Jet Set Woah woah Woah

I’m so sorry that I’m once again 3 days late, but this time I actually have a good excuse: my mum was here to visit me. I think spending time with her is more important than some blog. #sorrynotsorry
After the last post got a bit too long, I decided to keep this one a bit shorter. Here is my 15 days post:

ONLY 15 DAYS LEFT!

Since I lived with my new host family, I got to travel a bit. Not only in my private time, but also for my job.
Early in January my host mother asked me if I could come with them on their skiing holiday to Switzerland. That I never learned how to ski was no problem at all, as I went with them to work and look after the children and not for my own pleasure.

On Friday, 10th February, the family got ready to leave for Switzerland. They went by car and had to leave a day before me so we would arrive on the same day. As they are 5 people the car was full and I had to go there by plane and train. After the family left around 1.45pm, I started packing my own stuff and went shopping, because I still needed some gloves. Luckily my was able to send me a package with my snow gear and some warmer clothes.

After a short night I had to get up shortly past 4am and get ready as my taxi was organised to arrive for 5.30am. Luckily I was ready on time and even had to wait ten minutes for the cab. As I had to go to Heathrow Airport, which is rather close to where I live, it only took us 30 minutes to get their and I arrived at 6am at the Airport. Another 30 minutes later I had checked in, been through security and found the gate.

As the flight was delayed and we couldn’t take off at 7.40am, we therefore landed at 10.50am instead of 10.15am at the Euro Airport in Basel. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had to catch my train in Basel. Because the airport is not close to the train station, I first had to take a shuttle bus. Of course I missed the original shuttle bus, but luckily there was another one just ten minutes later.

The 11.15am shuttle bus arrived at 11.30am at the Basel train station, just 3 minutes before my train was supposed to leave. It wouldn’t have been a problem if I would’ve missed it, as there would’ve been another in an hour later, but I didn’t want to wait at the train station so I hurried to the platform. I even run down the escalator with my heavy suitcase to make it on the train just in time.

At 1.40pm the Intercity arrived in Landquart where I then had 7 minutes to change to the Regio Express to Klosters.
Klosters is a popular ski location in the Swiss canton Graubünden. It’s probably best known as the favourite ski resort of Charles Prince of Wales.
At 2.47pm I arrived safely in Klosters and was greeted by ice and snow, but luckily it wasn’t snowing. However it was still hard enough to steer the suitcase through the ice and snow on my way to a café.

The host family was two hours behind and therefore I had to wait for them. I found a really nice Café where I sat down and called a friend to have a little chat.
Around 4pm the family finally arrived as well and picked me up from the café. Together we then drove to the rental apartment where we would stay during the week.

After we unloaded the car and got everything settled, we got the boys ready for the snow and went outside in the garden. Luckily this Garden had a slight hill and we soon started to sled down the hill. This evening in the snow was especially fascinating for L, as it was his first time ever in the snow.
In the evening, when the boys were in bed, the parents went out for drinks with their friends leaving me to babysit. But I didn’t mind at all, as there is german TV in Switzerland and I could finally catch up with german tv. Sadly it was still as bad as it was before I left for England, so I soon switched to the English tv program.

The next morning started rather relaxed, except for V, because he had ski school already. After he was settled and in school, we all got ready and drove to the cable car station. H, L, the parents and me then took the cable car up to the slopes. We arrived at 12pm, just in time for V’s lunch break and together we walked up a mountain to a restaurant called Madrisa Hof.
After a quick lunch my host father brought V back to his school and the rest of us went back to the main area with the beginner slopes.

One of the slopes in this area is more like a hill and on its side are some sledges provided. L and I borrowed some and sled down the hill over and over again, while my host father got H settled on the skis.
At the bottom of this hill was a bouncy castle and after the boys were too tired for sledging, we all went to the bouncy castle to take a break until V was finished with school.
Afterwards we all got ready to leave and squeezed together in one cable car. Back down we got on our way home.

The evening was rather relaxing and the parents went out again. I went to bed earlier that day, as we all would have an early morning the next day.
However it wasn’t just early, but also hectic! V is the one that needs to be out of the house first, but we all went together to drop him off and then went to the cable car station.
Back up in the mountains it was L’s first day on skis.

As L and V both were entertained in their ski schools, only H and me were left. In order for the parents to be able to ski as well, I stayed with H on the beginner slopes. The day before we borrowed a bigger sledge from our friends and therefore H was kept busy going up and down the slopes. Around lunch time the parents came back and L and V were picked up from their ski schools.
After lunch V went back to his ski school and L and H had some more sledging and bouncy castle time. When V was finished with his skiing lesson, we all got on our way back home.
Back home I had an hour or two, time for myself before we had dinner and the evening routine started.

Even though it was just our third day, we already got into a routine the next morning. V was dropped off first and then we all got to the cable car to go up. After L was brought to his school, with the hope of less tears and more learning that day, H was once again left with me and the parents went skiing.
Because H showed me really good listening the day before, I had no problem with letting him go up and down the slopes on his sledge on his own. I sat on the sidelines with a good book and read the time away. Of course I always kept an eye on H, but he was absolutely fine and I think he really enjoyed to have some freedom for once.

For lunch time V and L got picked up from school and we enjoyed a snack together, before V went back to his lesson and H finally started his first lesson. It took so long for him to be able to have a lesson, because this school only has one special needs teacher and Tuesday afternoon was the first lesson that was free.
Now it was L‘s turn to be entertained by me. But once again I got quite lucky and L was so tired that he just slept for a while and afterwards we went to the bouncy castle.
When V and H were finished with their lessons we all would get ready to go home.

This Tuesday routine quickly became the routine for the whole week and every other day would go the same, except for one or two changes from now and then.
But the main events were always the same:
1. V gets dropped off at the ski school for his lesson.
2. The parents, H, L and I went to the cable car to make our way up to the slopes.
3. L starts his skiing lesson, the parents use the free time to ski a bit themselves and H sleds down a hill while I sit next to the slope reading a book.
4. V and L finish their ski lessons and we all have lunch together.
5. V goes back to his skiing lesson, while H starts his and L spends some time with me.
6. When H and V are finished with their lessons we all get ready to go home.

