End of the month…start of the new week (My London Weekend)

I’m enjoying the cool weather today – scattered showers, cool breeze, slightly cool heads. At the moment, my mind is lost and I’m still trying to organize my thoughts after that blast of a weekend I had in London.

London is BEAUTIFUL! I’m just amazed that I was able to see the places that I only see in pictures and books. Although it’s rather expensive and crowded – very urbanized, I should say – but still, it is one of the most beautiful and one of the best places I’ve been to in my whole life. I have to say that I am really blessed to have had this chance of seeing one of the world’s richest cities.

Friday, 28 July
18:30 – It was my first time to travel by train in the UK and I found it quite interesting. The train ride was 3 hours from Swansea. I got to see the beautiful countryside of the UK while I was thinking of the things I needed to do to maximize my short stay in London. Needless to say, I was excited and a bit nervous. I’ve always felt this way when I go to a place that’s unfamiliar territory to me. But of course, being the adventure-seeker that I am, this trip was something I really looked forward to.

21:30 – My train arrived in London. I was overwhelmed by the number of people that are in the station and the station itself? It’s humongous! It can’t come to anything close back home! Ate Lau (MH’s cousin) wasn’t there yet when I arrived and I had to wait for almost an hour before I met them.

22:30 – Ate Lau and Jenny met me by Platform 8. She has totally slimmed down and looked nothing close to how I last saw her more than a year ago. The weather was okay – not too warm, not too cold. I had my first London tube rides going to Ate Lau’s place. I felt the same way as I did when I first used the subway system back in Canada. I felt that I was gonna get lost but as soon as we rode the tube, I felt better and more excited than ever. My entire weekend trip around London will depend on our riding the tube so it was worth to learn the map after all.

We had a very late dinner and then the chitty chats went on and on ’til about 5 in the morning. We were so engrossed to updating each other about what’s happening in our lives we barely noticed that the sun has risen and we still haven’t had a wink that night. We decided to sleep and I set my alarm to 7am.

29 July 2006
As I have been used to, I woke up at 7am after having a 2-hour respite, took a bath and got ready to make a tour around London. Ate Lau prepared a sumptuous breakfast for herself, me and Jenny. We left the house at around half past 9 and made the rounds on the tube. It was a wonderful experience. There were loads of tourists that day and London was just very, very busy.

Our first stop was to see the changing of the guards at the Buckingham Palace. The sun was shining so brightly and the place is JAMPACKED with people from all over the world. The ceremony starts at half past 11 so we decided to go to the Big Bus office first (it’s just a couple of blocks from where Buckingham Palace was) to get my ticket. Ate Lau and Jenny decided to get their tickets as well. We’re hopping on the 1pm bus around the city.

When we got back to the palace grounds, there was no place for us to stand near the gates anymore. We had to cross the street to Green Park and just view the crossing of the guards on the street into the palace. I caught the marching ceremony on my phone and took as many pictures as I can despite the distance.

Although I wasn’t able to see all there is to the changing of the guards, the music was enticing and just seeing the crowd made it all the more exciting. Hopefully, if I’ll ever get back to London, I will be able to see the full ceremony and take photos of those guards in red and black.

We walked along Buckingham Palace road and decided that we would like to have lunch at a nearby Filipino restaurant. We were waiting for our food when a couple went in – a Filipina and a foreigner. The lady looked very familiar to me so when they sat beside us, I asked her if she was from a school where I studied for university. Indeed, she was the girl – Sining! Oh my! We were both surprised because we haven’t seen each other for 12 whole years and there we were talking in a little restaurant in London – of all places! She’s already settled in Switzerland with her husband (who was very friendly and very nice) and she told me that she’s 3 months on the way – her first baby. She just looked as stunning and as cute as she was during our university days. Who would believe that we would meet in London after such a long time? The world has really gotten smaller! We have a picture with her husband that hopefully I could post very soon.

Well, we said our goodbyes to each other after a couple of more minutes of chatting. Ate Lau, Jenny and I hopped in that cute and red Big Bus for our city tour. Traffic was just terrible in London but still we managed to see a lot of good places and little streets in this expensive city. I enjoyed the views and was able to take loads of pictures that in time I will post in my album when access permits me.

