Saturday, 30 April 2011

Our Royal Vacation

What a great time we are having! Britain is celebrating a weekend of festivities, and Andel and I are being treated like, well, royals.

Speaking of which: the wedding was quite an occasion in the Wilcox house yesterday (as I'm sure it was in many homes all across the world). Uncle Neil was up at 06h00 when the television build up to the wedding coverage started. By the time we were up he was dressed in an SA FIFA World Cup tee, festive tie, and draped in the England flag.

Having not been entirely interested in the wedding preparations prior to landing here, I must confess that there is something rather patriotic about all the pomp and grandeur, and it feels rather special to have been here to experience this memorable event.

After that balcony kiss most of Britain attended one of the some-thousand street parties that were held throughout the country. Right next door, practically in our back yard, there was a party in the park.

Just in case we weren't sure!

Today we (bravely) went into Central London, and walked the route of the Royal Wedding (Westminster Abbey has been left exactly as it was yesterday for the wedding, so naturally there were queues of people waiting to get inside). We passed through the Horse Guards Parade, and got to witness an inspection of the guards. We also visited just about every store on Regent and Oxford Streets, including Hamleys - which Andel found very impressive!

Nothing like some caffeine to kick start the day!

Andel, phone home :)

Checking out London's (next) biggest attractions (after the wedding, of course)

We are truly feeling very blessed to be able to enjoy this time with family who are spoiling us rotten!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Amazing Race

Andel and I are ready to enter the Amazing Race. We have proven that we can travel together, and fast too!

Our second day in Ireland was sunny and warm, mostly. We lazed around in the hotel until check out time, and then spent the best part of the afternoon picnicking in St. Stephens Green. Despite having a later flight, we decided to make our way back to the airport early in the evening to ensure that we were well prepared for our trip back to London.

Our picnic spot
As it turns out, there was little preparation for what was to come:
At 22h00 were notified that our 21h55 flight was delayed, and would be leaving at 22h30. We only left at 23h00. This meant we would only be arriving at Stansted at midnight, and would have to really move it to make the last train at 00h30.

So we raced to the front of the check-in point at Dublin. We queued for over an hour! We ran to the plane, and took seats in the very first row (no jokes). As soon as we arrived at Stansted we jumped on the tube that would take us from the terminal to the main arrivals section, before sprinting to UK Border Control. Ordinarily, the exchange at Border Control can be a stressful encounter. There are a million questions regarding your “business” in the UK. This time, although the wait was long, when we got there, we were let right through. We head straight for the train station only to find that we had missed the last train.

At this point we had to call on our resources for some assistance. Together we worked out a new plan to get us home. We managed to get tickets for the last coach back into Central London. Again, we had to run (and jump over fences) to get to the bus just as it was leaving. As soon as we stopped at the coach station, we jogged to London Victoria train station. There we got tickets for the 03h00 train to Croydon.
(Have I mentioned that through all of this Andel is carrying a 8kg backpack, and I a 3.5kg handbag?)

Thank God for aunties! In the space of 48 hours we were blessed by sacrifices from both of ours here. This time it was aunty Michelle’s turn to collect us at the station at 03h30 – and on a work day!

This kind of mayhem seems to be following us around on this trip. Having had a good 8-hour sleep though, we are now well rested, and ready for some more adventure!

Everything is better together

Driving to Dublin

On Tuesday morning, after a wonderful weekend in Norfolk, we left for Ireland. Being the unseasoned travelers that we are (were?) we didn’t plan our journey well. We were booked on the 06h00 (the cheapest) flight, out of Stansted which is 90 minutes from London and Norwich. So dear aunty Lynne, bless her, drove us to the airport at 03h30!

The flight to Dublin is not long. It’s approximately one hour, of which about 20 minutes is spent in taxi at either airport. The runway at Stansted is so big and long that Andel actually asked, “Are we driving to Dublin?”

