22nd April 2007
the Netherlands and London
Most of the Amadagio passengers were up bright and early to catch flights elsewhere
and it was certainly necessary at Schiphol airport where the line to go through
passport control was 20 abreast and took 45 minutes to get through. I saw Jenny
fleetingly in the distance then her line surged forward and she was lost forever...
I then queued for half an hour to reclaim my VAT on the bags only to find that
can only happen when I finally leave the EU in 10 days time, so I was pretty
fed up with air travel by the time I got to London. It was a great relief to
open our hotel door and find David's things scattered around as it proved he
had made it successfully also. He was out following the London Marathon and taking
females in Marathon
Once we had caught
up on our news we went out for a walk along the Thames embankment
through the remnants of the Marathon runners, watchers and supporters.
There were still a few stragglers including a blue chicken, the roads
were closed, every second person was limping and there were police
everywhere. We ate at a French restaurant near the Festival Theatre
and walked back to the hotel past the London Eye: would have been
the perfect time for a ride but of course the vouchers were at the
hotel! David reckons he walked 35 miles today!
23rd April 2007
Bus Trip around London & Westminster Abbey
The newspapers are full of the Marathon today - chiding
the organisers for not providing enough water for runners
in the "stifling heat" of
21'C: several people are ill, one quite seriously. However organisers say they
shipped in 2000 extra bottles of water to each check point
got on the Big Bus at Lambeth Palace, which is our nearest
bus stop and did the red circuit. The weather forecasters
had it quite wrong and we shivered on top of the bus but
hung on gamely as we had front seats up top. David had
planned this for yesterday but all the roads were closed
for the runners. He was fascinated to see all the things
he'd heard about for so long and I enjoyed the different
perspective from my fleeting visit 8 months ago. We missed
out on morning tea however, and here I am starved of good
cups of tea...
lunch we met up with a guided tour to 'do' Westminster
Abbey and put up our hands as seniors - funny how they
believe you without ID. I had thought it would be a good
way to see the Abbey but in fact it was too long at 2 hours
and by the time we got to the nave where there were SEATS
David and I both fell on them, thus proving our eligibility
to be seniors.
Of course the Abbey is glorious, chock full of
history and interest. I love the tombs of historical personages
- Queen Elizabeth I's tucked away with Mary I and a much more elaborate
one for Mary Queen of Scots - plots under-foot for non-royals,
Winston Churchill with only a simple plaque on the floor reading:
REMEMBER WINSTON CHURCHILL. Legend says that he refused a Westminster
Abbey burial, saying privately: "I've never been walked on
in life and I'm damned if I'll be walked on in death!" We've
both been reading the novels by Michael Dobbs about WC so have
an interest in him.
Queen of Scots' tomb
were very obedient about not using cameras inside Westminster
Abbey - so the 3 photos above are taken off the internet.
The homely touches
on the tombs are great, the dogs tucked away and a hedgehog at
the foot signifying help in getting to heaven, the subjects' children
parading around the base of a tomb - the deceased ones carrying
a skull, which is not exactly homely. Isaac Newton's tomb is on The
Da Vinci Code tour, but our guide was rather contemptuous: "the
author hadn't been here - wrote from tourist brochures."
Poet's Corner is a revelation with flashy great tombs for the men
and discreet small plaques for Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.
We were shown where the Coronation took place and where everyone
sat for Princess Diana's funeral, royalty to one side and the Althorps
to the other. Next time I'd have the self-guided auido tour so
you can rest for a bit. We were still sitting down when the choir
boys crocodiled by on their way to practice so we listened to them
then went into the church for Evensong. All boys in the choir,
pure and ethereal-looking in their red gowns and snowy white surplices
(yeah, I bet!) a dozen or so clergy and one nun we were intrigued
to see. It
was early to bed: too tired for anything other than sleep in
our nice comfortable room. The hotel is Plaza on the Embankment
Apartments, very new with every mod. con. including washer-dryer
and 2 flat-screen TVs: pity there's nothing on TV worth watching.