The Big Bus tour lasted for about 2 hours. We went around London and saw a lot of tourist spots like the Picadilly Lane, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Hyde Park, etc. It was fun seeing the shopping district and the theatre district as well. We decided alight where the Big Ben was in Westminster. We failed to see the Abbey but we took pictures by the Big Ben. They say that you’ve never been to London if you don’t have a picture with that monumental clock. It’s pretty cool and that side of the road was VERY crowded – everyone seems to be taking photos with Big Ben all at the same time!

Our Big Bus tickets entitled us to a single way cruise on the River Thames by the Westminster Pier. So even if I know that I’m seasick, I grabbed that opportunity of a lifetime to cruise that famous river and tried my very best to enjoy the sights despite my being dizzy on the boat. I did my best to take photos of the important buildings that the tour guide was talking about.

London Bridge didn’t fall down on us but I realized that the bridge we know from the nursery rhyme is just a simple bridge – nothing fancy at all. The Tower Bridge was cool and fascinating – same with the Tower of London that’s there nearby.

The cruise went on for about 20 minutes and then we were dropped off near the souvenir shop and the entrance to the tower. I have free admission to the place using my London Pass (regular adult price is 14.50 if I remembered it right) but we decided not to go in anymore because it’s gonna be too costly for Ate Lau and Jenny. Instead we had photo opportunities with one of the guards outside which was fun.

We decided to go to the Monument using the tube. It’s pretty easy to go around London if you are not claustrophobic and you want to enjoy going around without the hassle of traffic, especially on a weekend. After a short discussion with Jenny, we decided to go up the 311 steps of that monument where you can see a good view of the London skyline from the top. It didn’t take us very long to go up the steps although we were panting like there’s no tomorrow as soon as we reached the top. We made it and I think I was like 100 pounds lighter! LOL! I have a certificate to prove it and signed by the guard in charge. It was all worth the effort! Yay!!!

From the Monument, we decided to go to Notting Hill. Oh yeah! There is a place called Notting Hill in London. We were told that the place where the film was shot has already been taken out of the Portobello Market because there have been series of fights in the area. Portobello Market is London’s very own Divisoria! It’s quite dirty, cramped and full of street vendors! Too bad most stores were already closed when we were there but it was worth the long walk looking at the numerous antique shops and fruits stands. Pretty cool! We saw about 2 Starbucks outlets there and of course I took pictures.

It was already past 8pm when we got back to Ate Lau’s place. We were all tired but it was worth it. Ate Lau prepared a sumptuous meal for the 3 of us consisting of salad, pasta, lamb strips and cheese. I would’ve wanted us to dine out for supper but Ate Lau insisted that she will just cook for us. The meal was great.

We capped the night with more chats that lasted ’til 2 in the morning. It was a pleasurable day and I enjoyed it immensely!

30 July 2006
I was up at 6am but I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed to prepare for a long day ahead of me. Instead, I prepared my itinerary for the day, finally took a bath at half past 7 in the morning to prepare myself for more walking and my 4-hour travel back to Swansea by bus and went out of my very cozy room for breakfast.

Ate Lau prepared a wonderful breakfast for the 3 of us but she apologized that she couldn’t accompany me to the other places I wanted to go to before I go back to Swansea because she still has to tidy up the place. Jenny dropped me off to the underground station before she went home.

I got off at Baker street because I wanted to go in Madame Tussaud’s – London’s wax museum. I changed plans because the queue was horrible and it might probably take me the whole day just to get inside. So much to seeing the wax museum they’re raving about.

I instead went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Since it was a Sunday, there was Eucharistic singing but the church was closed for tours. No photography was allowed inside the church but it’s just splendid and very, very beautiful. Just like what Papa told me when I’m visiting churches for the 1st time, I prayed and wished. I took photos from the outside. It’s just great to see one of London’s finest churches.

