June 4 – Mamma Mia, there we went again, and again.

I should be grateful the day didn’t start with a fire alarm until 8am, pretty good! Out of spite, and maybe because all this holidaying is starting to catch up with me, I slept in for another hour. We don’t have anything booked til 2:30, so I guess sometimes when you’re on holiday, you’re allowed to have a bit of a, well, holiday.

As usual, down to Pret for a coffee and a tasty breakfast. It was also time to figure out what to do with the morning. It’s absolutely beautiful weather, but the sleep in has left it a bit late to pop over to regent’s park, so instead we’re on a shopping mission. So why not put on our Sydney thinking hat, and head to the nearest Westfield?

The quickest way was by bus, so that’s another mode of transport to tick off the list. One thing I learned, when a double decker bus “leans” to allow easy access for passengers to get on or off, you really feel it on the top deck. As a bonus, it was a fully electric bus – very quiet, but also super comfortable. An eco-conscious start to the day 🙂

We didn’t stay too long at Westfield – Perry didn’t find something he was looking for, and we had a show to get to. So after finding our way to White City tube we caught the (very very warm!) Central Line , changed at Notting Hill Gate for the District & Circle line back to Gloucester Road. (Why so much detail? Because years from now, nerdy future-me will no doubt want to know 🙂 ). That was only a 5 minute stop to pick up jackets for later tonight, as we had two shows quite close to each other, time-wise.

So, straight back on to the tube, to Embankment, which wasn’t the closest station to the Novello Theatre but apparently offered the fastest way to get there. As we got on the train yet again we could well have been singing “Mamma Mia, here we go again!” Because Mamma Mia was indeed where we were going. Again. We’d seen it in Sydney before but not here. The theatre itself is quite beautiful.

The show is (breaking the trend) not a tragic love story, but rather a somewhat odd premise of a young lady not knowing who her father is so she invites all three possible contenders to her upcoming wedding. I guess in the Mamma Mia universe, DNA tests simply don’t exist. It could have made for a very short show.

From what I remember of Sydney, I’m sure this one’s set was much simpler, most scenery was just the taverna where they live, there wasn’t really anything else of note. Still, it mostly worked well. I guess for a ‘jukebox’ musical like this one you’re not going have deep Macbeth-like levels of character introspection, no Olivier-like performances where an actor almost disappears and all you see is the character itself writ large on the stage. For this show, some (most?) of the performances verged on caricature rather than character – and sorry to single out the “Australian” (definitely not Australian) character with his appalling accent and all his mugging and gurning for the audience – I now really understand what they mean about an actor “chewing the scenery”. But, it’s an ABBA show, could it really be taken very seriously?

It was still very entertaining, the singers could sing, though a number of the songs had this weird kind of loud/soft dynamic from verse to chorus which didn’t make any sense, unless you always love to turn the volume up to 11 when the chorus of your favourite song comes on, then this is the show for you. Little things like that aside, it is valuable to take a moment to remember, here’s a big musical playing all over the world, where all the lead characters are female, and some (gasp) middle aged women at that. It’s refreshing, and it’s important.

Immediately after the show finished we were on to the next. This time, walking over a bridge to Waterloo for the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich, then to the O2 – more commonly known back in the day as The Millennium Dome.

The Jubilee Line is a more fancy train line with doors all along the platform so you can’t fall down on the tracks. It was also super-super crowded but we made it to North Greenwich, after which is a very short walk to the O2, and then a slightly longer walk inside the O2 (it’s huge!) looking for our destination: Mamma Mia The Party.

Yes, two ABBA shows in the one day – indeed two Mamma Mia shows in one day, but both very different. Mamma Mia The Party is a theatre restaurant. I think this is the first one I’ve been to. The room itself was enormous, there were probably 100 tables or more. The show had a storyline about as substantial as the deliciously light Prosecco/elderflower cocktail server on arrival. Boy meets girl, girls dad hates boy, every body breaks up but oh gosh they all get back together again by the end. Plus a side-chick for comic relief. Sorry if that’s too many spoilers. It was though, purposely conducted and extremely effective at shoe-horning as many ABBA songs in as possible – I mean, that’s why we’re all here, right? The performers were fine, you know you’re not going to get someone fresh off Broadway, so it’s OK. Everyone put in a lot of energy, including the waitstaff who were sometimes involved in the numbers and if not, encouraging people to clap and/or sing along. You were also more than welcome to take photos, just no video-ing,

There was also a very helpful bit just in case you’d forgotten the words to Ring Ring.

And a fun part where people were encouraged to wave their serviettes around (the breeze it created was kinda welcome too)

It was all quite light and fluffy (to be expected) – but took a genuinely surprising turn when they summoned up the great witch Hecate, everything went dark, and we had a trapeze artist rise out a fountain dripping wet… I don’t remember an ABBA song like that, still, it sure did bring an unexpected twist to the show so gotta be happy with that.

They didn’t forget the Restaraunt side of Theatre Restaurant by any means. It was a set menu – a deliciously fresh Greek salad to start with, followed by some beautifully cooked beef and lamb with zucchini and onions, and a perfect slice of lemon cake to finish. All the food was great, couldn’t fault it at all. The other winner was ‘White Sangria’ which was bright orange, thanks to all the apricot pulp in it, it was absolutely delicious and I feel absolutely zero shame in the fact that we worked our way through two jugs of the stuff.

The show, which let us in at exactly 6:30, finished on the dot at 10:00pm, and even the show was over the venue continues to host an ABBA disco for an hour or two after that. Apparently. As fun as it was watching everybody’s nanna dance badly after one too many Prosecco’s, it was time to leave and head home. This time the maps app told us change from the Jubilee Line to the District & Circle line at Westminster, and (nerd alert, yet again) Westminster station has the most most amazing huge kind of void where the escalators and things go, it’s so off but so enormous it somehow ends up being kinda beautiful. It might only be a strange nerd thing, but here’s a picture just in case.

The weird but truly enormous guts of Westminster station

More things to do tomorrow as we count down our last few London days…

June 3 – The Book of Williams vs Zimmer

I’ve noticed there aren’t many photos today – just not enough exciting things that we (or you) haven’t seen before, I guess!

I shouldn’t have said anything about fire alarms. We had the joy of being woken up at 3:30 and again at 5:00. It’s now at the point they’ll need an alternative alarm to actually say yes you should leave – because this one is going off too often to do what it says. And yep, as I’m writing this just before 11PM, there it goes again. The trouble is all the accomodation is paid for so it’s not like we can easily switch hotels or anything.