I'd sooner watch the laundry go round... It's rather a desert
over here on the south side of the Thames: we're right opposite
the offices of the MI5 and can see the Houses of Parliament and
Big Ben but it's quite a hike to get to them and a 1km walk to
the Vauxhall tube station.
24th April 2007
V&A, Gloucester Road, theatre
The seriously ill Marathon runner has died.
trying the buses as the concierge says the bus outside the front
door will take us to the Victoria and Albert museum. Yes, sort
of - but he didn't say it stops half a mile away... He did say
we could see the Kylie Exhibition which was really interesting,
all those great costumes and photos that have been taken of her.
I guess she's an 'icon' now that there's an exhibition about
her! I really liked the sculpture at the V&A and the fabulous
plaster re-creations of European masterpieces including David.
(Last trip Jennifer and I ducked in out of the rain and only
saw the gift shop.)
After lunch at
the V&A we walked up to the Gloucester Road, which is where I
stayed last time, and checked out the second-hand bookshop, where
David treated himself to a 1st ed. Dick Francis with dust jacket,
and the thrift shops where I bought a nice Biggles and a tie for
David in case we go to a posh place for dinner. I picked up the April
edition of Books and Magazine Collecting with a Biggles article in
it and an advertisement for a Children's Book Fair this Saturday
at Hounslow Mddsx. Wonder where that is and if it's accessible to
us? Then back to the hotel on the Underground, really getting the
hang of it now and can push our travel passes into the slots with
aplomb - though I'm always slightly nervous that they won't reappear...
Biggest worry is not about bombs but - are we going east or west,
north or south? So far, so good.
Fisher as Maria
rested and refreshed we returned via the Underground to Oxford
Circus, where we had dinner before going the see The Sound of
Music stage show. Last visit my sister Jennifer and I watched
a TV programme called How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
in which 100 girls auditioned for the starring role. We watched
over 3 weeks as the numbers were reduced till finally it was
between two with the final decision made by viewers - guided
by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Connie Fisher won and she was terrific!
The viewers of Britain chose well. (David thought she was a clone
of Julie Andrews - but how could she not be?) It was an excellent
production: I laughed and cried - did not sing-along slightly
flat like the lady behind me. I had to turn around and give her
A Look so she'd shut up. We had good seats in the dress circle
and loved the whole thing.
I wanted to walk, didn't feel like being cooped up in the Underground
so struck out bravely. "Where are we going?" says David. "Towards
the river" I say vaguely. We walked and walked, the traffic
thinned out until only the occasional car and no other pedestrians,
we went down Portland Place (very posh) and I fantasised seeing
Richard Hannay escaping from the bad guys in The 39 Steps, then
into Park Place which was a beautiful crescent of white-painted
houses, down a busier street until smack bang into a statue of
Sherlock Holmes outside the Baker Street Underground. Oops! Exactly
the wrong direction - so much for my fabled bump of direction...
Never mind, it doesn't matter in London because there's always
an Underground to rescue you.
25th April 2007
Madame Tussauds, Rules
It turns out the Marathon runner died of too much water! He drank so
much it diluted his bodily fluids to the point that ion exchange couldn't
take place - or something, I might not have that correct...
that we knew how to get to Baker Street Station it seemed like
a good time to go to Madame Tussauds. We had planned to do
it on a rainy day but the way the weather was behaving there
wouldn't be one - in fact it was the warmest and driest April
in 350 years of keeping records. Unfortunately 11 o'clock was
too late as the place was infested with school groups - not
particularly educational to have your photo taken with a model
of Tom Cruise I wouldn't have thought! They seemed to be European
high school kids and there was no way of getting away from
them, British high school kids are in the midst of exams so
they're not visible. The models are amazingly well done, every
hair follicle is visible when you can get up close enough to
see. No-one but us was looking at John Howard so we were able
to examine him in detail. Prince Charles stands opposite Princess
Diana and still doesn't have Camilla with him. Didn't see Elton
John or Dame Edna Everage, but surely they'd be there. How
awful to have your model removed from view... a mini-death!
