Friday, July 8, 2016

Chilling with Shakespeare and dining on Cruise Ships

Once again, I'm playing catch up! So I left off on the train to Stratford-upon-Avon, which was a fantastic juxtaposition to the bustling London metropolis. If you didn't know, it is a 2ish hour train ride north of the capital, and it also happens to be the birth and death place of William Shakespeare. That is largely the tourist attraction of the little town - seeing the sites of Shakespeare and his family. I visited his birthplace and family home. I literally got to stand in the room where he was born, which was pretty incredible. I also saw Hall's Croft and visited Shakespeare's grave. The church was truly stunning, and the intricacy of the interior was quite mesmerising. It's just kind of a revelation for me witnessing places so old. It makes New Zealand seem embryonic in comparison; we're just a baby nation with not much history.

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Um lol.


Me and Will looking for trouble

Is this not the most beautiful thing you ever did see?

Shakespeare's grave

I also went to a brilliant museum which I think my young cousins would absolutely adore. It was called MAD, an funny little acronym for Mechanical Art and Design. It was completely interactive, where visitors began each of the displays with the press of a button, or the push of a pedal. There were epic marble tracks, moving cog artworks, optical illusions, light shows...I can't even begin to describe it but it really blew my expectations out of the water. The staff were really friendly and the admission was affordable.

Creepy af Einstein inverted face

Me waiting for customer service

I knew I would fail at this without even trying.

Happy chappy!

I got back to London just before 8pm on the 5th. The next day I found myself marvelling at the biggest Lush store in the world, which just so happens to be on Oxford Street. Believe me, I am not exaggerating, the staff told me themselves! The place is three levels, with a whole floor dedicated to bath bombs and bubble bars - they even have events and music gigs and things going on a few times a month. I was also offered to have my hair henna dyed for free! I may take them up on that when I'm back here at the end of July. One thing I noticed was that the staff in this store (and the Stratford-upon-Avon one I visited) are WAY less in your face. In NZ, as soon as you step in the door, the workers all seem to pounce on you with these feigned grins, asking cheerily "May I help you?", "Looking for anything in particular?" and it's all a bit too much.  Especially as 9 times out of 10, I never buy anything - everything is too pricey. Whereas here, the staff just let you do your own thing and wait for you to approach them with questions, for the most part. I took me home two soaps which I am 99% sure cannot be found in NZ stores. Also, I went to The Body Shop and found their prices to be ridiculously cheap in comparison - so I ended up with some much needed BB cream and concealer. And I'm not the kind of person who ever buys make up so that was a big deal for me.

Sheer disbelief.

I can't believe how much rubbish I just wrote about shopping, of all things. What an airhead.

That night I was invited to a tour and dinner on a cruise ship - excellent, and I am convinced I shall live this way one day - cruising the seas to see the world. So painless, skipping all the dreadful airports and economy flights. Travelling in style.

So that brings me up to Thursday the 7th. I had a much needed chill day; I'm trying to recover from a weird sore throat, sneezing, blocked nose fiasco - which Rob thinks could be hay fever. I've never had it before, so that's fun. That evening I saw Liz perform Mozart's Requiem with her choir, and also a more recent Requiem by British composer Rutter. I followed that up with a karaoke night in Soho - pretty much London's gay district. 'Twas very fun: free shots for every song, though they finished at 11.30pm, which was a bit sad. I did Beyonce's Love on Top and got a lot of cheers, compliments and even a hug from the MC afterwards. I met a bunch of people there who were all very friendly and all tourists, like myself. Some from the US, France, and New Zealand too!

Friday consisted of mostly packing and sorting. I also committed to a run, which turned out to be more impressive than I intended. I haven't run for months, due to Bahrain's crazy heat - and I hadn't pulled more than a 6km out of the bag since January at least. I was happy with my pace too, and MapMyRun is the bomb diggity. (Sorry.)

Anyway, that's enough typing for one day. It is almost 1am, so that's a thing. I leave for Singapore on Sunday night, to be reunited with three of the Robertson clan. Erin is off on her own adventure to the US with her school mates.

Until next time...

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