It is now official in e-mail print - Tom has satisfactorily made it through his first year - with flying colours!
From my point of view, it has been a long and quite tough year (less socialising, tighter strings on the food budget) but with that said, I wouldnt change anything about it. I am living with a very happy guy, who thrives at university and is constantly excited with what he has learnt. Giving up some slight luxuries really doesnt matter at all when we can still survive luxuriously (we have a roof over our heads; warm, clean water; food never runs out) so let me say to the next 4 years - Bring it on!
Onto London... we took our first trip underneath the channel (previously we have just flown to heathrow in transit to somewhere else) on the Eurostar (comes highly recommended) taking us roughly 2,5 hours to reach Waterloo station. We were some of the last passengers to travel to waterloo - from November on, the Eurostar will be travelling to and from St Pancras (I think...).
We were in all of our Autumn (for tom, Winter) glory, and greeted by a stunningly summery Kym (won't forget that lovely Cretan dress!) and a suited up Benj in a 35°C tube station. Poor Tom was being chivalrous to carry the backpack and wear his winter woolies standing up in an overcrowded tube at 11pm! BUT despite sounding negative, this was a great start to a lovely weekend because we knew that it was at least slightly warmer in London than in Belgium!!
Our hosts had all the drinks and nibblies waiting for us in their apartment in Wapping, along with the necessary oyster card (for the tube)! So while we didnt go out on the Friday evening, we still managed to drink a bottle of champagne and too much wine sitting on their terrace. The following day was to lead me to a long lost cousin - Ingelise (see any difficulties in this family with two people going by the name of Inge?!) and her hubby, Peter at the burrough markets (near the London Bridge tube stop). With that said, I dont even know which one of the bridges is london bridge! The only interesting looking structure going over the Thames was the millenium bridge (for padestrians only as far as I could tell). So we all enjoyed a nice brunch overlooking the market followed by a nice leisurely stroll along the Thames. This walk included:
-a pirate ship (they seem to be everywhere!),
-the Tate Modern art museum
-the Globe theatre (for Shakespear enthusiasts),
-2 Dali exhibits
-the London Eye
-View of Big Ben
and probably more which I have already forgotten. We crossed the bridge alonside Big Ben which found ourselves in Westminster. This is where ALL of the monopoly names were! Peter even mentioned that they run a Monopoly Pub Crawl in London, and he made it all the way to Leicester Square. I knew that if I went, I am sure I would have been flat on my face somewhere around Pall Mall...
That evening we dolled ourselves up and had a yummy Indian dinner in Soho followed by our engagement present from Kym and Benj - tickets to the theatre to see Avenue Q. (more for my benefit, but Tom had a blast!). I thought it was a great - slightly naughty - show! This followed by a stroll to Leicester Square to catch up with a really old friend, Evan proved to be an amazing day.
Risking long blog territory... Sunday was to be the Aussie BBQ day (calling in a few expat friends in London, some currently living in Sweden, others we all knew from uni days). Everything was running to schedule - beautiful salads, piles of meat, a fresh gas canister, an unused barbecue.... when we discovered, on sunday that the gas canister didn't fit with the Barbecue fittings... a moment of panic for us all... should we go to the pub? What the hell do we do with all of this food? So while Kym and I downed a bottle of Vodka, we let the night sort itself out, and it turned out beautifully. Somehow, the sane and sober people took charge of cooking lovely little tapas style nibblies, the boys did their token trips down to the off license to keep the beer supply plentiful and the rest of us ate and socialised!
By Monday, I was completely buggered - 10 points to Kym and Benj who had to get up and work... we did some more touristy things before heading to the train station. Both tired, cranky and disappointed that we somehow lost the Tate (how, dont ask) and when we finally found it, we realised that the Dali exhibition had closed the day before. BUM. Had a good look around at the rest and was nicely impressed. Caught train back that evening, needed to take Tuesday off due to copious amounds of virally created defence mechanisms clogging up my head, only to pass it along to Tom, 2 days later.