I hated the torture scenes in the dungeon and thought the 8
minute film at the end was weak - so no, not very impressed
with Madame T's.
about the War!
blinking, into the outside, to find it raining - the only rain for
the whole trip.
we went to Rules for dinner with David's tie in his pocket, but
they didn't insist on him wearing it. Rules was established by
Thomas Rule in 1798 making it the oldest restaurant in London.
It serves traditional British food, specialising in classic game
cookery, oysters, pies and puddings and every wall is decorated
with some interesting picture, deer's head or ship model. The
maitre d and waiter were rather sniffy and we didn't like the
restaurant as much as we should have - perhaps if David had worn
his tie... He had squab which he loves and I had beautiful Devon
lamb so there was nothing wrong with the food.
As we were
rather early for dinner (due to the Underground being so efficient)
we looked around Covent Garden and discovered Henrietta Street
and a bar called Henry's so had to pop in there for a drink
honour of our cat Henrietta.
26th April 2007
Kew, West End theatre
We set aside this morning for Kew Gardens as the weather looked like remaining
fine, so arrived there by 10am for early entry before the school groups ( -
we're learning!) I really wanted to see the bluebells and this bluebell season,
we've become hardened walkers and it was nothing to leg it to the furthest
corner and see the sheets of gorgeous blue. The Spanish bluebells are taking
England so Kew works hard to keep them out and the native variety hardy - it
has the florets on one side only so it bends in the breeze and has a different
bluer blue. I met a lady who said she comes every year to photograph them but
she never gets it quite right. David was fascinated to see pheasants just wandering
around as if they own the place... The rhododendrons are spectacular and so
are the lilacs: all the spring flowers are wonderful. We didn't bother much
the famous hothouses because we were going to the Eden Project, so were quite
ready to leave at lunch time.
found the Maids of Honour tearoom nearby, which I'd discovered
on the internet as
a great place for afternoon tea - we were quite prepared to
compromise and have lunch, as the chicken pie looked terrific
and then scones
after. The chicken pie was magnificent and the scones the best
we had all trip. Legend says Henry VIII came across Ann Boleyn
eating little cakes from a silver dish with her maids of honour
and ever since then those little cakes have had the name Maids
of Honour. Newens Bakery has been making them since 1860 (where
were they in betweeen?) and I bought two for tonight's supper,
not cheap at £2.30 each and tiny - but very nice, like
a custard tart really.
again to the West End for Spanish tapas dinner near the theatre
and then to see Spamalot.
was an unashamed take-off on Monty Python and the Holy
Grail and while it was funny, the jokes were awfully familiar. It
can't have been a good year for musicals in 2005 - more like
a pantomime really.
bit was buying a pair of underpants at "Ye Olde Rippe-Offe
Gifte Shoppe" as a gift for Jon at £15 - "We
smell an opportunity!" said the label.
27th April 2007
Harrods of Knightsbridge, Churchill War Museum
idea of holiday attractions does not include visiting a department
store, but I lured him to Harrods with the promise of lunch
and once there, cunningly took him straight to the six food
halls. Well, he was blown away, as anyone must be, by the huge
array of perfect high quality produce. Ever an avid fisherman
he loved the fish displays with all those strange varieties
lying there sparkling and shiny and the large scallops like
jewels each in its own case. We lunched at the Fish Bar on
bouillabaisse, exquisite fish soup full of prawns, scallops,
turbot, and generic fish and watched the shoppers. We separated
after lunch for me to do some shopping and David to wander:
he didn't know you're not supposed to take photos in Harrods
and here's his results: note the price of Wagyu beef!
per Kg - some beef!
the art works are different: the fossil fish wall-hanging is
from Montana and can be yours for a mere AU$130,000.
I bought a jacket and some souvenir bags but am not owning up to
afternoon was spent at the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms.
Shortly after becoming Prime Minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill
visited the Cabinet War Rooms to see for himself what preparations
had been made to allow him and his War Cabinet to continue working
throughout the expected air raids on London. It was there, in
the underground Cabinet Room, he announced 'This is the room
from which I will direct the war'.
