News From The (New) Patch…

Last week marked the start of Wimbledon with some unseasonably warm weather…and a few torrential downpours. The newspapers have been filled with pictures of flooded roads and cars abandoned to the eddies of the rising waters.

But not in London.

While it’s had its grey moments, the sun has shone down on London town and bathed the city in preparation for summer…

Oxford Street still looking all Jubilee-esque
Great College Gardens, Westminster on the way from Westminster tube to Head Office

And not just on the outside either…

Lit in glory, the ceiling at the Wyndham Theatre, near Leicester Square


Gidday HQ has not been spared a spritzing of summer either and I am delighted to report a couple of exciting developments at my new ‘patch’.

Those of you who have been reading along for a while now may remember the trials and tribulations of my first patch, featuring any number of pot-reared veg, a few herbs and the curious case of the disappearing ‘strawb’. Well over the last week, I’ve discovered a veritable panopoly of shiny red berries hidden beneath the leaves overflowing the old strawberry pot…

Luscious and ripe, my strawberry plant has more than just survived the move north of the river

And last but certainly not least, there is a new addition to Gidday HQ. Delivered and legs reattached this weekend, it seems fitting that it has emerged on to the back patio in all its glory after such a week. So without further ado…

TAH-DAAAAHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…and there’s a big umbrella too!

And the first Gidday soiree is already scheduled…

Departures…

After a 10 day sojourn, Mum flew out to Dubai last night on the final leg of her February 2012 odyssey. It’s quiet here this afternoon at Gidday HQ but I have lots of things to be getting on with before it’s back to work tomorrow.

All up it’s been a busy 10 days with some ‘must dos’ not done as we traded off a few excursions for a little chill out time at home. I’ll post about some of the specific things we did over the next week or so – that’ll be more posts of the ‘Armchair‘ variety coming up for you – but in summary we shopped, played tourist, ate, drank and were generally slightly hysterical very merry.

Day 1 started gently for my erstwhile traveller, recovering from 2 weeks amidst the hurly burly of Egypt with a sleep in, a short stroll around my local park and a coffee stop or two before heading into The Tower of London in the evening for the Ceremony of the Keys.

The Ceremony of the Keys has been occurring every night at the Tower for the last 700 years and is the ritual of securing the Tower and the Crown Jewels for the night. From arrival at the West Gate at 9.30pm to departure at approximately 10.15pm, every moment was filled with a sense of both occasion and history as the Yeoman Warder led the group down to stand at Traitor’s Gate and watch the ceremony.

After explaining the ceremony itself, he left us to watch in silence as he joined his fellow warders in the ritual locking of the two outer gates, the steady march towards Traitor’s Gate right through to the proclamation that the Tower had been secured and the haunting notes of the bugler’s Last Post. This is definitely one of London’s hidden gems and even better, it is free but you need to send off a request form a couple of months in advance. You can click here to go to the website and check it out for yourself.

Saturday we were off to High Tea at The Connaught in Mayfair with A-down-the-hill to enjoy a significantly posher version of our previous Champers and Cupcakes escapades…

Champers gets our afternoon off to a fab start
There were also scones (they were scrum-diddly-umptious) and we got to choose three jams between us – my fave was the Apple & Quince!

Mum and I took ourselves off to see The Artist afterwards which meant a much needed 25 minute waddle along Oxford Street…

Oxford Circus
Selfridges
Get your five a day at the junction of Oxford and Duke Streets

Sunday was clear and crisp so we headed off to Greenwich. This will be featured as an Armchair post so more about our day later on. Suffice to say we managed to get our hands on something quite old…

We did a spot of shopping on Monday then decided on a ‘rest day’ before heading off to Dublin on Wednesday for 4 days. This little trip warrants a couple of dedicated posts but for now, I’ll leave you with a highlights package…

The Boyne Valley, about 45 minutes drive north of Dublin, has 40 passage tombs in all shapes, sizes and states of preservation…
…and we visited Newgrange Passage Tomb which predates the pyramids.
.
I poured (and drank) the perfect pint at The Guinness Storehouse (and have a certificate to prove it)…
…while Irish history came to life for me at Kilmainham Jail.
I was delighted to find a ‘host of golden daffodils’ in Merrion Square…
…whilst visiting the Famine memorial by the Liffey River was quite moving.