After the very rude starts to the day I eventually woke up without the fire alarm’s help. We headed off to Pret for breakfast, where I’m happy to say that yes they have Flat White on the menu, nd it almost did the trick of waking me up. After that we also put some washing in to be done, for the last time I guess. Man it’ll be be convenient when a walk to the laundry is 5 steps not 5 minutes.

Our first appointment today wasn’t until 2:30 in the afternoon so we wandered into a more central bit of tourist-town (Oxford Circus) to look at touristy stuff and whatever else we came across. The Piccadilly line (or at least the bit we needed) was out of action but we found our way via the Bakerloo line. So named because it used to go from Baker St to Waterloo. Wandering downt the road from Oxford Circus, we discovered H&M have a ‘Home furnishings’ store, who knew! Nice coffee cups. Didn’t buy ‘em.

We continued wandering down to Leicester Square, where by now it was most definitely time to stop for ice cream. I was really pleasantly surprised that the Ben & Jerry’s in Leicester square, ripe for ripping off tourists, didn’t. It was about half the cost of what I was expecting, which is as nice as it is rare 🙂

With some time yet to go before 2PM we wandered around the markets at Covent Garden, saw some nice things that wouldn’t fit in the suitcase. I recommend pretending you have a suitcase whenever you go shopping, it stops you from buying things all the time when you really stop and think about what you can actually carry home.

Lunch was at that find tradition British institution, well, ok it was Burger King because it was in the right place at the right time. Nice enough burgers as always.

This brought us to 2PM and our first show for the day, down to the Prince of Wales theatre, to see The Book of Mormon. This is the 3rd time we’ve seen it in London, plus I think 2 in New York, 2 in Sydney, 1 in Melbourne…maybe more that I’m forgetting. We’ve seen it a lot – and it had changed almost every time. This time, they’ve taken out on of the racist jokes, which didn’t add much anyway, and they’ve changed a character’s “texting device” from a typewriter (that’s funny) to an iPad (that’s less funny) – but it does fit in with some of the newly inserted jokes about Facebook and its disinformation being the source of many of their troubles. It’s still just as entertaining when we first saw it 10 years ago, still laughed just as much, and for those who know the show, I think every time we’ve seen it the ‘Elder McKinley’ character gets better and better, and today’s had to be the best. Brilliant show as always, glad we were able to snag some tickets just the other day.

Straight after that it was back to the hotel, pick up the laundry (ah, clean clothes, so lovely!) and head straight out again for an evening appointment. For dinner we went to Baba Ganouj, the same place we had breakfast the other day. They really didn’t disappoint – not only were they really fast, the food was delicious, a delicious chicken kebab and an amazing cup of apple mint lemonade – it might sound a bit strange, and look a lot like pond water, but the taste was excellent, sweet and zingy, delicious.

Our evening appointment was us pretending to be all cultured and stuff – heading to the Royal Albert Hall for a night listening to the London Concert Orchestra. OK so it wasn’t all that fancy, the show was called ‘Williams vs Zimmerman’ – the orchestra played bits of the soundtrack from a number of John Willians films (ie Star Wars, ET, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark), and some Hans Zimmer films (Inception, Man of Steel, Da Vinci Code). The conductor was Anthony Inglis, doing his best to be the hip grandad showing that orchestra can be coooool, kids, but possibly convincing none of us very much at all. But he was engaging and endearing enough to have us all on his side.

But let’s tale a minute to talk about the Royal Albert Hall. I knew it was pretty, but man, to be sitting inside it and looking around, it’s a magnificent place – layers of chairs, layers of booths, it’s old-world charm shining through still with its practical modern additions of flashing lights and laser beams and smoke machines (and plastic discs to reflect the sound properly off the roof). It’s just beautiful, but no doubt I’ll talk about more in a few days because we’ll be returning.

The concert was good – I think by the second half I was more tuned in than I was for the first half, where I was more “I’m just in a (very pretty) big room listening to some music”, but after intermission I felt much more engaged and connected to it all. The orchestra played some extremely complex pieces perfectly (well, as far as I could tell, what would I know), they did a great job and it all sounded marvellous. And they saved Start Wars right for the end – an interesting choice, it was the music from the end of the first (ie episode 4) movie, that then plays all the way through the end credits when you’re usually too busy walking out of the cinema to pay attention. It was a great choice as it incorporated so much of the soundtrack into its 5-minute-or-so length. A beautiful way to finish. At the start of the concert, the conductor stated very clearly at the start that “although we called it Williams vs Zimmer, it is not a competition”. Well it’s just my opinion, but, in this non-competition the winner for me was John Williams, hands down.

After that it was just a walk back to the hotel, which made things easy. Now I’m ready to hit publish, and not mention anything about loud beeping noises lest I accidentally summon them in the middle of the night again.

June 2 – I believe in the power of cheeses

Again a later-morning start to the day, with breakfast nearby at a nice Lebanese place – excellent omelette with the freshest flat bread and delicious orange-and-carrot juice. Yum! We’ll probably return for dinner one night based on the quality of brekky.

We had nothing booked until midday. And while looking at midday, we found that between where we were, and where we needed to be, stood Fortnum & Masons. We has been requested to pick something up from there, so off we went. It wasn’t quite as outrageous nor ostentatious as I thought it might be, and on the lower ground it was very clear to see where David Jones went for a visit when they did their Sydney food hall back in the day. Nice little shop.

Gift secured, there was still plenty of time to kill so we walked slowly up to Seven Dials, our next destination, and had a coffee waiting for the clock to get close to 12:00. And our appointment? Oh boy this was good – it was a cheese train – like a sushi train, but for cheese. “Pick & Cheese” with the Seven Dials Market. A selection of quality cheeses passing the eye constantly, the best idea ever, why isn’t there more of it! We were ushered our seats at the train, given a menu describing which was what, plus a dish of crackers, and left to our own devices. There were about 25 cheeses on the menu, and helpfully each dish was numbered so you could tell what you were getting. Each cheese shared its plate with specially matched accompaniment as well – one of the softer cheeses had a hot chilli jam, one of the more bitey cheeses had a tiny fennel salad, there were even cheese accompanied with Turkish delight, salted caramel fudge, or roasted rosemary potato. All these pairings were very well thought out, and it all made sense once you stuck it in yer gob and ate it 🙂 There were also a few non-cheese dishes – one dish of ham, a dish of salami, something you might need between cheese courses.

A time-lapse of cheese. What more does one need in life.

Each booking gets you a 1hr 15 minute session, but after about half an hour or cheese I was pretty much done, sadly, even though there were a few more I wanted to try. Anyway it was great fun (uh, if you have deep pockets, or should I say, plenty of cheddar) and I’d love to go back again another day.