28th April 2007
Hounslow, pub walk in Hampstead Heath
At last - the day of the booksale! We set off in the Tube with two hours to
spare, soon arrived at Hounslow East, then after a 10 minute wait caught the
111 bus to Heston to the venue of St Leonard’s Church Hall. (That was
the longest wait in 9 days of using London Transport: the buses and trains
are incredibly frequent.) We were 1 hour and 15 minutes early! “Oh well,
we’ll be first in the queue” we said and I wished I’d brought
my knitting, remembering I’d knitted half a sock in the queue at Dunedin
Book Fair last year. We sat in the sun in the churchyard amongst the ancient
leaning tombstones and watched people bustling in and out with boxes and arranging
quick glance at the displayed books during a trip to the loo
revealed (a) high quality and (b) high prices – so I dashed
off to find a Cash Point (ATM to us). That was quite exciting,
like winning at the pokies, as bells ring and notes come fluttering
out one by one (but I’m always happy just to have my card
returned at the end of it…)
in the churchyard we were still a queue of two until David was
collared by The Oldest Parishioner and taken off for a tour of
the church with its 12th century bell tower, mediaeval door and
14th century lych gate, Joseph Banks’s grave somewhere
inside the church – they’ve forgotten exactly where
as they keep moving the flagstones – and the grave of the
last man flogged to death in the Army. What a burden the upkeep
must be for the ageing congregation of 90-odd! The church warden
told me they’d recently spent £20,000 fixing the
lych gate and the tea lady said sadly: “We’re all
getting old and the young ones aren’t interested.” She
was outside filling in a few spare minutes with some weeding “because
the Bishop is coming next week.”
lychgate & St
I was chatting to the organiser Christine Harris, I heard a familiar
voice: it can’t be – it can be – it is – Hilary
Boulton! a UK member of Abbey Girls of Australia whom I met at
the last two biennial conferences in Australia. Which just goes
to prove that the children’s book world is fairly small… Hilary
was present as a dealer trying to clear her stocks to make way
for more purchases (a common story!) She pointed out the other
dealers and described what they'd be selling which was very helpful
opening time the queue had swollen to six and we were officially
allowed to pay our 50p entrance fee and go in. The awful problem
is: shall I spend all my money at the first stall or look around
first, by which time the things I wanted at the first stall may
be sold? There was so much to choose from and I wanted everything
from rows of white-jacketed Chambers Chalet School hardbacks,
to gleaming rows of Malcolm Saville, pristine shiny GGB and Bettany
Press, Famous Five with lovely dust jackets and other Enid Blytons,
Lorna Hill, Elsie J. Oxenham, old Girls’ Own papers, Dorita
Fairlie Bruce – all the sought-after authors – though
one has to plunge in and buy – and in half an hour the
pile of notes from the Cash Point had melted like snow in summer
and I had a heavy bag containing three M.E. Atkinsons, a Lorna
Hill ‘Marjorie’ series, Arthur Ransomes, School Friend
annuals of my era, two Pamela Browns, a most desirable 1st edition “No
Mistaking Corker” by Monica Edwards and two heavenly Ameliarannes,
plus an adult ‘BB’ for David.
books is thirsty work so we bought cups of tea from the friendly
weeding lady then set off on the trek back to Central London.
Next problem: how to pack an additional 31 books into our luggage.
Fortunately we have expanding suitcases which are essential for
any travelling bookbuyer.
evening we Undergrounded to Hampstead Heath to join an organised
pub walk by the same group that took us through Westminster Abbey
- different guide, who arrived 15 minutes late without a word
of apology as the crowd around the station entrance grew larger
until there were 30 of us milling around wondering if we were
in the right place. Once he arrived it was worth the wait and
we moved through the streets at a spanking pace while he expounded
on the history of Hampstead Heath. Because it's elevated it was
where people came for clean air: it retains a village feel and
the residents fight fiercely to keep it that way: even Macdonalds
is a very discreet presence in the High Street. Property prices
are high and I recently read about a man who had been squatting
- unchallenged - in a shed for 26 years. When
property developers tried to evict him he went to court and was
given his shed and land. "I don't care if it's worth £1
million or £2 million" he said: "It's where I
development is big, with any old convent, church or barn being
made into luxury apartments. The guide said it so often that soon
we were chanting along with him: "luxury apartments".
