Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The London Post-Christmas Sales

Carly and I headed into the West End for a shopping day along Regent Street and our favourite London shopping strip along Carnaby Street in Soho.. While the crowds were crazy, we managed to get ourselves into the likes of Ben Sherman, the flagship Miss Sixty store and Merc to pick up some fantastic clothes that you just can’t buy in Australia – though with all the crowds on the way home on the Tube, one day at the sales was more than enough!

-shane

Monday, December 27, 2004

Boxing Day recovery

Yet another slow start after the very long Christmas day festivities, and the night before that!! Dan, who was still staying with us, cooked us up a great fry-up, and then after that all we managed to do was sit on the couch watching TV with the curtains drawn ad the sun beaming in, and a gather round the coffee table for a drawn-out game of Monopoly on our new old-style wooden boxed English version we brought ourselves for Christmas..

-shane


In the News: We wake to see the tragedy of the Indian Ocean Tsunami on the BBC news – all very very sad to watch unfolding.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Xmas Day in London, 2004

After the early morning the night before (i think that makes sense), Dan and I dragged our sorry selves out of bed (with Carly laughing at us) to champagne and a cooked breakfast as per our traditional christmas morning present-opening ceremony back home.. what greeted all of us when we went out into the lounge room was our lit-up christmas tree surrounded by presents, and an amazing London christmas morning outside with not a cloud in the sky, and the sun shining just like we were in Brisbane on a summer's morning - that was until we opened the sliding door and felt the crisp chill of the winter air.. we managed to take some great photos of all of us on the verandah, with Putney bridge and the Thames in the background - very memorable shots of our first London Christmas Day..



Our amazing Christmas morning on the Thames in Putney


Champagne breakfast



Opening presents around the tree


Dan and his new Twister board/floor game - see photos of it in action later in this post!!


Carly on the phone to family back home

carly and I had been hitting the shops in the week leading up to christmas and gave each other some great presents that you can only get in the unique stores that London offers, and surprise surprise carly managed to get a much-needed replacement italian leather handbag and wallet from Ted Baker to replace the bag that now adorns the shoulder of some Cardiff barmaid, a scarf and matching white wool beanie from Miss Sixty, a beautiful white Ben Sherman knit top, a great umbrella for those walks to work from James Smith and Co. (go see www.james-smith.co.uk/ - it is a great store!) which is the oldest umbrella store in London, some books, and other presents..

I got some wonderful gifts from her, including a fantastic new shirt from Ted Baker, a CD, the new Adrian Mole novel, a new italian wool scarf, France Lonely Planet for the coming skiing trip, etc. just so he didn't miss out carly and I had brought Dan a few gifts, a Twister game which he loved (more about that later), and the Molrovia Travel Guide by the guys from Frontline and The Panel - ask him for a funny quote from it, he won't be able to resist…

After downing a few bottles of champagne together and some photos, and with Daniel and I definitely back on the drinking horse, we packed up all our drinks and food and headed to Karen Willett’s place at Putney, just over the river.. soon after we arrived at Karen’s we quickly opened another drink and once Karen’s brother and sister and partners arrived, the afternoon kicked off…


The start of Christmas night at Karen's

Carly and Karen put the roast turkey dinner was put into the oven, the vegetables were prepared, and with everyone there we opened secret santa presents and continued to down even more drinks as the music got louder and the frivolity began to let loose.. After the dinner and crackers, in traditional English Christmas style we opened up the trivial pursuit and had a game, before Dan persuaded all that Twister was the game of choice! – and so the floor was cleared of tables and chairs and the mat opened out, and the spinner taken by the referee for the inaugural Coxen invitational Christmas Twister challenge – this went on until people were incapable of distinguishing between left and right, and then even worse, between hands and feet…


Christmas Roast Dinner




Daniel's Twister game gets unleashed



Daniel and Andy's Twister battle royale - set to the tune of 'Eye of the Tiger' - match referree Darren overlooks proceedings as Andy ends up in the fireplace after some illegal hip & shoulder

As I recall it was about 1am by the time the three of us departed on our very cold walk home back across the river, where we saw ice and frost everywhere on all the cars and street furniture, and while it wasn’t snow as carly had hope for, it certainly made it feel almost like a winter Christmas.. and just to continue the night, Dan and I stayed up a bit longer with yet another Bailey’s and dash of milk nightcap!! Ho ho ho! Merry Xmas to all and to all a good night!


Carly and Dan checking out the ice on the rubbish bins on Putney Bridge

-shane & carly (and our xmas dosser dan)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Eve

After an early finish to the work day, Shane went to Westminster Abbey for Carols and the afternoon service, with Fosters cans in hand from the off-license near work, we trekked across London to the famed church.. we arrived for the 4pm service at 3:45pm, and had to endure a 45 minute wait until we could get in the door – lucky we had our traveler cans with us!!

After getting in the door it really felt like Christmas with the Abbey looking fantastic and the crowd swelling out the door – and while I’m so far from being religious, it was a great experience.. we left the service before it finished due to our swelling bladders from the beers in the queue, and headed across the road to a small pub next to Big Ben, but after a few pints it was time for me to head home, as we had Daniel arriving for our Xmas weekend..

After I got home and Daniel finally arrived, well, the Xmas cheer got underway – Daniel and I proceeded to polish off over a litre of Baileys ourselves, after Carly went to bed and left us to drink until 4am.. our excuse, we were waiting for Santa to arrive.. we’d like to apologise to all those back in Australia who we rang on Xmas day Australian time while we were still up having fun, but that’s just it, we were having too much fun to consider others!!

