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Sunday, March 4, 2012

London, UK - Feb. 28 - Mar. 4, 2012

More Photos Here!

It is really difficult to believe that we are really in London. Part of it is, I am sure, the jet-lag affect, but there is more; we have The Noses which just seems so unlikely.  

But first, some housekeeping items:  The Presidential Apartments in Kensington were a bit of a disappointment for me.  The entry and hallway carpet was a dark shag, the hallways narrow and scuffed and the sofa in our room had a giant rip in the cushion.  Anyway, our one-bedroom apartment turned out to be a god-send as between the dogs and the food prices, constantly dining out would have been a nightmare. 

As previously reported, on our day of arrival we walked the dogs down to Kensington Garden Park.  You know I love a large city park and this one catapulted over New York's Central Park to my number one spot with its off leash policy.  

Just so The Noses didn't get too comfortable, on Day 2 we took a deep breath and hopped on a city bus with both dogs in tow.  (Dogs are welcome on public transportation in England, including the subway, but I much prefer a scenic bus ride than jetting through tunnels.)  Climbing to the upper deck we enjoyed a great view of the city as The Noses slept.  

We hopped off at Picadilly Circus for a quick snack of bruschetta and red wine before hopping on another bus to see Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.  Unfortunately, we hadn't yet purchased our bus route book so heading home we got a bit lost.  Truth be told, I was trying to work up the courage to ask the two French ladies next to me if I could use their bus route book (en Francais, mais bien sur!) but didn't work up enough nerve before they hopped off.  A side note here:  They, unlike most Londoners, were thrilled to see The Noses.

So we had another nice long walk in between stops before SP navigated us to the appropriate bus route home.  We arrived home exhausted and in the dark, but successful in our desire to see some sites and remain awake all day.

Day 3! Oh the excitement!  The Noses had a much anticipated (by us) grooming appointment at the Pet Pavilion, about a mile from the apartment.  With the dogs in the groomers, we were free for three full hours!  (Is this how new mothers feel when they finally get some time alone?) Having decided the best way to spend our dog-free time was in museums or galleries, we headed toward London's trifecta of museums;  the Natural History, the Victoria & Albert, and the Science Museum, all conveniently situation together.  SP hit the Science Museum while I visited the V&A.  And wasn't I hugely disappointed to discover that the fashion through the ages exhibit was closed?!  Bummer!  I did get to see one awesome period dress and about a million other lovely items, including a tribute to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee.  SP and I joined up for the Natural History Museum and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit on Scott, the British explorer who tried to be the first to reach the South Pole (the Norwegians beat him.)  Amazing photos and video, with actual equipment on display--including an old tin of Digestive Biscuits!  I am not alone in my desire for these devils!  (Sadly for my diet, they now come dipped in chocolate.)

Unfortunately, Day 4 found SP sick with whatever ailed me back in Texas.  So I headed out with The Noses to the Abingdon Veterninary office to exchange our gazillion pieces of paperwork for a European Pet Passport.  Delightful office staff and Veterinary, they took care of us in less than a day.  And yes, the passports look like human passports complete with (optional) photos.  You can bet we'll get ours populated with pictures as soon as possible.

I returned the Noses home, made SP lunch and then took off on my own for some errands.  Post Office, exchanging the rest of our USD for Sterling (ouch!), buying a SIM card for my phone (unbelievably cheap at 20 Pounds for 30 days of service, 300 minutes, 300 texts and 500 Megabytes of data.  Why oh why are plans so expensive in the U.S.?)

With SP still sick on Day 5, I delivered the dog crates, via taxi, to the Vet where they will be donating them to the local animal shelter. Then I walked back home, prepared a quick lunch and headed out with The Noses back to Kensington Gardens Park.  We walked and walked and walked and I even got up the nerve to let them off leash for about 2 1/2 minutes.  They took full advantage and raced around like crazy; Rosco doing his crazy eights in super tight turns with River leaping over him again and again.  I only had one "Come" treat (and only that one thanks to a fellow terrier lover, she out walking her Airedale) so I had to hook them back up after the first command. I think we walked five miles that day, it was delightfully cool with partially sunny skies, I could have walked until dark.  

On our final full day in London, I was drawn to visit Big Ben; I have no idea why.  I am not a fan of tourist-y locations, but for some reason I wanted to see the big guy in person.  With Alan still sick, I took off alone navigating my way there on two buses.  The day was cold, windy and rainy, not at all a good day for walking around but it was our last day so it was now or never.

My bus route took me through Sloane Square where the freedom of being without The Noses and the CFO added additional temptation to visit the gorgeous shops but, fortunately for our budget, not tempting enough to overcome the weather.  By the time I reached Parliament Square, the rain had reached downpour status so I hopped off, walked in a giant circle, took four or five pictures and jumped right back on the return bus.

Stopping to pick up some French pastries, Italian wine and chicken soup, I arrived back home to take care of my Loml.

Next up, the rental of Curry (our temporary motorhome) for three to four weeks of touring the rest of the U.K. until we meet up with Salt & Pepper.