A Travellerspoint blog

London - Monday, 22 April 2019

Easter Monday

sunny 24 °C
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Goodenough Hotel - Room 491

We finally got our act together and went to breakfast at the college a bit earlier than usual and, surprise, surprise, there were quite a few people there.

After breakfast we caught an Uber to Mark and Spencers at Islington. We are still in search of the big men's trousers. None in this store, but try Oxford Circus. Mobiles are still an issue so we have to keep ducking into Macdonalds to use their wifi! So we arrive at Marks and Sparks at Oxford Circus and no, they don't have big men's clothes there either. You have to order them on line!! This is turning into a mammoth exercise in frustration!

So we find a couple of styles that Phil likes, gets measured up, pay close to 100 pounds and order them to be sent to the Islington store tomorrow. Not that I'm a betting woman, but I bet we end up with no pants at all!

We phoned for an Uber and asked him to take us the the grotty roller door with Lebara on the top. It was open, but unfortunately it was just a kiosk and he wasn't any help at all. He just sells sims cards, and that's it.

So on the walk back to the hotel, we called in to a shop and bought another sim card for my phone from Lycamobile. Back in the room I activated it and it now looks like everything is working and will do until we leave the UK. In total frustration with Lebara, Phil phoned them and paid more money for a top up, so now his mobile is working too!

I sent a very scathing email to Lebara. Let's hope we get some action, but it's too late. Only a refund of our 30 pounds will suffice at this stage.

We dressed for the theatre and caught a cab to the Old Vic where we will be seeing All My Sons later on. We found a wonderful Italian restaurant, where everyone was squashed in but it was so atmospheric. A lot of the diners were going to the play.

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When we sat down, I took a photo of the stage - that's all - and the usherette told me that no photography was allowed. Hey! I was only taking a photo of the set!

The play was quite long and it was very hot in the theatre. The actors were excellent - Sally Field and Bill Pullman as the mother and father but the play was long and slow and didn't build up to much of a climax. I just don't get Arthur Miller. Maybe the plot is a bit old these days.

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In bed by midnight. I'm tired.

Posted by gaddingabout 11:06 Archived in England Comments (0)

London - Sunday, 21 April 2019

Easter Sunday

sunny 24 °C
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Goodenough Hotel - Room 491
Happy birthday HMTQ!
Easter Sunday and the Easter Bunny didn't come - maybe he didn't know where I was.

And, we have changed rooms again - three rooms in three days - I bet reception just love us!

We are still in the basement but now our room faces the street and the west, so at least we can see what the day is like. We now have two bedrooms and a bathroom with a bath. Let's hope we have stopped moving!

When we checked in, the guy at reception told us that because it is a long weekend, that we have to have our breakfast over the road at the Goodenough College and that it is really brunch and is on from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm. So, we have been wandering over for breakfast at 10.30 am and totally wasting the morning but it's nice to slow down a bit. Today I checked with the girl on the till and she said that breakfast starts at 8.00 am! What the?

Today being Easter Sunday, we decided that probably not much would be open but Phil checked on his mobile and found the nearest Lebara store and we decided to walk there and sort out our mobile sim card, once and for all. When we arrived there, it was shut, of course, and is a grotty looking roller door. It doesn't fill us with much confidence that they will do the right thing by us and reinstall our sims on our phones. We have decided not to go back until Tuesday, when everything will be back to normal and hopefully open.

The architecture in Britian is amazing. This is a Masons building.

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This is the first sign of Easter we have seen.

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We had a drink in the Prince of Wales Pub.

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This weird guy was walking along the street and we stopped to talk to him. Not sure what he said he does but it was something to do with Spanish dancing.

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We are at the Lion King theatre and decided to pick up our tickets for next Sunday, but they said to come back in 15 minutes because the people for today's show are picking up their tickets. So we went to an American pizza place for a quick bite to eat. After lunch I walked around the corner to the Lion King's box office and it's all locked up - so are the doors to the theatre, because the show has started. Never mind - we'll pick up our tickets next Sunday before the show.

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We walked to the bridge that has been closed because of the Climate Change protestors.

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The blue bells are starting to bloom. Spring in London is lovely.

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Then we walked back to the hotel and stopped just around the corner for a coffee and cake. Phil ordered a large Americana coffee and was surprised when he received a huge cup full of black coffee!! Duh! It was so strong, he had to go back in and ask for some warm milk!

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As we had late breakfast and late lunch, we have decided to stay in tonight.

