London calling

Kensington Gardens, you are so pretty at 9am ❤

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I spent the day in London last Thursday, though my mission (to collect our Vietnamese visas) was over by 9.30am! Is it me, or are Embassies… strange?! It was like going to someone’s house. Albeit a very, very nice house – this is Kensington after all.

They also have a way of making you feel strangely criminal. I’m the same when I go through airport security. I know I don’t have anything I shouldn’t have about my person (or in my luggage), but I still worry someone’s about to swoop down on me! I was waiting in quiet terror in the queue, telling myself my passport is all as it should be, that we had paid everything we should have, that I had an email in my hand telling me our applications had been accepted…  I swear I didn’t breathe until the guy put our passports in my hand. Then spent the entire day on edge, walking around London with both our passports in my handbag….! Not like we’re off anywhere any time soon… (at the time of writing we’re nearly down to single figures… oh my GAAAD).

I’d originally planned to wander round all the free museums, maybe pop to Harrods for a nose, get the least-crazily-priced coffee I could in their cafe and ring my mum to tell her what I’d just paid for a cappuccino… I’m such a tourist. *sigh*… I love London. I know Kensington is like the nicest part of London possible, but still. I like Camden too! And it was a beautiful day – crisp, sunny and clear.

I ended up spending the day with my little bro instead. He’s in his final year at Trinity College of Music, and I’d always felt like a bit of a lousy big sister for never having visited him there. In my defence, I have a full time job and little disposable income… But excuses excuses. I’m going away for 3 months, and a day in the sunshine running around beautiful old buildings with my favourite youngest brother is something I’m so glad I could have.

After a takeaway brekkies of Starbucks bircher muesli ( – sidebar – OMG. Bircher muesli. Things like this are why I want to live in London. Can you imagine casually rustling up some bircher muesli for breakfast in Barry Island? No.) next to the Elfin Oak in aforementioned pretty gardens, I jumped back on the train to meet Robert in Greenwich. Another gloriously pretty part of London! Found the little townhouse of my dreams in an estate agent’s window en route… £1.4 mil. Casual. 

Trinity is in the Old Royal Naval College, which you would probably recognise from, well, a whole load of films. Thor, The King’s Speech, Les Mis, the latest Pirates of the Carribean – which they filmed when Rob was in first year – all there! And if you saw it…. Oh my goodness. It’s breathtaking. I wandered through the globe-flanked gates just open-mouthed, exclaiming, “This is where you go to uni!?”…

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Certainly beats Cardiff’s battered old Humanities building!

I got to indulge my inner tourist on the way too – I’d never seen the Cutty Sark before!

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GAH. I freaking love London. I want that on my doorstep.

Robert showed me the Painted Hall (just incredible) and the Chapel, which is where they filmed that famous scene in Four Weddings with Rowan Atkinson as the blundering bishop. Then we tripped up and down all these winding staircases, opening doors in walls, trying to find an empty practice room to show me the view over the river – sadly not to be, but everywhere you walk you get little bursts and snatches of music. Flute, piano, violin… Lovely. It’s like you’re in some musician’s dream.

By then I was absolutely starving, so Robert showed me a little more of Greenwich on our quest for some lunch. A particular fave of his was a hot chocolate shop called Black Vanilla… Now Robert is the most sugary-chocolatey-sickly-sweet-toothed person I know, but even to a slightly more savoury beast like myself, it sounded amazing. I’m totally becoming a regular once I buy my £1.4mill Greenwich townhouse. Yessir.

We plumped for smoked chicken noodle soup and katsu curry from Greenwich market. I handed over £5.50 for mine, wondering amusedly how much the same is going to cost me in Penang…!

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I met some of his friends too – thanking one of them, Becky, for the frankly dangerously good peanut-butter-chocolate-squares she’d made the day before, which Robert had fed me on the train! He’d heard from Mum that I was stressed, and I have to agree with his cure. Peanutty salty chocolatey YES-ness. So I knew I’d like this Becky character. It was funny how many people knew I was his sister without me being introduced… We’ve always been the most similar of us 4!

I’m going to gloss over the part where it took me 7 hours to get home… There was an accident on the M4 – but at least I’d bought dinner before I got on the Megabus! Finally got off at 11pm, sleep deprived thanks to some drama students who would NOT. STOP. SINGING. At what age will it start being OK for me to start telling off teenagers!? I think I need to wait until I no longer look the same age as them.

So yes, ignore that part. Sunshine, peanut butter, and a London day with my little brother. Not a bad thing at all.

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Panic at the desk-o

You know how in my last post I was all like, yeah we started freaking out about travelling, and then we wrote a big list, and now I feel loads better?

Ahaha. Hahahaha.

now panic

What is wrong with me!? I really, really want to start getting excited about this trip. Only having wanted to do it since, you know, forever. But every time I go near it in my mind I just get a big, heavy, ice cold wave of PANIIIIIIIIC!

Yesterday I had a real wobble. Ended up having a little cry on the phone to Mum and shooing Rob out of the room when he came in to get his glasses. Doesn’t everyone feel better after just having a little cry? If anything I was surprised I’d been able to keep a lid on it for that long.

I have to keep telling myself that rationally, by the end of this week, all the Big Stuff will be sorted. Done. Dusted. Bosh. Nay, not even that long, by the end of Thursday. Thursday lunchtime even, when the Vietnamese Embassy person has put our visas in my hand, and I then have an afternoon to kill in that there London town, only mildly panicking that between Starbucks and the Megabus someone will nick our passports.

Now, Wednesday evening / Thursday actually is going to be stressful. Having to travel 4 hours on a coach up to London, on a work night, to be up and out and the other side of London by 9.30am, to then wait around all day to spend 4 hours on a coach home is, I think anyone would agree, Not Fun. I tried to update my ipod on Saturday in order to help up the fun quotient, and promptly broke my laptop. … I know.

But I have to look at the rest of the stuff with my rational head on. This isn’t a head I wear often, I’ll admit it. I like to collect panic. I worry about one thing, then just start to list a whole load of other things to worry over too.

If I look at it the right way – an afternoon to kill in London? Amazing! I can go to all the free museums, sit in a coffee shop and people watch, find a bookshop to sit in and just read for 3 hours… I keep saying how much I’ve wanted to just STOP the past few weeks. Well, here’s my chance!

SO! Let’s rationalise. Worry number 2 – got my malaria tablets yesterday. The side effects are freaking me out. (Anyone else been on Doxycycline? Bring me your knowledge!). Rational head on – Surely better than getting malaria??

Worry number 3 – Asia is scary. What if we don’t know we’re being scammed? What if we get in a taxi and they just drive us somewhere and rob us? What if we get in a car crash because the driving is so bananas?

Rational head on – SALLY. THAT IS THE POINT OF GOING. This is not a comfort zone holiday. This is a chance to see the freakin’ world. If it wasn’t a bit scary, and unknown, and new and different and exotic…. wouldn’t it be a bit boring?

I had a lovely dinner with one of my best friends last week and she is very good at giving me a bit of “Just calm down and get a grip”. She went travelling on her own. For 4 months. Cut her foot open in Laos and spent 3 weeks in hospital in Thailand. And she was FINE!

We are not idiots. We will have each other. And we will have an amazing, amazing time.