From St. Paul’s, I tried to locate the Temple Church where The Da Vinci Code was filmed. It took me a good hour to find it because the underground station was closed during Sundays. I had to take the bus and needed to ask directions for it. I was sunburned and tired when I finally reached my destination. I felt lucky because today was the last day that the church will be opened for visitors. Such a blessing indeed!

From the Temple Church, I went to Westminster Abbey, the Parliament Square and the Houses of Parliament. The Abbey’s closed on Sundays so all I did was to take pictures from the outside. I also took photos of the Houses of Parliament from the outside as well.

It was already half past 2 when I finished my round of photographs then proceeded to the Victoria station for my coach ride. However, I was stumped when I realized that I didn’t go to the correct station for National Express buses. I missed my bus and I had to buy a full ticket to go back to Swansea.

I waited for 2 hours for the next bus to Swansea. I was able to rest my tired feet and legs from walking. I relished the fact that I was able to survive the hustle and bustle of London without a single centavo from Papa. It was a feat for me indeed! I enjoyed, I travelled and most of all I appreciated the fact that I’m very lucky to be there just having a wonderful time. I know that not everyone can do what I’ve been doing now. I just feel so blessed!

I got home to Swansea at around half past 10 in the evening. I was very tired but I was happy! Tomorrow’s another day at work and how I wish I could have extended my stay in London. I just told myself that I will be going back there in the not-so-distant future – and I will do it!

Thursday Thirteen Week 3

I am going to London tomorrow afternoon after work and I’m very excited about the trip. Of course, I’ll be going there alone but I will be meeting up with MH’s cousin and her friend and will be staying with her until Sunday.

Most of the tourist spots there require admission fees. But thanks to my London Pass, I will be able to enjoy the spots there 98% free! YAY!!! That’s like 450 quid worth and I only paid 30 or so pounds for that πŸ™‚ And I also have a day travelcard to both the trains and buses so I could say that I really got a great deal!

My TT for this week is all about this trip so read on (and I hope I don’t bore you!). There are so many I’d like to do but here are the things that instantly came into mind. Just bear with it for now.

Cheers!

Thirteen Things I’m Going to Do in London

01. Take LOADS of pictures of the places and hopefully have a picture at all of those places.
02. See the CHANGING OF THE GUARDS and have a photo of it too.
03. Go up the MONUMENT and get that certificate they give out to people who complete the 330+ steps. (I hope I got the place right and who knows? I’ll be 80 pounds thinner by the time I reach the top! LOL!)
04. Have a picture with BUCKINGHAM PALACE in the background.
05. Walk the steps where THE DA VINCI CODE was filmed.
06. See the TOWER OF LONDON.
07. Have a NIGHT OUT at the pub with MH’s cousin.
08. See the MUSEUMS – there are loads of them out there.
09. Visit and pray inside the ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL.
10. Visit and have a photo with the WESTMINSTER ABBEY in the background.
11. They say there is a Filipino restaurant in London and I’d like to DINE there. I just miss Filipino food already!
12. Go and visit HYDE PARK.
13. ENJOY, HAVE FUN, and DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Kaye
2. Nat
3. Something’s Missing
4. Joe
5. Five-Time Mom – her link is not working 😦

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Bummer of a Wednesday

Today’s really slow here at work and I’m resting my eyes from what seems like forever to find receipts and entries that are for use some of the paperwork my boss is going to submit for his tax enquiry. I’ve been doing this since yesterday and my eyes are super duper strained already.

So what has happened to me the past couple of days? As I’ve mentioned in my last entry, we went to Margam Park in Port Talbot last Saturday for the balloon festival. The day started out overcast and gloomy but at around 2-3pm the skies cleared and there was sunshine. However, it was a very windy day as well and it caused trouble for the organizers to tether the balloons and all that stuff. I have like almost 300 pictures of the event but I won’t be able to upload it for now because we still don’t have net access at home. I will post them once I have the means to do it. It was a fun day and we had a picnic under the beautiful trees and basked around the wonders of nature that’s just breathtaking. The place is just humongous but with lots of trees and greens everywhere you look. Margam Castle is also there and they say it’s one of the most haunted castles in the UK. It looks creepy to me but it’s still beautiful.

