Exploring Liverpool….Waterstones

More sleep-ins today! Yes! Once I surfaced we took the train into Liverpool Central and went for a lengthy walk. Then Sean headed off to The Beatles Story and I sat in Waterstones for four hours and read. Sheer. Bliss. I got up to use the toilet and eat fruit salad, but the rest of the time, I was holed up in a comfy armchair with a book. It was simply perfect. I then joined Sean for a wonderful pub lunch (late lunch!) before meeting up with Belinda, Andrew and Lucia to see a movie. We saw ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and it was delightful. Wonderful cast, wonderful performances, a real, feel-good movie. And now we are back at the house, having more tea and conversation!! I could realllllly get used to this. I know Scotland will be fun, but I am really enjoying being in a house!

Lazy days win at life.

Today we did our washing. Only those who have spent a week in their last set of clean clothes will fully appreciate how exciting this is, and now I have a whole batch of clean, dry clothes to wear out once more. I also read a bit, had a shower and washed my hair (another luxury), watched Skins and went for a walk to get some fresh air. Then Belinda, Andrew and Lucia took us out for a wonderful dinner and we came home for more tea and conversation! I officially adore Liverpool.

Liverpool :)

We are finally in beautiful, beautiful Liverpool. Why so beautiful? We’re in a HOUSE!! Yes! The lovely Belinda, Andrew and Lucia are hosting us for five nights and it is just so nice to be in an actual house. More about that soon.
This morning we checked out of the hotel, went to the pub for breakfast and then bid adieu to the girls who were flying to New York today!! I’m going to miss them all a lot, but I know they will have a brilliant time. The day was then full of sitting around. We didn’t have quite enough time to do any sightseeing or go far from our hotel or our train station, so we organised some photos and the like. Then at 4pm we took a train from London Euston to Liverpool Lime St. I slept for a lot of the trip, and on either end I had to seriously restrain myself from buying any books. Being in a country where all the books are in English is intoxicating.
Belinda picked us up, being the lovely, obliging person that she is, and we came back to their house (house, guys! A house!) and had pizza, tea, beer, biscuits and conversation before falling into bed at about 10.30pm. This morning we slept in until about 11am, and boy, did I need it, and today I plan to read, do washing, and lie on the couch. Utter. Bliss.

Last whole day in London (for now!)

I slept in today!! YAYYYY!!! Then we were up and ready for the day in time to meet the girls at the Churchill War Rooms at 1.30. That was an interesting experience and I really enjoyed it. You basically walk around the underground rooms that are more or less as they were during WW2 and you are in the nerve centre of the political response to the war. You could see cabinet meeting rooms, the map rooms, the sleeping quarters (including Churchill’s bedroom) and the rooms full of phones and morse code machines etc. Fascinating stuff. There is also an incredibly comprehensive museum on Churchill’s life there. Next we ducked into St James Park to go squirrel-watching – a complete success – and then met Andy at the market we went to near Waterloo station last night. We had more delicious dinners/drinks/desserts and then trained to Tower Hill where we met Adam for a Jack the Ripper tour. We did the tour with a group called Rippin Yarns and all the tour guides are Beefeaters who live in the Tower of London! Our guide was a very entertaining man named Simon and he took us on a walk through Whitechapel to the sights of some of the Ripper’s grisly crimes. He also had some truly disgusting facts and pictures to share with us and some great theories about the identity of the Ripper. It was a really creepy tour to do, especially at night, and Simon was good at scaring the crowd with sudden noises and movements. Afterwards Sean and I went for a drink with Adam and now I am back at the hotel, attempting to pack. Liverpool tomorrow!!

Another warm and sunny day!

Another big day! They’re slowly catching up with me as I’m sick again, but never mind! Health is for squares. This morning after the routine pub breakfast, I sent another package home and bought some socks and underwear from Primark. Then we bought some cheap tickets for tonights show of We Will Rock You (yeahhhhh!) and then headed to the Tower of London! We went on the 60 minute tour by the Yeoman Warder and our warder, Steve, was extremely entertaining. Amazingly, the Yeoman Warders live in the tower. Apparently all up there are 140 people actually living in the tower and I, personally, cannot think of a cooler place to live. He showed us the Bell Tower, where 3 queens of England have been imprisoned (Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey), the Traitor’s Gate, and a real working portcullis. We saw the Bloody Tower, where Walter Ralegh was imprisoned and the two little princes were (probably) murdered. We saw the White Tower and the tower ravens that live there for luck. We saw St Peter’s ad Vincula chapel and Steve showed us exactly where Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Jane Rochford, Jane Grey and Margaret Pole are buried. Exhilarating stuff. After the tour we visited the Jewel House and saw the Crown Jewels, before splitting off to see more. The day was sunny and beautiful and I walked around the top of the wall and visited, among others, the Wakefield Tower, the Salt Tower, the Lanthorn Tower, the Cradle Tower and the Beauchamp Tower, where Lady Jane Grey’s supporters have carved her name into the wall, among hundreds of other prisoner’s graffiti.
After reuniting and a quick giftshop browse, we jumped on a ferry from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier. Seeing the London skyline from the Thames really is a lovely way to see the city and the sun was setting making for some great photo ops. We saw lots of familiar sights and some new ones, including Daniel Radcliffe’s school (wwwoooohhh, fan moment). We then went back to Waterloo so Sean and I could show the girls the market we found last night and we all had delicious dinners from there (I had an amazing wrap with cheesy risotto in it. And hot cider. And macarons.) Then…WE WILL ROCK YOU!! I don’t care what anyone says. It’s an amazing show and I had as much fun as I had when I saw it four years ago. Queen’s music is amazing and the energy the performers put into it is infectious. Freddie Mercury is presented as the hero he is (and there was an awesome photo exhibition in the foyer of images from his life and career, including baby Freddie) and the voices in the cast are unbelievable!! I am so glad I saw it again 🙂
We have a slightly less hectic, but still busy day planned for tomorrow, so I shall go now, but know I am missing you all! xxxx  

Abbeys and Sherlock and plays! Oh my!

