Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tourist times - the Tower of London

As a thank you for collecting with the Poppy Appeal over the last couple of years I was invited along with about 30 other people to a guided tour of the Tower of London last Monday. We all met at the Westgate that had a brilliant view of Tower Bridge & I managed to time it right with a red double decker bus going over it - a typical touristy shot if there ever was one!
At about 7:15 we were met by a Beefeater who took us round telling us all the gruesome tales from the past that had gone on there. Who'd been beheaded cos of what & when & other stories that may or may not have been true. It's quite a spooky place if you believe everything they tell you!
It was brilliant going back there cos I've not been since I was about 7 & I actually remembered & understood more this time! The gate below is Traitor's Gate & if you look closely at the bottom right image you can just about see a raven. This was a naughty Raven called Merlin who wouldn't go in her cage for the night. The tale goes that if the Ravens ever leave the Tower then the Kingdom will fall, so no wonder they keep them in cages over night!
Once our tour had finished we went to the Yeoman Warder's Club for a buffet & drinks at their lovely bar. I hadn't realised the Beefeaters actually live inside the Tower compound so it's like their own little village & that's their local pub. It was lovely to be part of this special life that they lead.
At 9:30pm we were led outside to see the Key Ceremony. It's been going for around 700yrs with never a day off, come rain or shine it happens. It only ran late once during the blitz when the man carrying the keys was knocked off his feet but he brushed himself off & carried on, completing the ceremony only 6min late.
I'm so pleased I got to see this piece of history happening, it felt to special to see it & you could almost imagine them doing this all those years ago in the dark without streetlamps. One Beefeater carries the keys (that have been blessed by the Queen) & has 4 soldiers around him (3 are armed, the other holds a lantern). He closes & locks the main gate, followed by an inner gate, when they reach the bloody tower another soldier asks "who goes there?" & a few more questions follow before they're allowed to walk through the archway to be greeted by another 6 soldiers. After the Beefeater takes the keys inside the last post is played. This tune normally makes me well up at the best of times but with this atmosphere, the fact it was Gordon's 90th & I was wearing Buck's bracelet I must admit I shed a little tear. It was beautiful. Afterwards we headed back to the bar for a few speeches & a raffle before I had to leave this magical world behind & catch the tube along with all the normal people!
Being a Londoner I hardly ever do these touristy things anymore & I wish I made more time for them but if anyone has a spare evening in this fair city I'd really recommend the Key Ceremony for sure. Three cheers for the Royal British Legion!

Monday, August 29, 2011

fab flowers & plinky plonk music

For the bank holiday weekend Adam & I headed up to mum&dad's to see the Flower Festival at St Marys (where we'll be getting married in 369 days! eeep!).
After a Ploughman's Lunch followed by a cream tea at the village hall we headed over to the church. The theme was Famous People of Leicestershire & it looked stunning. The displays ranged from Gok Wan to David & Richard Attenborough & Mum's window was for Prof Sir Alec Jeffreys.
He's a professor of genetics at the University of Leicester & developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting. The display mum did was brilliant & no I'm not being biased! The way the flowers had been used to create the helix as well as the genetic finger printing looked fab. The girl done good!
It was lovely to see the rest of the church all decorated too. It gave Adam & I a chance to see what we liked & want to use for the big day. We took ideas from overall displays as well as single flowers & I think (hope) we've got a better idea of what we want. While we were there I asked the organist to play one of our wedding hymns & I almost blubbed then so goodness know what I'll be like next year! I think we need to have a full box of kleenex somehow sewn into my dress or it ain't gonna be pretty!
That evening dad made us rabbit pie & he even decorated it with Adam & my initials which was so cute! I'd never had rabbit before but it was lovely. I didn't tell Adam until he'd finished cos I wasn't sure if he'd be convinced but it got a thumbs up from him too!
Then the rock & roll lifestyle began(!) mum had got us all tickets to see the Church Lads & Church Girls Brigade band. It was supposed to be outside with a picnic but the typical British summer weather had other ideas so we ended up trying to keep warm inside the church. They played Tragedy at one point & I almost had to sit on my hands to stop myself from doing the dance routine! The finale was Land of Hope & Glory so we all sang along & waved our flags.
The funniest bit was in the interval when we were asked to stay in our pews & we'd be given squash & biscuits! This is the point I think Adam thought our little village had finally cracked & the gap between London & country life was pretty much a crater the size of the moon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Standard, Walthamstow - RIP