The balloons did not take off because of the weather conditions but it was a wonderful day all together despite that boo-boo. The nightglow display was fantastic and the fireworks that capped the night were pretty as well. Aside from seeing a lot of handsome and gorgeous people around, we also saw Naomi Campbell with her British partner. She was hiding her face with big glasses and a cap but still people knew it was her. It can be that she’s just a look-alike but the people buzzed about it so I’d like to think that she and the lady were one and the same person. She’s tall and skinny! I heard that she’s addicted to coke too just as Kate Moss was addicted (or is she still?) to heroine.

Bling and I went out on Sunday to have my eyeglasses sorted. Unfortunately, the optical shops were closed so we ended up at Toys R Us in Parc Tawe. I bought my “starter” Lego Ferrari and a Lego City Police motorized boat. I’m planning to complete the Ferrari collection and build it back home. I am just drooling over the Ferrari race track and the Enzo Ferrari model – very, very pretty to build!



(Images courtesy of Lego UK)

I’m 45 quid poorer but I’m very happy about the purchase πŸ™‚ Ahh, the little child in me! LOL! I also bought 3 Superman action figures for Basti. Their current deal is to buy 2 and then you get 1 free so I grabbed it. Basti would definitely love to play with those collectibles. I just hope he would not destroy it. LOL again!

We then ate at Pizza Hut before we went home in the afternoon. Shops are closed by around 4 or 5pm so there was practically nothing to do at that time. We would have wanted to watch Superman Returns but we might just do that later if time permits and our wallets would allow us. If not, then we’ll just wait for the DVD release (as always).

Monday was not really good for me because of some changes here at the office. I don’t wanna dwell and discuss that for now but I’ll just see what’s gonna happen in the next couple of days after I go back from London this weekend.

Yesterday, I got off from work early to send a postal order for my eBay purchases and to sort my eyeglasses out. Specsavers has some special offers right now but I was ticked off when they told me that I have to pay 15 quid for the eye test. I was horrified but I was able to haggle and get them for free. I will have to pay 75 pounds for my glasses. As of this writing, I’m still thinking of whether I’ll be going in for my appointment today at half past 4 or I’m just gonna wait for better deals come bank holiday in August.

I guess that’s it for now. I have to go back and finish whatever work I have here on my desk…uh…oh…there’s practically NONE! LOL!

Ta ra!

The Weekend

Yipee! It’s a Friday and it’s the start of a brand new weekend for all of us!

The day started out not too good for me but it picked up before mid-day. It’s been busy since I walked into the office. But now I’m on lunch and enjoying my “quiet” time here at work.

There is a balloon festival going on ’til Sunday at Margam Park and we plan to go there tomorrow and enjoy the view. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so we’ll all have fun. I’m excited about it because it’s been a while since I last went out. Of course, that would mean more pictures for me and hopefully I’ll be on most of them! LOL!

Bling and I are planning to cap tomorrow night with a visit to Deer’s Leap with BIL and enjoy a couple of beer bottles, food and chat. I don’t know if Bling and I will be able to dine out tonight (we’re planning to go and check out the pizza buffet at Pizza Hut) but we’ll see depending on the time he’ll finish work in here. I also have plans of seeing Superman Returns and Garfield 2. Oh dear! So many things to do…so little time!

Since we have no internet service at home, I will be checking in again on Monday when time permits me and if I have something to write about. In the meantime, I wish everyone a safe and a wonderful weekend!

Cheers mate!

Cool Thursday

Ah! At last! The rains are here once again in good ol’ Swansea! The past couple of days have been scorching hot and now I’m enjoying the cool breeze and drizzle that we’re having today. Papa Jesus is so good! He hears my prayers all the time πŸ˜€

Well, I’m getting better now but my voice is still a little bit “abnormal” than its usual state. But at least I can speak more clearly and I don’t have to struggle while speaking. Yesterday, I cleaned up walls in one of the houses that my boss is letting out and I think I lost 5 pounds by doing that! LOL! Seriously, it was so hot yesterday and I felt like I was scorching myself to death! LOL again!