The nearest tube station back to the hotel was at Covent Garden, which was when I remembered that (a) The London Transport Museum is at Covent Garden, (b) Entry was half the usual price due to doing to Euston Tunnels tour earlier, and (c) I’m a massive nerd who likes this kind of thing. So while Perry headed back to the hotel for a nap, I headed into the transport museum to see what was different since my last visit in 2015. In summary, lots! I won’t bore with lots of history, just with a bunch of photos.

After that I popped into the Apple Store, also at Covent garden, before getting back on the Piccadilly line and back to the hotel.

One final thing I liked about being back at Covent Garden, finally a chance to remember a blurry photo I hastily took on my first visit to London in 2006. It’s nothing spectacular, not even a photo of the exact same location, but just glad I could make it right some 17 years later.

Tonight, it was time to see Heathers The Musical. Off to Victoria station and a short walk to “The Other Palace” theatre – not too far away from the more well known palace around here. I haven’t seen Heathers the 80s movie so I didn’t know what to expect. I’d you haven’t seen it, think of it as Mean Girls on steroids. If you haven’t seen Mean Girls, watch Mean Girls :). Also, you know your seats are close to the stage when you can reach out and touch it. Wasn’t at all awkward. Nope. Not in the slightest. Ish.

Just for a change in the shows we’ve seen so far, it’s basically, you guessed it, a tragic love story. The performances were brilliant, the singing top notch with a few real standouts, and really clever set design that gave us much more scenery than I thought the modestly sized stage could hold. It was smart, punchy, wickedly funny and chock full of well written music, in that “it’s music for a musical” if that makes any sense. Like, it’s not just songs, it’s fragments, chopping and changing, being revisited, tying together and keeping the story moving.

There’s one aspect where this production has one over Broadway. Every member of production had a perfect American accent. It sure doesn’t work the other way around when it comes to Broadway shows doing English accents! Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then as always there was a train at Victoria ready to whisk us back to the hotel, where I can finish writing up the blog. Then the bloody fire alarm went off again. But only briefly. Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep and not a visit to the cold streets of London at 3am.

June 1 – Bjorn and Benny and Brokeback Mountain?

Now we’re out a bit later each night we had a slower start to the day, heading out around 9am for a quick breakfast at Pret followed by a particularly nerdy expedition, out to Upton Hill (in Zone 3, shocking!) just to visit a big Dr Who shop out that way. Why not. It’s nearly an hour on the train, but at least it’s direct from our local station on the District line, no need to change trains. It’s fun watching the train when you’re near the last carriage as they have no doors between carriages.

Once we got there, after a bit of a walk, we found nerdy Dr who heaven. It was cool, but they were very thingy about photos, so no pictures. I only bought a few small things, being ever mindful of having to lug at around. Anyway, I was really glad we took the hour trip each way to see it.

We caught the train back, dumped the purchases at the hotel, then back to tube to Leicester Square for our next thing. Found a lovely little Italian lunch spot nearby for a very filling and good value (for London) meal, then on the the theatre.

Perry found that Brokeback Mountain had been turned into a play, he was able to get tickets, so it was time to watch our third tragic love story in a row unfold.

It’s the tale of forbidden love between cowboys Ennis and Jack, who, despite the expectations, pressures, and dangers from society, can’t ignore what their hearts are really feeling for each other. Which of course causes a good deal of drama and another unhappy ending. The play was 90 minutes long, with no intermission, presented ‘in the round’ in a relatively small theatre. One constant throughout those 90 minutes was what could best be described as ‘the ghost of Ennis future’, watching his past unfold. I’m still not sure about the effectiveness of this, but hey I don’t write plays, I’m just a customer. He just didn’t seem to add much in terms of exposition or emotional weight as such. It wasn’t a musical, but rather, “a play with songs”, expertly performed to the side of the stage by a band and singer Eddi Reader, her of the “It’s got to be-e-e-e Perfect” song of times gone by. Her now-more-gravelly voice was a perfect match for the southern-inspired songs dotted throughout the performance. Overall it was pretty well done. I guess the whole point of theatre is often not just to entertain but also to make you think – and you really do have to wonder how many people had been, and indeed still are, deeply unhappy because circumstances wouldn’t let them live their lives as their genuine selves. It’s still happening, and that in itself is a bit sad.

We popped back to the hotel then straight back out again – we’re doing our bit to contribute to Transport for London’s profits today for sure. Tonight’s adventure is not a tragic love story, and definitely not something to make you think. It’s ABBA!

Yep we are fortunate enough to be seeing ABBA Voyage, the concert with the “ABBA-tars” dancing around in stage to a live band. It’s all a bunch of super clever computer graphics, but all the moves etc were capture from the stars of ABBA themselves, turned into realistic digital figures, and played back night after night for our enjoyment.

It takes place in a purpose built facility – they had food so we grabbed a bite to eat, a slightly dried out hot dog but what can you expect from your regular music venue.

As for the show itself – it was incredible, though not quite what I expected. I thought it was going to be more of a virtual abba concert, with the “ABBA-tars” playing through their hits like you’d expect from any musical act. When they were doing this, the show was at its strongest. The effect of four people on stage is so convincing, it really does look real 99% of the time. Their live backing band is big, loud, and plays very well. It’s also backed up with an incredible collections of lights, lasers, movable screens, with effects that travel though the whole theatre front to back, to great effect.

When they’d zoom in on any of the bands reconstructed faces though, you could tell they’re not quite real, just some kind of can’t-put-my-finger-on-it thing that makes you think no, it’s not quite a real human being.

Maybe half the songs were played as Abba-on-stage. Others were turned into virtual video clips, two songs went completely off-piste and became an animated story, which felt a bit out of place. For one song the abba-tars stopped completely and handed it over to the backing band to complete the song.

It just have the hardest job picking what songs to put in the concert, but it wasn’t all “just the hits”, there were a few unexpected songs too. I was glad to see “summer night city” finally getting an outing., and I didn’t expect the show to open with “The visitors”. Pretty sure they managed to squeeze in something from every album, including the new one.

And I’m not sure if I should admit it but I kinda new I’d have a little cry, I guess it’s unavoidable when you see a big chunk of your childhood coming at you live (ish) and loud. Happy tears though 🙂 The funniest part of show probably had to be watching thousands of old 50-somethings dancing terribly to songs from the 70s. It was kinda like every wedding you’ve probably ever been to, just on a much larger scale 🙂

Then 90 minutes later it was all done, they finished with The Winner Takes it All, and I guess we all won on the night. A trip back in time, an amazing light and laser show, and a chance to say we’ve kinda seen a favourite band from our earlier years. Lovely. I’d go again.

