UK

Peak district, Derbyshire, UK

Peak district UK

There I was sitting on the ledge overlooking beautiful valley of Peak District. It was quite cold end of August 2010. We hiked that day among moors of Derbyshire which reminded me of my childhood and “The Secret Garden” directed by Agnieszka Holland.ajajajjjja

Peak District is divided into gritstone Dark Peak (peat bogs) and limestone White Peak (flower-rich dales). The landscape is diversified but don’t expect high, bare peaks as I did. This National Park is more of soft valleys that steep mountains. You can imagine I found the name very misleading. You can see map of the area here.

There are different reasons why you might want to go there. First is to have a hike and admire the landscape, other to take part in outdoor activities.

Peak district UK

Let’s start with some of the sights:

  • Poole’s Cavern is a magnificent natural limestone cavern where you can see an impressive formation of stalactites,
  • Peveril Castle (reminds me of many castles in Ireland)
  • Speedwell cavern (with boat ride)
  • Blue John cavern
  • Treak cliff cavern
  • Thor’s cave

moors Peak district UK

Activities:

  • 2,900 km of trails (including hillwalking and hiking)
  • mountain biking (Bridleways)
  • horse riding
  • rock climbing
  • caving (Eldon Hole and Nettle Pot)
  • sailing
  • fishing
  • canoeing
  • hang gliding
  • paragliding
  • birdwatching
  • fell running
  • off-roading
  • orienteering

Tissington Trail and High Peak Trail re-use former railway lines; they are well used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Anyway please do enjoy the pictures.

Durdle Door, Dorset, England

Durdle Door Dorset Jurassic CoastWe had brilliant weather when going to Dorset and the Jurassic Coast. The sun was shining and a light breeze was coming from the sea. Durdle Dor is a natural limestone arch on the south coast of England near West Lulworth, between Swanage and Weymouth. The name Durdle is derived from an Old English word ‘thirl’ meaning bore or drill.

Durdle Dor

At the bottom of the cliffs lies a wide, picturesque beach. Unfortunately it is not lined with smooth, white sand but sharp pebbles.  This might stop one from lying around and sun bathing but not from having fun! For us it meant chasing and lashing each other with seaweed whips.  At some point we even organised cocks fight. Not very elegant but loads of laugh.

Dorset Durdle Door

Durdle Door is one of the darkest places in England and one of the best places for stargazing, so if you have an opportunity do stay until after dark.

If you like Cliff Richards you will be please to listen to one of his songs titled Saviour’s day while watching beautiful Durdle Door in the background of the clip.

On the east side of Durdle Door you will see Man O’ War Beach. Which is ideal for swimming in shallow water. This is pictured acctually on the photo opening this blog post.

Beachy Head – day trip to suicide favourite

Beachy head copyLiving in London makes it difficult to leave for a day trip. This is due the enormous traffic heading out of the city on Friday/Saturday and returning Sunday. I suppose this must be true for any metropolis. If we decided to go south we had two options Blackwall Tunnel or city centre. Both not great. One might think it would be better to take the train and rent a car. Maybe quicker but way more expensive.

Anyway Beachy Head is one of the most distinctive features of English coast. The cliff there is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising to 162 metres. The height and availability make it amazing spot to admire the landscape, dramatic cliffs and waves but also one of the most notorious suicide spots in the World. According to BBC there are an estimated 20 deaths a year at Beachy Head.

I loved the lighthouse the most. White and red stood out with colour against the white cliffs. Lighthouses in the sea or on small deserted rock islands always make me wonder how does it feel being inside with the eternity of water underlying alloy.

When we were leaving London it was nice and sunny. This was the first time I was going on a trip in convertible. I can’t say I felt like movie star, but my best friend at the back of the car definitely had wind in her hair.  The day turned out as very windy and at least it made one person happy. Yes, the person that took the kite with him.