We managed to cram a lot into our four days and came back to Gidday HQ on Saturday night absolutely exhuasted. Then departure day had arrived, all too soon it seemed, with much packing and sorting going on before heading back out to Heathrow again and hugging Mum goodbye.

As I walked away from the Departure Gate, I felt the familiar tearing of my heart between the love of family on the other side of the world and the connection of my soul with London. And I wondered at what it was in me that led me here so very far away, and where I might end up next.

3 Sleeps To Go…A Little Pre-Christmas Cheer

This week I have been in and out of central London to meet with friends for a spot of Christmas cheer. There’s something about Christmas lights that make things all glistening and beautiful and so I wanted to share a little of this week’s Christmas sparkle with those of you who have spent 2011 following the Gidday journey.

If you remember, my meanderings began with 20 sleeps to go and a wide-eyed wander down Oxford Street.

Creating Christmas magic in Oxford Street

And last week I was dashing down Regent Street to meet friends for a pre-Christmas dinner and managed to snap a couple of sneaky pics in the middle of the bustling crowds:

Christmas lights in Regent Street

So this week it was time to slow down and venture further afield to discover a little more magic:

The famous Liberty of London storefront

Liberty are renowned for their Christmas windows

…but I have to say that, while these are impressive, my heart still belongs to Christmas windows of department store Myer in my hometown of Melbourne.

Source: Rachel Gray, weekendnotes.com

Anyway, I continued on to fall across that bastion of all things hip, Carnaby Street:

Hmmm the lights look…interesting
They’re still um interesting close up!

I finally made my way down to the back streets below Piccadilly Circus to meet my friend…

I do love stumbling across London’s amazing churches like this one on the corner of Jermyn and Duke of York Streets

…and after drinks were done, I was off for another festive feed at Westfield London. I was a little early so I managed some sparkly snaps here too.

This was hard to capture but is really spectacular. This is over an ‘outdoor’ arcade featuring lots of restaurants along the left and the shopping centre entrances to your right. I’m standing outside John Lewis after walking from the tube station close by. Gorgeous!
This is the unadorned ceiling inside – kind of attractive in a wavy way right?
…and their Christmas lights?  Oh no….

So there was nothing left to do but join my Aussie friend, feast on fab Mexican street food at Wahaca and enjoy my first foray into the world of churros

Churros – gone! Let’s face it, anything with this much chocolate is always festive

…before heading home to bask in my very own Christmas Lights at Gidday HQ.

Hope this adds a little sparkle to your Christmas!

ps…the post title says it all peeps. Just 3 sleeps to go. Just naggin’ sayin’

Bet You Thought I Forgot…

It’s been a busy time here at Gidday HQ and with the end of the year fast approaching, there has been a notable absence of a tradition that has no doubt left long-time Gidday-ers breathing a sigh of relief wondering what has happened.

But fear not.

As I walked through London mid November, the lights were up in Regent and Oxford Streets.

Last weekend I braved London’s Southbank Market to do a little inspired present shopping.

Mum’s annual cross-the-miles Advent Calendar arrived last week in plenty of time.

This year’s theme is The Nutcracker and instead of chocolates or gifts, each window contains a little booklet which tells a part of the story.

Today, the Gidday tree went up and got all adorned with the trinkets from my travels (note to self: if one wants to travel next year and collect more bright, shiny objects, buy a bigger tree)…

…and the Christmas paper has been unearthed from its new home following last week’s frenzy of post-Freecycle nesting.

So my festive spirit has risen from the dust and left-over packing boxes to announce

there are just 20 sleeps to go until Christmas!

I’ll bet you thought I forgot.