Posts Tagged ‘united kingdom’

Classic Burg: The UK Diary 2003 (Part 7)

September 2, 2009

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16 October 2003 – London’s Calling and The Walk!

An amazingly refreshing sleep, a hearty breakfast and a good shower saw me set off for London central at about 9:30am.

I took my walk up to Seven Oaks station and purchased my Travel Card for the day, which i would spend site seeing and in the late afternoon make my way to Wimbledon to spend a few days with a good friend Matthew.

Got on the train and made my way to Charring Cross. As I emerged from the underground I was in absolute awe of the sites I witnessed as London came to life in that split second. Like the proverbial “Kid In A Candy Store” I raced from one end to another, one after another the sites came and went.

Trafalgar Square,Nelson’s Column (whats black and slides down Nelson’s Column? – Winnie Mandela….aah…love that Office joke),Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, The Cabinet War Rooms, The Queens Guard (where I caught the changing of the guard”, London’s Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street and of course Hamleys Toy Store.
Now I must be honest, I was disappointed by Hamleys, everyone said I would love it, and yet I was not impressed. Sure it was 6 floors, but bare in mind, it was basically a floor for each age group. There was nothing of interest there, so all I came away with was lunch, 2 sausage rolls to be exact (oh and a Pink Panther PEZ dispenser)

Some shopping at curio shops and a few more sights and sounds followed. I did a time check as i wanted to be in Wimbledon at 5pm. It was only just on 1pm. Plenty of time.

As I put my cellphone in my pocket I realized I had squashed my travel card rather badly, so badly in fact that every time I had to catch a train I needed to get someone to let me into the station as the card was now invalid. Most people where rather helpful but I got tired of asking all the time.

Made my way to Leicester Square. Considered catching a theater show but was way too early for that, so decided on a movie instead. Cabin Fever was the movie of my choosing at the Odeon cinema. An amazing movie experience. A world class cinema, perfect seating, which gave me a chance to rest up and put all my bags down. The movie itself was fantastic. With an amazingly talented young cast, it broke the mould for me in terms of teen horror/slasher flicks. I recommend it when it opens in SA.

Came out the movie just after 3pm and decided to head off to Wimbledon for the rest of the day.

Made it to Earl’s Court which would give me access to the connecting train to Wimbledon. I decided to phone Matthew to confirm which train i needed to take. Dialed his number and… Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

The number was 2 digits too short!!!!

Despite this…I remained calm…confident I could make it there all the same and just find his address without any major hassles. I have a natural born instinct for finding places.

5 incorrect attempts and 2 and 1/2 hours later I eventually reached Wimbledon station at about 5pm. My body was broken…my mind was spent.

As I walked out the station darkness began to set in as well. I need to either take my chances and go left or right. I chose left.

About 20min down the way I asked a man and the bus stop where to find Richmond avenue. I should have gone right according to him, to his credit he gave me the best possible advice he could and I turned around and made my way back.

6pm came I was still lost.

7pm came…I was still lost

8pm came I was still lost.

I decided ok…need help. So I sms’d Rory back home and my cousin to log onto MSN and try and contact Matthew via MSN to get him to find me. My cousin was at dog school…erm…with his dog of course, so he took a while to reply

9pm came…I was still lost. Rory,in an attempt to save my life, managed to sign in but no luck, no Matt online

*This message was sponsored by Saint Dragon, visit us online at http://www.saintdragon.com *

My cousin phoned me at about 9:30pm and sent me directions to Richmond avenue via sms. The 6 part sms guided me through until 10pm.

Bumped into a South African who tried to guide me as far as he could.

Then I spoke to a tram line security guard on a dark dodgy road, who also tried to help me, but was more interested in discussing the upcoming Rugby on the weekend once he realized I was South African.

At about 10:10pm…I found Richmond avenue! After over 12 hours of walking, 5 of which had taken place in Wimbledon, I literally ran to number 7 and frantically rang the doorbell. Lights came on, footsteps were heard, then… they opened!!!

A semi-irate old lady informed me there was no Matthew there.
Ever seen those Daffy Duck cartoons where his jaw literally drops and hits the floor? That was me.

After I said I was from South Africa…she said oh… you want the South Africans…They down at number 18.