Anyway enjoy the gallery and if you are living in London or visiting UK is worth while to take a trip to Beachy Head in my opinion. Just a note. The lamb was so cute…

Bath, Somerset – grils and Jane Austen

It was a day trip. It was girl’s trip. And we had so much fun.

My friend Natalia left London for the first time behind the driving wheel. Awwww! Very stressful but we did it! Or rather SHE did it!

Royal Crescent Bath UKWe are all helpless romantics raised in the spirit of Christian Andersen’s Cinderella.  The Jane Austin novels and movies based on those novels reached us when we were already of age so it’s hard to say they shaped our expectation of romance but we can appreciate a bit of drama sealed with “happy end”.

Bath is absolutely amazing. Having said that I started to remember so many other places I’ve been to and reflect on this sentiment for Bath. It is very pleasant place to go away for a day. Have picnic, visit roman baths called thermaes maybe visit spa. I wouldn’t stay there longer though.

Bath UK Pump RoomI remember as a child I had this books in red hard cover. They were describing different cultures/societies/centuries. I was really interested in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. One of my favourite pictures was the one of roman baths. Most probably no one remembers it but for some that might do I enclose the picture. Pierre MiquelThe author – Pierre Miquel is French and the original title is La vie privée des hommes: Au temps des Romains. I used to imagine living in roman house with inner courtyard (atrium) and bathing is pools of hot water with steam blurring the surroundings. I was amazed with the colour of the water in the baths we visited. You can be really tempted to just get into the water and splash as a nymph or goddess. Do enjoy the pictures before continuing to some more of the city itself.

I liked the architecture of the city centre a lot. Most of the buildings were built in the same fashion and you wouldn’t get those modern steel and glass “fillings” in between.

Royal Crescent Bath

I loved the The Royal Crescent, a street of 30 Georgian terraced houses where they filmed scene from Persuasion and The Duchess.

Number 1 Royal Crescent is a historic house museum and even though we didn’t go in I can imagine if you are into history of households it will be interesting. They always make me imagine what it would be like to live in those times and those homes. Walk the stairs, look through the windows and eat by the tables. But maybe it’s just me. I get it all the time even browsing house designs online.

Worth mention is the fact that you can fly over Bath in a hot air baloon drinking champain on board.

Lake District National Park, UK

map of UK, Lake districtI was coming to UK from Ireland. Arriving at Luton (at least I think it was this airport) late evening. P. picked me up and we drove the motorway into the night. I remember being surprised how few petrol stations are on the way.

When we got there we parked in the hills and tried to get some sleep. It was 5am when we gave up trying. We got out of the car and walked into the hills. It’s just so beautiful. Colorful. Lakes spring out from behind the rocks and amaze you with theirs picturesqueness (if a word like this exists).

Lake District UK

We walked across swamps and streams among lush moorland. We had a chinese instant soup for lunch cooked with water boild on gas stove brought by P. I used to camp a lot as a child and loved it. I was so glad P. had this survival knowledge and I felt safe that he knew what he was doing. We found a place between rocks to shelter the gas burner from the wind.

DSCF4949

When we got back to the car I was wet and tired, cold but happy. My cheeks were red from the wind and my soul peaceful. I love walking and trekking. Communing with nature. I should do it more often.

lake district panorama

When we drove to our hotel I couldn’t keep my eyes opened. I was exhausted. The navigation told us to go around the globe to get to our destination but I couldn’t even think so tired I was. I can’t remember if I showered before falling into bed but the second my head touched the pillow I was fast asleep.

River crossing Lake District

The next day we rented a boat. This was outside the season, quite cold and so it was hard to find tourist services opened anywhere. We got to this farm house and asked to rent a boat. The owner agreed on one condition. We will remove the freezing water from inside the boat ourselves. And so we did… or rather I did. It made me warm up.