There was over an hour of fast walking past cemeteries and Robert
Louis Stevenson's house until we came to our first pub - which
was just like an Australian pub on a Saturday night - jammed with
people. We overflowed into the street with the dual hazard of cars
and irate neighbours. You have to stay behind the yellow line or
risk the pub losing its licence, or worse still having chamber
pots emptied on you I suppose. Moral: don't buy your £2 million
house next to a pub.
itself is not the large flat meadow I'd always vaguely envisaged:
it's large but very undulating with hidden pockets, almost private-looking.
It was getting dark by now so we moved through there quickly
to get to the next pub. David wanted to stay as they were showing
Australia versus Sri Lanka at cricket on the widescreen TV, but
history called and off we went on the last leg.
29th April 2007
the London Eye and Hampton Court
morning seemed like a good time to have our pre-paid ride on
the London Eye: trouble was, every other tourist in London had
the same idea. They have a weird system whereby even with a pre-paid
ticket you have to line up and change your voucher for a ticket
and it became so crowded in the ticket hall they had to ask for
only one member per group to line up. Why not just buy your ticket
on the internet and that's it? Even airports can do it...
million people have ridden on the London Eye since it was opened
in the year 2000 - that's everyone in Australia! It's a terrific
attraction and very efficient once you have an actual, not virtual,
ticket. It's quite easy to step into the moving capule and soon
there you are way above London and looking down on the tiny model
of the Houses of Parliament.
Spending the afternoon
at Hampton Court turned out to be a good idea - perfect weather and
a wonderful venue. David's first photo is true to his forestry background:
the strange blobs in the tree below are balls of mistletoe called
witches' brooms. David was stunned by the weaponry display and a
friendly guide, seeing his genuine interest, turned his back so that
he could photograph it. It's set up in a waiting room so that any
ambassadors or foreign dignitaries waiting to see King Henry VIII
were impressed to see such an array waiting for a battle. There are
panels all around the room and regularly one is off being cleaned
and each piece checked to make sure it still works.
in waiting room
I've read about
the famous Hampton Court maze and always thought it would be
easy: sure enough we got to the middle in no time flat! However—coming
out was another matter and we ended up back in the middle three
times until finally we called it quits and escaped through the
panic gate... Well, it was time for afternoon tea... with scones.
easy to find the centre!
30th April 2007
we caught the train at Paddington, off to Cornwall to visit the
Eden Project. We saw it in the year 2000 while it was being built
and were fascinated so here we were fulfilling an old vow to
return and see it functioning. The train trip should be rated
as one of the great train journeys of the world: "This is
how to travel" I thought, sitting in comfort with my knitting
and watching the green fields and beaches glide by for four hours. "No
wrestling with horrible traffic and finding a parking spot."
my bubble was broken as we went to alight at St Austell! Passengers
in coach H (us and 2 ladies ) had to move up to coach G to
get off on platform. By the time we'd realised we couldn't get
door open the train had started again and we were carried on
to Truro. The train manager regarded as idiots for not knowing
you have to lower the window, reach out and open the door from
the outside—well, silly us! Fortunately it didn't matter
to us as we only had to wait 20 minutes for a train going the
other way. The taxi driver waiting at the St Austell station
had already heard of our predicament: that's small towns for
you! We've only ever had nice taxi drivers in Cornwall, unlike
stayed 2 nights at Boscundle Manor, an excellent small hotel
not far from the Eden Project and after a revivifying cup of
out for a walk around the property and the nearby village. We
stopped at the Post Office for stamps and a chat with the post
mistress and asked her what changes the Eden Project has brought
to the area. "Gridlock" was her emphatic reply. The
increased traffic is too much for the road system and at the
peak of the summer you can't move. She's definitely married to
a local: her husband sleeps in the same bed and room as he was
born in above the Post Office.
We had dinner
at the Manor, excellent food but a very formal atmosphere.
