Sweet Sixteen birthday cake

Last week I had to make a sweet sixteen birthday cake.  I can’t believe our oldest daughter is now 16 years old!  Time really flies.

This girl, she knows what she wants.  She did some searching on Pinterest and found some cakes that she likes.  I looked at them and we decided to blend some designs together and make up one of our own.

Sweet sixteen birthday cake

The cake itself had to be the Funfetti cake.  I have told you about this cake before.  It really is the greatest cake ever for this sort of thing.  It is a moist, solid cake, yet not as heavy as a mud cake.  It also cuts really nicely. We were going to need two cakes to make this birthday cake tall and impressive, so a few days beforehand, I baked the cakes and popped them in the freezer.

The day before her party, I took the cakes out of the freezer and got to work!  Cakes are so much easier to cut and ice when they are still half frozen.  I needed to shave off the risen top of each cake so that they would fit together nicely and then have a flat surface to decorate.

A lazy-susan is a plate that can turn and I put the cake on this so that it could be turned around easily as I ice.

Buttercream

The key part of this cake is the buttercream icing.  For a cake this size, I used 250g butter, creamed well using a stand mixer.  As the butter creamed, I gradually added around 2 1/2 cups icing sugar and mixed until well creamed together with the butter.  The colour of the buttercream was the biggest challenge in making this cake.  My daughter wanted a pretty mauve colour (also found using Pinterest!) so I used bottles of food colouring for this.  Using a teaspoon to pour the colouring onto (you can pour back any excess into the original bottle cleanly), I used pink and blue to make purple, then added a tiny bit of yellow to give it a lift.  Basically, I just kept adding colours until we got it to her satisfaction.

I used the buttercream icing as the filling between the cakes and, using a spatula and turning the lazy-susan as I went, I commenced covering the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. Then I used a piping set with a large, star shaped nozzle, to pipe the flowers and other little decorations on top.

Icing piping set

We finished it off with these pretty sparkly sprinkles part-way up the sides and over some of the top.

Funfetti birthday cake

I stored the sweet sixteen birthday cake in a cool room overnight (I left it uncovered).  If the weather is hot I would recommend keeping it in the fridge, but if it’s coolish weather then it should store fine overnight.

The next day, at the party, I popped a candle on the top and the cake was ready for action!

I hope you are inspired to make a pretty cake like this one. Let me know if you give it a go.

Trina xx

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Europe Trip – Part Four – Rome

Our final week was spent in Rome.  After being to London, Dublin and Paris, Rome was another exciting adventure.

DAY ONE – Rome

Friday

Once landed in Rome, we caught a train from the airport to Fiumicino.  From here, we caught a bus to near our Rome apartment.  We walked the last little bit on the old cobbled roads.  Can’t believe how old this place is!  I really felt like I was in the Bible.

We found our apartment which was old and charming and huge! Once settled in, we went out for a walk to discover that we were very close to the Piazza Navona.  This piazza was buzzing with amazing buskers, three fountains and people out walking and eating in the restaurants around the edge.  Pizza was definitely on the menu for us, so we found somewhere close by and tucked in to a whole pizza each!!  (We were hungry!)

Cobbled lane in Rome

DAY TWO – Rome

Saturday

This morning we walked to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is free to enter (bonus!) and it is so old and the dome roof is huge and spectacular to see. There is a big round hole in the roof which changes the lighting inside as the day progresses and the sun moves.

Once we had explored inside the Pantheon, we continued on to the Trevi Fountain. There were police blowing whistles at anyone who sat on the edge of the fountain.  Throwing money in was allowed though!

The Spanish Steps were next on the list for today. This place was bustling with people everywhere.  We walked up the steps for amazing views over Rome.

Spanish Steps view

At the top of the Spanish Steps is the Chiesa di Trinita dei Monti, a church which actually had a French service in progress while we were there. A young lady seemed to be singing the Psalms and sounded very angelic.  The atmosphere in here was very special.