Boat Lake District

We ate a dinner cooked on this boat. Simple travel gas cylinder and burner allowed rice and curry. We had some whiskey as well. When we got to the opposite shore we met people who wandered around the lake with a dog. I think they wanted a lift but we refused not knowing how long we wanted to stay. We passed them on the way back and they looked quite unhappy. Silly me I waved at them in recognition and then their faces went even more grim.

Exploring Lake District

We went to Windermere and Whitehaven. In the latter we had an amazing dinner. Lamb served in metal bowls on tripod stand. As we figured out later we were supposed to put the food on our plates not eat directly from the bowls!

Anyway I liked it so much better than Peak District. If you live in UK do go and visit!

Some attractions that we haven’t visited are:

  • Lowther Castle

  • Muncaster Castle

  • Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

  • Keswick Brewery

  • Roger Savage Gyro Planes

  • The Rum Story

  • Rydal Mount

  • Laurel and Hardy Museum

Edinburgh Dùn Èideann Scotland and the origins of magic

At the beginning of this blog I said I love Ireland yet there is not a single post about it. I just want to make it right, so you fall in love with this country like I did. Why am I mentioning it right now? Well because Ireland and Scotland have quite a lot in common. The Giant’s Causeway… actually I thought about the accent, friendliness of the people and way of living.

Edinburgh castle panorama

Edinburgh was magical for me. I went alone just for a couple of days and I would like to go back. The pictures are not great. I didn’t have a digital camera at the time and the weather wasn’t the best so it’s truly better to see it with your own eyes. Short overview of my stay: Arrived and checked in to awsome hostel with great paintings on the walls and striptease in the middle of the night in the middle of our dormitory. Sightseeing of the city with Sandeman’s New Europe free tour (recommended), Ghost Tour finished in a local pub, sightseeing whiskey distillery, Literary pub tour (the best tour I have ever been on), one day tour around the castles of Scotland and Wallace Statue (I so wanted to see Loch Ness and wander the highlands but I would rather have more time to do it, rent a car and just be able to enjoy the sights as long as I want to rather than on a strict timeline).

Edinburgh castle panorama

Let’s the magic begin…

Walking the narrow streets of the old town you can feel the dumpy and dangerous atmosphere of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ as well as magical frame of Harry Potter, you can easily imagine the witch hunts as well as murders comitted to obtain corpses for medical students… Burke and Hare, The World’s End Murders, David Hume, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Walter Scott, Irvine Welsh… drinking, thinking, writing it’s all very alive here.

With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.

R.L. Stevenson

Edinburgh history is littered with colourful characters, some of whom were merely eccentric, while others committed devilish deeds that remain notorious to this day. Let me introduce you to some of them.

BrodieDeacon Brodie is one of Edinburgh’s most infamous villains. A respected cabinet-maker with a well-to-do clientele in 1780s Edinburgh. Brodie turned to burglary to support a lavish lifestyle. He and his gang copied keys to public buildings and plundered them under cover of darkness. Brodie was caught, sentenced to death, and was hanged near St Giles Kirk on the Royal Mile. It is said Robert Louis Stevenson used Brodie as an inspiration for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.edinburgh streets

The ‘body-snatchers’ William Burke and William Hare terrorised Edinburgh, carrying out a series of murders between 1827 and 1828. The bodies of their 17 victims were sold to Dr Robert Knox, a private anatomy lecturer in the City who needed specimens for his students to dissect. When Burke and Hare were eventually found out, Hare testified against his friend, and was released. Burke was hanged for his crimes, before having his body publicly dissected at the Edinburgh Medical College.