The evenings normally are also quite similar. Except for two days, when first my host family went with their friends to dinner at a restaurant. I was left at the apartment, because I should have a break from the boys. I took the time to walk through Klosters for a bit and then go back to watching TV.
No wonder that I celebrated Valentines Day completely on my own. But hey, I was in Switzerland, at least I had first class hot chocolate and Toblerone.

The following evening I was left behind once again, because my host family was invited to their friends for dinner. I was actually quite upset that they didn’t ask me to come along, especially because their friend actually invited me to come along. However in the end I’m just the nanny and not part of the family.

All week we were really lucky and had warm and sunny weather every day until Friday. On our last day my sunburn finally got a break when the clouds made all the mountains disappear and everything was painted in white again. The only downside was that it was rather uncomfortable to stay outside.

Even though I quite enjoyed the holidays, I was more than glad when I could say goodbye to the family and got on my way back to London.
As my host family had to leave before me, my host father dropped me off around 10.30am at the same café where he also picked me up a week ago and I waited until it was time to get the Regio Express back.

Around 11.15am I left the café for one last round through Klosters. I took this time to take a picture of the mountains with the fresh snow from the day before.
At 11.33am I took the Regio Express to Landquart, where I arrived at 12.15pm. I then had to wait until 12.49pm to take the ICE to Basel.
2 hours later, I arrived at 2.53pm in Basel and once again I had to hurry to the Shuttlebus, but this time to go back to the Euro Airport.

When I arrived at the Airport at 3.15pm I soon had to learn that my flight was affected by the industrial action and instead of British Airways, Privilege Style would bring me back to London. Because this change needed a bit preparation and the airports schedules had to rearranged, we only started boarding at 5.45pm, 30 minutes after the original lift off time.

At 6pm I was finally on the plane and couldn’t wait to get home. With 45 minutes delay we finally landed at 6.45pm (GMT) at London Heathrow Airport.
As we didn’t took off at the original time, our landing time at Heathrow was already over and after going in circles over London, we had to land at the Heathrow Cargo Airport. Therefore it was already 7.20pm when I finally was through border control, had my luggage and left the Airport. Just 4 minutes later I took the Piccadilly Line towards Central London. At Earl’s Court I changed to the District Line and it was 8.30 when I finally was back home.

I first unpacked my suitcase in the kitchen to then directly wash my laundry, go groceries shopping and finally to bed. I enjoyed the quiet house until 1.45pm on Sunday, 19th February, when my host family came back.

Four month later I got ready to join my host family once again on one of their trips. This time it was a short weekend trip to Belgium.
On Friday, 25th June, I had to leave the house at 7am in order to be at the Victoria Coach station on time. Even though I arrived at the Coaches at 7.30am, I had to realize that I actually was 30 minutes late.
By now I had made some experience with travelling by coach from the Victoria Coach Station. But so far I only travelled through England and never to Europe. Normally you have to be at the station 20 minutes before departure, but when you leave the country, you are requested to be there at least one hour before departure.

Luckily I wasn’t too late and was served at the border control straight away. After they checked my passport and printed me my tickets, I boarded the coach as one of the first.
At 8am we left Victoria Coach Station just on time and started our long journey to Bruges.
Around 10.30am we passed the first border control (british) and at 11am we were past the second border control (french) and on our way on the train.
The Train is a special train which is wide enough for cars to get on, but also high enough for busses. Unlike to a ferry, where you have to leave your vehicle, you stay in your vehicle for the time of the journey. However you are allowed to get out of the car/bus during the journey as long as you don’t walk between the cars.

The train goes through the Euro Tunnel. This Tunnel is underneath the Channel and completely dark. But that’s hard to tell anyway, as the train doesn’t have many windows. I easily felt trapped inside the bus, which is in the train. Therefore I was quite glad that we at least could leave the bus. Otherwise you would’ve been trapped in a box which is trapped in a box, which is trapped in a box. For everyone with claustrophobia a rather big problem.
At 11.50am (english time)/12.50pm (european time) we arrived in France and started the last bit of our journey to Bruges.

When we arrived in Bruges at 2.47pm, I quickly bought a train ticket and then got on the Train to Knokke. The train arrived at 3.20pm at my station in Duienbergen and I got off. As I had a rather bad headache and generally felt too tired to walk to the Apartment, I waited at the train station for my host mum to pick me up. An hour after I arrived she finally came to pick me up and brought me to the apartment to take a rest, while the others went to the beach.

At 6.30pm I woke up again and made my way to the beach to meet the others. After a bit of playtime for the children, we went back to the apartment to get changed and then go back to the beach for dinner.
Next to the restaurant was a playground and while the parents chatted and reconnected with their friends, me and two other Au Pairs were on childwatch duty.
Around 9.30pm we went with the children to buy ice creams, which was a rather interesting part, because there were 21 children in total.At 10.30pm we were finally back and the kids were sent to bed straight away.

The next morning I got lucky and had time to have a lie in. There weren’t enough rooms in the Apartment so I got to share my room with one of the boys (in separate beds obviously!!). I got lucky and had H as my room mate. H is the one who stays in bed the longest. Therefore it was no surprise that it was already 10am when the both of us woke up. We quickly got dressed and then joined the others for breakfast.

After breakfast we went to an indoor playground, because the weather was too bad to do anything outdoors. Around 12pm we arrived at the playground and stayed for 1 1/2 hours. When the weather cleared up, we even had the chance to go outside and play a bit with the go carts.