On Thursday the rockstars that are W.I.T had their very last gig at The Standard in Walthamstow. It was really sad to think that's the last time they'll stand on that fab stage (& we'll sneak off for fish & chips before soundcheck). Don't get me started again but the venue's been sold so new flats & shops can be built. Grr! Another live music venue bites the dust. I thought it was only fitting that the band posed for a few shots off the stage as well as on.
The first time I saw the band was here. I hadn't been going out with Adam that long & they played a song called Burning Candle that has the line "....I don't know what to do I can't take my eyes off you...." I remember feeling exactly like that looking at this rockstar I was dating & not much has changed now. It was lovely that they dug this old classic up & played it one last time on Thursday as well as all their other brill songs. Fancy a listen? Go to their myspace here.
Hopefully they'll find a new venue that has such good sound & a brill stage that can become their new regular. That is till it's decided London needs more flats & a place to appreciate live music isn't as important & that one vanishes too.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

who you gonna call?!

Pest Control! Adam noticed a wasp nest in the gutter by the bathroom so we called out the wasp man to get rid of them. He arrived this morning & blasted them away but warned me they'd get a bit angry for a couple of hours so I went into our larder with my camera & got some fab snaps of them swarming around.
I love the way this little guy looks like he's heading right towards me! I'm greatful of the glass between me & them!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

is someone trying to tell me something?!

Some may say I'm just being paranoid but it's hard to ignore it when there's a huge sign above your head! Yoink!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

27 years young!

It's that time of year again when I turn another year older & not really any wiser! It all started on Friday when I caught up with Michelle in town & we went to Drink, Shop & Do for a yummy cocktail & a gossip. Saturday was pretty relaxed, with Adam at band practice I could get away with watching heaps of America's Next Top Model & trying to clear out our sky box! What a perfect day! This morning I woke up & opened some of my many cards & a few presents that Adam had been hiding when they came through the letterbox & got ready to head out. Our first stop was for a spot of cake with Michelle before heading off to the Saatchi Gallery. On our way through Piccadilly Circus we spotted a girl really struggling in her heels. Each step her ankle was actually going over but it didn't seem to bother her! This photo makes me cringe every time!
We grabbed a quick drink in the sunshine at Slone Square before heading into the Gallery. As usual there were some fab displays (it's still my favourite free gallery in London). We spent a good few hours wandering around.
 "Untitled (Crash 2)" by Dirk Skreber
(the impact of this when we walked into the room was amazing) 
"20:50" by Richard Wilson
(I was so glad this was still there cos Adam hadn't seen it before & was suitably impressed! I've seen this on display 3 times now & never get tired of looking at the reflection & trying to figure it all out.)
 "The Milky Way" by Bjorn Dahlem
L: "Parapillar 7 (Multicolour)" bu David Batchelor
R: "Untitled" by Anselm Reyle
 "K36 (The Black Horse)" by Berlinde De Bruyckere
(still can't get over how freaky this is!)

We wandered down to the South Bank to see what was going on & as always there was so much to see. There was bunting everywhere, paper aeroplanes & beach huts & it all looked so lovely & colourful in the August sunshine. I love having a birthday in the summer!
I spotted a sign for a game to play saying:
"You're getting married in the morning....watch people as they go up & down the stairs. Choose one to marry out of the first 100 to pass by the moment they walk past. No going back, if you haven't chosen by number 99 then you have to go with number 100" 
Luckily just as I was getting to number 98 Adam walked down the steps (not that it was posed at all, he always walks like that!!)
After a yummy dinner in the city we headed home for pudding. As I was opening my last couple of cards Adam brought in a Ben&Jerrys "Wich" with candles spelling out 27. Love it! Though the candles did melt the ice cream! D'oh!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Journal Day - "If you had a free pass to go back and change anything in your past....would you do it?"

Danielle at Sometimes Sweet set another brief for Journal Day yesterday. See her entry here.

"If you had a free pass to go back and change anything in your past, with the promise that it would only affect you positively, would you do it? And if so, what would you change"

I had quite a long think about this & in all honesty I don't think there is anything I'd change. Yes I have a few things that I regret, as does everyone, but whenever I've done / said summit I've ended up learning from it.  You get that horrible feeling of guilt & time of reflection afterwards when you look back over what happend & it teaches you to count to 10 in the future before saying something or thinking before you act when / if you end up in that situation again. For me, everything happens for a reason & so each time I've regretted something it's helped me to grow into a better person.