Getting home wasn’t a drama, the crowd dispersed across the nearby Docklands Light Rail and on to the tube, so it was a pleasant journey back, and gave me time to write up these notes while they were still fresh in my mind.

We’re slowly but surely running out days (you could take that as a deeply philosophical statement, or, just that the holiday is slowly but surely drawing to a close) but oh, we’re not done yet. Onward!

May 31 – From Euston to Berlin (by tube)

This fine day started without any blaring fire alarms at 6:30, so that was already a big win 🙂

We opted for breakfast in the hotel to make life easy, and there a substantial buffet of hot and cold things, quite nice! Popular too, we had to wait a few minutes for a table to become available.

There were some train strikes planned for today so we really didn’t know what was going to be affected, it was hard to get a straight answer from any of the websites I visited, so we left plenty of time to get to our first appointment of the day, at Euston, at 10AM.

Despite the warnings of some big delays and cancelled trains (only on the Circle line, the line we needed, of course), we walked down to the station, jumped on a train in a few minutes, and had a seamless trip to Edgware Road, and then a change to go to Euston square. Yes, we had so many delays and train problems that we arrived 40 minutes early and had to sit around enjoying a coffee while waiting for this morning’s tour to start. Still, much better than being late.

The tour was “Euston: The Lost Tunnels” as organised by the London Transport Museum. They have a bunch of tours where they’ve unearthed bits and pieces of the tube or the train network, and opening them up for tours and the like. There are a few abandoned station on the network which would have been really cool to look at, but when a station is abandoned, so is its lift or its escalator, some of them having around 180 steps or more between ground level and the station. I knew that was going to be out of my league, so the Euston one sounded good.

And sure enough, it was good! Our guide gave a bunch of history about the early days of Euston (it just had two lines, one for trains to Birmingham, one for trains from Birmingham), and was (I think)the world’s first inter-city railway terminus. Judging by the historical photos we were shown they maybe didn’t think it through all that well, with one of the historical ticket halls being full of steps in every direction – very elegant I’m sure unless you’re travelling with luggage. Which, back then, for such a big trip, you probably were.

Over the years the station grew in several directions from 2 tracks to 16, and over those years different tunnels and passageways were built to make sure customers were still able to access them all as needed. This brings us to the first bit of the tour, where we were led into a now-disused tunnel that used to allow access from one train company’s tracks to the other, and even had a forward-thinking built in ticket office, so customers didn’t have to go back up to street level to buy a ticket to continue their journey with a different train company. Instead they could just grab it as they walked through the passageway. The (tiny) ticket hall was interesting, the other bit they went to great trouble to point out was when this walkway was closed in 1962, all the advertising posters were just left in place, and although very tatty, some of them remain in relatively complete condition, though the whole lost are covered by decades of dirt and grime. Dirty old posters mightn’t make for good photos, but here there anyway in their dirty and faded glory.

Next up we were lead in to a lift shaft and given a brief explanation about ventilation and how it was never initially even thought about for the electric trains, and it was only thought of an issue for steam trains. Even today it’s quite warm in those tunnels, and a lack of ventilation would have made it so much worse back in the day. Plenty of solutions were found, like building bigger lifts and using the old lift shafts as big ventilation spaces. It was a pretty cool looking ventilation shaft, as far these things go, I think it was about 18 metres tall.

We were then led through some un-embellished tunnels, just the metal tunnel walls and nothing else, to a point where we were overlooking two of the platform of the Victoria line, we could see the trains coming and going via the ventilation grilles that had been cut into the platform roof. It was interesting feeling the way trains would ‘push’ the warm air into the station when they arrived, and their leaving caused a whole bunch of cold air to sucked into the station as they left. The difference was stark while we stayed there a few minutes watching trains arrive and leave.

After a little over an hour of clambering around tunnels and ventilations shafts like someone trying to escape in some old sci-fi movie, we were eventually released back into the real world and allowed on our way. It was an interesting thing to see, that most people don’t, so even if not as interesting as a whole abandoned station it was still very much worth doing. Euston, we didn’t have a problem!

A quick look at the map showed that Euston isn’t that far from Camden, Camden lock and the Camden Market. So again, with no strike-related issues of delays, we made our way a whole one stop over to Camden, and over to the market. Last time we visited all those years ago we arrived by boat, so it was cool to see more of Camden itself when we arrived by tube. It sure is a town with a big personality.

The market has changed a fair bit since we were there, if I remember right it had a big fire a few years ago but it’s all been rebuilt and still host to a whole bunch of weird and wonderful food and other shops. One big change is now the food area is in more-permanent looking huts rather than a hodge-podge collection of carts and stalls and so on. Anyway, glad we went back for a look.

After that, knowing we had another late night ahead, time for a nap. Tonight’s show was ‘Cabaret’ – actually, diner and a show thanks to them having a whole meal offering as well. Two birds, one stone, why not!

Once again, straight on to a tube and we reached Embankment station about 45 minutes early. So far we’ve been lucky, which is great. It’s another glorious day in London, sunny, 20 degrees, it’s another way in which we have been very lucky so far. Maybe I’ve just jinxed it, but it’s already been better than I thought it could have been so all good.

After walking the Hungerford pedestrian bridge and sitting for a while, and watching just how slowly the traffic moves, it was time to enter the Playhouse Theatre / Kit Kat Club.

Theatre is, of course, an experience. But Cabaret, well, Cabaret is an Experience. From the moment you walked through the door, your phone camera is covered with a sticker, you down your welcome shot of Jaegermeister, and that’s it, you are out of London and in to the pre-war Kit Kat club in Berlin and the show is On. The three bars available pre-show weren’t just bars but also performance spaces, where performers mingle and interact with guests, dancing along to a band that you suddenly realise has also entered the room. Even at intermission there were phones ringing (all of us with tables had an old landline phone on them), where some of the performers were still interacting with the crowd, albeit one-to-one.

Years and years ago we were at this same theatre for a very harrowing version of 1984, and this time around the whole theatre space has been totally transformed so this show can be presented in the round. The stage is quite small, surrounded by little cabaret tables, one of which we’re sitting at right in front (or is it being) the stage. We opted for ‘dinner and a show’, which despite looking small was quite substantial. A big warm pretzel and humours to start, then I had some vege falafels while Perry had a selection of cold meats, and we both had cheese and crackers for the last course. And again a bottle of champagne, this time Moët & Chandon. It’s not Veuve but it will do! 😂

With no scenery and minimal props, Cabaret was kinda the opposite of Moulin Rouge maximalist more-is-more approach. But where Moulin Rouge blasts you with spectacle, Cabaret instead feeds you nuance and clever inference in every part of that relatively tiny stage, giving you just enough to fill in the blanks.