Edinburgh CastleThe Lone Piper. As the story goes, a few hundred years ago secret tunnels were discovered deep underground, running from the castle to other places in the city. A piper boy was sent down to investigate, instructed to constantly play his pipes, so those above could chart his progress through the tunnels. When the playing suddenly stopped, they went and searched for the piper boy but he had vanished. His ghostly pipes can still be heard playing in the castle to this day, as he eternally walks the dark tunnels beneath.Chapel Edinburgh Castle

Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson, and Alan Stuart – on Christmas Day 1950 a group of four Scottish students took the Stone of Scone (or Stone of Destiny, The Coronation Stone) from Westminster Abbey for return to Scotland. The stone was damaged and divided into two parts. After hiding the greater part of the stone with travellers in Kent for a few days, they risked the road blocks on the border and returned to Scotland with this piece, which they had hidden in the back of a borrowed car, along with a new accomplice John Josselyn. Although an Englishman, Josselyn, then a student at Glasgow University, was a Scottish Nationalist. And rather ironically and probably unknown to him at the time, Edward I (who captured the Stone in 1296 and took it to Westminster Abbey) was his 21st great grandfather. You can watch the whole story in a movie called Stone od Destiny. The Coronation Stone, is an oblong block of red sandstone, used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland and later the monarchs of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Historically, the artifact was kept at the now-ruined Scone Abbey in Scone, near Perth, Scotland. It is also known as Jacob’s Pillow Stone and the Tanist Stone, and in Scottish Gaelic clach-na-cinneamhain.

Greyfriars Bobby a Skye Terrier believed to have been the companion of ‘Auld Jock’ Gray a local policeman. After Gray died in 1858 Bobby is reputed to have stayed loyal to his master sleeping close to his grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard nearby for fourteen years until his own death in 1872. His life size statue is located at the junction of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge opposite the new National Museum of Scotland.

Maggie Dickson was a fish wife from Musselburgh. She fell pregnant while her husband was working away and when she gave birth to the stillborn baby she hid the evidence. For this crime she was sentenced to by hung in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. She was hung for the required length of time and had her legs pulled to see if there were any signs of life. There was none so she was nailed in her coffin and her relatives began the long journey back to Musselburgh with the coffin in tow. On stopping for refreshments at Inveresk, noises were heard coming from the coffin, it was opened and Maggie Dickson was found to be alive. The official view was that no one could be hanged twice so she was free to continue with her life. She ran an ale house and mothered many children before dying from old age. She was known as Half Hangit Maggie and nowadays a pub bearing her name stands near the site of her failed execution.Graveyard Edinburgh

Other stories:
In the castle’s Great Hall there is a little barred window high above the fireplace; in Scotland these holes are called ‘laird’s lugs’ (Lord’s ears). In the early 16th century King James IV would spy through this little hole to eavesdrop on meetings taking place in the Hall below. So effective are ‘laird’s lugs,’ as a means of eavesdropping that when Gorbachev planned his visit to the castle for a conference in 1984, the Soviet national security insisted the hole be bricked over.

Shannon CannonEdinburgh Castle is also home to Mons Meg cannon, the enormous medieval supergun made around 1449. This cannon fired huge solid stone cannon balls- three times the size of your head. Each weighed 400 pounds and could be fired as far as 2 mile! The ritual of firinf the One O’Clock Gun still continues to this day, which takes place precisely at one o’ clock on every day of the week (except for Sunday). This ritual began in 1861 as a time signal for ships. For 26 years the Gun was fired by a man nick-named ‘Tam the Gun’ until he died in 2005. Now the Gun is fired everyday by ‘Shannon the Cannon.’

In 1836 5 boys made a very unusual discovery in a cave on Arthur’s Seat. They found 17 miniature coffins with carved wooden figures inside, all dressed differently, and arranged in 3 tiers with 8 coffins on each (1 on the final tier suggesting it wasn’t completed). The fist tier was decayed, the second less so and the third seemed recent. No one knows what they were for or who carved and put them there. So many theories abound from witchcraft to sailors charms. My favourite is that they were carved by a shoemaker who knew Burk and Hare and each figure represents one of their victims. But we will never know. They were held in a private collection until 1901 when they were gifted to the Museum of Scotland. Only 8 have survived – the rest decayed – and can be seen today at the Royal Museum in Chambers Street.