I guess I’m kind of lucky not to have something major in my life that I’d like to change. Then again that’s why my blog is the Happy Little World of Miss KtP. So sorry if you were hoping for something juicy to come out from my past, it ain’t gonna happen!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Christmas come early/late!

Got an ace surprise at home the other day, I found the Christmas cake mum had made only half eaten! Might stick a candle in it on Sunday & make it my birthday cake! Not that I need an excuse to munch away but it sure helps! Yum!


Monday, August 15, 2011

goin' skeggy.

Last Thursday Adam & I decided to follow the trend of most Leicester peeps & head to Skegness to see the sea. We eventually got there after a Toby Carvery breakfast (as fab as it sounds!) & tackling winding roads & slow drivers (not impressed!). Again our first stop was the tea room (noticing a theme?!) we found the best hotel for our 'cakey summit' that was stuck in the 80s & the average age of the people eating there was around the same figure too. I'm surprised we weren't I.D'd on entry & turned away for being too young. After a wander we went to play Crazy Golf (it rained a bit & holding a club in one hand & an umbrella in the other isn't as hard as it sounds!). I managed to get a hole in one but Adam still thrashed me on the last hole completing it in 7 where I took 16 shots! Yoink.
We couldn't come to the seaside without heading to the arcades & playing on the 2p machines. I think this bottom right photo is Skeggy through & through & I love it. They didn't move for the whole time we were in there & didn't talk to each other either.
After an ice cream & a wander down the high street (we saw the most amazing baby Chameleon in a pet shop) we decided we'd seen all that Skeggy had to offer & wanted to go somewhere else for dinner. When we got to the car it was covered in ladybirds & we're still finding them in nooks & crannies now, I've never seen so many in one spot. It's obviously not just people from the midlands who head to Skegness for the summer hols. Our first stop on the way home was Melton Mobray (home of the pork pie & stilton) but when we got there the town was pretty much closed so we gave up on that plan & played it safe by heading to pub down the road from mum&dad's house!
x x x

