November 11, 2013

UK Trip 2013 – London

There were a few reasons for heading to London whilst we were in the UK – Bethany had never been and it was a wonderful opportunity for her to see the capital, to see its very different way of life to our home capital city of Wellington. Also another very important reason, my dearest friend Natasha and her beautiful children lived near there and we so desperately wanted to see them.

I met Natasha 18 years ago, at a holiday park in Wales. She had just had a baby, I was totally intrigued by this amazing girl and we became best buddies. Despite the distance I would often hop of the train and 3 and a bit hours later I would be there. All those years ago she lived central London and I loved going to stay at her flat. We spent some of the best New Year’s together – and we have so many magical memories. Stephanie is now 18 and along the way she has had two more beautiful babies. James turns 16 very soon and Sophie is 12. How the years have flown, and yet our friendship has never faulted.

These photos show the years – Stephie no longer fits on my knee for a sleep!

Stephie

Stephie2

So one sunny morning Grandma Dawes and Amy joined us as we hopped on the train in Darlington and just over 3 hours later we arrived Kings Cross Station, London.

Bethany adores Amy. I am sure Amy was irritated more than once at the constant little voice and the shadow she had grown, however she handled her well and they had a lovely time together.

First job was to find our accommodation, this sadly became more of a mission than necessary. We made the booking online through a reputable booking company, yet the distance and rigmarole to get the keys to our apartment was very confusing and this wasn’t stated at the time of booking. After leaving the train station we had to collect the keys from the main hotel, this was fine but the drive was long and the taxi price expensive. Then at the hotel there was a massive delay in getting the keys, the ‘free shuttle’ ended up being a tiny taxi where we had to ride with suitcases on our knees, and after finally arriving at the apartments we endured an an argument on the pavement with the taxi driver as to who was paying the taxi fare. The apartments themselves were nothing at all like the photos and was really quite disappointing. We booked a two bedroom apartment as it listed a ‘double sofa bed’ but when we arrived it was a tiny rock hard single futon. Poor Grandma had to take the single futon and we felt very guilty. It certainly wasn’t cheap to stay at this apartment either which added to the frustration – anyway, we had limited time and we had so much more we wanted to do, so we just had to strike this off as one of those things.

So for two nights we would be based at the apartments, then on the third night Grandma, Amy and Michael would head back up North and Bethany and I were to go and stay with Natasha and her family – it was going to be an amazing few days.

We had such a lovely time, Tasha and Sophie joined us for our days out and Bethany thrived on having a girl her own age to be with (Amy got some free time!), they danced and clung to each other as we wandered London. The second night we went and met up with family, who had kindly travelled to the area so we could all see each other and have a big catch up. It was so lovely and we had the most gorgeous meal in such a cute little London restaurant.

Despite being there only a few days we saw so much and seeing family was a huge highlight, and as we waved goodbye to Grandma, Amy and Michael, Bethany and I were excited about our time with Tasha and family.

They now live in Maidstone so it was a few hours of commute but we made it eventually and had the most lovely night together. The next day we headed into town and our first stop was the tattoo studio!! I was so pleased and excited to be there for Stephie’s first ever tattoo – cant tell you how proud of her I was, she was so brave and such a trooper. And of course it would only be right that Tasha and I got matching tattoo’s too!!!

Stephie3

Of course saying goodbye was one of the hardest things ever. As the train pulled away from the station I tried my hardest to not let my tears be seen by the packed out train.

I love that woman with all my heart, she is the most genuine beautiful honest person I have ever known, what you see is what you get. She has been a single parent for far too long, works damn long hours and is a true inspiration. Thank you for making so much effort and being with us all the hours you could whilst in London, and for letting us stay at your home – we love you.

Of course I prepared a video! Here is a roundup of our time in London, thanks for making us feel so welcome, having the most stunning weather, and for being such a beautiful city.

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