In the XVI th century the country was obbsessed with witchcraft and the Nor’ Loch proved a perfect spot for ‘Trial by Douking’ (Ducking).This would consist of a suspected witch having her thumbs and toes tied together and ducked on a specially designed ‘stool’ twice into the Loch. If she sank and drowned she would be found innocent….but dead! but if she was unfortunate enough to float and survive drowning she would be found guilty and burned at the stake on Castlehill. The decision was taken to drain the Loch in 1759 and the valley is now Princes Street Gardens.

The World's EndThe World’s End is something of an Edinburgh institution. It lies on the south side of High Street at its junction with St Mary’s Street. Edinburgh built a stone wall around the city to protect it, the Flodden Wall. Parts of the wall can still be seen, and its course ran along the west side of St Mary’s Street underneath where the World’s End is now built (the pub reuses the foundations of the wall). The main gate on this side of the city was on High Street here, and its outline is marked in the street by brass coloured cobbles. But anyway you could easely leave the city but in order to come back you had to pay a tax. Most of people couldn’t afford to pay it and that’s why it was the end of the World for them.

There is so much more to Edinburgh, museums, science, Royal Mile. I tried to give you just a glimpse on the part I love the most – stories. Enjoy the slideshow:

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Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, UK

corfe castle panorama

The dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle stand on a natural hill guarding the principal route through the Purbeck Hills. As you can see it guards the gap between the south of Purbeck, where Purbeck marble was once quarried, and the rest of England. Nothing could pass in or out without going past the Castle.

Corfe CastleCorfe castle is one of Britain’s most majestic ruins. It’s history can be tracked back to 6000 BC. Of course back then it was not a castle but a village. The oldest surviving structure on the castle site dates back to the XI century.The fortification of the castle was initiated by William the Concqueror to insure its durability for use as a royal fortress. In the end it was destroyed from within by a “turncoat” during the civil war, who gave entry into the castle allowing Cromwell’s army to enter the castle to destroy everything in their path.Corfe Castle ruins

Cromwell’s army fought the most remarkable Lady Bankes, a Royalist, who cared for the castle while her husband, Sir John was called away by Charles I, earning her the name “Brave Dame Mary” as well as the respect of the Parliamentary commander; who was so impressed with her courage that he allowed her to leave the castle with her garrison and the keys to the castle once the Roundheads finally persuaded her to surrender.  She was betrayed by one of her own garrison, who allowed Parliamentary soldiers to gain possession of the building, whereupon they set about destroying the edifice. The Bankes family still preserves the keys at their family home, which is protected by the National Trust.Cementary Corfe Castle Some say that probably more damage was done by the locals than by the troops as they looted the site for its limestone masonry. It was used to rebuild the pretty local village which had also suffered at the hands of the destructive parliamentarian troops.

There is also a legend which Tomas Hardy recorded concerning the disappearance of an entire Roman legion, with of course, only its ghost remaining leading to the conclusion that a massive battle must have taken place between the Celts and the Romans.The Fox Inn

Corfe castle has had a lot of reported ghost sightings that has made the BBC (Corfe Castle Murder Walks). A ghostly white lady and a weeping child are just two of the ghosts that haunt the castle. They say you can come across the headless white lady, whose shimmering shade chills the blood of those who chance upon her, and they find themselves shivering and shaking until she turns and drifts slowly away, fading into nothingness as she goes. The spirit is thought to be that of a young woman who betrayed the castle to Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War.The village

The castle was also the scene of the assassination of King Edward (Edward the Martyr) on the 18th March 978, on the orders of his scheming stepmother Queen Alfthryth. He was stabbed while still on horseback, then dragged along to his death by his horse.

There is a Legend of the pelican at Corfe castle. In 2008, there was great excitement when a stone carving of a pelican was discovered high on the keep at Corfe Castle. To the castle’s Norman builders, the pelican was a powerful religious symbol and its presence here underlines Corfe’s importance as a royal stronghold.