Friday, August 12, 2011

finally popped my camping cherry

It had to happen one day.....Adam & I needed a holiday, had very little money & wanted to go somewhere with mates so the dreaded C word was brought up....camping. Argh! This was my face when Art first mentioned it to me......
After a bit of persuasion I was convinced to give it a go & last weekend was that very weekend. Off we went to Edale in the Peak District with a hole in my sleeping bag, no walking shoes only Doc Martens, skinny jeans (& a dress packed for the last day in celebration that I'd survived if I made it that far) lots of layers, a partly waterproof coat & a huge can of dry shampoo. You may note that the key thing in camping was missing - a tent. We didn't own one so borrowed a spare one from Art. In the pics below I was still smiling, though it was gradually turning more & more into hysteria as we headed deeper into the countryside. I'm normally a proper country bumpkin & love being surrounded by trees & fields but as I kept reminding everyone I loved being in it but not living in it.
We arrived at the campsite/farm at about 8pm after driving down winding roads into a valley. Here I got my first taste of being in the middle of nowhere - no phone reception (which was actually really nice). We pulled up to a farm house to pay our £3 a night per person to be told that the toilets were where the house was & the campsite was down the road & over the railway track where we'd find a cold water tap in the corner of the field for water. We jumped back into the car to see where we were to be living for the next 3 days & found ourselves in the middle of a hilly field surrounded by sheep & not much else. This was when I started to panic a bit & went very quiet. Princess P was threatening to rear her head. Art & Adam got stuck in putting our tent up while I faffed around in the car hoping it would all go away & we'd be outside a little B&B any minute now with a comfy bed & loo closer than a 5min walk down a dirt track. But it didn't happen & I started to face the facts this was it & I better get on with it. As soon as our tent was up I went in & got the airbed pump going trying to make it a bit more comfy & once that was done I did feel a bit happier knowing I wasn't going to be lying on a hard floor come bedtime. By the time we sat down to cook a curry on Art's stove Mattay, Bec, Anna & Gaz had all joined Art, Sam, Adam & I & we stayed up chatting away as it got colder & colder. Thankfully Aunty Sue had told me to take a hot water bottle no matter how hot it seemed & everyone was so jealous when we turned in at midnight clutching the only source of warmth as we tucked into our sleeping bags.
The next morning after being woken up continuously by bleeting sheep Adam & I emerged about 8am. After de-tangling myself from my sheet sleeping bag & sleeping bag I staggered out of the tent wearing wellies, socks, tights, pjs, a t-shirt, a jumper, a hoody & my coat on the long treck to the loo. We pottered around after cheating a bit & getting changed in the car rather than the tent & waited for everyone else to wake up. I felt a bit better about being at one with nature until I heard the thunder rolling around the hills & panicked so made sure everything was in the car to keep dry, then once no rain came I had to get it all out again. Art cooked me a brill breakfast of fried eggs, fried bread & baked beans & we chillaxed as we waited for Towie & Sarah to arrive.
After Towie & Sarah had set up their tent we all headed out on a walk to go up the huge hill (a mountain some Londoners would say!) behind our tents. Thankfully Art came prepared with an OS Map & we set off. I was a bit worried how much I'd struggle cos I'm not the fittest person in the world but it wasn't too bad & everyone I think was quite thankful when I asked to stop every so often to catch my breath! I'm blaming it on the Docs & tight jeans personally, otherwise I'd have been springing up there like a mountain goat. Once we reached the top the view was stunning. I think when you're used to the noises & buildings of London you really notice the contrast here & it was lovely.
We decided to walk back down the other side of the hill & head to the village of Edale & find a pub for a well deserved pint, well hot chocolate. I loved the way most pubs had signs like the one below, I guess they have to say that or they'd get no business.
After a rain shower back at the campsite we got our bbq's out, (in case you hadn't guessed, yes all the bright pink stuff is mine) & started to get them lit. Adam & I had decided to go veggie seeing as there was no fridge to keep meat cold, though going by the temperature (9 degrees) I don't think we needed to worry! The other bonus of being veggie was the food cooked quicker so we ate first. We then noticed the rain clouds coming in so everyone grabbed their stoves to start cooking the rest in case it poured down any minute & just chucked them on the bbqs at the end to get that smokey taste! Thankfully the rain didn't linger so once everyone had eaten we piled the bbq
Just the heat from my little bbq made such a difference compared to the night before & we almost didn't notice the huge rain clouds developing. Art noticed them so we got everything put away while the little kettle boiled for our hot water bottles & we made our last trip over the railway bridge (complete with train going underneath) to the loo for the last time that night. Thankfully we were in our tent before the heavens opened so there wasn't much more we could do than listen to the rain. It was lovely but I tried not to think about it too much cos one minute I'd worry if anything was getting wet or I'd start to think about water & want the loo!
The next morning we woke up at 9am & I felt a bit calmer, partly cos it was the last morning(!) & partly cos I was getting a bit more used to this camping malarkey. Art cooked my breakfast again (love the fact we jumped straight back into our uni roles without any problem!) & we started to get stuff packed away. Just as we were getting the last part of the tent folded away the heavens opened for a split second so some parts got packed away damp which was a bit annoying & exactly what we were trying to avoid. Yoink.
We all drove in a convoy to another village called Hope & had a cream tea or in Mattay's case the biggest Bakewell Tart I've ever seen. After relaxing in the pub/tea room for a while we went for a wander around the village - I've noted down the Indian & Chinese Take Aways that deliver to campsites just in case we head back there again (not that we had phone reception!). Be prepared (wow I hope Anna noted the Lion King reference in there, I impressed myself!).
Everyone asked how I'd found my first camping trip & I admitted it had got better towards the end & I wasn't going to say never again, I'd have to give it another try at a more civilised campsite to fully make up my mind but I hadn't hated it or loved it. Adam had been brill though & he'd loved every minute of it & thankfully as well as everyone else really helped me get through when I started to worry about anything & everything.

Since then though I've decided camping must be a bit like childbirth (you know how people say they forget the pain & only remember the joy of giving birth & that's why they have more than one child), I say this cos Adam & I went out & bought a tent today - after telling everyone I wasn't convinced! I heard one of mum&dad's friends were selling their rather fab tent for a even fabber price so we went to see it this afternoon, helped put it up, went in it & loved it so bought it! Bring on a new type of cheap & hopefully fun way for Adam & I to get out of London a bit more often if we need a break! Hopefully this won't be the last you hear of our camping adventures..........
x x x