-shane

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Gift Shopping in the West End

All week Carly and I have been out and about buying presents for each other amidst the chaos that is London shopping pre-Christmas.. Whilst most Londoners seem to despise this time of year out along Oxford St, Regent St and Covent Garden, I couldn’t get enough of it!

While there were plenty of people to get in your way and to crash your shopping bags into, all of the Christmas lights and decorations really started to make it feel like Christmas for us both, after what has been a crazy few months getting ourselves set up here.. craziness, but I loved it all the same!! Even some of the sales had started early and before christmas!

-shane

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Ealing Council Work Party onboard ‘The Yacht’, moored at Temple pier -

This night was billed as being the big christmas party of the year by the drinking team at work, so much so that we had managed to get the entire team out for the event – no exceptions! We all boarded the bus provided at our office out at Hanger Lane, for the trip into The City for a night of drinking and plenty of crazy dancing on the Thames.. Chris and I entertained our fellow bus passengers with the strained chrous, of The Love Boat theme song - so... "come aboard, we're expecting you; The Love Boat, soon we'll be making another run, The Love Boat, promises something for everyone; Set a course for adventure you might find a new romance!" I'll stop there and just let you see the pictures and read the story:


Photo of the Ealing Transport work team line-up before we head out (sorry, thumbnail not working, but the Image will load once clicked on)



Shane in action(?) on-board the Yacht


Kate and Chris the Kiwi's


Amanda (Melbourne Girl), and Kate


Shane, our boss Geoff, Chris, Katrina, and Evan

The night ended up being a very big one for all of us there, with the last of us having to find our way home via taxi’s and night buses, on what was the busiest pre-xmas night out in town – the last Friday night before Christmas!! I was left to find my way home with new work mate Amanda (a.k.a. Melbourne Girl), and so after departing the boat we headed towards The Strand for the walk towards the buses at Trafalgar Square, walking past sights such as Australia House (the aussie embassy building in London), the Savoy Hotel, BBC studios, and finally at the end of The Strand – the magnificent Trafalgar Square, decorated in all its Christmas decorations and the centre of the square lit up with a huge Nordic Fir Christmas Tree which is given as a gift to London from the people of Norway!


The stayers of the team at the end of the night!


Shane and Amanda out front of Australia House on our long trek back to SW London


Melbourne Girl Amanda on Melbourne Place


Shane at Trafalgar Square, with the Norwegian Tree and those big lions!

I remembered seeing queues at bus stops on every street in the West End, longer than the longest taxi queues on New Years Eve!!! It was just crazy, but amazing to be a part of! After finding our bus stop and finally getting on one, we enjoyed some more sightseeing on the way home as the bus winded its way to Hammersmith Broadway and then another connecting bus home down to Fulham.. as always I’ve got some fantastic photos to remember it all by!!

-shane

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Mr and Mrs Workman visit London

We caught up with Renee Workman’s parents at Waxy’s Little Sister, which is a cosy pub we keep frequenting just down a side street near Piccadilly.. as always Richard had a joke or 7 for us all.. nothing changes!!!

-shane

Saturday, December 11, 2004

“..Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn..”

Last night (Friday night) I managed to score stand-by seats to a screening of Gone With the Wind, at the National Film Theatre here in London, near Waterloo station.. I had never seen the whole film in its entirety, but with Carly being a huge fan of the film I was willing to go through a bit of pain and stick out the whole 4 hours.

It was the digitally re-mastered version and was being showed as part of a season of classic films at the NFT. I actually really enjoyed it, not only because they allowed the proper intermission right when all looks lost for our young heroine (“as god as my witness I’ll never be hungry again, blah blah blah!!”) but also because I had finally seen the whole thing all in one go, and at the National Film Theatre to boot – I thought that Rhett was an absolute legend, and that Scarlet was an absolute fruitcake, but that’s just my take on what is a timeless classic..

-shane

Friday, December 10, 2004

Shane’s Work Christmas Lunch party and Council-wide Christmas Party

Yesterday was a great day that turned into a fantastic night! Our team had its Christmas lunch at the local pub out at Hanger Lane, which included Turkey and Cranberry sauce, plus ‘all the trimmings’ as they say! We then stayed on at the pub, until it was time to make a move for the Council-wide Christmas party that was being held at the Ealing Town Hall building..


Maria and Chris at our christmas lunch


Kate and Katrina


It became one of those nights that you don’t plan, and that turn into something memorable! We pub-crawled our way from the Fox & Goose, then to our office to get changed and ready to party, then headed towards Ealing stopping at the Sportsbar on the Hanger Lane Gyratory, then The Haven Bar at Haven Green in Ealing..


Kiwi workmates Maria, Kate and Chris enjoying the atmosphere at Hunters!(?)


Last leg of the crawl from Hanger Lane to Ealing Broadway via the No. 83 bus


The town hall party was way beyond what we expected.. over 600 employees got together and danced to plenty of 80’s and 90’s classics until 2am in the morning when they kicked us all out..






Shane and friends in the Ealing Town Hall


I finally got home at 4am after a drunken stagger from Shepherd’s Bush to Hammersmith, and then got a night bus the last leg of the trip to Putney Bridge and into bed.. I dragged myself into work today with very sore feet and an equally sore head, matched only by the other sore bodies around me in the office that day!

-shane