I knew nothing about the show before seeing it – I haven’t seen the movie with Liza Minnelli, I haven’t read up on the plot, but for something set in pre-war Berlin, you know when you see a Nazi armband in Act 1, that things will take a darker turn in (the much shorter) Act 2. The portrayal of these monsters was clever, dressing them as the clowniest of clowns, highlighting the ridiculousness of the things they were saying and doing, and as the show went on you see the colour and energy being washed out of Berlin – flamboyant dancers costumes replaced with beige, high kicks almost turning in to goose steps and music takes on a more military tone. It was cleverly, and quite chillingly, done. I guess it’s not surprise that this story doesn’t have a happy ending, but it was powerfully delivered, a wonderfully executed show that deserves all the praise being heaped upon it. I’m just grateful they didn’t pull some of the strongly emotional handles that they so easily could have done, I guess they didn’t have to, we knew what would come next.

After the somewhat subdued finish, the performers returned to well deserved rapturous applause, and we were cast out in to the London cold, so much richer for the experience. Again our luck with trains held firm, and we walked straight onto a train back to the hotel, to finish the blog write-up and finally crash into bed to sleep (in just a few short minutes from right now). More tomorrow.

May 30 – Rough start, smooth finish!

It’s fair to say we had an alarming start to the day. A very loud fire alarm at the hotel certainly did its job, alarming us from 0-100 in half a second. At least this was at 6:30 and not something like 2 in the morning. We got ready just in case, the alarm went off, there was no smoke or fire brigade and then it eventually went quiet. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I guess that’s the start of the day! I could have done without the accompanying headache though.

After all that drama we had a simple breakfast at Pret nearby, before getting back on the hop-on bus to slowly cruise around town on the way to our first destination.

There was some amusingly cheeky commentary about some BASE jumpers – “they somehow gained access to the hotel roof and then, much to the surprise of onlookers, proceeded to toss themselves off”

Today I was wearing a short that looked something like this.

So I must admit I was beyond delighted when a few people in the know commented in it and said they loved it. I figured if there’s anywhere I could wear it, it’s London. If you’re not in the know, no dramas, it was a character from BBC soap opera Eastenders, whose name was Dot Cotton, played by the amazing (and sadly now quite dead) June Brown. Anyway, I was just glad to not be the only one amused by the shirt.

After some quality bussing time and a short walk, we arrived at our planned destination – Borough Market. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but whatever my expectations were, this place was like 5 times bigger than that. It’s a huge maze of stands nestled under a train line bridge, with an incredible range of produce, baked food, meals, spices, you name it, if it was food related, it was probably there. Quite amazing.

I ended up settling on a lamb and mint sausage roll for lunch – it was a roast dinner encased in pastry, simply delicious. Followed that up afterwards with a deliciously flavoursome and surprisingly dense pistachio pain au chocolat which was just super. It was only after that we spotted the “Humble Crumble” cart, so we had to have a go at that. Perry opted for a traditional apple crumble with crumbled shortbread and hot custard. I tried one with a frozen custard top (basically soft serve only not so soft). Delicious, and then some. By this time the whole place was absolutely rammed with people, I think everyone has chosen to pop in for lunch and things were just going bonkers.

We fought our way out of crowd, and back on the bus, for a slow and chilled journey back toward the hotel, since had plenty of time. I do not envy the bus drivers, or any drivers at all in London for that matter. The traffic is horrendous, it must be awfully frustrating. Not for us – all we had to contend with were some slightly rude bus passengers who considered it perfectly normal to expect other passengers to fix their headphones for the bus commentary and so forth. Rude. But you can get that anywhere, no need to travel specifically to London.

Just before returning to hotel Perry spotted a hairdresser, and it really was time to look less dishevelled, so we enjoyed two … ok… haircuts and beard trims at this Chelsea-adjacent hairdressers, at an eye watering “Chelsea-adjacent” price. Ouch. Would’ve been cheaper to buy some high quality hair clippers and DIY! 🙂

We returned to the hotel, ostensibly to use the time to write up the blog so far, but in reality, to fall asleep snoring at the desk. The rude and somewhat early awakening had very much caught up with me by mid-afternoon.

This evening, our first London show! Let the marathon commence! Tonight, it’s Moulin Rouge, at the Piccadilly Theatre, so off to the tube we go.

It was interesting (for me, and probably only me lol) that when we got to the train station and had to go to the Piccadilly line, suddenly all the decor completely changed and it super obvious how these used to be very different train companies compared to the Northern line we’d taken earlier from the same station. )

The other bonus was this little notification on my watch, meaning I just have to hold it on the entry barrier to the station without pressing any buttons, and it acts as my ticket / Opal Card.

So. Gloucester Road, Piccadilly Line. Eighty seven steps down a spiral staircase later, we weren’t at the platform. Still another corridor and a few more steps. And then there we were.

I never claim to be overly sophisticated, so yes I still stifle a giggle every time I see a train going to Cockfosters. Soon we were in the train. As we’re a whole bunch of other people. Within two stops there were a whole bunch more. It was sydney-peak-hour crowded, but it wasn’t too far off. Fortunately there was plenty of air whizzing about so it wasn’t too oppressive, and it was only 5 stops.

As if there weren’t enough people already, where did we exit? The good old crazy-town of Piccadilly Circus. People everywhere, and then some, of course. The place was heaving with its usual crazy tourist energy, we had time for a small wander around before the show. Chinatown was a delight when its hundreds of lanterns.

With our show we ordered the curiously-named Blue Elephant package, which meant a very bubbly and enthusiastic young man escorting us to a corridor, no, to the Admirals Lounge, very tastefully decorated with some super comfy seats, closely follow by a lovely cheese board and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, as you do. A lovely way to relax and wait for the show to start, feeling rather fancy.

We saw Moulin Rouge three times when it was in Sydney, so we’re really interested to see what the differences were now it is (and we are) in London. The ‘club’ seating at the very front with little tables was a bit different from Sydney, but we were in the ‘normal’ seating so didn’t affect us at all. The show itself was fantastic – it ran pretty much identically to the Sydney one as far as I can tell, but, I’m sorry to say, I do think it was ultimately better than the Sydney production. The cast were all incredible singers, great actors, you could really see the chemistry between them on stage, which really helped ‘sell’ the story even more so.