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Finally driving again! Even though I’m not quite big, I was too big for these cars…

Around 2pm we joined the other families for lunch. Afterwards the family went to an indoor tennis court to play some tennis with their friends. As I had another headache, I was able to go back to the Apartment where I took a nap until the family was back. In the evening we went to the apartment of one of their friends and the children and Au Pairs had Pizza. Around 7pm the host parents said goodbye, as they would meet their friends for dinner and I brought the boys to bed until I relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The next morning H and I once again had a lie in and joined the others for breakfast shortly past 10am. After breakfast I took V to the beach until we were joined by my host father and the other two boys around 11am. My host father then sent me back to the apartment so I could pack my things. At 11.30am my host mum and I were finished with packing and joined the others on the beach again.

Around 12.25pm my host mum brought me back to the train station, because my train left around 12.40pm. Luckily I had more than enough time to buy me a ticket before the train arrived. At 1pm I arrived in Bruges and after I bought myself something to drink, I went outside to the bus stop where I had to wait for 25 minutes until the bus arrived.

At 1.45pm the bus departed in Bruges and we drove straight to France. Even though we arrived at the french border control at 3.45pm, we couldn’t leave before 4pm. This time they not only checked our ID’s, but also our luggage and one girl of my group got held back for further investigations.
The british border control was a lot easier, as we only had to show our ID’s. Although I took a bit longer, because I had a little chat with my controller. When he checked my passport, he not only noticed my rather british name (Viktoria Elisabeth), but also that I was born in Trier. As chance would have it wasn’t he just familiar with the city as a tourist, but he actually lived and studied there. He even remembered the street he lived all those 30 years ago!

Between 4-5pm we were in the tunnel again and I got to know the guy, who was sat behind me, a bit better. On the last bit of our journey I suddenly was the one everyone around us would ask when we are going to arrive. I luckily got to know London quite well by now and were able to keep track. At 6.40pm, 10 minutes late, we finally arrived at Victoria Coach Station. Because the guy from behind had to get another bus to Birmingham and it was his first time in London, I kindly offered him that I will show him to the Department Station.

Around 7.30pm I finally got on my own way home, where I arrived at 8pm.
But the evening wasn’t over yet. As I would be travelling home on Tuesday, I started to pack my suitcase with all the things I wanted to bring home already. By 9pm I was finally finished and went to bed.

On Tuesday, 27th June, one day after I came back from Belgium, I went on yet another trip. This time’s destination was Trier, Germany.
As my flight was due to depart at 11.35am from London City Airport, I took the tube at 9.20am and arrived at 10.30am. Just 15 minutes later I already had checked in and went through security control.

At 11.20am we started boarding and 15 minutes later we took off. The flight was easy-going and we even landed 15 minutes early. Therefore it was no surprise that I arrived at my mum’s car by the time we originally were supposed to land.
The rest of the day I mainly spent with my family, although they finally treated me to one of the babycakes by the ‘Törtchen Manufaktur’. This shop opened sometime this year while I was in London and my mum and sister have been annoying me with constant pictures of the cakes they bought there.

The next morning was an early one as we had to get up at 5am. The only reason why I went home for such a short visit was an interview at a uni. Because the uni is around an hour drive away from my home town we wanted to make sure we’re on time for my interview and left around 7.30am.

I got invited for an interview at the HBK Saar, an arts uni where I applied for arts for teaching. The interview was at 9.15am and lasted only 15 minutes. After the interview I was already finished at the Uni and we went to the city centre to go a bit shopping.
On our way home I finally was able to drive again. My mum was quite hesitant at the beginning and I had to use the same strategy as my host children (be angry, ignore her and just sulk) to get her to let me drive.

In the afternoon I joined my mum for her weekly english lesson, where her ‘classmates’ got to ask me any question they wanted and I got to take part in their lesson.
Afterwards I took the time to meet my best friend again. Mäthi and I haven’t seen each other since September, when he came to visit me. Therefore we had a lot to talk about, but I’m glad to see that nothing has changed, except that we both grew up a bit more and are now facing new challenges in life.

On Thursday morning it was time for me to leave again. Luckily it wasn’t too hard saying goodbye this time, because we know that I’m going to be back in less than a month.
Even though I was rather early, I had to wait a long time until I could check in, as they had check in for several flights at the same desks.
But at 9.45am I finally made it through check in and security and had to wait for 5 minutes for border control.

Afterwards I had to wait another 50 minutes until we finally started. It was already 11.25am when I finally got on the tube to go back home.
As my normal working schedule includes me picking up L at 1pm on a Thursday, I had to hurry home. Even though I made it home for 12.30pm, I didn’t need to pick him up, as my host mum offered to take over to give me a little break. I was rather glad that she took over, because the last couple of days have been really exhausting.

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A pigeon got lost on the tube

Luckily I didn’t went through all the hassle of flying to Germany for a 15 minutes interview for nothing. On Friday, 30th June, my mum sent me a message that there is a letter from the uni: I GOT ACCEPTED!

Now I only need to worry about getting accepted for english and I’m all set for my future life!
Hopefully I’ll still be able to travel, because all these trips, as exhausting as they can be, really made me realize how much I love travelling.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

– bring forth May flowers.

As you may have noticed I’m three days late with my blog post, but this post has a lot information and it took me quite a while to write it all down. I hope you can forgive me and at least there is a new one in just three days time. But for now, time for a new countdown:

ONLY 20 DAYS LEFT!

In less than 3 weeks I’m going to be back home and finished with my year. It’s weird to think that I only have less than a month left.
Luckily I did a lot of sightseeing in May so I don’t need to fit all of it in this three weeks.
May started with a trip to visit friends outside of London, but I’m writing about the bigger trips in separate blog posts. However I’ll let you know when I skip a date to save it for another time.

On Saturday, 6th May, I met with Lea at 10am near Charing Cross Station. We then took the Tube to Lambeth North to visit the Garden Museum, but sadly it was still closed, even though the internet told us something different. Walking around Archbishop’s Park and past Lambeth Palace without finding the right entrance, we gave up and instead went to Southbank.
An announcement in Time Out London’s magazine really caught our eyes and we wanted to check it out:

Bosch’s Giant Dishwasher:
Stand under 2000 litres of recycled water and remain completely dry at Bosch’s giant dishwasher installation this weekend. It’s sure to cause serious envy for those who do the washing up by hand.’