Back: Lady and a henchman

Back: Lady and a henchman

A pelican’s breast plumage has a reddish tinge and its beak a red tip. In ancient times, it was wrongly assumed that the pelican was pecking its chest with its bill and giving its own blood to its chicks. The pelican feeds its chicks with small fish. As the chick reaches up for the food, it was thought they were attacking the parent. When – full of food – the chicks snuggled down into the nest, it was thought the parent pelican had killed them. After three days the pelican was said to peck its own breast and spray blood on the chicks, thus bringing them back to life.

Early Christians, familiar with the legend of the pelican’s

Front: Lady and a henchman

Front: Lady and a henchman

apparent self-sacrifice, saw this as an appropriate symbol to represent Christ the Redeemer. The pelican is usually portrayed with its wings back and head down – a representation of the cross.

You may see another birds in Corfe Castle – the resident ravens, which have recently returned to nest at Corfe Castle. It was believed that if the ravens left the castle it would fall, and according to local legend in 1638 the ravens disappeared and the castle was largely destroyed in 1646.There is the same prophecy for Tower in London, so they keep breeding ravens there just in case.

Corfe Castle’s history continues to be celebrated by the National Trust with court jester days, castle quest activities and living history events. You can see my friends wearing the court clothes on the right.

Swanage RailwayThere is one more attraction nearby: the award-winning Swanage Railway currently operates on the six miles of track between Swanage and Norden, through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck, passing the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle. The Isle covers approximately 100 square miles but it is not a true island even though the English Channel, Poole Harbour and the River Frome almost surround it.

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Canary Wharf London UK

Canary Wharf London

I still remember that before I went to London I spoke to one of my friends who worked in Canary Work and he told me it’s like a modern version of Amsterdam with canals and steel buildings everywhere. Well maybe not quite like Amsterdam but…

Canary Wharf stationI remember the first time I arrived in Canary Wharf. Taking DLR from Britannia Village I arrived underground in the tube station and took an escalator to the ground level. The wind hit me. The concrete choked me. The people jostled me. The station was full of people in well tailored suits and dresses. Everyone was in a hurry. Everyone was indifferent. Everyone was cold and grave.

The atmosphere put me down straight away. Overwhelmed I walked around and observed. I felt quite sad instead of being excited. I guess this was not the best beginning to me living in London. Thomson Reuters Canary Wharf LondonI guess I was more overwhelmed than I expected and than I wanted to admit. Not impressed, overwhelmed. I remember my friend A. from New Zeland remarking everyone looks like robots no smiles, no eye contact, just going about one’s own business. This is the first impression. It lasts unless you make your own circle of friends and walk around with them.

Canary Wharf is very windy all year round so definatley I don’t recommend it in winter. With time I became used to its ambience but never felt comfortable there.

Clocks Canary Wharf LondonI remember insane moments when planes approaching City Airport seemed to fly right into One Canada Square building or the wonderful setting sun reflected in the glass of skyscrapers. I remember I liked to sit in a restaurat/pub in the West India Quay after dark with panorama of Canary Wharf, lights in some offices creating a chaotic maze.

One Canada Square building was used in the last two episodes of the second season of the popular British science fiction television series Doctor Who – Army of Ghosts and Doomsday. According to the action series it housed the secret alien technology research institute called Torchwood.

If you like movies like I do check out this Canary Wharf movie map before you go over.

My favourite places:Morgan Stanley Canary Wharf London

Gaucho – Argentinian restaurant. The best steak in Europe (that I tried) besides Restaurante Parilla or Caballito in Madrid, Spain. I looked up the one in Madrid on Google maps and street view name is the first while Google map gives the second. Anyway we went there when I was on Dukan diet and couldn’t eat any fat or sugar, only protein. I was eating meat for quite some time and then encoutered this heaven on Earth, mouth watering, full of flavour with no oli steak. Canary Wharf LondonOhhh I still dream of it. The service was excellent. Our waitress showed us a wooden board of meats. Explained which is which, which part of the cow it comes from and then how it’s best served. We had to change table in the middle of the meal which wasn’t a problem. I was really impressed. I recommend it if you have a few quid to spare.