The audience were funny as well, at least, one woman a row or two behind us, I don’t think she goes to shows very often, and she was as excited as a kid on Christmas Day, it was just wonderful to hear. “Ooh, are these our seats? They’re wonderful! Are you sure they’re really for us? Oh wow, really?” Followed by “Oh look at the windmill isn’t it beautiful! Oh they’ve even got an elephant! Oh my goodness that girl’s bum’s hanging out!” – I really hope she enjoyed the show, I think it’s pretty much guaranteed. It was all brilliantly done, and that’s not just the bottle of champagne talking 🙂

After that it was time to be thrown back out on to the street, and despite the severe delays report on the Piccadilly line, we got on to a not-very-crowded Piccadilly line train straight away, and back to the hotel in maybe 25 minutes all up, making for a very smooth end to the day.

Just to be nerdy for a few moments I love how on the Piccadilly line they have the station names written into the wall tiles themselves, it’s quite elegant, I guess it helps that it was all built back in 1906 and barely changed since. The other thing I like are all the tile patterns – ever station has a different tile pattern/colour combos and I believe this is because way back in the early 1900s standard of literacy were lower, so there were people catching the tube that couldn’t really read which station was theirs, but they’d recognise the pattern so they still could tell where they were going. A surprisingly thoughtful touch for back then, so yeah maybe it’s not true after all. Anyway, it looks nice!

Tomorrow – possible rail strikes, definite need to go to Euston in the morning. Let’s see how these two things balance themselves out in the next exciting (*not at all guaranteed) episode!

May 29 – Sleeping our way into London

We found our Caledonian Sleeper train – it had been sitting there a short time before we even realised – being forthcoming with info doesn’t seem to be the strongest trait around here. However, once we did walk up we were warmly welcomed. And then kinda left to fend for ourselves, to find our carriage and our room. No biggie, we found it. Now I’m now saying the train corridor was small, but our suitcases were too large to roll along, I guess it was a sign of what was to come.

Just to try to be clear, I am not complaining about the size of the room, we knew it would be small. I just didn’t realise that the only way we could both get in to the room is if I went in, ducked into the toilet, so Perry could then get through the door, so we could close the door behind us. It was a bit of a routine but we figured it out, and with a bit of Tetris and few dance moved we were able to kind of squish the suitcases up one end, sit down, and fill in the little form about what to have for breakfast.

As you may well know, I am not the smallest, fittest, or most flexible person on the planet. I think all three of those attributes are pre-requisites for being able to get up to the top bunk of the sleeper car – man, it was a genuine struggle. I made sure I was very ready for bed because once I managed to get myself up there, I know that’s where I was staying, end of story. Of course I then really had to wonder how the hell was I going to get down again… but had to put that out of my mind for the time being. The train rolled out at 11:25pm, and it was time to try getting some sleep.

It was relatively quiet, as it shoogled us around, jostling and jiggling and bumping, and so much sloshing (I’m guessing the water tank for the built in shower). It took a while to get to sleep, and I woke up a number of times through the night, but overall it was pretty comfortable – despite the bed being super-narrow it was just enough.

Breakfast was at 6:45 in the ‘Club Car’ which is fine, only … where is the Club Car? It’s the one thing I really wish they’d bothered to tell us about, as we just had to flip a coin and head in one direction and hope for the best. So with our slightly sleep-deprived brains, off we toddled and luckily we chose the right direction, because after two cars of super-narrow corridors, bingo we found it. Our breakfast was ready, coffee (yay), apple juice and a beautiful porridge for me, and a ‘traditional Scottish breakfast’ for Perry, which I think was a bit of a mostly-full-English plus black pudding. In my semi-zombie state I didn’t think to take photos. Couldn’t fault the food, very nice indeed. As space is at a premium, we were seated with a pleasant gentleman who was on his way down to London for work, so had a bit of a chat while the coffee slowly turned me into something resembling a human. With space at a premium, so was time, they really need to pump the customers through the Club Car, so the moment we finished eating we were given a kind of gentle reminder to bugger off, so we went back to the room to prepare for landing, er, arrival. A member of staff knocked on the door to remind us we had 30 minutes or so and please be ready.

The train arrived at Euston, no drama, and after doing the Tetris/dance to get ourselves back out of the room, we manhandled the suitcases down the itty bitty corridor and off the train, left to fend for ourselves at Euston station. Hello London! Our last (awww) destination on this amazing holiday.

It had me thinking back to the Rocky Mountaineer trip we did in Canada years ago. They were perhaps a bit overboard in the customer service department, with a lot of theatre and silliness around first setting off and the like, but I think even a small amount of that kind of thing would have been much more welcome and made it feel like a nicer journey, even someone at the end saying thanks / welcome to London or something would have been a nice touch, rather than our final interaction with staff being a quick reminder to make sure we get out of the room on time.

Would I recommend the Caledonian Sleeper though? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Not in a bunk bed. Getting back down first thing in the morning was a mix of ow, ooh, ouch, ah crap I’m about to fall, hang on, ouch again, but I did eventually make it back down, reminding myself yet again that I really need to take up yoga or something, plus lose a shitload of weight, plus be less old. Who knew four steps on a ladder would be so much freakin’ drama.

Neither of us tried the in-room shower, that just felt like asking for trouble on a rocking train. It was very convenient having a loo there though.

To get from Euston to our hotel, I checked all the accessibility guides for the tube, but couldn’t quite get a clear picture if there was step-free access the whole way. We thought we’d try our luck, and helpfully as soon as we descended a life from Euston upstairs to Euston below, there was a sign stating that no, there was no step-free access down to the tube platforms. Did that make the journey more difficult? No, it made it much easier, as decided to spring for an Uber instead to take us straight to the hotel.

Arriving at 9am or so we had no high hopes that a room would be ready, and sure enough it wasn’t, which is fine. So what are two very tired tourists to do? You guessed it, a hop-on-hop-off bus of course! There was one near Waterloo, so we popped on to the tube at Gloucester Road, changed to the Northern Line at Embankment, and off to Waterloo, tubing like a boss. Well, catching the tube like someone who has maps open much of the time :). One thing I love about Gloucester Road station, it’s right next door to, well, Gloucester Road station. Back in the olden days where there were multiple underground companies desperate for companies, they’d practically build stations on top of each other to try and steal each others customers. Crazy. Of course for a long time now they’ve all been absorbed into the one united London Underground we know and (possibly) love.

Gloucester Road station on the left. And on the right, Gloucester Road station.

For added interest (or just plain weirdness) there was a whole bunch of art populating one of the now-disused platforms on Gloucester Road.

We found the hop-on-hop-off at Waterloo. The bus has a few different routes, and the one we took covered a good chunk of London, and went for two and half hours. It was a perfect time-killer, we saw a lot (including driving over Tower Bridge, what is it with me and bridges? I should get over it. Hehehe. Get over a bridge. OK that’s enough…). I can’t promise I stayed awake for the whole two and a half hours, but, I think I lasted through most of it. Here are some suitably touristy pictures.

