Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chinese New Year

On Sunday we went to watch the festivities of Chinese New Year. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day with just enough cold breeze to remind you it was still winter! The day started off with a street parade that ending in Trafalgar Square (we didn't see much of this - too many people) followed by an opening ceremony spoken in three different languages. As well as this ceremony there were lots of different activities including a firecrakers display around the city.

One of the many Chinese New Year Dragons in the street parade.

Us enjoying the beautiful sunny day!

Before the dragons began their dancing they had
to be woken up. This involved a special ceremony
with candles, inscents, some speeches and then the
dragons are woken up by having their eyes coloured in!

These were the junior dragon dancers. They were
all under the age of 12. They were very good.

After watching the opening ceremony, the dragon and dog dancers we braved the crowds and headed to China Town. This is the main street and as you can see it was extremely crowded. Almost all of the restaurants had lines with people waiting for a table stretching out the front doors! Our lunch consisted of a box of fortune cookies which the four of us managed to polish off quite quickly (so far none of our fortunes have come true!) followed by a traditional English pub lunch.

This is the view from the back of Trafalgar Square. As you
can see it was jam packed with people! If you look
closely you can see two dragons dancing in front of the stage.

These were Kelly's favourite - the Chinese dogs!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Notting Hill and Science Centre

This weekend Liam and I decided to exercise our brains by shopping and exploring the Science Centre!

Saturday was spent wandering through the Portabello Street Markets and around Notting Hill. The markets are huge! The street seemed never ending. There was a wide range of fruit and veges, second hand clothes and goods, stuff that may have fallen of the back of a truck and lots of antiques. The antiques were the most interesting. There were old books, homewares and even old tins from the beginning of the century. Today was also the first day we had fish and chips! Very greasy but yummy!

After the markets we walked around Notting Hill looking at some of the beautiful homes, big private gardens and trying to figure out the locations for the movie Notting Hill. Some potential evidence is show below. The residential areas of Notting Hill seemed quiet peaceful.

Could this be the bookshop where Hugh Grant's character worked? Looks familiar to me - any clarification / verification would be great!

Proof that we were actually there!

Looking down Portobello Road.

A very cute cobble stone street with a stall selling old homewares and tins etc.

Looking back up the Portobello Road. Yes we get all the angles!!

One of the private gardens in Notting Hill. Only residents can access and use these garden.

Possibly a path to the gardens used in the movie Notting Hill!

Didn't actually go in or do any shopping but I can say I was there!

On Sunday we went to the Science Centre. Sounds a bit boring to some but it really is an amazing place. Enthusiastically recommended by Joel and Sophie, this place has got everything. There are 7 floors to explore and we only managed to get through 2 in about 4 hours. So look out for the next installment of pictures!

The real Apollo 10 Space capsual (I think it was 10?)

A view of the technology hall. This section had everything from the first train engines, old cars, the first Apple computer and even a Nintendo video game box (That's right Trac - you and I loved to place something that is now considered a piece of history!!!!! I even found old Nintendo game cartiages at Portobello Markets!!!!)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Regent's Canal at Angel

Our house at Angel is just up the street from Regent's Canal. Regent's Canal runs from the Limehouse Basin on the River Thames, through inner north-east, north and north-west London, through Regent's Park. Here is a map. One of the sections of tunnel that runs underground does so at the point near where we live.

The canal is available for moorings

The boats look cramped, but when
you compare it to some accommodation
in London, it is quite attractive

The canal is very picturesque around Angel,
and some flats that look over this section of the
canal are on the market for £2,000,000 or more.

The entrance to the tunnel that takes the
canal underneath the full width of Angel

Sunday, January 15, 2006

St Pauls and Tate Modern

A sunday afternoon walk taking in the sights of St Paul's, Southwark, a very old church and one very small boat. As well as a visit to Tate Modern (art gallery).

Looking towards St Paul's from Millenium Bridge.

The building Tate Modern is in
once was a power house.

Looking east up down the Thames on the Southwark
side. That is Southwark Bridge in the distance.

Looking back at St Paul's from one of the
observation decks at Tate Modern.

Southwark Cathedral - Oldest gothic church in London,
which has seen many famous people, including Chaucer,
Shakespeare, Massinger and Dickens.

If you have seen the film Crackerjack then you may remember Bill Hunter's character Stan talking about Sir Francis Drake being the father of lawn bowls. This galleon is a full-size reconstruction Drake's Golden Hind, which travelled over 140,000 miles, including a full lap of the world. This ship held a crew of 80 during its trip around the world. The photos don't really do the size justice - this boat was tiny for what it achieved in its sailing life!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Years!!

We couldn't let a New Years in a new city go by without doing something other than sitting in a house and having a few shandies. So at 11pm we jumped on a tube and made our way, along with the other half of London, down towards Waterloo, to get a front row seat for the celebrations. After a bit of jostling we were in a good position to see Big Ben and the London Eye. The countdown was on and Big Ben resonated his peal into the New Year. The London Eye hosted some fireworks before everything once again fell silent and the masses streamed back underground into the tube.

Some of you readers may have noticed that the New Year lasted a bit longer this year, and no it wasn't just the amount of alcohol you ingested. 2006 marked the addition of a leap second to the world's atomic clocks. If you weren't so busy looking at the fireworks, you may have noticed that your digital watches showed 23:59:60 before ticking over to 0:00:00. Ok, so maybe you didn't really miss that but you can read about some clocks that did at

Looks like we're gonna need a montage...

The many colours of the London Eye
during the countdown to New Year's

Happy New Year! The south bank and
London Eye explode with fireworks after
Big Ben announces the twelfth stroke of the New Year

There was a bit of drizzle, but
that didn't worry us too much

More fiery works...

They did go for quite a while...

And again...

By the time the grand finale of
the fireworks came around, there
was plenty of smoke