Can I just say, I am an organisational fiend. This morning I got up, showered, dressed, checked my email, went to the pub for breakfast, posted a huge package of stuff back to Aus, went to Euston Station and booked our train tickets to Liverpool and made it to Westminster Abbey, all before noon. I must confess, I was pretty much going to Westminster Abbey just to say I’d been there. It was free with our London Pass and it’s a pretty looking building, but I hadn’t really fully considered the things I would see. I’m so glad I went. You would think I would be all churched out after trooping across Europe for the last 5 weeks, but Westminster Abbey blew my mind. I was a bit pressed for time, so I tried to just do the most important bits. They give you a free map and audio guide which are invaluable (and it sounds like Jeremy Irons on the audio guide. Is it Jeremy Irons? I’m not sure). I saw the tomb of Elizabeth I and Mary I and Mary, Queen of Scots. I saw the Coronation Chair, the Chapter House and Pyx Chamber, as well as the Cloisters and the Abbey Museum. My favourite sections were easily the Poet’s Corner and the Nave. The Poet’s Corner is crammed full of memorial stones of all manner of important British writers, including a beautiful monument to Shakespeare. Geoffrey Chaucer’s tomb is another highlight. The Nave holds the tomb of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and the Unknown Soldier, but is beautiful to sit in and reflect. There were candles to light and I lit one for my family. That makes candles lit in Notre Dame, St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, and hopefully the list will grow. I then spent wayyyyy too much at the Abbey Shop.
We raced over to Embankment Station and met a London Walks guide for a 6 pound walking tour on Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. It was a fascinating couple of hours and our guide was brilliant. It included a lot of history of London as well and we saw places where Conan Doyle had lived and worked and places where Sherlock and Dr Watson had visited in the stories. After this finished, we trained over to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, but I was pressed for time so I’ve added it to my list of things to do when I return to London. Sean and I took off for Kensington Gardens where I FINALLY found the statue of Peter Pan, four years after I first looked for it. Yay for photo ops. And we saw a squirrel!! A SQUIRREL!! They are the loveliest, cutest things! I don’t care that they are pests, they look like cartoons. Then we trained to Waterloo and found some dinner. There was a fish and chip shop that had a little mini-restaurant in the back, with table service and very traditional British fish and chips. It was delicious, but THEN we found a gorgeous little market near the Thames. It was filled with delicious food and really, really friendly people. We wished we had waited to eat until then! So I had a cup a CUP of churros, covered in cinnamon and sugar with some melted chocolate. Pretty amazing stuff. There was also something going on with bikes and skateboards…there were hundreds rushing along South Bank together and it looked really cool.
Then we went to the National Theatre to see Juno and the Paycock. I cannot emphasise how good it is to see some theatre again. Sinead Cusack and Ciaran Hinds played the leads and they were, of course, outstanding. The whole supporting cast was really strong and it was cool to watch the play having walked around the set yesterday. It was extremely funny with a very tragic ending a very Irish feeling play. We came home and I was too tired to type, hence the blog being up late! 

I want to live here.

This morning I Skyped home and chatted with Mum, Dad, Sim and MARNIE! It was great to see/hear her finally! And Simon is much older and wiser now he is an uncle. Then Sean and I had a huge pub breakfast again, before hightailing it over to the National Theatre to do the backstage tour. I did this four years ago and I loved it, and I thought Sean would love it to. It was just as great this time. We saw the Olivier Theatre and the Lyttelton Theatre (the Cottesloe Theatre had a show running so we couldn’t see it this time. But I remember it from last time and its a black box theatre with completely movable seats. It seats between 200-400). We got to actually walk around the stage of the Lyttelton. The set was for Juno and the Paycock and the level of detail was amazing. There are parts of the set that the audience can’t see, but these have still been treated as though they are on display to help the actors feel in character. The same kind of things has been done to some costumes. There was lace on the corset for My Fair Lady, hidden by the dress, but it helped the actress feel in character. Then they took us backstage where all the sets are built and the guide showed us a puppet from War Horse! She got in and made the head and ears move. It was brilliant and I would really love to see the show. Apparently it is coming to Aus later this year…

After the tour I had to run to Kings Cross to meet the girls at Platform 9 and 3 Quarters!! YAYY! Sean went to meet Adam and the girls and I took our pics and then went to St Pauls Cathedral. There is a huge tent city outside at the moment, but St Pauls was just as beautiful as I remember. I could spend all day sitting in there. I lit some candles for my family because I miss them! After St Pauls, we went and had Japanese food and then went to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road. My. Goodness. I could spend alllllll day in there. All week. All month, nay, YEAR even. There is over 7 miles of books, and I only got the first floor done while I was there. And I didn’t buy too much either! By the time we got back it was about 8pm and Cara and I went for an epic laundromat search but to no avail. We will probably have to wait until Liverpool to wash our clothes, but never mind!

Big day tomorrow. Lots to get done. Wish us luck! xx