During the same diet I used to be a frquent customer of Caffe Nero in Jubilee Place. I spoiled myself with Classic Frappѐ Latte with sugar free caramel syroup yum (you can forget the sugar free option in Poland, there is no demand for it, as well as for sugar free low fat yogurts… can’t really blame Polish people). Canary Wharf LondonBut the biggest temptation for me there was always White & Dark Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake. Rich, creamy, baked layers of white and dark chocolate truffle cheesecake, on a crispy chocolate biscuit base, topped with swirls of white and dark chocolate. Very sweet, my friend couldn’t finish it, but also very chocolaty yum yum. I just want a recipe so I can make it myself!

Canary Wharf LondonLa Tasca – Spanish restaurant, crowded but cozy with warm interior. You can choose from wide selection of tapas. House wine is nice but you might have to wait for the service. From my experience also it’s better to book in advance. Don’t take it the wrong way, it’s not the best place I have been to in London but I find it comfortable and full of joyful live instead of fast and minimalist modernity if you know what I mean. You probably don’t though.

Rum and Sugar – the cheapest place to eat in Canary Wharf with best pub hamburger and fries. Most of the time full. Funny toilets. I liked to eat sushi in Itsu Jubilee Place. I have a friend in that. Isn’t that right K.?Cabot Place Canary Wharf London

I was refused an account in HSBC. I had a job but I have been in London less than six months. They wanted to force me into Passport Account which is expensive. I just wanted a regular account with no overdraft option. The refusal was too much for me, I felt humiliated and burst. I don’t think I was ever so rude for a Sales Assistant before or since.

Later on just before I moved back to Poland I used to be a Lettings Negotiator in Canary Wharf. Yes, I did go into those fancy top floor aparments, but also the less fancy ones. I be honest, it’s just not me at all. I prefer nice cottages or mansions with big gardens in rustic style. But well I had many clients very impressed. The medium expensive places (as for CW) were small or even less than small, the bright ones were always expensive. Most of them are not stackable. But well whatever makes you feel good.

Top floor apartment Canary Wharf London

I think the biggest disappointment for me was the apartment I saw in Port East. Pan Peninsula studio apartments are just insane for the same price you can get far more spacious option. Altough I have to say you get a inhome cinema for residents, amazing pool and gym as well as top floor bar which will impress all your friends surely. Let’s not forget about Spa. Still the stuios are awful.

Canary Wharf panoramaThe above view is from my favourite apartment to let we had. It’s top floor in small apartment block in the south part of Isle of Dogs. It has a narrow balcony and panoramic window overlooking Millwall Park and Canary Wharf. I will write another post on Isle of Dogs separatley. Now a bit of history and additional pictures in slideshow. New Providence WharfHahhaa before that, one more picture from an apartment in New Providence Wharf. Look at this magnificent view! Picture on the left.

Let’s start with that Canary Wharf is a major business district one of London’s two main financial centres. The West India Docks where it’s located, once formed part of the busiest port in the world. It was closed in 1980. Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf. The recovery began with Credit Suisse wanting to build here their back office. The idea was then sold and developed into a bigger project involving creating new business district. First buildings were completed in 1991. Canary Wharf in progressThere is a picture above escalator showing the construction in progress. have a look on the right. One Canada Square became the UK’s tallest building and a symbol of the regeneration of Docklands.

The area is full of people during working hours and during the time of after work drinks on Thursdays and Fridays. It tends to be deserted over the weekends. I suppose everyone just hangs around their homes not where they work. There are many events in Canary Wharf trying to make it more sociable and alive. This include fashion shows, food festival, ice rink, operas, movies under the sky, exhibitions and others.