It took us a bit of time until we found it, but it was quite funny. Like you can see in the pictures it was a box like installation. There was water falling from the ceiling and you could walk through. When you moved normally and not to hasty, the water would stop in that area you where walking. It’s quite a weird feeling to walk through as you don’t really expect it to stop but it does and you stay completely dry.

From the giant dishwasher we moved on and took the tube from Southwark to Tottenham Court Road to go to Primark for a short visit.
After we were finished at Primark and it was time for lunch, we searched for the closest Nando’s to enjoy a good lunch.
When we were finished with our lunch we were looking for something new to do and walked from Tottenham Court Road to Leicester Square and then to the National Portrait Gallery, which is around the corner of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square.

Entering the National Portrait Gallery, we were greeted by a statue hanging from the ceiling which was quite familiar to me, as I just saw many more of the same statue as part of a big art installation on a beach the weekend before.
The first part of the Gallery were rather old portraits, but still quite interesting. However the further we went through the Gallery the newer the portraits got. Obviously there are also quite a few royal portraits and sculptures.

Within the modern portraits we found a portrait of British Olympic diver Tom Daley, HRH Prince Philipp Duke of Edinburgh, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Diana Princess of Wales, Dame Maggie Smith, HRH Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Beatles’ Paul McCartney.

When we went back downstairs, we visited a separate exhibition room which shows the newest portrait the Gallery has: Ed Sheeran!
The portrait, which was made by Colin Davidson in 2016, is the first painted portrait of Ed Sheeran and shows him in a moment of quiet introspection. The artist commented on the drawing that ‘there is a youthful aspect to it but also something experienced beyond his years’.
I completely agree with Davidson and have to admit that this portrait is most likely my favourite in the whole Gallery.

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Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson (2016)

After we were finished at the National Portrait Gallery, we went to the close by Covent Garden to enjoy a hot chocolate at the ‘Whittard of Chelsea Covent Garden Tea Bar’. This time I tried the Creme Brûlée hot Chocolate which was more than delicious.
Around 6.30pm I was back home to have a rest.

The next morning, 7th May, Lea and I met once again, but this time in South Kensington. This weekend was the summer festival of the Imperial College. They use it as a type of open house thing to inform people about what they do and also to give an insight in science.
Around 2pm we left the College and got on our way towards Kensington Palace. As it was no big detour we decided to walk past The Royal Albert Hall and The Albert Memorial.
When we arrived at Kensington Palace around 2.30pm we bought tickets and started our journey through the palace.

It started with the King’s staircase, which is quite pompous featuring an impressive painting on the ceiling. It was drawn by architect and artist William Kent in 1727 for King George I.
After the King’s staircase came the King’s Gallery and the Cupola Room. Both had interesting drawings and designs on the walls as well. King George II and Queen Caroline used Kensington rather for entertaining than for official business. The Cupola Room is the room where all the entertaining took place. The musician Händel often brought his troupe of Italian opera singers, who then sung operas at the Palace they just performed in London’s West End.

In the Queen’s Bedroom we learned how the House of Stuart came to an end. A year after Queen Anne’s son William had died, she had a stroke and died herself. She didn’t left an heir, which would’ve made James II’s son the new king, but the parliament prevented this by drawing up the Act of Succession after William’s death. This also made any other Catholic ineligible to claim the throne.
Parliament had to consider the claims of over fifty family members throughout Europe to finally choose Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her heirs. With Sophia’s son King George I the time of the House of Stuart was over and the ‘Hanoverian’ dynasty began.

Kensington Palace was bought by King William and Queen Mary in the summer of 1689. The same year as they were crowned as joint monarchs, after arriving in England just the year before. They were invited by the Parliament in 1688 to take the throne in place of Catholic King James II, Mary’s father. William, ruler of Netherlands, and Mary arrived by sea at Torbay and were welcomed into the country. King James II and his family fled in the night to France. This event became known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’.
After this house in the green suburbs was bought, they command the royal architect Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild and extend it to the Palace we know today. The rooms upstairs were designed for Queen Mary to overlook her Gardens, which were designed in the Dutch style.

After we walked downstairs via the Queen’s Staircase, we queued up for the Diana exhibition. ‘Diana – Her Fashion Story’ shows various outfits Diana wore to track her evolution as a princess, trendsetter and humanitarian.
Diana, Princess of Wales combined the allure of royalty with the fascination of international celebrity and quickly learned how to craft her public image carefully.


“Whenever the Princess discussed her clothes with me, part of it was always, ‘What message will I be giving out if I wear this?’ For her, that became the real language of clothes.”
 – Jasper Conran, Fashion Designer

In the exhibition we could see a choice of clothes Diana once wore. Some designs on the wall proved that she often looked over the designs to make a comment on what to change or to let the designer know that she doesn’t like the design at all.

When we left Kensington Palace we also went for a walk through the Garden that was made for Queen Mary. This year the gardeners created a White Garden to mark 20 years since Diana’s death. Diana lived at Kensington Palace for 15 years and enjoyed the Garden, quite often she would even stop to talk to the gardeners.
After we spent the afternoon at Kensington Palace we got on our way back to South Kensington. Shortly past 5pm I got on my home after a long day out.

On Tuesday, 9th May, we were out again to visit Madame Tussaud’s. But I’m gonna write about this in an extra post.

The next time Lea and I met was on Sunday, 14th May. This time we met at Earl’s Court Station on the Westbound platform. The destination for the day was Richmond. When we arrived around 12.30pm we tried to find our way to Richmond Park. I said tried, because we got lost more than once on the way there and it took us around an hour to get there. But when we finally made it we were baffled. It’s truly an amazing place.
However the greatest thing about it is that’s so close to this big city. There is this big quiet place surrounded by a city full of live.  Even though I read about it, I was still quite surprised to see that the animals in the park are free to roam around and you can get so close to them.

