Last day in London

Our last day in London … we had thoughts of going to Hampton Court but decided that it would make the day too traumatic and rushed so we gave up on that idea.  We had to get to the post office to mail some more books home and send the GPS to a friend who was going to be driving in Europe at Christmas time so that was the first chore.  The second chore was finding a new luggage bag.  The cheapo bag I’d bought at Argos just before we went to Spain in September decided to break.  The zipper closed all the way before the zip pulls both slid off the zip track never to be used again.  Lucky the bag was zipped up so we could safely stow it in the youth hostel luggage room whilst we set off to go bag shopping.  We had wanted to buy another bag previously, like our Eastpak duffle we bought to get to Spain, but the store we wanted to go to didn’t have it in stock.  This time we googled John Lewis (dept store) and found one just down the road from us on Oxford Street, and they had the bag in stock!  It was meant to be.

Whilst I stood in line at the post office, Steve set off with the boys to find the bag.  We met up at the store and bought it, then had to detour past the toys of course before leaving.  On the way Patrick and I made a pitstop in the family room bathroom and discovered that someone had left their handbag strung over the toilet roll holder on the wall!  I can only imagine it was a busy mum with a stroller and other bags and kids and was so flustered that she forgot it.  We handed it in and hope the person remembered where they left it and returned to find it safely handed in.

Steve and Patrick headed off to Starbucks whilst Harris and I did a little more shopping as we had to replace another bag that had also broken. I had been using a small strong plastic zippered bag, which cost me just $2 at a discount shop, to hold our passports and other important papers for the last 8 months.  Today its zipper decided to break off as well.  I had spotted a Muji store in Oxford Street the day before so we headed there.  I fell in love with this cool store in Hong Kong and then also in China.  I knew that they sold a range of travel stuff and hooray, I was able to buy a similar style bag for 4 pounds.  That job done and we were off to my other favourite Asian store UniQlo, right across the street.  Within minutes I had an arm full of clothes to try on and walked out with 3 new long sleeve shirts to wear in America, since my backpack wardrobe consisted of worn out faded t-shirts!

Starbucks stop and then back to the youth hostel to eat some lunch and collect our bags out of the luggage store. We had to pack our new bag and since it was so large we were able to consolidate Harris and Patrick’s smaller backpacks into it as well.  This meant that when we set of get the tube, Steve and I had a backpack and a large wheeled duffle each, plus a day pack and my handbag.  Not as much to keep track of.  We walked to Regent’s Park tube station which was a bit of a hike. The worst bit was at the station where there was an abundance of stairs to negotiate.  Going down with a duffle not so bad but coming up the stairs was very difficult for me with a backpack on as well. Lucky there were some nice Londoners that helped me out being the damsel in distress; poor Steve didn’t attract the do-gooders like I did!

Train to Oxford Circus and then change to the Piccadilly line to get the train to Hounslow West.  We had to change train at Acton Town as Harris noticed the line split and we weren’t on the train that went down the line we needed!  Well spotted. That was easily done and then we made it to the burbs of Hounslow.  This was a whole new side of London we’d not seen before.  Many people thought it was funny when we said we’d stayed in Croydon but let me tell you, Hounslow makes Croydon look seriously upmarket. Poor old Hounslow is a down and out suburb  and the number of 1 pound shops in the main shopping area gives you a good impression of the socio-economic demographic of the area. The other thing that stands out about Hounslow is the large Indian population.  When I needed to buy milk for cereal I found myself in a large privately owned supermarket where all the staff where Indian, and the customers except for me appeared to be Indian and I was the only one not buying rice, lentils or curry paste.  If I needed to buy any of those things I would surely go here since I’ve not seen such a great selection of rice and dried beans ever!

We found the correct public bus on the correct side of the street that would drop us off right out the front of our airport hotel, The Premier Inn.  When we arrived we were very happy with our choice of hotel.  I have to give credit to the staff as well as everyone that served us that day was great; the best staff we have come across. Certainly more attentive than the staff at London Central YHA that spent more time talking to their colleagues than noticing people waiting at the counter.  We checked into our room and then checked our flight time for the next day.  We’d seen advertisements indicating that some airlines were operating out of different terminals due to all the work going on at the airport.  We were booked under British Airways which was supposedly operating out of Terminal 5, but our flight was an AA flight and the booking site said we had to go to Terminal 3. Not wanting to get this wrong at 7 am in the morning, I went out to reception and they were more than happy for me to call the BA phone line and check.  Yep, Terminal 5 it was so we could relax knowing we knew where to go in the morning.

The boys had a rest in the afternoon and then found the local playground.  I set off to find a bus into Hounslow Central and to do a spot of shopping.  I made it there and back easily and found some supplies for breakfast and snacks to eat in the airport and on the plane.  Steve had booked us a table at the adjoining ‘Thyme’ restaurant for 7.30 pm but we went earlier since we were getting tired and hungry.  Most Premier Inn hotels have adjoining restaurants which is really great when you have had a long day.  We had a lovely table in a quiet corner and ordered kids meals for 4.60 pound, main with dessert, and our meals starter or dessert and a main.  We decided to get one starter and one dessert to share which was a great idea and the breaded mushrooms were delicious!  They were washed down with a great merlot and overall we had a fantastic dinner.  It was my birthday the day before and we’d not eaten out so this was making up for it and well worth the wait.

We headed off to bed and were all out for the count by 9.30 pm – an early night for us lately and needed.  I think I would have slept well regardless, but the half bottle of wine helped!  So our last day in London hadn’t been terribly exciting but we got some important chores done and felt ready to start the last leg of RTW adventure – North America!  Hard to believe those 8 months has passed and today would signal exactly 3 months of travel left until we touchdown in Australia again on January 11th 2012.


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