The magical world of LONDON!!! When we finally made it back into London from Amsterdam a few of us had planned to stay at the good old Clink and we all made the effort to have one last dinner. One of Achilles giant ravings about a food place actually massively paid off and we enjoyed a great Vietnamese meal as our final goodbye :) Over the next couple of days at the Clink the few that were left clung to each other trying to savour the last few days of comfort with the people we had gotten to know so well. After being deprived of any form of veggies for so long we went to the shops to invest in bulk amounts to make a stir-fry courtesy of chef Ryan. Luke, Lisa, Dane, Kim, Nat and I scoffed down the massive meal before getting ready to head out in kings cross- unwilling to venture too far in case we got separated. Turns out there were nothing good close enough that we were willing to go to! All we wanted was somewhere that would serve us something to drink and we finally tracked down an Irish pub and sat down with our pints and in Danes case a good ol' scotch. Within two minutes they were telling us that they were closing and that we had to leave! WHAT?! We only JUST got served and now we are meant to skull scotch?! No thanks. So being the obnoxious Australians we are we rebelled and took our time leaving. Thanks London.
Next day we said our goodbyes and I headed off to spend a couple of nights with a friend I met in Croatia to take advantage of free accommodation. It was nice getting my own room and a TV!!! TV is definitely something I have missed and just taking the time to switch your brain off and be entertained. That night Leroy and I went out to meet Chris and catch up on what had been happening in what didn't feel like two weeks! It had flown by. The boys took me around on a pub-crawl of London while I complained about the cold and they exclaimed at what a nice night it was. I will definitely freeze when I'm back in autumn! We went past the London eye and tried spotting some of the sights with no effort. The boys then pointed out the 'Walkabout' bar and we decided it would be a shame if I didn't go in!!! So naturally I went in search for other Aussies in the bar ready to have the good old Aussie chat when I went from person to person not meeting ANY!!! Even the bar staff didn't have an Aussie except for one! What IS this? If I hadn't been there to validate the Aussie bar it would just be a random place Poms go for novelties sake! Strange.
After enjoying some martinis at a nearby bar and the closest thing to finding an Australian was a girl whose cousin was in Australia we decided to make the most of our night and head back to the flat to hit up some hardcore karaoke! These are my perfect boys. We smashed it out and then I fell asleep on the couch, not even making the most of my own room and single bed I had been deprived of on my topdeck tour.
Sunday I was lucky enough to be given a tour of London by Leroy to check out the nearby sights and get a bit of shopping done! I was directed to Oxford Street, which was insane!!! We had aimed to meet outside topshop at 6.30. Pretty sure I only went in there at 5 and spent the rest of the time being completely overwhelmed by the maze of clothes! It was like no other shop I had ever been in. It was impossible to know wether you had already looked at a section because you just become so disoriented and when you think you have already been through you notice there were clothes you haven't seen!! My solid shopping process was foiled my London Topshop as I hectically ran around making sure I didn't miss any winning clothes. Surprisingly I resisted the temptation to buy EVERYTHING and purchased a simple black and white dress. Good. When I finally managed to track down the escalator and spot the light from the street outside I made it there just in time to meet Leroy and head to Piccadilly.
We walked through Piccadilly Circus, which had been blocked off and was FULL of people lining the streets to see various performances. They had actually turned Piccadilly Circus INTO a Circus! There were acrobatics and tight rope walking and even women singing opera on giant colourful floats that looked like the bottom of their dresses. You would surely only find something this random and cool going on in London.
We made our way in time for the Comedy Show at the Comedy Club and secured front row seats. I was VERY wary about the close proximity knowing the risk of being picked on was extremely large! Luckily the show was more based around improvisation than stand up so we could rest assured. Though one annoying guy in the audience did get a firm talking to from the security guard after yelling out stupid responses and not getting the hint when the comedian fully ripped into him! Luckily after that he settled down and we could enjoy the absolutely hilarious improvisation comedy show :)
Monday I jumped on the tube and on the train to stay with Clare, Stuart and their 4-month-old Rebecca who I guess you would just call my English cousins! I was extremely fortunate to be taken in by them for the week after all the dodgy accommodation and non-stop travel. They really made me feel so at home and so welcome and they just let me hang out and relax. Something a holiday is really about! Though that being said, within the first HOUR I had already managed to sign myself up for an exercise class! I won't lie; I definitely need all the exercise I can get (WARNING: an unrecognisable whale will be returning in replace of the Rachel you all know). It turned out to be a lot more difficult than I thought but it acted as extra motivation to try harder and not look like I was struggling compared with new mums!
Apart from that I really just spent my days sleeping in, eating amazing food cooked by Clare who was always reliable in offering me a mid afternoon white wine. Which would then stretch to a pre, during and post dinner wine resulting in the wipeout of the Ferris's wine stocks. I had completely embraced this new relaxed self through bottles of wine and movie watching. Amazing.
Though Clare and I did also get out during the day to see the town! Clare was lucky enough to get a night off and we managed to slip away to a fantastic Italian restaurant and have a proper catch up and chat away from the house. It was just what we both needed and it made me even more grateful that I have such a welcoming cousin! She even organised for me to complete Goape at a park nearby! Goape is basically just a treetop obstacle course with zip lines and ladders and platforms etc. Unfortunately Clare couldn't come with me so I was going along solo. When I got there the guy even questions me about it! I was like SORRY I am a solo traveller, what are you gonna say about it? But of course I just made friends with two ten year old boys haha it was the last day of holidays and they were getting treated so I would challenge them to do the obstacle with NO hands or see who could run over it the fastest. It also helped that their adult was super banging so I may have had ulterior motives…
We started with an orientation and got taught all the safety rules of the harness and the course. If it weren't for the kids I definitely would have whizzed through it because they weren't allowed to go more than one platform ahead! But I still enjoyed helping them out and mucking around. I definitely gained more and more confidence as I went along after having terrible experiences in Primary school of not being able to jump from a tall post to a bar. I thought I might freak out again but the course made it super easy to gradually build your confidence up and by the end I could have done anything! It was a great day of adventure and beautiful surroundings of Guildford.
On one of my lasts days Clare took Rebecca and I on a walking tour of Guildford to see the surroundings. It was actually a really good opportunity to properly see the town she lived in and what it was like. There was an old historical castle and a river with canal boats going down, people sitting eating their lunch, feeding birds, just generally living the life. I could definitely live somewhere like that! Though I think the unusually hot weather was shedding a positive light and I'm sure I would have felt differently if it were its normal gloomy self. We then met up with Stu for a nice lunch on the river and I enjoyed a homemade burger.
I was so lucky to have the chance to stay with such a gorgeous family and have them welcome me so nicely into their home! I hope that the vast amount of baking and the load of washing I folded could at least half make up for making me feel so at home :) BIG thanks to Clare and Stu for a great week and can't wait to see you all in November!!!