My mind was baffled a little bit…then I realized number 7 was the number of the house I was staying at with my cousin, I had indeed written down number 18 on my notepad. I sheepishly apologized…and ran down to number 18.

Matthew’s roommate welcomed me and went to wake Matthew who had assumed I wasn’t coming and went to bed.

He woke up and welcomed me, we then went out and got some food and caught up 3 years in a couple of hours until I passed out on the floor from pure exhaustion…

Classic Burg: UK Diary 2003 (Part 6)

September 2, 2009

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5 October 2003 – Every Journey Has A Beginning…

After spending the last couple of days lazing about, erm, I mean resting up, for my next couple of days I awaited anxiously for 4pm to arrive.The next 4 days would be days that would totally change my life and send me on a journey like no other. DUN DUN DUN

4pm arrived and I left with my cousin and his girlfriend for the 2-hour trip to Heathrow Airport. She was going back to S.A for about 9 days and I would catch the trains from Heathrow to my destinations.

After making good time, about 90min we got to Heathrow at about 6pm, where I said my goodbyes and headed off for my Underground experience.

I purchased my ticket to Seven Oaks, where I would be spending the evening with my old friends Stephen and Natasha Prior.

Now, looking at a tube map, Heathrow is on the extreme left of the map and Seven Oaks is so far right of the map that it doesn’t even appear on it.

The Heathrow Express took me as far as Paddington Station. Not knowing the train terminates here, I waited for it to carry on further. Noticing I was the only one left on the train I grew a little nervous. Luckily that all went away as soon as the Conductor as me politely to get off and catch the connecting train.

Stumbling my way to the end of Paddington and asking about 4 stewards the same question I eventually found my connecting train to Seven Oaks. It was at about this time I realized bringing 3 bags with was not a good idea. (cramp!)

The 2 hour train ride down to Seven Oaks began. Stopping at every major stop in London. I was able to catch a few sitings of London landmarks in the darkness, making note of what I would visit the next day, as well as listening to about 100 different cell phone conversations that were going on around me. I learned that Deb left Nick because she came home and caught him cheating on her. B@st@rd!

As the train ride started to come to an end, the number of passengers became less and less until once again I was the only one on the train. Motion sickness began to take its toll as I began what would become 4 days of absolute pain and agony to my body.

At about 8pm I arrived in Seven Oaks and was picked up at the station by Sprior. He took my down the road to their Victorian style house which I really like.

After a great dinner, thanks Tasha!, We spent most of the evening catching up, swapping stories and renewing a friendship. The evening however drew to a close and we said our goodbyes as the motion sickness was really getting me down I looked forward to a great rest.

As I laid down trying to get rid of the feeling of a moving train, irony reared its ugly head as I realized…I was going to be sleeping on a water bed!!!!!!!!!!!

Luckily I found myself falling asleep rather easily….Zzzzzzzz

Classic Burg: The UK Diary 2003 (Part 5)

September 2, 2009

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12 October 2003 – Birthday Blues

After finally getting to bed at about 4am this morning, I managed to stop myself from sleeping all day and finally rose out of bed at about 10am. A few needed emails and sms’s from some good friends and loved ones, including a phone call from my mom, gave me the first signs of home sickness.

Very unenthusiastic, I allowed the day to continue, and a trip to the National Space Center was on the cards. A lengthy drive into town was worth it to view some unique pieces of history.Oddly enough I didn’t take many photo’s as I seem to be lacking that killer instinct behind the lens these days.

A cool short film in the planetarium was ruined by an 11-year old kid named Adam who stole my thunder as the Birthday Boy. I didn’t wanna cause a scene…but I am sure they gave him my free balloon…

Some snacks and a visit to the gift shop saw us conclude the day out and headed for home where we stopped by Burger King to try there new relish burgers.Unfortunately they were out of Relish…but could offer us mayonnaise instead.

So we headed for home where we stopped at KFC for a # 6 Meal.

Some PlayStation, telly and a Roast for dinner (thanks Irm, it was delish!!!) and some Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream, saw us cap off the day.