We were greeted by typical Irish weather: icy wind and rain. True to form (for those of you who are aware of the ‘no rain’ blessing that I have) the rain stopped as we reached the City Centre. Thank you Lord! We literally spent the next 9 hours walking across what felt like every square-metre of Dubln - what an experience! (There are literally too many pics to load here, so you’ll have to visit to see them)

Our first view from the bus

Yes, it was THAT cold!

The home of Guinness

Much better weather!

Andel at the local Spar! :)

We were delighted to meet up with Karl and Tarrin later that evening. We checked into our hotel, and had dinner together. Unfortunately their flight from Italy had been delayed, and their flight back to SA was really early Wednesday morning, so we didn’t get to spend too much time together. Still, I have learnt that the best times are not necessary made up of long times. Even a few minutes with the best friends can feel like forever!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Asparagus and Pork

Some of you will know how, for weeks before we even left, Andel was paranoid about getting sick when we arrived here. He wanted to get Vitamin B injections, and pack in as much winter clothes (and preventative medication) as he owns. Well, I'm happy to report that he is germ-free! I, on the other hand, am voiceless, on a cocktail of tablets and syrups, and hopefully nearing the end of a chest/throat infection. Not that this is dampening our spirits in any way! :)

Yesterday we took a 3 hour trip with the Wilcox's in 5 hours. The traffic throughout England this weekend has been insane. It seems that even the most irreligious want to be around their family for Easter. The journey took us out of London and into the county of asparagus and pork farming (the number of farms of this kind in this area is mind-blowing!): Norfolk.

The countryside is beautiful. It's so tranquil, just being in the area makes everything seem more relaxed. It's even more wonderful to be able to visit the Webers again, and enjoy the easter weekend together with all our "British" family.

Today we visited Norwich, and spent a good afternoon in Cromer on the coast. Apparently the UK is experiencing a heat wave at the moment, if the number of people swimming in the (freezing, North) sea is anything to go by!

Our first purchases:

Genuine leather work shoes for Andel

True Religion shoes for Rob

As I write this, Chris, Tim, Dan, Andel, Kirsty and aunty Michelle are playing cricket in the back garden. The sun is still shining (and will be for 2 hours more), and soon we'll be preparing dinner for the masses.

I'm pretty sure: this is the life!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Around the world in 20 hours

We are officially in England: the home of fish and chips, mushy peas, and beans on toast. And the sun in shining!

Our travels started bright and early yesterday morning... 03h45 to be exact. That was when my body decided that, because it was Wednesday, I should be awake for my opening shift. Before check-in at 07h00, we had already woken the du Plessis to retrieve a document we'd given them, that we should've had with us, gone back home to fetch some money we'd forgotten, and visited Bonny Babies to catch our taxi to the airport.

And that was a sign of things to come. In SA time, our journey was something like this:

07h15: check in


Andel having breakfast with Pops to calm the nerves

10h10: depart Cape Town
12h00: arrive Joburg


Need I explain any further?

13h30: depart Joburg
21h30: arrive Abu Dhabi


Having a nap waiting for the plane

Keeping the mind occupied

00h35: depart Abu Dhabi
08h45: arrive London

So 4 movies, 7 episodes of Big Bang Theory, Lie to Me and Mentalist, and 6 meals later, we are here: healthy, happy and ready to holiday!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Bon Voyage

"We're leaving on a jet plane..."

My, how things have changed since I last blogged. Not only am I now allowing everyone else to read this, I'm also back in the position I left (only God could convince me to do that), and today is also the eve of my leave. Favour is: being allowed to go on 3 weeks leave when you only started working 8 weeks ago!

Tomorrow morning we set off to London for what has been a long-awaited honeymoon, actually! Finally we have mastered the art of getting leave together, for a decent amount of time, and to keep you all updated, I promise to blog faithfully (although perhaps not as faithfully - and wonderfully - as Ashleigh).

So here's to the next 3 weeks: officially NO MORE days to go! :)