 

A point to note about Rome

There are no public toilets in Rome, in the streets.  Not even paying toilets like in Paris.  If you eat out you can use the bathroom facilities in the restaurant, but otherwise, there are no toilets around.  Thankfully our apartment was quite central to most places, so we could drop in during the day for planned toilet breaks.

After lunch, we walked across the River Tevere (Tiber) to Vatican City. We lined up for 30 minutes to enter St Peter’s Basilica (free entry – yippee!). This place was amazing.  Well worth lining up for. Apparently St Peter is buried under the floor there.  The gold on the ceiling in the Basilica was taken from the inside of the Pantheon many years ago.

St Peter's Basilica

DAY THREE – Rome

Sunday

This morning we walked to Piazza Ponte Portese (over the river) for the Ponte Portese Flea Market. This market is apparently the largest in Rome…..and yes, it was!

Rome market

The stalls went on and on!  The prices were good and you could bargain with the stall-holders.  Not many tourists came here and very few souvenir stalls, so it was good to see some of the local stuff for sale. There were lots of cheap clothes, shoes, handbags, coats, jewelry, makeup, hats, underwear, etc. We spent a couple of hours browsing and buying some treasures.

After a quick lunch of sandwiches with Pistachio spread (if you are in Rome, you’ve got to buy yourself a jar.  We became addicted and had to take four of them home!), we found the second market for the day. This one was closer to “home”, the Camp di Fiori, which was much more touristy. You could buy fruit, juices, liqueurs, spices and pasta flavour mixes.

We decided to continue on to a third and final market for the day. This next one was a bit of a walk away, down towards the Colosseum.  It was called Mercato Monti Urban Market.  It was quite small and in the basement of a hotel building. The stallholders where quite classy and sold expensive handmade jewelry, clothes and other quirky things. It was quite the artisan gathering.

The gelati place we found on the way home from this market was so good.  Quality ingredients and delicious flavours (“Al CoNosseo”, Via Cavour, 289-00184 – Roma).  You must go there!

DAY FOUR – Rome

Monday

We went to the Vatican Museum this morning. Pre-purchased tickets once again saved us a massive queue.  The line for tickets went down the street, around the corner and down the next street!

It was nice to be able to walk straight in, without waiting, but once we were in, the crowds where quite overwhelming.  The place filled up very quickly.  There were lots of tour groups.  We had audio guides which were really good but we had to stand off to the side to pause and listen at various points or we would get swept away with the crowd. The Sistine Chapel was the final place along the tour (no photos allowed in this part). “Silence” was frequently called out by the staff around the place (it was a bit stressful!). The Michaelangelo paintings on the ceilings and walls are incredible.  I got a sore neck and eyeballs from trying to look up at the ceiling.

Vatican Museum, Rome

After another lunch of pistachio spread sandwiches, we found the Sant ‘Eustachio II Caffe. This place was recommended to us by a work mate – best coffee in the world! We tried it (had to stand at the coffee bar to drink it) and it was pretty good.  Since being home I have been working hard to replicate it!

We continued walking (in a very alert state after the caffeine hit) on to the Portico of Octavia.  These are ancient ruins including colonaded walks, built around 27BC. It was weird to see ruins in a normal Roman street!

Next we visited the Chiesa del Gesu (the Jesuit church in Rome). This is an incredible church, built in 1551, well worth a look if you find yourself nearby.

DAY FIVE – Rome

Tuesday

We were up bright and early to walk to the Coloseum this morning. Our pre-purchased tickets were for 9am and when we arrived we could walk straight in, not having to queue up. The audio guides were helpful here too, but we found them to be not as good at others we have had throughout our trip. I loved looking at the passageways you can see that would have been under the arena floor.

The Colosseum, Rome

From here, we walked next door to the Forum and Palatine Hill. No audio guides for here but all the ruins had information signs so we could read about what we were looking at. We spent all afternoon exploring here.  The sun was quite hot and by the end we were “ruined”. So we left and went back to the Al CoNosseo gelati shop from the other day.

We ate out at a restaurant called Fattaincasa and I ate the best pasta carbonara in my life. After dinner we walked back to the Colosseum to see it lit up at night. The city looks beautiful at night.