After a lunch break and walking around the park for around 2 hours, we were so tired that we decided to head to Fulham to have a rest. Around 4pm we arrived in Fulham and I showed Lea the area where I live until Camilla was there to join us. Even though it was Camilla’s birthday, we just went for a drink at Caffé Nero, as she got her present on Tuesday already.
We had a fun time together and this afternoon really brought us closer.

The following week was full of new things as well. On Monday I first got in contact with a Fidget Spinner, only to find out later on that they’re the new must have and there is a big hype going around the whole world. On Tuesday, 16th May, Lea, Camilla and I met at St Paul’s Cathedral to visit the Museum of London. This time we were joined by another german girl called Jara.
Jara and Lea met up a few times and she kept Lea company every time I couldn’t. We arrived at the museum shortly to 11am and started our way through it.

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Fidget Spinner!

The Museum shows the history of London from the glorious and grisly past to its modern life today. On the journey through the Museum we learned about how the romans built the first city in the river Thames and we even where able to see parts of the ancient city wall that was built by the Romans over 2000 years ago. Especially for Lea and me this really was a reminder of our own city that was built by romans.
We also learned how London had to suffer through the Great Fire and the Great Plague in 1666.

The Olympic Games in 2012 are also widely featured in the Museum of London. In their collectives exhibition are quite a few items showcased. These range from sports clothes to medals. But the biggest part regarding Olympia 2012 is the room about the Cauldron and the Ceremonies.
The London 2012 Cauldron is  a representation of the extraordinary togetherness that the Games symbolise and was revealed at midnight on 27th July 2012. It is made up of 204 individually crafted copper pieces, each representing one of the competing nations. The copper pieces were designed to be on stems which rose up fitting the pace and choreography to come together as one. Each stem carried a fragment of the Olympic flame, only burning as one when they finally and perfectly nestled together.
During the closing ceremonies the cauldron unfold and released its copper elements. All of them had been inscribed with the name of a competing nation and they got to take their own copper piece back home.

However it was also quite interesting to walk through the reconstructed street from a Victorian London. Another interesting part leading us through the Museum was a time line that featured all the important facts happening in the world and in London throughout the years.

Timeline 1650 – 2010
A few of the world events, London firsts and milestones that have shaped the capital’s life over the last 360 years.

1652 – The Manchu Dynasty rules most of China
1666‘The Great Fire of London’ – Fire breaks out in Pudding Lane and devastates four fifths of the City of London.
1675 – The Royal Observatory – The Royal Observatory was founded, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian Line.
1988‘The Glorious Revolution’ – King James II is overthrown and William of Orange and his wife Mary ascend the throne.
1708 – St Paul’s Cathedral – Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, St Paul’s is finally rebuilt after its destruction in the Great Fire.
– By 1714 there are more than 500 coffee houses in London. –
1733‘Flying Shuttle’ – John Kay, the inventor of the ‘Flying Shuttle’, patents a shuttle used for weaving woolen and linen cloth.
1759 – The first accurate Chronometer – John Harrison’s watch H4 solves the ‘longitude problem’, allowing sailors to navigate accurately at sea.
  – British rule in India begins. –
1774 – The Royal Society of Arts building – Robert Adam designs a building for the society that encourages the arts, manufactures and commerce.
1780‘The Gordon Riots’ – Violent anti-Catholic riots erupt across London. Prisons and the Bank of England are attacked.
1784‘London balloon flight’ – Vincenzo Lunardi launches the first hot-air balloon, carrying passengers from Moorfields.
1789‘Equiano’s autobiography’ – Olaudah Equiano campaigns to end the slave trade in his bestselling book, published in London.
 – The slave trade abolished throughout the British Empire –
1831 – The electic dynamo – The physicist Michael Faraday invents the dynamo, the first electrical generator.
1837 – Euston railway station – London’s first mainline station opens, the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway.
1840 – The Penny Black stamp – The world’s first postage stamp, invented by Rowland Hill, is issued by the Post Office.
1848‘Mass Chartist demonstrations’ – Working-class men gather on Kennington Common hoping to gain the vote and secure political reform.
1851‘The Great Exhibition opens’ – A vast temporary glass building in Hyde Park displays products from all nations.
 – Russia, Britain and France at war –
1858‘The ‘Great Stink’’ – Failing drainage turns the River Thames into a deadly, stinking sewer.
1863 – The world’s first underground railway – On its opening day the Metropolitan line carries 30 000 passengers between Paddington and Farringdon.
1868 – St Pancras railway station opens – The Midland Railway opens a grand London passenger terminus on the Euston Road.
1878 – London’s first electric street lamps – The Thames Embankment becomes London’s first public area to be lit by electric power.
1688‘The Jack the Ripper murders’ The murder of prostitutes in the East End focuses attention on one of London’s poorest areas.
– New Zealand gives women the vote –
1894 – Tower Bridge completed – After eight years of construction Tower Bridge opens, creating a new London landmark.
1898 – First London escalator installed – Harrods store installs London’s first escalator. Nervous shoppers are offered smelling salts.
– By the 1890s one third of Londoners lived in poverty. –
1901‘The Death of Queen Victoria’ – After a 63 year reign Queen Victoria dies, aged 81. She is succeeded by her son Edward VII.
1906 – The luxury Ritz Hotel opens – César Ritz, Parisian hotelier and former manager of The Savoy, opens a luxury hotel in Piccadilly.
1908‘London Olympic Games’ – More than 3000 competitors from 21 nations compete in London’s first Olympic Games.
– World War I breaks out in Europe –
1918‘Votes for women secured’ – Eight million women over the age of 30 are given the vote in parliamentary elections.
1919 – Hammersmith Palais opens – An American-style luxury dance hall opens for business at Hammersmith.
1922 – First London radio station – The British Broadcasting Company begins regular radio broadcasts from Marconi House in the Strand.
1923 ‘Wembley Stadium opens’ – Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United in the first FA Cup final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium.
1928 – The ‘Talkies’ come to London – Londoners see their first films with sound, including ‘The Jazz Singer’ at the Piccadilly Theatre.
  – The Wall Street Crash shakes economies around the world –
1933 – First automatic traffic lights – The new traffic controls are installed at Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly, London’s busiest road junctions.
1943 – Battersea Power Station opens – The completion of London’s giant power station gives the capital a striking new landmark.
  – By 1939 one fifth of the British population lived in London. –
1940‘London devastated by the Blitz’ in the second year of World War II Londoners endure 11 weeks of intensive aerial bombing.
1944 – Flying bombs fall on London – V1 ‘Doodlebug’ bombs descend on the capital with an ominous, whirring sound.
1945 – The end of World War II – Celebrations across the capital as Londoners welcome peace after six years of war.
  – India and Pakistan become independent nations –
1948‘The Olympic Games’ – The first post-war Olympic Games are held in London. 59 nations compete for medals.
  – By the 1950s women outnumber men in London offices. –
1951 – Royal Festival Hall opened – The Royal Festival Hall opens on 3 May 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain.
1952 – Commercial travel by jet – The world’s first commercial passenger jet flight takes off from Heathrow, bound for Cape Town.
1952‘Smog stifles London’ – Thousands die from respiratory diseases caused by air pollution in the Great Smog of 1952.
1956 – The first Routemaster bus – A new type of London bus, ‘The Routemaster’, enters service on London’s streets.
  – Yuri Gagarin, a Russian, is the first man in space –
1965 – The Post Office Tower – At 159 metres, the Post Office Tower (now called the B.T. Tower) becomes London’s tallest building.
1971 – D-Day: Decimalisation day – On 15th February 1971 the whole of Britain switches to a decimal currency system.
1973‘More IRA bomb campaigns’ – The Irish Republican Army steps up its bombing campaign. Explosions rock central London.
1982 – The Thames Barrier completed – The Thames Barrier gives London a state-of-the-art flood defence system. The cost is £500 million.
1985 – Mobile phone systems launch – Launch of ‘Callnet’ and Vodafone, Britain’s first mobile phone services. Early phones are costly.
  – The 1987 hurricane is London’s worst storm since 1703. –
1994‘Direct trains to Paris’ – The Channel Tunnel, also known as the ‘Chunnel’, links London and Paris by rail.
  – First pages appear on the World Wide Web –
2012‘London strikes Olympic gold’ – London hosts the best Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. Londoners celebrate.