I have started using EBay and I am getting addicted to it. My first purchase was for a pair of Lacoste training trousers for Basti. And then I got this great deal for a blouse and got it only for 99p. However, the shipping costs were more than what the item is worth. But I think it’s okay. It’s worth it compared to paying for the bus fare or using car petrol to go to a shop. πŸ™‚ I’m excited to receive my items and leave feedback. I am watching a couple of more items and hopefully I could snag them very soon.

I was supposed to re-book my trip to London for this weekend but I learned that the train people were having a strike. I actually freaked out because I paid for a London Pass and some other pass with a travel card worth 45 quid and I was so paranoid not to be able to have it refunded. I e-mailed LondonTown (one of the best sites about London that I’ve visited so far!) about the predicament and waited ’til today for their reply. I got their reply today and told me that the strikes are suspended for this week and next week. Well, that’s good news for me though! So my London trip is on for next week! I can’t wait!

Since it’s a Thursday today, I am posting my Thursday Thirteen stuff. This is just something that popped in my head today so just bear with me.

Thirteen Things about MY HAIR

01. I used to have that apple cut thingy for my hair when I was little.

02. I used to have long, black, straight hair (just like from the commercials) when I was in Kindergarten.

03. I used to dream about having curly locks. But my hair, being perm-resistant, got badly damaged when my Mom brought me to the salon to have it done. I got frizzy hair afterwards.

04. My Mom used to style my hair in pigtails or in braids that made me look like an Indian girl back in grade school.

05. I started coloring my hair when I was in university. I started out using the blue-black color from Revlon. LOL!

06. I have a penchant for brown hair.

07. I did try the Demi Moore look when I was in 3rd year high school. Those were the days when Ghost was phenomenal.

08. I tried having bangs in high school but it failed to enhance whatever look I had.

09. I braid my own hair.

10. I used to look like a boy when I had it cut barber’s style.

11. I love having protein treatments and other kind of treatments for my hair.

12. I have devilish plans to dye my hair blonde or red.

13. 25 days of the month, I’m always having a bad hair day.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Kaye

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

That’s it for now! I have to go back to work…if there’s work to be done! LOL!

Ta ra!

Steamy Tuesday

Today’s a very hot day in Swansea and how I wish I could just go to work in shorts together with my comfy top. But of course, that would be unprofessional of me to do so unless I have permission from my boss. I’ve grown to be a bit darker each and every day but I really don’t mind because I know that I would be having my color back in a couple of week’s time.

Anyway, temperature’s expected to rise to a very hot mid-30’s in other parts of the UK. That is scorching hot – very similar to the weather back in the Philippines. Tomorrow, temperature’s expected to be at 32 degrees. Whew! Sana talaga pwede na lang mag-shorts pag pumasok!!!! Wala akong pakialam kung maglabasan ang mga taba ko! LOL!

I’ve been feeling sick since yesterday and I had to take 2 tablets of paracetamol to prevent the onset of fever and eventually catch the flu bug. My voice is getting hoarse and I’m just worried about having laryngitis again in a faraway land. Not out here please!

As much as I don’t want to make phone calls, I have to because that’s part of my job out here. I just hate it when my voice diminishes as I try to complete my sentences. It’s really weird. I just hope I don’t lose my voice all together this week. I don’t wanna ruin my London trip by the time it comes next week.

My boss gave me Franklin Covey’s Plan Plus – a software that I could use with MS Outlook to plan things here at the office. I miss using MS Outlook because it’s been a very useful tool for me back home especially for planning everything that I needed to do for the week or so. I have been tinkering with it for the past hour and I would like to use it back home as well. I’m sure Papa can also use this software – but the problem is he doesn’t have a laptop to use and he’s completely illiterate when it comes to operating a computer. But I’m sure his assistant could use this to help them out at the office.

I did visit some blogs and posted comments. Work is all done here at the office and tomorrow’s another day.

Ta ra!