 

DAY SIX – Rome

Wednesday

Today we walked over the river again and explored Trastevere, a quaint little area of Rome where lots of students live.  There is a university there and the food is cheap!  There are also less tourists there.  The laneways there are picture perfect.

Trastevere, Rome

Pizza was cheap so we enjoyed a delicous lunch at Carlo Menta.

We did a spot of shopping this afternoon and of course indulged in our daily gelati.

DAY SEVEN – Rome

Thursday

This morning we ventured out to Roscioli bakery (it’s not far from our apartment) for some treats! We enjoyed a very special morning tea here. Apparently this bakery is Rome’s oldest.

After this we walked to the Villa Borghese gardens.  These gardens were so beautiful with a lake and more ruins! There were ducks, swans and tortoises both swimming in the water and sunning themselves on the rocks.

Gardens, Rome

We walked home via the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon to see them for one last time. Today is going home day.

Near the Pantheon we found a place called “150 Flavours” so had to have one last gelati….but how to choose!  Oh my, it was a big decision!

Then we stopped by our apartment and picked up our bags.  We walked to a nearby bus stop.  The bus took us to the Termini and we caught an airport shuttle bus out to the airport.  It all  went smoothly and we survived the long flight home.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our travel adventures.  I hope it has been helpful for you. Let me know if you would like to know more!!

Trina xx

 

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Europe trip – Part Three – Paris

After London and Guildford, then Dublin, we continued on our merry way to Paris!

DAY ONE – PARIS

Friday

Our flight from Dublin to Paris was only just over an hour long.  We arrived in Paris late in the morning and took a taxi to our apartment in Monte Marte.  Our apartment was on the sixth floor and in an old apartment building (no lift!). Climbing the steep, old stair case with our luggage made us so thankful that our girls were able to carry their own suitcases.

Paris apartment stairs

Once we had sorted ourselves out we went for a walk to explore our neighbourhood.  We walked along our little road, turned the corner and the Sacre Coeur was just up ahead!  We knew we were close, but didn’t realise we were quite this close. As we continued on, we climbed the steps of the Sacre Coeur to admire the view.  It was about 3.30pm and the 3pm Friday mass was in progress.  We were still allowed to enter so we quietly walked around, soaking up that beautiful place.

Sacre Coeur ahead

DAY TWO – PARIS

Saturday

This morning we walked to Le Marche aux Puces de Saint Ouen.  This is a flea market with some tacky jacket and shoe stalls out at street level, but as we explored further in, we found some gorgeous stalls full of Parisian antiques and fascinating bits and bobs.  Everything from buttons, doillies, door handles, jugs, paintings, plates, furniture…..

Paris market

From here, we walked quite a way to Marche St-Quentin, a covered market with all sorts of food stalls. We stopped here for a quick lunch.

After lunch we continued on to Galeries Lafayette.  This is a huge shopping centre with every brand name you’ve ever seen inside.  The inside of this building is very ornate and in the middle was a massive “Dior” hot air balloon suspended from the ceiling.  It was beautiful and probably there to celebrate  Seventy Years of Haute Couture for the House of Dior this year. We went to the sixth floor of this building which was the rooftop.  Out here was a great view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.

Dior balloon, Paris

DAY THREE – PARIS

Sunday

We were up early and walked to the Eiffel Tower today. The walk took us over an hour – it’s a long way from where we were staying! Unfortunately we hadn’t pre-booked tickets for the Eiffel Tower (BIG MISTAKE!). We had to line up in a huge queue for a security check, then join the next huge queue to buy tickets, then yet another security bag check before queuing for the lift.  This process took ages and we got quite cold just standing still for so long.  I heartily recommend pre-purchasing tickets for this!

Anyway, once we were going up the lift it was great.  The view going up was incredible and the structure itself is so intricate that I could hardly believe it.  To think that originally it was intended to be a temporary structure!  Crazy!

 

Eiffel Tower structure

Once at the top, the view was amazing for a few minutes but the weather started to deteriorate very quickly.  We took a few quick photos then came inside for shelter and a bit of lunch we had brought with us.

