Friday, December 30, 2011

Torchlight and Vikings

We spent the day exploring Edinburgh, starting with a walk up the royal mile to photo the castle and a decision to forgo the tour and have breakfast. Deacon Brodie's cafe was the stop for bacon rolls and the story of Deacon Brodie who designed the hanging machine that was used to kill him. Further down the royal mile and a walk around St Giles. This is a stunning church. Off then to the bus station to meet Stephanie's friend Isobel who came for lunch on a 50p bus ticket. We went for lunch at the Scottish gallery cafe again. It started raining so a cultural afternoon was called for with a walk around the National Gallery of Scotland. Once Isobel was put back on the bus to Aberdeen we went via the Dome Hotel, more shopping, afternoon tea and the hotel to get ready for the torchlight parade. This was really neat and we watched the Vikings head off towards the Mound followed by pipers and thousands of torch bearers. Met up with David and more walking to North Bridge to wait for the fireworks which were fun. The evening finished with the biggest fish suppers in our room and chocolate of course. Happy Hogmany everyone.

On our way north

After the best night's sleep in a bed like floating on a cloud with great pillows we are on our way to Edinburgh. We spent the day in London shopping and being tourists as we had to cost Madame Tussauds to get the picture of Colin Firth. As well as George, Daniel, etc. the queue was horrendous but fortunately we had decided to purchase our tickets online so we saved about an hours queue time. Scream section meant that Stephanie and I got close as we all know I don't do well in the dark with flashing lights ( shades of gold coast came back to me).
Shopping into selfridges and amazing things there for sale. Not on sale was a mobile for £6000. Could not get stephanie to buy one though. Met up with Tina and we went off to Covent Garden for dinner and a walk around. Went to a great Mexican restaurant called Pacifico which was delicious. Hottest salsa ever had.
The Langham is out of this world and tried out the bath when we got back. Stephanie took plenty of photos so we have the proof that we lived like the rich and famous for a night.
Happy new year to all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adventure starts

Today Stephanie and I left the safe world of Chartham to head for the big smoke London. First stop was to drop off our bags at the Langham Hotel In Portland Place. It was beautiful and the toilets to die for. Wait until you see the photos of the room. Thanks Natalie.
We then went down regent street as far as Piccadilly and then tubed it up to Madame Tussauds to see Colin Firth. Great queues but fortunately we had booked online tickets so quicker. A wonderful look around despite the crowds and then back to Bond Street. Boots is still there.
Lunch at a nice place and into selfridges to explore. Stephanie spent her Christmas present which was good. A walk along Oxford Street to the Circus and back to the Langham. We checked in and have an upgrade so the room is wonderful.
Dinner with Tina tonight and perhaps the London eye then off to Edinburgh tomorrow.

Stephanie with Daniel and Judy

I found myself a new man.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Castles and beaches

Christmas day was exciting with lots of present unwrapping and even Emma got into the act with tearing open the paper. I was spoilt with gifts from Virginia and Mark as well as the children gave me a present - a felt kit to make cake pincushions. (NB: I have already started the first one). Santa also left a big bag of chocolates and little gifts for myself and Stephanie. I have it on good authority that Santa is a big choclate fan.

Luke and Callum waiting with anticipation for more presents.

Boxing Day saw us pack the car and head off to Leeds Castle. Virginia informed us as we got there that we would be doing the Christmas trail - a scavenger hunt for clues to a fairytale and then we could have fun in the play area. The treasure hunt did not include the tour of the castle which was a side trip but the castle was beautifully decorated for christmas with a chocolate room, swanlake room and even an ice queen in the bathroom. Most fun was had in the big kids play area with Mark spinning the merry go round for Callum, Luke and myself.

Today we went to look at the beach at Whitstable via Chilhum. Chilhum is a village that appears in a number of movies and television series as it is very pictureseque and good for filming period pieces. The church at Chilhum was lovely and very majestic despite its tiny size. Also straight onto the market square is the required stately home which has its gardens open during the summer for people to visit. Houses all around were decorated for christmas as well. We got to Whitstable and walked down to the harbour then along the main road where we saw a number of shops open with sale items. On the way back we walked along the beach front (typical english beach with no sand just stones) with a stop for hot chips at the harbour, then more beachside walking until we passed all the beach huts. (£20000 these will sell for). Back home again and roast lamb for dinner tonight. Yumm!!