Once we’d done this very big of London, we left the bus at Waterloo, which wasn’t that far from Southbank, where there’s always something going on, especially today when it’s a public holiday (or to use the correct term, a Bank Holiday). There were people everywhere, buskers, heaps of food trucks, and a loo that cost a pound to spend a penny. Rude! For lunch I had a tasty hot-dog, Perry had fish and chips, and we followed that up with Frozen Yoghourt – Maybe this is where the 100s of FroYo shops went after they disappeared from Newtown, they’re all over in London. This one, Snog, was suitably funny/cheeky.

We Fro’d, we Yo’d, we killed enough time, so back on the tube from Waterloo to Gloucester Rd via Embankment again, and back to the hotel. We had to wait a little longer for our room as we returned before 2pm, but once it was ready, we were grateful to get the keys and check it out. It’s a good size, a nice home for the next 10 days or so. This is a bad sad but the most important feature it had for me, was a laundrette just down the road, I was down to my last few bits of clothing so today was the day. Even better, they do service washes, so a few hours and a considerable number of pounds later, we have three big bags full of lovely clean washing. Happy days.

Mid-afternoon was when I really hit the wall, trying to do the blog but just staring at the screen and falling asleep. The 6 or so hours of interrupted sleep finally caught up with me, so instead of trying to write gibberish I had a small nap at the desk. Like the Tesco ad here says, every little helps!

One interesting thing I’ve noticed about our little neighbourhood – despite all the roads being fairly busy, hardly any of them have pedestrian crossings. Most of the time you just have to watch the cars, watch the lights and hope for the best. But drivers and generally more patient, unlike Sydney where you’d become a target when crossing the road, here most people will just wait if you manage to mis-time your journey across the road. Being ‘Chelsea-adjacent’ there sure are a bunch of Chelsea Tractos around (brand new Range Rovers), plus a fair share of (let’s make assumptions) dickheads in expensive cars. Soooo impressive, when there are public transport options, like absolutely everywhere.

For dinner we didn’t go far, there was a Pizza Express nearby, I think Perry had the winning meal with a delicious tomato cheese pesto and buffalo mozzarella salad. This wasn’t going to be a high-energy evening by any means so we popped into Tesco for an ice-cream and then back to to hotel for an early night after a long day. And that’s it, after too many hours of not sleeping, it’s really, really time to address that imbalance. Goodnight 🙂

May 28 – Leaving Edinburgh (eventually)

To keep things simple this morning we opted for breakfast at the hotel. To help show once again that Edinburgh is not a bright and early up and at ‘em kind of town, breakfast service started at 9:30am. On the plus side it also meant checkout wasn’t ‘til 11 so no need to rush.

It was a bit of an Olympic sport repacking the bags, despite buying nothing – but now we’re very much in need of a laundrette in the next day or so, my suitcase is full of all my dirty clothes and half of Perry’s as well.

Getting the suitcases down all the stairs in the hotel was of course much easier than dragging them up there 5 days ago, but carrying them to the train station was by no means a fast process. I know I was unfit to begin with but I swear covid from the other week is still making it presence known a little bit. Slow and steady wins the race.

We had a plan. Check out of the hotel, then use the luggage storage facilities at the station to look after our bags all day. That’s because although we are leaving Edinburgh today, we’re not leaving until after 11pm, on a sleeper train that will slowly but surely trundle us down to London by 8am the following the morning.

The luggage storage place very nearly scuppered those plans twice over – first, they said they didn’t enough room for our ginormous luggage. Secondly, after they agreed to do a bit of Tetris work to make things fit, our bags wouldn’t fit under the security scanner, but with enough poking and prodding and flattening and general encouragement, they were x-rayed and stored away for us to pick up much later in the day.

With that out of the way, to start the day proper we caught the train to North Queensferry, just as an excuse to go over the Forth Rail Bridge, because why not. This time we remembered we could use our “two together” railcard so the fare was significantly cheaper than yesterday. Winning! The trip was, well, just a train trip over a bridge, kinda wobbly though!

North Queensferry station is quite pretty, the tunnel just past the station looks just like the kind of thing you could’ve bought for your Hornby train set years and years ago. We had about a 15 minute wait before a train whisked us back to Edinburgh Waverley. One thing about that bridge, at some points there’s only a small gap between the train and the edge – you can’t fall out, but there’s still very little between you and plummeting to the icy depths below.

One thing I’ve noticed about Edinburgh – but I’m sure not unique to it by any means – is an attitude to driving mostly summed up by “yeah sure I’ll chance it!” Red light? I’ll chance it. A bus about to turn into the side street I also want to be on? Sure, chance it! Same goes for pedestrians too. The walk signal just went red and there’s a bus coming down the road? Yep, let’s chance it. I’m pretty sure in Sydney this would result in countless fender benders, squished pedestrians, and generally a whole bunch of angry people. But here in Edinburgh it somehow seems to work, there’s a lot of leeway given to people doing things that maybe they shouldn’t.

So many pedestrians when the bus already has a green light to go run them all over

Back at Edinburgh Waverley, it was as hectic as usual, and since we had a whole day to spend and no hotel to fall back on, the Zoo seemed like a sensible choice. Easy to get to, just hop on the bus, tap the credit card, and watch the Maps app so you know when to exit. DIdn’t even need to watch app, my watch went ding and told when it was time to leave the bus. Nice. Also, no need to tap off, seems to be a flat £2 fare. Easy!

Very handy notification that pinged on my Watch

It was nice to get a little bit out of central Edinburgh – the streetscape didn’t change all that much, it just became a little more opened out, a few more trees around the place, etc. After a pleasant 20 minute ride or so we were at the zoo.

Like most if not all zoos they’ve pivoted their message to one of conservation and restoration over “come look at our imprisoned animals”, but of course everyone comes to a zoo to see the animals. First ones we saw were the meerkats so our visit was off to a cracking start.

Like pretty much all zoos everywhere, Edinburgh zoo was a hot mess when it came to food offerings. One restaurant with a sign saying it was closed, was open, the “please wait to be seated” sign was up, but there was nobody to seat you, and the restaurant itself seemed to only have one thing on the menu – hit chips. So we found another cafe inside, grabbed its last two pre-made sandwiches, and then continued on our way around the zoo.

If this zoo had a downside it would be its hills. Like Edinburgh they are plentiful and occasionally punishing. Getting to the top was really starting to be a struggle but at least it’s all downhill from there, which I sure welcomed.

We saw lots of animals, and the giraffe seemed very friendly with each other and some of them even seemed to be playing piggy backs, so, like all the parents with young children, we also need a hasty retreat and left them to their, uh, games.