After the Eiffel Tower we walked to the Musee de l’Armee Invalides.  This is an artillery museum, army historical museum and also has the Dome Church, where the tomb of Napoleon is. This was a great place to visit.  We got the audio guide here and learnt a lot about the history of French wars which overlapped with the British history we had seen in London. This kind of history is not something we learn much about at school in Australia.

Then we ate amazing crepes from a street stall along the way to Forum Les Halles, a big shopping centre. This place was a bit weird.  The layout was strange.

Once we got “home” we had walked 17km.  It was a huge day!

DAY FOUR – PARIS

Monday

We walked to the Louvre early this morning. We had pre-purchased tickets for this so we were able to walk straight in, with a very short queue. It was the start of the day, so we trotted straight through to the Mona Lisa and managed to get a good look at her.  She’s quite little compared to the huge paintings elsewhere in her room!  Once again we had audio guides and it was great to be able to listen to a commentary on different works of art.

The Louvre, Paris

By 2pm we had had enough.  We had really enjoyed it, but it was time to go.

We walked through the gardens around the Louvre before trekking “home”.

DAY FIVE – PARIS

Tuesday

The alarm went off at 6.30am so that we could catch a train out to Versailles.  The Palace of Versailles is a beautiful place to visit. We had pre-purchased tickets which made our wait to enter much less than if we hadn’t.  The audio guide for this was excellent.  First was the King’s State Apartment, the Hall of Mirrors, the Bulls Eye Salon, the Council Salon, the Queen’s Apartment and the King’s Chamber. These rooms were all dripping in gold and filled with amazing paintings. The ceilings were particularly incredible.

Within the Palace grounds we walked to the Grand Trianon.  This was built from pink marble and was built in 1687 for King Louis XIV as the setting for his love affair with Madame de Montespan.

The gardens at Versailles

We then walked to the Petit Trianon, built between 1762 and 1768 as a place for the private use of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour.  In 1774, Louis XVI gave it to Marie-Antoinette and it became her favourite place to stay. Part of the gardens is English in style.  This was a cute place and I loved seeing Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom (apparently!).

Marie-Antoinette's bedroom, Versailles

DAY SIX – PARIS

Wednesday

The Notre Dame was our destination this morning. We took the Metro this time, just for something different! It is free to enter the Notre Dame and definately worth seeing. The stain-glass windows and the Gothic architecture is incredible. It is a beautiful Catholic church which was built over many years: 1163-1800s. It is the first of Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals. If you go here, you must walk around the back of the Notre Dame to really appreciate the structure. From here, we walked across a bridge over the Sienne to Jardin du Luxembourg. We ate our lunch in this garden and had an expensive 50€cent wee in the garden’s public toilets.

Notre Dame, Paris

After lunch we walked to the Picasso museum and saw many original Picasso paintings, drawings and sculptures. There were also photos of Pablo Picasso and his life story written on the walls.

Dinner was at a traditional French restaurant just down our road called Le Saint Regis. We enjoyed lots of yummy food and rolled home very full indeed!

DAY SEVEN – PARIS

Thursday

We caught the metro to The Arch de Triomphe this morning.  We stood and watched the crazy traffic at this intersection (12 avenues enter it!) for a while and wondered how anyone could possibly know which way to go.

A leisurely stroll down the Champs-Elysees followed. We enjoyed looking at the shops and found some “luxury loos” along the way which cost €2 each.  We decided to hold on.

Champs-Elysees, Paris

We stumbled upon the Musee d’Orsay, a famous impressionist art museum. We took our time looking at famous paintings and sculptures (once again the audio guide was fantastic – except mine was in Italian!). We saw paintings by Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir and many others.

The building itself is a former railway station built between 1898 and 1900. There is an amazing clock on the end wall which overlooks Paris.  This clock features in the movie “Hugo”.  It is beautiful.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris

DAY EIGHT – PARIS

Friday

This morning it was time to say “goodbye” to Paris. We took the train out to Charles de Gaulle airport to catch our flight to our final destination: Rome!

Paris views

Paris was a great place to explore.  Loved it.