As the last few hours on my birthday draw to a close I am somewhat glad the day has ended . Now while I remind everyone I know not to forget about it, I generally am not a fan of the day itself. Turning 25 is one of those b-days that actually reminds you that you are getting old. You tend to sit back and think about what have you actually accomplished in the past quarter of a century. That thought alone tended to depress me quite a bit.

Then I thought about it a bit more…I am holidaying in another country dammit…start enjoying life.

With than I have planned my week ahead.

Tomorrow should see me venture into Birmingham where I will take in the sites and sounds of the National Sea Life Center, the Cadburys Factory and the Bullring shopping center amongst others.

Later in the week I will be making my way into London for a few days where I will be staying with a good friend Matthew, whom I worked with at my first two jobs. A few of you might know him.

The rest we will take it as it comes.

Speak to you all soon.

Classic Burg: UK Diary 2003 (Part 4)

September 1, 2009

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11 October 2003 – Please Remain Behind The Yellow Line

Sorry for the lack of updates folks, but finally the weekend has arrived!

Today sees the end of my first official week in the UK. Now I know not much has happened this far, but hopefully things will get a little more exciting.

Got a new look these days…think of it as Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Tonight we will make out way to the NEC Arena in Birmingham to watch the stars of the WWE Smackdown tour. I am psyched and have my “PASSPORT TO PAIN!” already packed.

Tomorrow of course is my birthday…25 years old…*sigh*

Made our way to TESCO for my first proper English breakfast. Love dem beans.

Oh…by the way….as part of my try new things..today’s item was: English Mustard. It was hot…very hot. Instead of tasting a variety of tastes from my Eggs. Bacon, Sausages, Beans and toast, I was treated to a Mustard breakfast. In fact, the rest of my food for today tasted like Mustard.

Only a few hours till we need to catch the train,so will be back to update later.

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(Roughly 4am as I write this folks, and I am 4 hours into my bday.)

So we manged to catch our train trip to Birmingham, the ride was bumpy and at times I honestly believed I may have been Bruce Willis at the beginning of Unbreakable, with some of the noises we heard.

Left at about 5:30pm from Rugby station and arrive at 6:10pm at the Arena.

Great atmosphere as the fans really made the most of it. Was great to see so many ppl dress up like their fave superstars. The UK fans are much better that the SA fans to be honest.The are smarter when it comes to the WWE, that however is probably due to the amount of wrestling broadcast on TV here.

A trip to the merchandise stand saw me get a tour cap, t-shirt and program as well as a Kurt Angle t-shirt. * I can hear my mom now saying how much she hates that man*

Absolutely first class seats right up front.

The show itself was awesome, a few boring matches, but seeing Kurt Angle twice in one year is one of my fave moments.

Won’t bore you with the matches, but it was great, I had an awesome time.Thanks to my cousin Mike for the perfect B-day gift.

After the event ended, we made out way to the station again, where we waiting for the last train of the nite at about 10:50pm. In the meantime I was getting high from the crowd next to me who was smoking their RDA of Hemp.

Now here’s a funny story about the yellow line. You see at a train station, there is a yellow line that you are supposed to stand behind until the train arrives. The station master who was obviously getting annoyed as it was so late and nobody was listening to her requests. “Will passengers on Platform 3, please step behind the yellow line… PLEASE”. As the time wound down she became noticeably irate to the point where she was shouting over the PA system.

40min ride home and then watched two movies on telly which brings me to where I say good-nite for another update.

Classic Burg: The UK Diary 2003 (Part 3)

August 31, 2009

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8 October 2003 – Diwali, KFC & Bus Turbulence?

Not much happened yesterday, other than walking about town and getting to know the area.

The real fun began early this morning.

Up at about 9am this morning to head into the City Center of Leicester to catch a ride. The bus arrived at about 9:35am, where I then purchased a £3.32 return ticket and what I experienced next was only a taste of things to come with local bus drivers.

The hour trip saw me venture through Bitteswell, Ashby Parva, Ullesthorpe, Claybrooke, Frolesworth, Leire, Dunton Bassett, Broughton Alley, Cosby, Littlethorpe, Narborough, Fosse Park and eventually on to Leicester City Center.

Now the roads we traveled are wide enough for one car, coming in one direction at a time, so oncoming traffic is literally, oncoming traffic!