Stephanie and Virginia at the beach in Whitstable

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Canterbury cathedral

Yesterday Stephanie and I spent the day in Canterbury. It was fun shopping and I got some cool Christmas cards for next year. We had a yummy stop at the patisserie for morning tea then lunch was a Cornish pasty. The cathedral carol service started at 3pm but we were seated at 1.45 ish and only just managed to find a great seat in the nave. When the service started the lights dimmed and a choir boy soloist started with "Once in royal david's city" my all time favourite hymn. You could have heard a pin drop and it was spine chilling as only a few lights on. The Dean of Cathedral gave the homily and used his satnav as an entertains example. The service finished with the archbishop giving the last lesson. Very nice and he looked wonderful. Stephanie and I wandered around the quire area afterward and when leaving shook hands with the Dean and Archbishop. I was very cheeky and got a photo with the archbishop as I was the last person there. He was lovely and said he might be coming to NZ next year.
Me and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The kiwi has landed.

Got here and am at Tina's tucked up in bed having more snoozes. We were very lucky and got an upgrade into premium class for the first leg of our journey. Optimistic we were that this would continue!! Very long flight from LA and the plane was full but we got two seats each. Was fun watched a number of movies (500 days of summer was funny). Nice food as usual and was pleased to see land.

Met up with Tina at airport so she got to meet Stephanie and Mark and the boys so that was great. Home to Croxley and streets looked a little like I remember with wonderful houses and trees. Tina has a nice place with lots of space and a big garden which they use so that is fun. Went for a crisp walk and toured the neighbourhood, temp was about 2 deg. Great sleep couldn't keep my eyes open after dinner (Craig cooked roast chicken, so yummy). Now having some more sleep then get up and take a walk before heading out to meet up with Dawn at Debden.

Almost snowing on the way from the airport.
I'll keep posting Merry Christmas all. The Nativity is a great English film.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Halfway there

Sitting in the transit lounge at LAX waiting to reboard. Was the longest checkin as forgot how quick it is when we check in at New Plymouth. Flight was bumpy in a few places. We had an upgrade to premium economy and were seated together so that was fun. Found the storage space when we arrived. Nice meals had salmon starter then lamb for main. Back in cattle class for next leg of journey so that will be okay as still get all the movies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

3 sleeps but who's counting

3 sleeps but who is counting. have got everything into the bag and sorted out the purchasing for friends and family so things are tracking well. done all the christmas shopping and have only one present left to finish plus make a couple of extra things if I have time.
another busy day at school tomorrow with all the jobs to be done but I managed to get my 2012 diary done tonight so I feel prepared for the first week back.
decided at the last minute to buy a new handbag but can't find one I like so taking my current bag and will keep an eye out for a new one. This could be my christmas present. I am very picky with a handbag.
new phone is going okay and downloading songs onto ipod so have about 1500 so far done 50% of library.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Last week and getting excited

Only five sleeps to go. Getting excited about the travels, but still busy at work and hoping to get all the jobs finished before thursday.
Lunch out today with the senior management team and they were all very impressed with our presents. Weigh in Fridays club has been a success in that we managed to pay ourselves lots of money to buy presents and go out for lunch and movies but not so much in the weight loss field. Still it saved us all putting in money for the presents and we managed to buy really nice things this year. Red / Yellow card cufflinks for Phil, a mini cake stand for Barbara and a mouse magnetic noughts and crosses for Wayne.
Opened a couple of Christmas presents tonight, since I will be in England I am not taking them with me.
Suzie gave me a trendy passport cover and luggage labels and Toni and Jack gave me a mini casserole dish and spoon. Most awesome as I love the microstoven ware by Maxwell and Williams. I now have four pieces.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Christmas Tree

Mum and I took delivery of these new christmas trees last weekend. They are really neat and a great way to display all the decorations. no leaf drop either.
I had my class make the sequinned dainty ball which was really fun. Another lady came along, Naomi and she really enjoyed it so we have another person to come to beading classes next year. 

Tony and Dot outside my house with the mountain in the background on Tuesday night.
Dot (spare sister from Melbourne) gave us short notice that they were coming to stay. We had a great couple of days with them (Dot, Tony, Geoff and Pauline) all mixing in with the Stratford families. They managed to get to see the mountain, the only overseas visitors this year that have had the privilege so that was good.