Trina xx

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Europe trip – Part Two – Dublin

On our recent trip to Europe, we went to Dublin after our week in London and Guildford.  You can read all about Week One over here.

DAY ONE – Dublin

Monday

We flew from London to Dublin on a Monday afternoon, leaving from London City airport.  Our flight was delayed so it was a boring afternoon sitting at the boarding gate, waiting for the plane to be “fixed”! Eventually, though, we were on our way.

Once landed in Dublin (it was nice and sunny), we caught the “Aircoach” bus to our friends’ house, near University College Dublin (UCD) in Blackrock. This bus was easy to catch from the airport and gave us a bit of a tour through the city.

Our time in Dublin was spent staying with friends who we’ve known for many many years. This time was so precious and I couldn’t believe we were actually there, at their house, in their kitchen, playing with their children. They were so hospitable and gave us such a wonderful time. We felt so blessed to be with them.

Upon arrival, we enjoyed a beautiful home-cooked meal and relaxed and chatted until late.

DAY TWO – Dublin

Tuesday

We were treated at “home” to a delicous breakfast of pancakes with fruit this morning – wow!

In order to purchase tickets for the local bus system, we went to the local shop and got all sorted out. We needed what is called a “Leap Card”. We used our newly purchased Leap Cards to ride the bus into Dublin, where we walked around, exploring the city.

Lunch was at the Marks & Spencer rooftop cafe which was really good.  We met some new friends here!

Dublin seagull

After lunch, we purchased “Hop on hop off” bus tickets and spent most of the afternoon staying on the bus listening to the driver’s commentary (he was a funny man!). This is actually a really good way to see the city (especially when the weather isn’t great).

In the evening we enjoyed another delicious dinner back at “home”, before venturing out to a couple of local pubs.

First stop was Gleesons.  This place was nice, quite fancy and posh.  We enjoyed a drink here before moving on to the next one.

Next stop was The Old Punchbowl.  If you ever get the chance – visit this place!  This was an old, traditional pub where there was an older crowd of regulars. They brought their musical instruments along and burst into traditional Irish song.  The atmosphere was amazing.  They guy who played the little piano accordian was 94 years old and he was playing that thing like a charm. It was a great night!

DAY THREE – Dublin

Wednesday

This morning’s breakfast at “home” was smoked salmon, mashed avocado and cream cheese on yummy bread – we love it here!

Today the weather was cold and rainy but we went back into the city and had lunch at St Stephens shopping centre.

Dublin

Then it was on to investigate Trinity College and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a very old,  beautifully decorated book containing the four gospels of the Bible in Latin. Some of the pages were projected on the walls with written explanations to go with them.

From here, it leads in to the Old Library, where the oldest and largest collection of books in Ireland are kept.  The oldest harp in Ireland is also kept here.  This place is beautiful.  You must visit this place.

The Old Library, Dublin

After this, we went to the Little Museum of Dublin.  Our lady tour guide here was very entertaining.  She basically showed us through two rooms which contained pictures, paintings and letters from all stages of Irish history. Very educational. There is also a room downstairs devoted to Irish music, in particular U2.

We went for a walk to Temple Bar then, to a cafe called “Queen of Tarts” – another place that should be high on your list! Here we enjoyed an incredible afternoon tea of lemon meringue pies and berry and apple crumbles.  The cakes in their glass cabinet are all so impressive and tempting, it’s so hard to choose.

Queen of Tarts, Dublin

Dinner tonight was at Tribeca, a local restaurant with beautiful food.  Check it out here.

DAY FOUR – Dublin

Thursday

We started our day with a delicious breakfast at a local cafe called Rocketfoods – check it out here. This place is small but very popular with the locals. I had the porridge which came with honey, blueberries and cream to pour on – yum! Perfect on a cold day. (Note to self: must try to recreate this at home.)

