Sorry! Here we are again, it'll take us months to complete the journey's bloggings at this rate - which may be the objective, to string it out for as long as possible. It's difficult readjusting to 'normal' life again. But we WILL get it completed - honest Pete (but thanks for the nudge!)
All is good here in the Southern Hemisphere. I've had our first pay day so that's a relief, and though we hate to rub it in for those who are reading this from UK, it's our first day of summer tomorrow and we've had temperature of around 28 degrees today It's hard to believe that there's already snow in the UK - amazingly Barry wishes he was there to experience it with you all ...
Saturday 25 September
Today promised lots of love and laughter with all our four children due to arrive at various times. We tried to beat the coldness by having big bowls of porridge for breakfast to warm up, and the blue skies and sunshine bode well for a day outdoors - we wouldn't want to spend too long with six people cooped up inside a four berth boat!
Jamie was the first to arrive around 1100hrs, so we went for a walk around Paddington Basin. There was a dearth of visitor moorings and like other places we'd passed in London, boats looked suspiciously as though they'd moored on the sparse spaces longer than the 7 days 'limit'. We wonder how on earth anyone manages to find a spot to stay in high season if this is what it's like in late September?
Our mooring location was a contrast of the new on one side and the old on the other
We wandered up to the junction at Little Venice where there were a few more visitors moorings - but once again it just appeared that the boats were 'permanently' moored up rather than 'just visiting' - bizarre. Maybe we're casting aspersions where we shouldn't and the boats were all legitimately moored for only the stated time, but I think it's unlikely.
Barry decided he wanted to leave our prime position in Paddington and go on a trip on Northern Pride with everyone to Camden, but luckily I managed to persuade him otherwise as the chances were that we'd lose our 'space' and not find another one anywhere nearby. As we'd booked to get the Eurostar to Paris on Tuesday (my birthday), I really didn't want to risk it.
We walked back to the boat for lunch, and Lisa arrived from Cheshire just before 1400hrs. We had a brief visit from our mate Pete who happened to be nearby visiting a friend - it was great to see you again, sorry we weren't able to be too sociable with our full day's schedule!
A couple of interesting sculptures around the area
Not sure of the name of this delightful bridge over the canal heading west
... and the cars and trucks drive over the canals oblivious to the tranquillity below them ...
... in fact the city epitomises busyness, especially at the tube station
Having decided not to return to Camden today, Jamie suggested a walk to Hyde Park which wasn't far away. So we put some warm clothes on and walked the streets of London. Kensington Gardens were our first port of call, then on to Hyde Park where we came across an incredible 'squirrel/bird man'. He was standing on the path with a rucksack on his front filled with nuts and seeds and literally hand feeding the squirrels and birds. We stopped for ages watching him, then all having a go too. I managed to get a squirrel climbing up my trousers and taking a nut from my hand - it was just so gentle and adept at holding your hand while it grasped the nut - awesome! Tom got the hang of it too ...
The cottage at the entrance to Hyde Park
One of the feisty little squirrels
After a quick lesson in how to hold your nuts Tom was soon acting like a professional!
Up close and personal with the squirrels
Hyde Park is massive covering an area of over 350 acres. The footpaths are like highways, the Serpentine runs through it, there's statues in abundance and Speaker's Corner to entertain you on sunny afternoons, and deck chairs galore to chill out on. It's difficult to believe when you're in the park that you're in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.
Statues and ornate gates to gaze admiringly at ...
... Roman columns ...
... and war memorials
Having walked such a distance, we decided we weren't that far from the Queen's pad, so carried on walking to Buckingham Palace - it'd be a shame not to check it out while we were there!
Jamie and Tom outside Buckingham Palace, waiting for their invitation to tea and cucumber sandwiches with Lizzie
No luck, so Barry and Sandra and then Sandra and Lisa tried - but to no avail
A stitched up version of the Palace
Changing a guard - amazing how much pomp and ceremony continues in England
Having done the touristy thing, we walked through Green Park and met Kim later in the afternoon, as she was walking to meet us.
We hadn't realised how far we'd travelled on foot, naively deciding to walk rather than getting the bus back to Paddington as when we looked at a map it seemed to be not too far away. It actually turned out be at least two miles so we were all exhausted when we finally returned to the boat! However, there was lots of chattering done and sights to soak up along the way, so it didn't seem too much of a hardship.
A simple dish of spaghetti bolognaise was our tea back on board, then it was more talking, drinks and finally a few games of cards - well actually it wasn't finally, as at about 0145hrs Jamie, Tom and Kim decided they weren't ready to retire and went out to find some more night life!
The three of them returned around 0300hrs, stepping gingerly over Barry who was sound asleep on the floor in the corridor, and trying not to wake me and Lisa asleep in the static bed. Jamie and Kim were sleeping in the dining area, their bed already made before they left, and Tom had the blow up single mattress on the floor by the front door - as you can imagine there wasn't a lot of space left!
Paddington Basin at night time
What a very special day and night, wish we could do it more often ...