There was some angry zebras, which I’m sure wasn’t as funny for them as it was for us. one would just bite and latch on to the mane of the other, and not let go, following around for ages.

A zebra being the Mane cause of trouble for one of the other zebras

The penguins had to be a highlight though, all squabbling over nests, and the ones with little hatchlings fiercely protecting them all penguins passing by, it was kinda a microcosm of society, only funnier, and probably also smellier.

We were also in the right place at the right time for a brief but interesting chat about their resident rhino. Apparently the rhino decides what form its horn will take, whether it’s long and pointy, or more stumpy. They said for zoo rhinos it’s more common to have a stumpy horn, as they don’t need to go attacking anyone and it doesn’t get caught in fences and the like.

We had plans to meet up with our near-Birmingham friends for dinner, but they sent a message through at exactly the right time saying hey if you’ve got time let’s meet up for drinks first – just as we were walking toward to zoo exit. Perfect! So our immediate plans were clear, off to Haymarket to a fun little gin palace for a delicious cocktail and good company. This was quickly followed by an amazing Japanese dinner two doors down, a place our friends knew well and wow they made a good choice! It’s only a small place, but the sashimi was super fresh, the sushi delicious, the tempura deliciously crisp, everything was done extremely well and we all had a fantastic meal. It was a bonus our friends happened to be in Edinburgh today as we thought after we stayed with them, that it would be a very long time before we saw them again.

By this time we still had about four hours to pass before our train to London would arrive, so we did some very sensible things, like get a (small!) tub of ice cream each for dessert. Interestingly, all the lovely parks are locked up for the evening but we found a concrete garden bed wall to sit in, it did the trick! (Also, a shoutout to Sainsbury’s for providing free wooden cutlery!) It was also an opportunity to get some final photos of the amazing Sir Walter Scott monument.

Then came the long wait. Ordinarily, there’s be a nice lounge available at the station but that’s undergoing refurbishment and the alternative lounge was a few streets away, so we just hung around at the station. At least it gives me plenty of time to write up most of the blog entry – but now it’s hit 10pm, the temperature has dropped to 11 degrees so we’re starting to feel the chill. Fortunately we checked with the staff and the train was available and ready to board. The station layout is so weird, like, Platform 11 is also Platform 7 if you walk up far enough. It makes that whole Platform 9 3/4 situation sound quite feasible.

So here we are – The Caledonian Sleeper. Will we be Australian sleepers? Or Australians who suddenly feel the need to question their choice of transport and accomodation? Find out in the next episode!

May 27 – Bridges and sunshine (and Chihuahuas)

(Finally figured out why I couldn’t upload this earlier – had to buy some more space on the blogging site! Job done, and here we go!)

We didn’t have to be anywhere til a bit after 9, so definitely not a hectic start to the day. All we had to do was figure out how to buy a train ticket, I thought there was an all-day ticket covering all public transport, but seems I was looking for something that doesn’t exist, so, normal train ticket it was.

Our destination? Dalmeny. The reason? To go on a “three bridges cruise”, so I could get more Forth Railway Bridge photos, and a stop off at Inchcolm island. The company emailed me a few weeks ago to say sorry to island isn’t available, but, seems they’d changed their mind again and it was back on the table. Cool! The trip from train to dock was down, down, down and more down. I should’ve realised, with the train being at forth-bridge height and the pier being, of course, at sea level that it was inevitable we had to get from one to the other. There were a LOT of stairs down, and downhill streets and paths… all I which I knew were going to turn into uphill on the way back. Not cool!

So we boarded the boat, I got a bunch of bridge photos.

We also saw some seals. Cool!

Then we arrived at the island at 11:40, only then were we told we would be there for two hours. Not cool!

The island was nice, seeing the former Abbey of Inchcombe, more lovely ruins, and kinda interesting how dark is just have been inside, even on a sunny day like today. It was also nesting season so lots of angry gulls around if you were silly enough to get too close. Two hours is more than enough, even the 90 minutes it was meant to be, borders on excessive. But it’s not like we had to do anything other than wait. And a shout out to the rangers on site for being super enthusiastic and good for a chat! Plus there was ice-cream.

We made it on to the boat back, by this time the cloud had come over a bit and the wind had picked up, wow this 16 degrees is very very different from yesterday! Freezing! Of course sitting outside at the front of the boat didn’t help. We did to see more seals though.

But we sailed around the bridges again so of course time for a few more photos.

It was then that I started contemplating my nemesis – the trip back up to the train platform. Took forever with all the stairs stairs and stairs, but eventually made it, on to a dinky 2 car train and back to Edinburgh Waverley station in tons of time for our next booking:

Fifty quality minutes at the Edinburgh Chihuahua cafe. Yep, who needs a cat cafe when there’s a Chihuahua cafe? It was quite different to your average cat cafe. (For starters there weren’t any cats, lol). The way it worked was the 10 or so customers were welcomed in, assigned a lounge, told to sit down and given a bank to cover the knees. Then, you had to stay there, you weren’t allowed to get up without permission lest you scare the little doggies. The staff know all the dogs and their personalities so well, and were happily swapping dogs around between customers, in addition to letting the dogs decide who they wanted to lie on in any given moment. It was a surprisingly chill time, but you could tell the dogs know it was the last session of the day, some were a bit over it and heading to the exit door as son as they heard any of the staff in the general vicinity. It was very funny at the end, as a member of staff announced “Well folks…” as with those two words all the dogs leapt up and gathered in front of the door to their pen, knowing that their work day was over and they were all about be transported back to the owners home where they could roam free and not be annoyed by strangers. It was a fun way to spend a small part of the afternoon. It was also at this time we realised we spent way too much time in the sun, with our red faces reminding us to slip slop slap next time!

While walking through Edinburgh there was no mistaking that there was a Harry Styles concert on again tonight. It felt like every second person was wearing some extra sparkly or the uniform of cowboy hat, feather boa and heart-shaped glasses. There were little bits of feather all over the street, lots of people out for a fun evening tonight I’m sure.

Dinner was at the somewhat confusingly named “German Doner Kebab” – which was… a kebab shop, but they also did kebab meat in burgers, but we stuck with the regular kebab which was, well, a kebab, can’t go too wrong! The only bit where I went wrong is not taking a photo, but, we all know what a kebab looks like, right?

This pretty much concluded our last full day in Edinburgh. Tomorrow, we’re off to places new, but still spending almost the whole day in Edinburgh. And as luck would have it, our friends who live near Birmingham are going to be in the vicinity so we’ll having dinner with them tomorrow. Tops! Until then, time to hit publish, put on some more after sun stuff, and go to bed. Goodnight!