Sick on a Monday

It’s been almost a week since I last posted. My sister decided not to renew her contract with AOL so we were left without internet access since Thursday afternoon. I have been quite busy at work so I didn’t have all the time to write during the times I was here at the office.

My nephew, Justin, celebrated his 2nd birthday. This cutie little guy at home doesn’t look like he’s too but he certainly acts like one. He could be very bratty but he could also be very sweet. I was sent home an hour early so I got to go to Toys R Us with them and bought him his cool new Little Tikes car. Bling, BIL and I were planning to watch Pirates 2 that time but the cinema was just way too crowded for us. We ditched the idea of watching and instead went to Neptune for some Chinese takeaway to enjoy for supper.

As per usual, my sister and my BIL had a catfight when we got home. It’s something I’ve learned to get used to when I got here. I was just sad because it had to be on the little guy’s birthday. Instead of enjoying, the day ended badly. Anyway, I was able to take pictures before the catfight happened so just enjoy them here.

Thursday, I was asked to come to work at 1pm. I ended up working ’til 7pm. Not bad for a day that started after mid-day.

Friday, I was asked to come in again at 1pm but I was a couple of minutes late because my sister was very busy in the kitchen for the party that we had that evening. She offered to give me a lift to the office because it was near the city centre where they were going. But it wasn’t really bad at all. The things on my to-do list were done in less than an hour so I really didn’t have to fret about being late.

My sister had a Friday night party over at her house for Justin’s birthday and that’s where I met the rest of the Filipinos working for the hospital where my sister works. 95% of them are married to other Filipinos and 2 are engaged to be married to their English boyfriends. It’s great that I finally met other Filipinos here but the fact remains that they will just remain to be my acquaintances. Why? Because it’s rare for these families to be holding parties or get-togethers even during weekends. Being mostly nurses by profession, their work schedule is very unpredictable.

The weather has become pretty hot over here and I’ve succumbed to the effects of the drastic changes to it. I’m nursing a bad cough and I feel like I’m coming down with a flu (keeping my fingers and legs crossed that it won’t happen). I just hate it when I have the cough because my voice gets affected and it might trigger laryngitis again – leaving me voiceless for the next couple of days. 😦 I just hope it doesn’t happen. I gotta go and grab an OTC treatment for this one.

The day here at the office started out not-so-nicely. Father and son had a bit of an argument about the scope of my work. Aside from feeling bad about my cough, I was teary-eyed about the situation. The last thing I wanted to happen was for them to have an argument about what I can and cannot do for their businesses. It was tough to hear them but it’s a good thing I was already excused and they resumed whatever they were having with me out of the way. I went down to my office at the lobby and I got upset and cried a little. Well, I’m normally like that when I’m upset. I just cry until I’m over it. I called up Kuya Lawrence and told him about what happened. He just told me to shrug off what happened and I don’t really need to take it too seriously. Subconsciously, I know that’s true but of course, it was hard to just be very objective about it when it’s all happening in front of you. I did some of the things I needed to do and just thought of talking to the younger guy when I have the chance. I found the not-so-perfect time. I apologized for what happened and he told me that there’s no need for an apology because it’s not anything about me – it’s about the way his Dad is. Well, just the same I apologized and told him that I understand the situation and I let him know how I felt about the whole thing. He just kept nodding his head in agreement and I knew then that we didn’t have any bad feelings for each other. He told me that he likes working with me but it’s a good thing I understand the way he wanted to run the business. I have nothing against the younger guy, really. He’s very nice and professional but of course, the pressure he gets from his Dad is something that can lead him to become grumpy at times and I TOTALLY understand that. Well, at least, I know that we’ll have a better “talking” relationship after what happened this morning. I would still get to see his cute face and his glowing hazel eyes whenever I go up to his office! LOL! (Lumalandi na naman ang lola ninyo!LOL!) Well, this guy is a certified cutie for me. If only he would smile or laugh even more. He’s just too serious whenever he’s in the office. He looks much, much better when he’s not in serious mode.

I guess that’s it for now. I have some photos from the party last Friday but I would need to put that on a disc and upload it from here. I will do that when I have the time.

Cheers and ’til the next entry! Ta!