Posted by gaddingabout 10:01 Archived in England Comments (0)

Southampton, England - Sunday, 14 April 2019

Disembark

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Queens Suite - Deck 9 - Cabin 9047

Bye bye Queen Mary 2 - hello Southampton!

We set the alarm for 5.30 am as early breakfast started at 6.30 this morning. The forecast was for zero degrees at dawn, rising to just 9. But what a surprise! Blue sky and sunshine - it's chilly but nevertheless it looks like it's going to be a lovely day. At least it's not raining.

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Our big bags were taken away last night so all we have to do now is take our carry on off the ship, find our bags in a huge warehouse and then get a taxi to Southampton airport, where we will pick up our hire car and head off to Cornwall. Have to purchase sim cards for our phones too.

Most of the passengers are disembarking today. Only 150 are staying on and heading to New York.

We said goodbye to Joel our butler, and Dennis our room boy, and went to the Queen's Grill meeting place. Almost immediately we were told to go to Deck 3 and disembark. It was as simple as that! Chris and Robin followed us but sadly, we didn't get to say goodbye to Yemi and Fiona.

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We arrived in a huge warehouse, full of bags, but all lined up in their colour coded sections. It was brilliant. So well organised. Admittedly, we had priority disembarkation because we were staying in a Queen's Grill room so we didn't have too big a crowd to deal with, but the disembarkation was so swift and smooth, and before we knew it, we were in a taxi heading for Southampton Airport to collect our hire car.

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The taxi was a flat rate of £25. There was hardly any traffic and we arrived at the airport at 8.35 am. We can't collect the car until 10am but we have to get UK sim cards for our phones before we do anything.

Three weeks sailing on the Queen Mary has been a wonderful experience. Total luxury. And it has been a very nice and relaxed way to get from Dubai to the UK without jet lag. However, if you were visiting the ports along the way for the first time, there really isn't enough time ashore to see the place properly. You need a couple of days in these cities to visit all the attractions.

We met some Aussies from Brisbane who were on the QM2 and their taxi used a meter and their fare was only £16! Ripped off and Phil kept insisting the driver use the meter, but he wouldn't.

We really needed a car that had a GPS system because we don't have a UK sim card in our phones yet, so we were upgraded to a brand new, red Citroen, which is automatic - thank heavens. It's enough to try and work the GPS in the car without having to worry about changing gears!

So, we settle into the car, bags in, ready to go - where's the starter button? We have keyless entry and start cars at home but we just couldn't find the start button. Eventually we had to solicit ths help of a Polish man cleaning the cars. The starter button is in the centre and at the top of the dash board. Never thought to look there! How do you work the GPS? First, let's change it from French to English. That's a good start.

This is a brand new car and has only done 90 miles but there is no instruction book on how to work all the gadgets. So as usual, Phil drives along in a trance, doesn't register when the GPS gives him instructions, so for three hours I get, "What did she say?" Aaaaargh!

We stopped a couple of times along the way and at one servo we were lucky enough to find the Lebara sim cards we wanted for our phones AND a young man who was techno savvy, who put them in our phones for us and activated them. Our lucky day! Now we are back in the world of mobile phones and feel connected to the world again!

It is very bleak, overcast and blowing a gale and is freezing cold. Somehow we missed the big main motorway to Cornwall but drove along a lesser road which was much prettier and went through several villages. The countryside around Dorchester is stunning. So pretty.

We arrived at Bowood Park Golf Club about 2 pm, settled in to our room, overlooking the golf course. We were having dinner at Andrew and Jean Button's home that evening and Andrew suggested he come over and pick us up and drive us to his home. Thank goodness he did because we never would have found our way back to the hotel along those narrow Cornish lanes with no lighting and no names.

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Andrew and Jean live in a 16th century farmhouse and grow potatoes and blueberries on a very large scale. Their property is huge with outbuildings everywhere.

Their home is warm and inviting and Jean is just the greatest cook. There goes the diet again! We had roast beef and yorkshire pudding with all the trimings and summer pussing, oranges in liquour and huge profiteroles. It was delicious. There was an open fire burning in the room and it was wonderful to sit there and reminise about their visit to Australia and catch up on all the family news.

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They drove us back to the hotel and we settled into a new bed and after a very long day, I am wondering how I am going to be able to sleep without the sea air and the gentle movement of the QM2. But I did!

Posted by gaddingabout 09:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

At Sea - Saturday, 13 April 2019

overcast 13 °C
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Queens Suite - Deck 9 - Cabin 9047
Last day at sea before we dock in Southampton early tomorrow morning. Apparently we have passed through the Bay of Biscay and I didn't feel a thing. The sea has a bit of movement and it is getting windy and cold - English weather coming up!