The Idea Shop in Canary Wharf is poorly stocked and therefore I appeal for more books!

Two more remarks: if you take photos in CW be prpared a policeman can come over and ask you to show them to him. If he thinks it’s a threat to security he will ask you to delete them. Second there is a statue of a man in W India Ave. I think he is happy and free cos he quit working in a corp.

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London Introduction

London February 2009I arrived to live in London straight from sunny Mexico. Well maybe not that straight as I had aflight from mexico City to Madrid then Dublin and then London. It was the winter at the beginning of 2009. If you remember it many flights over Europe were cancelled because of the snow. So was mine.

I got stuck in Dublin airport with luggage containg all the things I gathered during the time I was living in Ireland. Yes I took it all with me to Mexico. So one 80l backpack and small backpack for hand luggage. I have saved some money and after a long consideration decided to try my luck in London.London cranes Britannia Village

So there I was tired with the journey from another side of the World waiting for information on my budget flight to London. As usual not much was known as the situation was dependent of weather conditions. In the end my flight was postponed untill the next day. I decided to rent a room in a hotel €50 if I remember correctly. I didn’t want to waste money but decided to spoil myself nontheless.

It was snowing all the time. Big flakes of snow in the street light looked like a big adventure. I was restless. Excited, afraid and still thinking if I’m making the right choice. And so I went to visit my friends who then lived in Dublin City center. We always had a good laugh together. So was this time. I couldn’t stay long as I wanted to get to my hotel before they shut the public transport. It felt so weird thinking I might as well never be coming back to Ireland. I suppose to appreciate how big decision it was for me you should know I love the green island implicitly. This doesn’t mean I don’t see the faults it’s just that I take them along.

Royal Docks LondonIf I had to choose a decision that changed my life the most it was the one to move to London.

Let’s skip the night, the morning departure and let’s just arrive in London on a sunny and frosty morning. My boyfriend found us a room in Britannia Village, Royal Docks near London City Airport. Wonderful view on plans taking off and landing as well as Canary Wharf. As this is first post on London of many I will just write a bit about Royal Docks and Britannia Village. The apartment building we were living in was quite new and clean, tall but narrow. It had 3 storeys. Ground floor – entrance, utility room, micro bathroom and garage (converted into a room in our house), first floor – box room, living room and kitchen, second floor two rooms and a bathroom. All that know living conditions in London will appreciate we actually had a living room. Everything was cramped and small. I was used to living in one family houses with big kitchen containing dining area and separate large living room. My single room was the only a bit smaller than the room I had to share now with P. It was quite difficult as you can imagine.Britannia Village London

The most distinguish feature of Royal Docks area is a high foot bridge above the dock just opposite to the London City’s runway. You get a beautiful panorama view when you climb it. Long after those first days I used to visit my friend in Britannia Village we would walk around the dock and then sit on the bridge observing the sunset and talk about life. I miss it even though I don’t miss London.

Next to the Royal Victoria Dock ExCeL Center is located. It’s the international exhibition and convention centre. I was once inside to use the toilet I think and wanting to get something to eat. I think in the end P. treated me to something sweet but I know he visited an exhibition and was happy about it. So was my friend M. after sightseeing the sailing boats fair. I think there are plans to revive the area and recently a Cable Car was build. i think in time for the Olympics. I have to say thanks to the Olympic village the whole East London was revived.

Bridge the Royal Docks LondonThe Royal Docks comprise three docks in east London – the Royal Albert Dock the Royal Victoria Dock and the King George V Dock built on riverside marshes. They were built for large vessels that could not be accommodated further upriver. What else I can say that there a a couple of restaurants worth recommendation among them Thai restaurant – Nakhon Thai (there’s another on the Isle of Dogs) and Caribbean – Caribbean Scene Royale, the second I never visited. Shame on me. Also that the windows prevent pretty much the noise of the airport of intruding the houses. The problem emerges when you want to open the window.

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