Once all fueled up, we drove out to the Brú na Bóinne visitor’s centre and toured both Newgrange and Knowth.  Here there are huge Irish passage tombs – earthern mounds which are covered in lush green grass. They are said to be older than the pyramids (dating back to 3200BC) and with quite mysterious histories! These tours were fascinating (you travel out to each place on a bus from the visitor’s centre).  If you go to Dublin, try to get out to this place! The countryside on the way is also a highlight. Sheep farms and narrow roads make this quite the adventure!

Knowth, Ireland

Tonight we went out for dinner to an Italian pizza place called Basil.  The food here was really good and we even managed to squeeze in dessert pizzas too (nutella, raspberries, whipped cream….). They were crazy-good!

DAY FIVE – Dublin

Friday

The alarm went off at 6am this morning and we quickly downed a piece of toast and a coffee before taking a taxi to the airport.  Our time in Dublin was over and it was time to say goodbye to our friends. Our Irish adventure was fantastic and we will never forget it. Thank you to our friends for making it so special!

Leaving Dublin

Where to next?  It’s time to get excited for Paris!  Tune in next time to hear all about it!

Trina xx

 

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Europe trip – Part One – London

Our little family of four went on a four week trip to Europe in September this year. This trip has been a dream of ours for years and it was such a privilege and thrill to experience the reality of this dream. Our girls are 13 and 15 years old and were an ideal age for this kind of holiday.

The girls were able to physically handle their own luggage (came in handy when trying to board trains in a hurry), they were able to walk all day long without needing to be carried 😊, they had genuine interest in the historical aspects of where we went and were prepared to take the time to learn and appreciate everywhere we visited. They were a pleasure to take!

So, over the next month or so, I will take you through our trip week by week and outline what we did, where we went and let you know any tips or tricks we discovered along the way.  This was my first time leaving Australia, ever, so it was a huge deal for me!

We were gone for four weeks exactly.  We visited London, Dublin, Paris and Rome. Today I will tell you all about our London leg!

Our flight from Australia was very long but it went smoothly.  Read about how I coped with the long haul flight over here.

LONDON – DAY ONE

Sunday

Today we landed in Heathrow – London and took the train to our apartment in Hyde Park, booked through Air BnB. We had pre-purchased Oyster cards which made our Tube travel on arrival very stress free. Our local Tube stops were Bayswaer and Queensway which are on differnt lines.  This was very handy! We stayed int the ground floor level of this apartment building. It was very comfortable and was a good home for us in London.

Hyde Park apartment

LONDON – DAY TWO

Monday

Took the Tube to Westminster and walked along Westminster Bridge to see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. Then we walked to Westminster Abbey where we did a self-guided tour.  This was worth doing!  Loved it.

After a quick lunch of pre-packed sandwiches across the road from the Abbey, we walked along Whitehall where we stumbled upon Downing Street with it’s heavily guarded and gated entrance. Then we came across the changing of the guard of the Household Cavalry.  This was an unexpected surprise!

The Queens Cavalry, London

We continued walking on to Trafalgar Square and then onto Picadilly Circus (which was covered in scaffolding! 😕).

Then it was on to the British Museum.  The British Museum is free entry so we just took our time in the ancient Egytian section, vowing to return another day. The British Museum is a must-see if you are visiting London! Just walk in whenever you are in the area. There is always something amazing to see there.

British Museum

Took the Tube back to our place. Lots of walking today but you really get to know the city well by pounding it’s pavements.

DAY TWO – LONDON

Tuesday

This morning we visited the Tower of London, once again opting for a self-guided audio tour (they are the way to go!). Here we were able to see the Crown Jewels which was quite mind-boggling (no photos allowed). Definitely worth doing. This tour took all morning.

Tower of London

We were starving by the end of the morning, so we walked across Tower Bridge and continued along the edge of the Thames to Southwark, where we bought a yummy lunch at the Borough Market.  This place was buzzing with all sorts of street food, buskers and local produce.

From here it was a short walk to Tate Modern Art Gallery. Managed to spot a Monet and Picasso painting here, but it was just a quick look. We were ready for a lie down by this stage in the day!