Around 1.45pm we said goodbye and got on our way back home. But on Friday we met once again, just this time without Camilla as she had to work.
We met around 10.45am at Warwick Avenue to then walk to an area called Little Venice. Sadly the weather wasn’t so nice and therefore the experience wasn’t as nice as it could’ve been, but I’m still happy I saw this amazing part of London. From there we walked through Paddington Station to Hyde Park.

We first went to see the Italian Gardens with the Italian fountains, from there we walked towards the Peter Pan statue and then to Kensington Gardens. It’s quite hard to say when you’re in Hyde Park and when in Kensington Gardens, as there is no division between the two of them. However our next stop was the Serpentine Gallery which is part of Kensington Gardens.

In a 1930s tea pavilion the Serpentine Gallery is housed. It seeks out avant-Garde artworks of today and each year assign a notable architect with the construction of a temporary pavilion. After summer is over the pavilion is dismantled and sold to cover the expenses. A 5-10 minutes walk from the Serpentine Gallery is the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery. Attached to the building of the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery is a restaurant called the Magazine. The building of the restaurant was designed by the world-famous architect Zaha Hadid.

From the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery we walked to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Visitors of the Memorial Fountain are invited to sit on the side and paddle their hands and feet in the water, but a sign at the entrance kindly asks visitors to not walk on the Memorial or in the water.
As this is a Memorial and therefore a quiet place, the sign also remembers visitors to take their ball games and loud plays to different areas of the park.
The Memorial Fountain was constructed using Cornish Granite and expresses Diana’s spirit and love of children. ‘Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 6th July 2004’ is the inscription on one side of the fountain.

As it was already quite late and we all had to get back to work, we walked from the Memorial Fountain to South Kensington Station, where we all got our separate ways home after a quick lunch at Starbucks.

On Saturday, 20th May, we all met once again to visit the Tate Britain. Therefore we took the tube to Pimlico where we met around 12.45pm.
As the pictures at Tate Britain are sorted into a time line, we tried to follow this time line from the beginning to the end. On the way to the beginning we walked past a few modern objects hanging in the big halls of Tate Britain.

However the Gallery not only leads through the time with their displayed pictures, but also with a time line of the Gallery’s history:

1600-1750 – Early collectors, usually noble families, concentrate on Old Masters or commission family portraits by European artists active in Britain such as Anthony van Dyck.
1768 – Collecting British art, to represent the emerging national school, takes off after the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts and the establishment of its annual exhibitions, which become fashionable events.
1780s – The 3rd Earl of Egremont, patron of JMW Turner and many other British artists, forms a private gallery at his country property of Petworth House, Sussex (now managed by The National Trust).
1790s – Sir John Leicester creates galleries at Tabley, Cheshire, and Hill Street, Mayfair, the latter open to the public from 1806, including Turner’s Shipwreck.
1808 – The Department of Prints and Drawings is founded at The British Museum. Home of the national collection of prints and drawings, today it has over 30 000 drawings and watercolours by British artists as well as over one million British prints.
1823 – Sir John Leicester (now Lord De Tabley) offers to sell his collection to the nation for a Gallery of British Art. The government refuses and the collection is sold.
Turner, who envisages a posthumous Turner Gallery to ‘keep my pictures together’ and meanwhile maintains his own collection, buys back his Shipwreck.
1824 – The government buys the collection of John Julius Angerstein to found a gallery. Mainly Old Masters, it includes David Wilkie’s Village Holiday. Angerstein’s house, 100 Pall Mall, houses the new National Gallery until a dedicated building is constructed.
1827 – Sir George Beaumont presents pictures to the nation, including works by Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson and David Walkie. These join the National Gallery in Pall Mall.
1838 – The National Gallery opens in Trafalgar Square, with the Royal Academy adjacent to it until 1868. It will collect Old Master and British paintings.
1840 – The sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey bequeaths a fund to collect modern British art. Administered by the Royal Academy, the fund buys its first work in 1877. It will be the main purchase grant for the Tate Gallery when it is established in 1897.
1847 – Robert Vernon gives 157 British pictures to the nation, including the first Turner to go on public display. For lack of space, most other pictures remain at his Pall Mall house or are shown at Marlborough House and the South Kensington Museum (known as the Victoria and Albert Museum).
1852 – Turner’s Sun Rising through Vapour and Dido Building Carthage; or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire are hung in the National Gallery with two paintings by Claude Lorrain in accordance with the wished of Turner, who had died in 1851.
1854 – The Turner Bequest, including nearly 300 paintings, is accepted by the nation. Selections are shown at the South Kensington Museum until 1876.
1857 – John Sheepshanks presents 236 British pictures to the South Kensington Museum.
1876 – The National Gallery is enlarged, allowing the display of more Turner and Vernon bequest pictures.
The National Gallery occasionally buys modern British pictures, such as Pegwell Bay, Kenta Recollection of October 5th 1858 by William Dyce, The Derby Day by William Powell Frith and Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but remains mainly an Old Master collection. It is increasingly short of space.
1889 – Henry Tate offers 60 modern British pictures to the nation. These are rejected but he offers to fund a new gallery to house them, causing national debate.
1897 – 21st July The National Gallrey of British Art (already popularly dubbed the ‘Tate Gallery’) opens on Millbank, on the site of a former prison. The Tate’s pictures, including Ophelia by John Everett Millais are hung and some British pictures are lent by the National Gallery, which retains overall control. The Tate will be steered towards ‘British modern art’ (artists born after 1790 or 1800) while the National Gallery retains ‘supreme glories’ of 18th century painting.
The artist GF Watts donates 18 paintings to the newly established Tate Gallery, later adding further paintings and a sculpture.
1903 – The Art Fund is launched, becoming Britain’s leading charity for the purchase of art for the nation’s collections. The first work acquired by the Tate with its support is James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and GoldOld Battersea Bridge, purchased in 1905.
1906 – Unfinished studio works by Turner, newly restored, are shown for the first time.
1910 – A new Turner wing, funded by the art dealer Joseph Duveen, opens.
The Contemporary Art Society is founded to promote modern art in public museums and galleries.
1915 – A Director and dedicated Trustees are appointed at the Tate Gallery, independent of the National Gallery, charged to collect historic British and modern foreign art.
1918 – The Tate’s Director forms a consortium to buy works by William Blake for public collections in Britain and the Empire. 20 illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy come to the Tate.
1919 – More than 200 British pictures are transferred from the National Gallery to the Tate.
1920 – The Tate is designated ‘The National Gallery, Millbank’.
1926 – Galleries devoted to modern art, foreign art and Sargent (featuring family portraits by the artist given by the art dealer Asher Wertheimer) are funded by Sir Joseph Duveen.
1927 – Duveen presents Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection, Cookham and funds Rex Whistler’s murals, Pursuit of Rare Meats, in the refreshment room.
1928 – A Thames flood damages many works, including works on paper from the Turner Bequest.
1932 – The name ‘Tate Gallery’ becomes official for the first time.
1934 – The British Council is established with official responsibility ‘for cultural and social relations between the United Kingdom and people of other lands’. It forms its own collection now totalling over 8000 works of British art.
1939 – More previously unseen Turners, found stored at the National Gallery, are shown.
1939 – 45 – During the war, the Tate Gallery is closed and suffers extensive bomb damage. But acquisitions continue, including, in 1945, John Martin’s apocalyptic triptych The Last Judgement.
1946 – The Tate receives its own purchase grant of £2000 from the government.
The Arts Council Collection is formed collecting works by modern British artists and continues to acquire work by emerging British artists, with over 7500 works.
1949 – The National Gallery contributes 19th century British pictures to the new Tate displays but also reclaims Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode.
1955 – The Tate and National Galleries are separated by law, leading to further, limited transfers of pictures. In the following decades the Tate extends its remit, building a comprehensive collection of British art from 1545 to the present while the National shows selected highlights.
1958 – The Friends of the Tate Gallery (now Tate Members) is founded to support purchases for the collection, the first being Henry Moore’s sculpture King and Queen, acquired in 1959.
1970 – Alistar McAlpine (later Lord McAlpine of West Green) presents to Tate 60 recent sculptures by contemporary British artists.
1974 – The Yale Center for British Art opens in New Haven, USA, displaying Paul Mellon’s important collection of British art, gifted to Yale University in 1966.
1975 – The Tate’s emerging modern print collection is enhanced by gifts from Rose and Chris Prater, founders of Kelpra Studio, who give the Tate a copy of every print they have produced, and from The Curwen Studio.
1980 – The Tate acquires a group of works by British and foreign artists from EJ Power, a former Trustee.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is established. Major works acquired by the Tate with its support include John Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge (‘Whitehall Stairs, June 18th, 1817’).
1982 – The Patrons of New Art is established to support acquisitions of contemporary art by artists of international repute. The Patrons’ Special Purchase Fund acquires work by younger artists, many previously unrepresented in the Tate collection.
1986 – The Patrons of British Art is formed to acquire British art from the 16th century to the present. Among works presented are paintings by William Blake, Spencer Gore, Thomas Lawrence and CRW Nevinson, ad sculptures by Thomas Woolner.
1987 – The Clore Gallery opens, bringing together the majority of the paintings and all the original works on paper from the Turner Bequest. The building is funded by Sir Charles Clore and designed by James Stirling.
1992 – The Heritage Lottery Fund is formed to distribute funds to cultural causes. It has since supported many major acquisitions, from the Oppé Collection of watercolours to sculpture by Jacob Epstein and drawings by Francis Bacon.
1996 – Janet Wolfson de Botton presents 60 contemporary works to the Tate.
With the assistance of the National Lottery through the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Tate acquires the collection of Paul Oppé, consisting of over 3000 watercolours and drawings by British artists.
2000 – Tate Modern opens at Bankside displaying international art from 1900. The Tate Gallery returns to its original role as the national gallery of British art. Renamed ‘Tate Britain’ it displays British art from 1545 to the present day.
2008 – Simon Sainsbury bequeaths a number of British and international works.
Anthony d’Offay makes the gift of ARTIST ROOMS, a collection of British and international contemporary art.

