Saturday, November 20, 2010

London Part 3- Harrods and Hamleys

I had about a dozen or so people tell me that I HAD to go to Harrods and Hamleys. I had heard of Harrods but never Hamleys. OH MY GOODNESS I was not prepared for either of them. Harrods is a store that is about the size of one of our shopping malls. They hand you a map when you go in and I STILL got lost. lol! The Childrens Department and Toy Department was one whole floor. You just keep walking through room after room after room after room of clothes and toys. Now mind you I didn't purchase any clothes for Aidan because with names like Armani, Chloe, and Burberry who could really afford it? I wasn't about to pay $300.00 for a pair of minature jeans. lol! The toys were normal prices so Aidan picked out 2 trains he wanted. They had a restaurant just for kids on the childrens floor that even sold baby food. They had a sweets bar and ice cream bar on another floor. There were multiple restaurants located in the store.

Hamleys is a famous toy store located in London that happens to be 5 stories tall! Yes 5 stories!!! When you walk in they hand you a shopping bag that is half the size of my body and I am 5'10.

Both of the stores sent me into sensory overload! But I really enjoyed both places.

Harrods at night....Sorry for the blurry pic.

Need an Elvis costume for your dog? You can find it at Harrods.
They had about 3 rooms dedicated to pet fashion.

The Wonderland Cafe.... Where a kid can sit at the kid size tables and have a snack.

Playing in a teepee in Harrods. I have to say Aidan could have spent HOURS in this store.

and riding one of the toy horses.

Outside of Hamleys. Now THAT is the entrance to a store.

Inside of Hamleys

Friday, November 19, 2010

London Part 2- sightseeing with Annalise

Annalise is one of Clinton's junior trainers. She travels with him to Australia and the UK. She literally works 18 to 20 hours a day for a month at a time. This was her 2nd or 3rd trip to the UK and she had yet to really see London. I decided to kipnap her for the day and tour the city. After taking a train and subway into the city we finally arrived. I decided we would do one of the "big bus tours". This is a tour company that uses the double decker buses. They drive around the city with a guide telling you all about the city. You can jump off at any of the stops, spend as much time as you want in a particular area and then hop back on. The buses run every 15 minutes so you know that you won't be waiting long for a bus. This was a really neat way to see the city. I didnt have to worry about which public bus to take and where to get off. The ticket was good for 24 hours. It was really easy and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting London.

We decided to spend some time doing the LONDON EYE. It is a ferris wheel looking contraption that is really an observation wheel as it moves at a very slow pace. Each capsule holds about 25 people and there are up to 800 people on the wheel at any given time. In short it is a CASH COW! They were going to take it down after 5 years but decided to leave it there. Hmmm..... I wonder why? At any rate it was totally worth the time ( we had to wait in line for awhile) and money ( it wasnt cheap) seeing London from this vantage point.

The Big Bus tour also included a boat tour on the Thames. This tour was worth it and included in our price. It was a totally different vantage point of the city.

Of course I HAD to take Annalise to Harrods, so we finished up the day there. We had a really delicious dinner at Waggamama's and then headed home back on the subway and train.

On "The Eye"

Pic of the London Eye

Annalise and Aidan

Its the small things that make this boy happy. He was totally estatic when I bought him some popcorn. He begged and begged for some ice cream. It was so cold that there was NO WAY I was going to buy him ice cream so popcorn it was.

View of Big Ben at sunset

On the top of the Double Decker bus. The BEST way to see the city.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

London Part 1

We are now back from the UK and all I can say about our experience there is WOW! I am so thankful that we got to go and experience the UK and the people there and sooo thankful that Aidan got to experience it. I want him to grow up to know that there is much in the world to see and explore and it is so much bigger than the microcosm where we live ( wherever that is at the time lol!). Probably the thing that I loved most about London is the people there. I guess Aidan and I experienced it a little differently than most people because Clinton works there on a regular basis and we have over 150 Lifetime members there. I was already friends with many of them on Facebook and was so excited to finally meet in person the people that I have come to know on Facebook. I can't even put into words the hospitality of the people there! I hate to say it but Southerners with "Southern Hospitality" have nothing on the people from the UK. It really is like we have extended family there. The men there are like the antithesis of the stereotypical redneck. They are polite and thoughtful. A couple of them really saved my butt while Aidan and I were riding the public transportation giving me directions as to where to hop off the bus and giving me a hand with Aidans stroller. I never had to ask once for someone to help me with the stroller because there was always a nice gentleman offering assistance. I even witnessed men giving up their seats on the tube and bus so a woman could sit down. I can't tell you the last time I witnessed that here in the states or anywhere else! It was like a slap in the face when we landed in Chicago. I never realized how rude Americans really can be. Aidan and I were struggling in Chicago to go through Immigration, Customs, obtain our luggage, recheck our luggage, get through security and make our connecting flight on time. We were in a real time crunch and not ONE person was helpful or even smiled for that matter. If anything they made it much more DIFFICULT to accomplish. I swear the lady that checked our id's at security took 5 minutes! It was RIDICULOUS- it should not take longer than a minute to look at someones Passport and boarding pass. I really do LOVE the USA and don't want to sound like I am bashing our country, but traveling this time was a real eye opener and I will get off my soap box now.

Here are just a few of the pictures that I took. I will share more later.

Aidan and I had 4 hours to kill the day that we checked out of our hotel at London Heathrow ( where we had Play to Win) We had to check out of our room at 11 and someone wasn't picking us up until 4 ( Clinton had to drive the van with the equipment and crew so they could set up at the next venue for the advanced courses). I decided to grab a cab and spend the time in Windsor. I am so glad we did! Windsor is a charming little town and we got to tour Windsor Castle. Aidan sitting in front of Windsor Castle. He seemed a little hesitant to go in the castle. When I asked him what was wrong he said, "are there going to be knifes (knights) in the castle?" First- I am amazed at the age of 3 he correlated castles and knights and Two- I guess the "knight" at the Marshall game really left a lasting impact. lol! The nice lady at the ticket office told him not to worry because the knights there were nice and the good guys. lol! You are not allowed to take photographs of the inside of the castle but it was breathtakingly beautiful! There were paintings ( Rembrandt's) there that had been hung centuries earlier. It is just mind boggling to think about. At one point Aidan slipped underneath one of the velvet ropes and was headed to one of the sofas there to have a little rest. Luckily I caught his shirt in time because the "sofa" was 300 years old and I don't think the Queen would appreciate a little boy laying on it. lol!

The town of Windsor. The little blue shop is Cath Kidston and one of my FAV's!

2 of the guards at Windsor Castle.

Our friend Jemma. She was Clinton's promoter and the one that brought him over to the UK. She has stayed with us several times in San Diego and even came over to babysit Annabelle and house sit for us when we went to Australia for Christmas a couple of years ago. She met us in London and took Aidan and I sight seeing. Here is Aidans first ride on one of the double decker buses. He was so excited and LOVED it!

Aidan playing in the leaves at St. James Park.

Aidan was a little leery of the goose. lol!

Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. Jemma has lived in London her entire life and has NEVER seen the changing of the guards.

The flag signifying that the Queen is in Residence.

Gorgeous view of Buckingham Palace from St. James Park.

one of the infamous red phone booths.

Jemma and her boyfriend Duncan. He met us for dinner and of course he is totally charming! He and Aidan really hit it off!

I will share more later. I have an entire post about HARRODS and HAMLEYS so stay tuned.