DAY THREE – LONDON

Wednesday

Today was our tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace!!  I was so excited about this and it ended up being one of the highlights of our trip for me.  When the Queen is away for the summer in Balmoral, 10 weeks of every year, the Palace’s State Rooms are open to the public (no photos allowed).  We pre-booked this tour online and I would recommend doing that.  You risk missing out otherwise. It was such a privilege to have access to the Palace and it’s grounds. If you are in London at the right time of year, definitely do it!

Buckingham Palace

We left the Palace (reluctantly) after stopping for a coffee on the Queen’s back verandah, and walked to St Jame’s Park.  Here we saw squirrels and went crazy over them. SO cute!

Squirrel in St James Park, London

This afternoon was shopping on Oxford Street time!  We bought quite a few things here, but were very conscious that we still had over three weeks left of our trip and our suitcases were already full!  It is amazing what you can squeeze in when you really want to though. The store Lush was high on the agenda.

Lush, Oxford Street, London

DAY FOUR – LONDON

Thursday

Today we thought we’d try our luck at Kensington Palace.  We had tried to pre-book this from home but all the sessions were booked out.  We turned up just before it opened and got in!  I was thrilled about this because I really wanted to see the special exhibition dedicated to Princess Diana – Her Fashion Story (being her 20 year anniversary this year).  This was fantastic.  We also saw the Queen’s State Apartments, the King’s State Apartments and a section from Queen Victoria’s time.  It is steeped in history, but doesn’t have the grandeur of Buckingham Palace’s State Rooms. It is unique in its own way.

Kensington Palace

Had our sandwiches in the front yard of Kensington Palace, then Tubed it to Tottenham Court Road.  We walked along Charing Cross Road and browsed in some old book shops. (And yes, the basement was worth a look!)

Bookshop, Charing Cross, London

Then we returned to the British Museum and spent time in the Greek section as well as the ancient Iran section and the Europe section. Could have spent all week in this place!  So much to see.

DAY FIVE – LONDON

Friday

Our time in the city of London is coming to an end today.  Before leaving though, we walked to Portobello Road Market. This is a fascinating place! Apparently Fridays and Saturdays are the best days to go (lucky for us!). Here we ate Nutella donuts the size of our heads (2 for £2, a good deal!).

Portobello Road market, London

After this we Tubed it to Waterloo Station and caught a country train south to Guildford. Very good friends of ours who lived near us in Australia for a few years now live in Guildford. We were going to spend the weekend with them in their town. A taste of real life in the UK! I had been really looking forward to this leg of our trip.

The fun started straight away with a few drinks at their local pub! I tried Pimms – mmmmm! Even the sky is pretty!

Guildford sky

 

DAY SIX – GUILDFORD

Saturday

Spent the day with our friends shopping and walking around, exploring their gorgeous town.  It is so pretty here.

High Street, Guildford, UK

DAY SEVEN – GUILDFORD

Sunday

Today our friends drove us to the nearby village of Shere.  This village is so quaint and typically English.  It actually features in a couple of movies (“The Holiday” and “Bridget Jone’s Diary”). We loved exploring here. There are some great places to poke around in and found a nice place for lunch.

Shere, UK

Back in Guildford later in the day we visited a different pub, The Weyside.  As the name suggest, it is right on the Wey River.  It is a very pretty pub and the Pimms here tastes pretty good too!

DAY EIGHT – GUILDFORD

Monday

Time to leave Guildford today.  Spending time with our friends here was so special and it was sad to leave.

We took the train back into London, to Waterloo Station. I love the inside of this place. Just had to show you!

Waterloo Station, UK

From here we took the train to London City Airport, ready to fly to Dublin!!

Flying London to Dublin

You’ll hear all about our Dublin adventures next time!!

I have just given you a brief outline of the places we visited (and tried to show you the highlights without boring you with too many photos), just to give you an idea of the things you can do around London and what we enjoyed. I would come back here in a heartbeat.

Just so you know, we booked our accommodation through Air BnB and found it to be excellent. We had researched the locations of each place very well and had specific things we were looking for (such as wifi, washing machine, separate beds for the girls, etc). Every place we stayed in was very well equipped and was a nice temporary home base. We would book like this again.

Trina xx

 

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