1st May 2007
The Eden Project
captured our imagination 7 years ago and we've been eager to
have a look at how it has developed. This is how they describe
themselves on their website: "More
than just a green theme park, then? Eden is about connecting
plants, people and places. We are a living demonstration of regeneration
and we aim to reconnect people with their environments locally
and globally. We don't have all the answers, we don't want to
tell others what to think; what we do is invite people to explore
their world afresh."
Wikipedia says: "The Eden
Project is a large-scale environmental complex in the county
of Cornwall in England in the United Kingdom. The project is
located in a recycled china clay pit, located some 2 km from
the town of St Blazey and 5 km from the larger town of St Austell. The
Eden Project has quickly become one of the most popular visitor
attractions in the United Kingdom. The complex includes two sets
of giant interconnected transparent domes made of ETFE cushions,
each emulating a natural biome, that house plant species from
around the world. The first emulates a tropical environment,
the other a warm temperate, mediterranean environment."
None of that prepares you for how fantastically interesting
theatre & biomes
from the entrance
surrounded by lettuce
The emphasis is
on education, especially educating children, in how important plants
are to us and our survival. Almost everything we do every day involves
plants and plant products and the giant honey bee symbolises how
much we depend on it. They're very big on using things reponsibly
and they make great efforts to recycle. Even the pen you use to fill
in the entrance card is made from recycled CDs, the restaurant has
separate bins for waste, the cutlery is made from wood - and on it
goes. I particularly liked the winding outdoor path in many colours,
made from recycled sneakers.
(Note the prevalence of red hair in the school group...)
group having lunch
tropical biome is WARM - just how warm you don't realise until
you emerge back into the Cornish air - which was another beautiful
spring day. (The UK had its warmest April in 356 years of record
keeping while we were there.) Warm enough to grow bananas which
were ripening nicely, and the largest flower in the world—which
gives off the smell of rotting flesh to attract pollinators (fortunately
it wasn't in full swing.) There are crops of sugar and a Malaysian
house set up: they maintain close links with Malaysian botanists.
ripening in plastic
link the two biomes and of course we had to have a pasty for
lunch with special Eden ale for David and elderflower cordial
David souvenired the wooden cutlery - which is one way of recycling.
Tomato sauce is available and comes in a big container from
which you scoop out how much you want: none of those nasty
little unopenable containers here!
at your own risk!
biome was a lovely place to be, just the right temperature and with
familiar plants and smells to us, perhaps less so to the British.
I can't get away from tulips: there has been a big display here on
Tulip Mania though the flowers are coming to an end and being pulled
out of beds by the tractor load. Once again I'm struck by how decorative
vegetables are: the beds of lettuce are beautiful. And so neat, not
a weed in sight! I talked to a lady who was walking around: she turned
out to be security. What a cushy job I thought, but just then she
was called off to an emergency so maybe not.
we met Dave who was sitting on a wall near the lettuces rubbing
a brass bowl with a wooden stick to see if it would hum. (It
did.) Here's another cushy job I thought—but in fact Dave
is a manager (the manager?) engaging in some PR and meeting his
was a very nice guy and he and David settled down to a really
good yarn about trees and botany.
David enjoyed telling him that the few eucalypts they've got growing
aren't labelled correctly.
the bowl hum
spiral garden is part of the educational garden and evolved from
a challenge to contruct a garden interesting to children on a limited
budget. It's grown from willow which roots and shoots wherever
you stick it.
They've grown it as a maze which adults can stand in at the entrance
but it gradually gets shorter until only children or adults on all
fours can reach the centre.
gift shop is full of delightful eco-friendly products: I
bought note paper made from banana leaves for presents. Did you
know? Bananas don't grow on trees. The plant is a herb.
Eden Project lived up to and exceeded our expectations. I'd like
to live nearby and be a volunteer: it has an atmosphere of hope
for the future that is most seductive. We'll certainly be back
in about five years time!
can't come to Cornwall, even for such a short time as we have,
without seeing the sea, so we a took a taxi down to Mevagissey
for a fish dinner.
There was just
enough light at 8.30pm for David to take a photo of a fishing
boat and the houses behind.