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We had a nice relaxing breakfast with Robin, Chris and Fiona with lots of good humoured banter. I am going to miss these guys, especially discussing the nuances of the English and Australian languages. All good fun!

I went to hear John McCarthy in a Q&A session this morning. It was good and the questions were probing, but I was sitting upstairs and unable to ask one. I would have asked him how long it took him to recover mentally and physically from his incarceration - if he ever did.

After that, I went to hear Professor Margaret Cox talk about forensics used in mass genocide in the 20th century. It was truly shocking. She suffered from PTSD and doesn't work in that area any more and even still gets emotional about it today.

After lunch I packed my bag ready for disembarkation tomorrow and Phil checked our account with the Conceirge. Apparently, $300 was credited to each of us when we boarded, so we had $600 to spend. We have $77.10 left, and if we don't spend it, we lose it. So we have just been shopping and I bought a navy blue tee shirt, two coffee mugs and some Cunard pencils. And we were left with a balance of 10c for Cunard to keep. Just as well we discovered this today and not tomorrow morning!

The Queen's Grill dining room and a couple of new friends from Shepparton.

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Our last dinner with our new friends and Fiona celebrated her birthday from 23 March. The dining room staff, and us, sang happy birthday to her.

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As we left the dining room, we gave Rajesh, Jason and Anastasia a cash remuneration and a gold and opal kangaroo lapel pin. Hope they like it.

Finished packing and put the bags outside the door. I guess it's really happening - we're leaving in the morning.

Posted by gaddingabout 09:03 Comments (0)

At Sea - Friday, 12 April 2019

overcast 13 °C
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Queens Suite - Deck 9 - Cabin 9047
Gala Evening - Roaring Twenties

We woke to a glorious sunrise and the ship rocking moderately - enough to keep the bathroom door closed and to be careful when walking.

Two seas days ahead of us but we will be busy packing, doing British Immigration on board etc.

This morning I went on a "walk through" of the Brittania Galley. Fascinating. I have been wanting to see in the galley ever since we arrived on board. The volume of the preparation is immense. This galley is huge and spotlessly clean, of course.

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Just a few stats for you - the entire Culinary Brigade consists of 150 chefs who are all under the supervision of the Executive Chef and four Chef De Cuisine.

The whole galley and dining operation is supported by a team of 85 utility hands ranging from dish washers, pot washers and galley cleaners.

Almost 16,000 meals are prepared each day. 700 English scones are served at afternoon tea daily.

87,000 pieces of china and glassware are used daily and all have to be washed, daily. Over 8,000 linen napkins are used and laundered daily. 6,000 cups of tea are served daily. Almost 610 miles of cling wrap is used each year.

After the galley tour, I went to another Professor Margaret Cox lecture entitled "The Lost Soldiers of Fromelles: Search and Identification". These are Australian soldiers and it was quite moving to hear about the discovery and reburial of these young men.

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While waiting for the lecture to begin, I started chatting to the lady sitting next to me and she grew up in Canberra and now lives on the Sunshine Coast and her husband is involved in the Canberra City Pipe Band and she is a great friend of an aquaintance of mine from Government House days, Kerrie Cordiner. Her name was Barbara Jones, married to Paul. Small world!

Spent a relaxing afternoon in the cabin and finished my book. Phil slept all morning and afternoon - still getting over his cold.

We went down and "did" UK Immigration and had our passports stamped for entry to Britain and allowing us to stay for 6 months.

Tonight is our last gala night on board and Phil is still moaning about having to dress in a dinner suit, but I like getting dressed up. We have had six gala nights, but the New York to New York people have had 35! THAT would give him something to moan about.

So I donned the "black and gold glitter" dress, plus a purple boa (because it is Roaring Twenties night) and when we arrived at dinner, Osman, our Maitre de escorted me on his arm, to our table. Everyone looked up to see who was getting the special treatment. Oh! Just her! (He usually escorts a lady to her table near us, who, with her husband, are the number one Cunard passengers. That means that they have spent more money than anyone else on Cunard voyages. Cunard phone them and let them know that their cabin is free and outlines the new itinerary.)

After dinner, Chris, Robin and I went to a fantastic rock and roll show by the Rewind Project. They play songs from the sixties and the drummer was the drummer with the Moody Blues for 25 years and the front man for the band was from 10CC. Excellent, excellent show.

Some people around the ship are dressed in Roaring Twenties clothes and they look fab! Some have gone to so much trouble.

Posted by gaddingabout 04:03 Comments (0)

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