In town – straight to the shops.
First store I visited was HMV, where despite their large selection, did not find much of interest, although I did come away with a Mario Bobblehead, Defenders Of The Earth dvd and a Hindi DVD called Chalte Chalte, which I have been looking for for a while.

Next stop was breakfast at McDonalds. Checked out a few of the local shopping centers, The Shires was my fave, some cool stores, and an awesome toy store where I got some WWE merchandise wahoo! I know realize I should of saved the shopping till the end of the day as after 7 hours of walking they would feel like bricks.

During the month of October, Leicester was celebrating the Hindu festival of Light, so anyone who knows me and my love for Indian culture, knows how enjoyable this was for me.

I began my search for the first tourist attraction. The National Space Center Museum. I quickly located a sign stating “National Space Center Museum This Way ->”, so I went that way. That way did however, took me past the Leicester City College 3 times. I promised myself if I passed it once more I would enroll in a course in Advanced Geography.

After the 3rd rotation I decided to take a shortcut through Abbey Park. By this time I needed the toilet rather urgently – there was one inside the park. Now, I dunno, call me crazy,but blue florescent lights and a notice on the door that says “for c*ck fun call Henry on *mobile number*” wasn’t my idea of fun in the park.

I survived the Gents bathroom and after a close call with a gaggle of geese, I came out through the other side of the park 1 hour later.

3 hours had passed and still no museum. 1 more hour saw me test the mighty powers of a pedestrian against the speed and driving skill of lunch time traffic. After giving up hope on ever finding the museum I decided it was easier to go ask someone over the age of 70 to show me around there house instead.

Found a comic shop where I managed to get some old Green Arrow comics. Hey…comics aren’t for geeks. man alive 40 comics are heavy when carried in a plastic bag.

Lunch saw me at KFC again where I tested their Peking twister. mmmm gooood.

The time was now about 2:30pm so I headed back to my bus stop, but instead of finding that I found a ….museum!!!

The New Walk museum welcomed me into their establishment, with a Cappuccino and flyers a plenty. After viewing the Egyptian, Roman, Dinosaur, Nature, Space and Victorian art gallery I felt somewhat satisfied with my outing and rewarded them with a purchase from their gift shop.

Checking my bus schedule I saw I had 25min to catch the second last return bus to Lutterworth.

With a rib cage that was now aching from carrying bags and eyes that were glazing over I began my walk down main road to my bus stop, making it there 10min early I tried to find confirmation that I was at the right bus stop.

I realized I had put my male pride in my backpack with my gift shop items, and so asked a man nearby for help. “No, the 140 doesn’t come through here, what u wanna do is head straight down this road go past the Virgin Megastore and into St. Margaret’s Bus Station.”

After thinking to myself, “Wow…an actual megastore for people with no girlfriends like me” I raced down the road and finally made it to the station and the correct terminal according to my bus schedule with 3 min to spare.

I waited.

The bus never came,I must of missed it. but alas, there was one more at 5:25pm. So I waiting for another 2 hours, watching the many wondrous people that come in and out of the station.

I waited.

5:45pm… the bus never came.

I confirmed all my details were right on my bus schedule, I watched that damn terminal for 2 hours straight…what went wrong!?!?

*note to self, when getting bus schedules, ensure that the schedule is indeed for the same year that you will be in the UK*

2002 Bus Schedule.

…I was fortunate enough to catch a bus 5 minutes later however, which would eventually come through Lutterworth.
This trip was fun, the bus driver was a friendly fellow, one who took great pride in his job. The only bad thing I could really say about him was that he was a psychopath.
I was sitting on the top level of the bus and witnessed several small children who were seated at the back fly past me and hit the front window.

Speed bumps to him were a challenge, almost as if he thought if he hits the first one at a fast enough pace, he could jump the next three.

7:10pm, I arrive back at Lutterworth and crawl my way through the front door.

The only words I could muster out are “Now that’s what I call a day out”

Classic Burg: UK Diary 2003 (Part 2)

August 31, 2009

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6 October 2003 – Braided & British

Day 2 In Leicester, sees me taking some time to actually sit down and reflect on the last 32 hours, and let you in on whats been happening.