2nd May 2007
Cornwall to London
nice train trip, and this time we knew how to get out of the
Overnight at an airport hotel.
3rd May 2007
Heathrow to Dubai
These early morning calls are not nice - but at least it's not far to the airport
and Heathrow has got its act together so that the security checking is quicker
than last time I was here. You still have to take your shoes off and put your
lipsticks into the tray - and there's no point arguing that lipstick is a wax
not a gel, it's regarded as potential to make a bomb with! I waited longer
to get my VAT back: I think they deliberately make it difficult so that people
give up and go away with it unclaimed, but having gone to the bother of getting
receipts stamped at Harrods and waiting so long at Schiphol I wasn't going
to give up. Having retrieved my money I promptly spent it all on chocolate.
7 hour flight to Dubai was uneventful: with the time change it
was dark when we got there and into our car to Jumeira Beach
which is about a half hour drive through heavy traffic on a 14-lane
highway. It's as hot as hell, well as hot as Florida anyway,
40' and humid but we kept our room at 21' which was like being
in the frig. Sumptuous hotel, the Mina al Salaam 5*****, part
of a huge complex ringed about with canals (bit like Amsterdam
in that respect) and to go anywhere you hail an abra (water taxi).
But we were worn out from all that arduous flying and eating
so went straight to bed.
Friday 4th May 2007
There's nothing to do except lie around the swimming pool, take an
abra ride around the complex, go shopping in the souk which lasted
5 minutes, have little naps and plan where to go for dinner - in
an abra of course. That's OK: I planned this to be total relaxation,
and it is.
hotel and water-taxis |
from swimming pool |
There was the usual wonderful breakfast of mind-boggling choices,
but you usually end up having more or less what you always
have—except that on the way out was a mountain of slabs of
and it seemed a shame to disappoint the chefs by not taking
our siesta we took the shuttle to the Mall of the Emirates
to have a look at the indoor skiing and found it bustling
with lots of people - quite different from my previous visit
during Ramadan when it was like a morgue. Friday night appears
to be family night with everyone buying from the terrific
shops, more pouring in as we were leaving and the ski slope
busy. It looks so bizarre to see them wrapped up in parkas
and gloves and know that outside it's 40'!
I love travelling with David but he hates shopping: however
I held him down and made him buy two shirts from Debenhams.
Drinks in the
lobby before dinner with a pianist playing and a constant flow
of people to watch was fascinating: there's a strange
mix here from men in flowing white robes and women in black with
just a slit for their eyes to British and European families often
with children. In fact at breakfast we seemed to be in the minority
without two well-behaved, well-dressed children in tow.
took us to the neighbouring hotel Al Qasir, which seems to be
even posher than ours, where we had dinner in the Spanish
restaurant. Very quiet—we eat unfashionably early.
Saturday 5th May 2007
This is the
day set aside for Wild Wadi, a water-theme park which I enjoyed
last time and wanted David to try. The temperature
was 40' C so a water-park is as good a place as any! We were
the oldest people to be seen, but too bad, it's fun! We found
ourselves a nice spot near Leila's fruit bar and set up our
towels, drinks, sunscreen and books ready for a hard day.
went on the float around the perimeter of the park in a tube,
more daring we went on the flume where you're hurtled up and
down slides by the power of water. It hurts when you hit a seam
and I've still got
the bruises on my bum to prove it! but exciting when you come screaming down.
There's a really huge one (water-slide that is, not bum) that very few people
were going on: it's supported by what looks like a few twigs
be OK really.
The wave pool
was very popular though it was compulsory to wear a life jacket and
to really get cool you just had to stand under Sinbad's bucket
and wait for it to empty itself all over you.
just floating... |
wave pool quiet |
wave pool waving
We left it too late to go to the Burj al Arab for a drink and a look-around.
Being a super-posh hotel they don't allow the peasants in between
and 11.30 pm. Never mind, we could look at it from Wild Wadi...
Our final night of holiday before the flight back and we went
again to the neighbouring hotel, this time for a steak dinner,
Burj al Arab |
last night's steak dinner