We got to see so many drawings of so many talented artists, but there were two paintings that really stood out to me. While the one picture was an amazing drawing of a fascinating landscape by John Martin (‘The Plains of Heaven’ 1851-1853), the other one, a drawing by John Singer Sargent, shows no other than Impressionist Claude Monet drawing one of his Masterpieces himself (‘Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a wood’ 1885).
Before we left, we took the chance to see an arts in movement performance. 8 artists ‘painted’ a picture by making movements and noises and bringing everything together one after another until they reached a big final.
It was quite interesting and definitely a type of art for me.

After this performance we were finished at Tate Britain and went back to the Tube Station. As the day was far from over we quickly had to decide what we could do next. Our new destination was Regent’s Park. Neither of us had been here before and we all thought it might be worth to take a look.
We had good weather and the sun would make an appearance from time to time which made the experience even better. The Park is full of green areas and flowerbeds with some fountains in between. Inside this already beautiful park is the Inner Circle and within this gated part of the Park are the Queen Mary’s Gardens.

The Queen Mary’s Gardens are by far the most beautiful free Gardens I’ve seen so far. This big Garden is separated into many different parts. We first went to the Rose Gardens. Here you can see many different kinds of roses and each kind has their one special name like ‘Remember Me’ or ‘Keep Smiling’. In the middle of the Rose Gardens is a big circular area with a flowerbed in the middle and different ones around it. In the outer circle are many benches were you can sit down and enjoy this natural beauty.

We decided to have a seat ourselves and indulge in our lunch snack. But clearly we didn’t thought about the animals and soon were attacked by a squirrel! Yes squirrel. These Rat like animals that everyone thinks so highly of because of their sweet and fluffy tail. You can tell that I was the one who had been attacked as I got over my adoration for those animals.

After our lunch has been so rudely interrupted, we moved on and soon came to a bridge to cross over a small pond that sits in the middle of the garden. We then followed the way along the pond and came to the Japanese Garden in Regent’s Park. This Garden had some similar features to the one I saw with Camilla, like the Waterfall or  a Japanese stone lantern. But the best part of this area is the small island that lies within the pond and is accessible from one side. By now Lea had unpacked her big camera and we started taking pictures for fun, but I’ve got to say, I quite like them!

After our photo session we tried to find our way back out of the Queen Mary’s Gardens and then also back out of Regent’s Park. We exited the Park close to Baker Street. As Sherlock Holmes supposedly used to live here, we decided to go by his old address and visited the Museums shop.

Following our trip to Tate Britain on Saturday, Lea and I met on Monday, 22nd May to visit Tate Modern. Even though I’ve been here before, I wanted to come back to take another look and especially because there were a few new artworks.

I once again fawned over Claude Monet’s Water-Lilies and a few of Marc Rothko’s works of art. An interesting new artwork is ‘Monochrome Till Receipt’ from 1999 by Ceal Floyer. When you first look at it you start thinking why a till receipt is exhibited in an art gallery. But after reading the information for it and taking another look, I finally understood what it is really about. This receipt is not just any receipt, but the artist draw a picture by buying only white things.

I was quite surprised though to see a work of art of one of my favourite artists in the world: Niki de Saint Phalle. Sadly it wasn’t one of her world-famous sculptures called ‘Nana’, but one of her older pieces. ‘Shooting Picture’ (1961) is one of her ‘tirages’. These pictures were prepared by filling polythene bags with paint and enclosing them within layers of plaster against a blackboard. To draw the picture she then shot at the painting and the picture started ‘bleeding’ with paint. This Shooting Picture in particular was not shot by Niki herself, but by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
Of course I also got to enjoy some of Andy Warhol’s pictures as well and also the radio Tower ‘Babel’ by Cildo Meireles.

Behind the Tate Modern power station Building is the Switch House building. In this building are a few more exhibition rooms. One of these rooms features art with the topic city and a big rubber ‘carpet’ lies in the middle of the room. But this ‘carpet’ isn’t just a carpet, it’s a precisely detailed map of Beirut embossed into rubber made by Marwan Rechmaoui. Visitors are permitted to walk over the map and engage with the artist’s representation.

In another part of the building various sculptures and artworks are shown. One of those is ‘Spider’ (1994) by Louise Bourgeois. This large-scale bronze spider represents the spider as the strong mother: a protector, creator and repairer. This idea comes mainly from a poem the artist wrote for her mother in which she compares the mother to a spider. In a smaller room adjoin to this one, is another one of Louise Bourgeoise spiders. ‘Spider I’ (1995) is smaller than the first one and belongs to a series of spider sculptures.

The last thing we went to see was the London Skyline. In Switch House you can take a lift up to the 10th Floor. The 10th Floor is mostly open and you can walk around the house to take a look from every side on London’s beautiful Skyline.
However that was not the last I’ve done in May, on the last weekend we did two sightseeing days were we went from one attraction to the next and this post is already quite long so I’m going to spare that for a different time.

Thank you for reading and now that you got an idea on how much we’ve done in May, you might understand why it took me so long to write it (6180 words!).
Hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures, especially because there are sooo many more to come.

Love,
Vicky! Xx