den' fending of the sleazy carpet salesman and his apple tea).
We spent a lovely afternoon at Fran's, eating cream tea while soaking up the afternoon sunshine and sharing stories of our weeks since Italy. It was sweet getting the wee people together for a post-Italian-summer-holiday play. It was great to see Fran's place.. a home I feel I've been in many times before..... Seeing Z so happy to be with his little buddies was lovely and it was hard to tear him away.
We took a visit to Selfridges and soaked up the city mayhem on Oxford street before heading to Hamstead Heath. Here we spent an evening on Parliament Hill watching the antics of summer dog walkers and sun-drenched children, with Shari and Mel & co. (Mel a long time friend of the LF & Shari's who has recently relocated to London with her husband & two young boys).
On our last full day we met Ladle and Co. in Notting Hill where we ordered take away Ottolenghi and headed to Kennsington Gardens for a picnic. The food, as expected, was just incredible. With a cocktail of flavours lingering in our mouths we turned balloons into interesting animals with our Magic Balloon kit and relaxed in the sun. Once our food had settled and the kids became restless we treked across to the Serpentine Pavilion to see Sou Fujimoto's summer creation. After a coffee and climb here we made our way across to Lady Diana's Memorial Fountain. A great place to splash about on our last sunny summers day in London. We tearfully farewell our friends at the tube station making them promise to come out to Australia soon.
Friday night back in Brixton was pumping. The Brixton Market was flooded with people eating at small stalls selling food of every ethnicity, bar Indian! There is such a great vibe here and I've really enjoyed getting to know this part of town. The LF, Shari & Mel headed out for a few drinks while I packed and sorted our things ready for take off. It's sad to be leaving London. I do love London in the summer time.
After our week recouping we could....almost..... do the whole thing again.
To all our friends and family here in London a HUGE thank you. Apologies to those we did not get to catch up with again on our return. Till next time bye bye and big love.
Next, Singapore. Then 7 nights on an island, totally unplugged....no phones, TV, computers or Instagram! We'll be soaking up some down time in a hut, on stilts, before heading home.
I must rush now.....off to do the last of our packing. xx
PS. HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD! WE LOVE YOU....LOU & Z MAN XX