September 26, 2012

London Calling (Day 1, 25 Sep)

Pinch me, I’m in London! Didn’t think I would be in jolly old England this soon but thanks to the company’s recent merger and acquisition and migration to a new email marketing tool, approval was obtained for the whole marketing team to gather for some training and team-building.

I didn’t want to get too excited about the trip till I was actually here as I was worried about Aunty Sarda but she’s well at the moment so there was no stopping the trip.

Though the company policy states business class travel for flights above 10hours, approval wasn’t granted for this event due to tight budgets but I wasn’t complaining…a trip is a trip! We’re even spending the night in a budget hotel, Tune Hotel in Paddington. It's cheap and good, clean and modern.
Arrived early this morning and managed to get an early check-in for an extra £15. The flight was really loooong, I watched ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, ‘Friends with Kids’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’ and slept the rest of the time.

Swana kindly sent me to the airport when I couldn’t get a cab, she happened to be in the neighbourhood as I left the house. But I forgot my medications, and Nick had to drive all the way to the airport to pass them to me before I boarded!

I brought my orange suitcase and it was a struggle to lug it around Heathrow to the express trains…I didn’t think of taking a trolley! Duh! The struggle continued from Paddington Station to our hotel 400 metres away. I am so getting a new bag after this!

I spent the day recuperating from the flight and acclimatizing to the time difference by sightseeing with Anjali. She moved here a couple of months ago to do her Masters at London School of Economics and today was the only day we could meet as she had a wedding in Cornwall to travel to.
We did a hop-on/hop-off tour, but didn’t really hop off much! I just snapped away from the top of the bus, the weather was lovely – not raining as predicted so at least I have some nice blue sky pictures!
We boarded near Regent Street and stayed on while the bus went round Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Royal Albert Hall, Baker Street, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square before we got off at Covent Garden to search for Neal’s Yard. My colleague recently posted a picture on Facebook of a colourful courtyard and I just HAD to see it for myself.
A bit anti-climatic when we finally found it…it was tiny and the plants prevented me from taking any clear shots. The weather got a bit erratic then, it started raining so Anju and I took cover in a pub and decided to just lunch there.
They claimed great British pub food but the fish and chips couldn’t make it…too rubbery.
We waited ages for our bus line to come so we could hop on again. Passed by St Paul’s Cathedral and got off at Tower Bridge where is started to drizzle again. Love this bridge! The last time I was here was 16 years ago, can’t remember a thing!
The tour ticket entitled us to a cruise down the River Thames so we hopped on to a boat that would bring us to the London Eye. Passed by the HMS Belfast and went under London Bridge before we alighted at Embankment.
Took a few quick shots with the observation wheel and Big Ben before we hopped into a taxi to The Berkeley Hotel - I had made reservations for afternoon tea. But not just any afternoon tea, theirs is a fashion-themed one inspired by the season’s collections called ‘Pret-a-Portea’ and I was lucky to secure one a week before the trip when usually they are booked months ahead.

There was name card in the shape of a shoe waiting for us, with my name on it. Chinaware was Paul Smith and I had a Funky Fruits tea infusion.
 
 
There was an assortment of savoury sandwiches and canapés along with the cakes and desserts from the 2012 Spring/Summer collection. They were almost too pretty to eat but they tasted as good as they looked. But one round was enough for both of us, sugar overload! Before we left, we got doggie bags of some of the desserts, how nice of them.

Harrods was a short walk away, took a quick tour of their food hall and the ladies fashions, I think we spent less than 30 mins in the store…it was just to have a glance plus it had been a long day.
Anju followed me back to the hotel to pick up the curry powder she asked me to bring, I bought a salad from Tesco’s in case I was hungry and that was the end of Day 1!

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