On Saturday night I arrived at my boarding gate at JHB international about 8:09pm, so I took a seat next to a fountain watching the monitors to make sure i saw when flight 226 to Heathrow would be boarding. I waited and waited and, in the meantime noticed a large queue forming in front of me. I decided to ask them what was going on, only to find out the display board was broken and I was now right at the back of a line I could of been first in.

Needless to say by the time I got to my seat, all the luggage compartments had been filled up, so I had to sit with my hang luggage by my feet, a factor that would come into play about 5 hours into the flight when I realized that my body had cramped into a sitting position.

The food wasn’t too bad, The choice of Chicken or Beef wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The free Beef will always win. Since this trip was all about new experiences I decided to brave the Greek Salad that came with the Beef and try an Olive and a piece of Feta Cheese.I began with the Olive…Looking back at it now, I realize I did not think it through properly, as Olives are now up there with Crime and Billy Ray Cyrus’ acting ability as the worst things known to man.

For some reason the air hostesses were not amused at me bellowing out “It’s coffee time!!” every hour or so, it’s times like this I miss Richard.

The on-flight movie was Alex and Emma. The on-flight response to this was ZZzzzzz. Oh btw, I was traveling with Angelique Kidjo. If you don’t know who she is, look it up!

I arrived at Heathrow at about 7:30am and everything seemed to go fairly smoothly…Too smoothly actually. By the time i got to customs, I was rather happy everything was moving so quickly, everyone took about 20 seconds and was free to leave the airport. Then came my turn. Exactly 18min of questioning by customs, including trying to break me and prove I was responsible for the JFK assassination was over. I was a free man!

I met my cousin and his girlfriend…and the cutest dog in the history of dogs, Peanuts, at the airport and my day began.

After a loooong drive home, we arrived in Leicester. ( Where the man who invented the Jet engine is from. Fun fact #1). I got freshened up and we took a ride to the town called Rugby. Yes the birthplace of …Rugby (fun fact#2), then checked out a few stores.

We all learned a valuable lesson on this day. Stores in Rugby, are NOT open on a Sunday.

A stop off at Safeways for a few supplies for the day.

KFC for lunch..Chinese food for dinner.

A nice early nite and early morning has me ready for day 2.

I wonder if that hot teller at Safeways is working tomorrow…

Bye All

Speak soon!

Classic Burg: The UK Diary 2003 (Part 1)

August 31, 2009

As an attempt to try and motivate myself as a travel writer, I’ve revisited my beloved UK Diary I kept in 2003….which I’d like to share with you here on the eve of my 6 year anniversary since going to the UK.
Enjoy Part 1

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4 October 2003 – 5 Hours To Go

Wahoo! 5 Hours left till I leave for the airport, and I can’t wait, the reality of everything is definitely setting in. I have decided to NOT do the “swallowing of sugar packets” in an attempt to make a joke at customs.

Was up at about 7:30am this morning, as I had an appointment with my hairdresser to braid my hair again.I got there at 8am…my hair dresser got there at 9:30am.

3 Hours later I was done and dusted. I personally don’t think she did a great a job as she did the first time, but I will let the ladies of London be the judge of that, and for those wondering, no The Ladies of London, is not a brothel….

By 11:30am, I met up with Rory, Roxanne and her bro for some lunch at East rand Mall, and while the image of Rory arranging his leftovers in the shape of a certain body part – found only on a man- will probably haunt me the entire flight there, he did make up for it by serenading me in the Cash Convertors across the road. What no stairway to heaven?…Denied…

I heard several fans gossip whether or not Rory would now be going solo, and no longer play for the legendary Saint Dragon. Once I heard him play though, I knew there was no chance of that. Remember http://www.saintdragon.com for all your Patron Saint Of Dragons needs.

Got home at about 1:30pm, and found all my bags basically finished packed, thanks mom 😦

Managed to set my tape to record the next 3 episodes of Survivor, and next 3 Episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, which should be exciting, as Dylan and Brenda seem to have begun reconciling last week, and things look good for the young lovers. Man Luke Perry rules!!! Hey if you don’t believe me, as Mr. Richard Sweetnam.

Liverpool lost….

That Sux

I am gonna catch a power nap, then take a bath before leaving for the airport.

Love ya all

The Burg
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