December, well most of it anyway.

27 December 2012 – Kensington, London, England

I have not achieved a lot or taken too many photographs since I arrived in England so I am just going to summarise the whole last three and a bit weeks in one, probably too long, post.

One year ago today I left New Zealand to start my travels, I cannot believe a year has gone so quickly – or that I lasted so long, largely outside my comfort zone. I remember telling people I would blog my travels, but to be perfectly honest I never actually expected to be writing, almost daily, twelve months later.

Until I get back onto the road again, my posting will definitely become more sporadic, unless I do or see something worth recording. I have now accepted that if there is nothing to say then I may as well not say it.

Right where was I…. Oh yep, back at the start of the month.

I had an opportunity to stay in Africa for a bit longer but I wanted to come back to England to see my daughter before she and her boyfriend went to India for three months, just in case I decided to go back to New Zealand while they away and I missed her. They left England on the sixth so I had arranged to meet them in Swindon on the fifth. I was up early on the day and looked out the window and there was snow on the ground – not a lot, but definitely snow, I was very excited !

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Though less so when I got to Dartford train station and had to wait for a train : )

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The trip to Swindon went without a hitch and I met Mel and Dickie at the station. We had lunch in a pub and then went and saw Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, which we all really enjoyed. After the movie Dickie went to a family dinner and Mel and I went to a couple of pubs and had a drink or three and some more food. It was very very nice to see her again and I am so glad I came back in time to catch them before they left. Stupidly I lugged my camera around, but did not take any photos.

The following day I met up with my friends Phil and Kevin. I am moving into Phils room in his flat in Kensington while they are in Sri Lanka until the end of January – taking a long break away from the cold – I don’t blame them. We went for a full day breakfast lunch, I soooooo miss a proper greasy spoon full English, I even ate the black pudding- which was a first!

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The next day I moved into the flat. I have a great large room, with a good working desk, as it is a basement flat I have a garden outside my window which is lovely. I also have a decent spec laptop with a keyboard I can type on, nice to not be using my little travel netbook, though it has been a faithful and fabulous travel companion, plus it had Lightroom on it, and it looks like I was editing photos from the Mono gig !

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Location wise, it is perfect – two hundred metres from Shepherds Bush tube station and an hour stroll into Trafalgar Square. Conveniently it is also close to some friends of mine as well.
I worked out a great little run up Kensington High Street, through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and back down through Notting Hill. Such famous places ! I am feeling incredibly unfit at the moment, the food, drink and sitting in a truck round Africa has certainly let me get a bit soft round the middle and the runs have been a real struggle. I can barely do an hour, and to think three months ago I did fifty five kilometres…

I have taken a few trips around London, I caught the train up to Camden markets as I needed to get a couple of bits of clothing, but nothing appealed to me there and I left a bit disappointed – mainly in myself as I suck at shopping. I loved the brothel creepers but would never where them. I ended up in the mall near where I live…



But mainly I walk as much as I can, London is easy to walk around and I need the exercise and want to spend as little as I can. The first week was bitterly cold and a walk up through the royal parks was beautiful but frosty !


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Visited Wellington and his boots.

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I wandered up past Buckingham Palace – that place is huge…

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Along Whitehall

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Past the Institute of Contemporary Arts (it was closed).

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And into the National Portrait Gallery, where I visited a really good photography exhibition. I am not normally a fan of portraits, but some of these were excellent. The gallery is just off Trafalgar Square. There are plinths with statues on each of the four corners of the square, the fourth plinth has an ever changing piece on it – and I really liked it !

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I have also finally managed to drag myself into New Zealand House to get a certified copy of my passport so I can send all the forms off to NZ to get a replacement to the drivers licence I lost in Laos way back in May! NZ house is possibly the ugliest building in historic central London.


I also visited Piccadilly circus while I was there.


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I quite often walk up to High St. Kensington, there is an organic coffee shop that I quite like there – and one day I was sitting at a table next to Jimmy Page, the Led Zeppelin guitarist. I should have said hello! I also love the old buildings around Kensington – as well as the rest of London of course.

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I love that Denton have been making hats since 1703 !!!

I have also visited the Natural History Museum which was holding an exhibition of the Wildlife Photographer of the year winners works. WOW !! I really did feel inadequate when I saw the work on display. A lot of the pictures were taken on Canon 5d MK2s so maybe it is simple as an upgrade from my MK1 – I wish!
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There was no photography allowed of course, which was cool, but you are allowed to take photos in the rest of the museum. I didn’t really enjoy it that much, lots of dead versions of things I had recently seen running around in the wild, so it was all a bit sterile. I did like the Dodo…


And dead things in jars.


And it was good to see an original print of Charles Darwins “The origin of Species”, and of course there was a statue of the great man himself.



I went to the dinosaur exhibit but it was packed of children and adults wielding prams as dangerous weapons so I got frustrated and left!

I guess time passes this guy quite slowly.


On the walk back home I passed the Royal Albert Hall.


And I liked this house with its old and new cars.


There are so many contrasts around here, old and new, rich and not so rich, English and foreign all mixed up in a big mess that seems to work just fine. I do love it here. When I came to England I really wanted to avoid getting stuck in London again, and damn it I think I will be, I have stopped looking for jobs outside already. This is such a magnetic city.

I was lucky to have some friends from New Zealand here playing tourist for a few days, great to see old friends after time on the road and David is one of my oldest. We went to see Madness at the 02 Arena. It was huge ! I go to lots of gigs but always in small venues, I think this was the biggest place I have been to since I saw U2 at Wembley stadium in 1986 !

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I also haven’t seen Madness since they came to NZ in the very early 1980’s so it was a lot of fun, and they really did put on a good show, marred by appalling sound where we were sitting right up the back.

Apart from seeing Mono – which I will write about separately, I have not done a lot else with my camera. The last couple of weeks have seen leaden grey skies with showers and rain so do not venture to far. I have been trying to get into some sort of working routine with getting up early and sitting at the desk working on the computer, it hasn’t always been successful of course. But it does save me money.

I have applied for seven jobs and not heard a thing from any of the recruiters, it was expected but still disappointing. I am yet to be disheartened though, I will save that for mid-January ! there is not a lot happening on the job front now until after the new year when I will hit it with renewed vigour. I have given myself until I move out of here to find a job and will then re-assess the situation then.

I was going to spend Christmas with family up in Brentwood in Essex, not too far away, but too far when there is no public transport, which is the case on Christmas Day. I was very fortunate to get invited to share Christmas with Pip and Lyall and some other Christmas “orphans” at Pip’s sister place in Chiswick. I used to work with Pip a few years ago and they live about a fifteen minute walk from me. It was a great Christmas and I naturally ate way too much food and enjoyed the red wine a lot as well.

And that pretty much wraps up the last few weeks, and almost 2012 as well.

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.

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