Saturday, August 4, 2012

London, 2012

London is a great city!  I had forgotten how much I loved it.  I moved from London when I was 18 and never really returned.  When ever I did, I always had contempt for the place because it was bustling, crowded, grumpy and bleak.  This time was very different.  I was reminded of how lovely London can be, especially in the summer time.

I arrived prior to the opening ceremony of the Olympics and most of my time was spent being reunited with good friends.  Kerry Watkins, my boss in Taiwan, was the first person I met.  We went on a little tour of Westminster and the South Bank.  It was brief, but it was fun walking along the River Thames with someone who had given me a wonderful opportunity. It was ten years ago that I moved to Taiwan. That experience changed my life.  It opened my eyes to the wonderful career of teaching and of course, it is where I met the love of my life!
Kerry and Michelle by Big Ben.
 On the same day, I was reunited with a very special friend, Steph.  The last time I saw her was on a hospital bed in Bangkok after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.  We stayed in constant contact and finally, after seven and a half years, we were together again and it was fabulous.

Steph lives on a river boat on the River Thames.  It is amazing!   When I visited Steph, she was docked up at the Floating Market in Mile End, East London.  There were lots of artists selling their work and musicians entertaining the masses.  It was such a funky atmosphere.  I couldn't stop smiling :-)

After my very comfortable night on Mr Badger (Steph's boat).  Steph and I woke and had a delicious healthy fruit breakfast and then went for a walk to the flower market on Columbia Road.

Here, I met my cousin, Lynda and her boyfriend, Luis.  We met in a very lovely pub and I drank some fine London ales!  Later on, my other cousin, Suzanne and her fiance, Alan, came to join us.  It was so lovely being with cousins, just sitting, laughing and having fun.  I could've stayed forever in that spot.  I was so happy!

Luis and Steph enjoying the ales.

Suz, Lynda and me :)

Alas, I had to leave and go on to be reunited with another great friend, Oliver.  Woohoo!!  Oliver and I were inseparable when we were teenagers.  We lost contact when I moved to Taiwan and thanks to Facebook, got in contact again after ten years.  It only felt like yesterday that I saw him!  We went to visit a mutual friend, Helen who is a great family friend of mine.  When Oliver and I were teens, we'd always go round to Helen's and watch Sunset Beach.  It was our escapism from college, study and teenage life.  We had a fabulous time!

My local tube station when growing up in London.

My old friend, Ollie.

My old house.  I spent 7 years here - the longest I have ever  lived in any house.

My old primary school.

On the Monday of this amazing weekend of catching up with old friends, I met another great friend of mine, Nick.  Nick got married to his beautiful wife, Laura last year.  I was heart broken that Robert and I couldn't attend the wedding because we were in New Zealand, but happy that they had such a special day and it was great to see them again!

That concludes my time being reunited with good friends.  It was a very special weekend, but there was one thing missing, Robert!  It was lovely having this time with all these special people, but Robert was not with me and I really felt his absence.  It would have been perfect if he was with me, but he had commitments to school and work so couldn't which was a big shame.  Everyone was pretty gutted that they couldn't meet him.  Hopefully, next time.

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