It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sorry & Here's A Rabbit!

Just a quick note to say sorry for the scarcity of blog posts recently, but things were really quiet for a while, and then they certainly weren't.  I've had a wee bit on!  You'll understand this when the blogs start flowing thick and fast from about the middle of next week ...

Anyway, here's a cute rabbit to wish you Happy Easter.  I hope that you and yours are all happy and healthy and enjoying a few days relaxing over the break - and maybe just a teensy bit of chocolate.

Back to normal blogging in a few days!  I'm also going to try and blog more from my iPhone with Instagram pictures, so let's keep our fingers crossed that it actually works.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Is It Just Me?

I always like to come home from a trip to a clean house, and I know my hubby sometimes just smiles as I run around doing last minute things so I can walk back into a clean home.  Am I the only one?  Very often, as I'm walking to the taxi, I have my luggage in one hand and the bin bag in the other - dropping the bin bag into the big outside bin as I walk past.  Who wants to come home to a house smelling of old rubbish?  Gah.

I do a quick run around with the vacuum cleaner and put clean linen on the bed as well.  Kitchen surfaces are wiped clean of crumbs and the last dishes are hand washed.  Some people advise loading up the dishwasher and pressing the "go" button as you leave, but I've heard some serious horror stories of dishwashers going wrong and water flooding into kitchens for days before you get home from your holiday - I don't want to come home to an indoor pool in my kitchen!  There's already an old indoor pool under our living room floor, but that's another story for another day ...

Here's some pre-travel hints from

After a vacation, getting back into your routine can be rough. Make your return to reality a little easier by getting basic cleaning done before you head out the door.
A thorough cleaning would be great, of course, but to-do lists tend to get long right before a trip. To allow yourself to be more relaxed upon your return, here are a few key tasks to tackle.
Put on fresh sheets and make your bed. Climbing into bed between clean sheets — especially after enduring a layover or long car ride — will make you happy to be home.
Load and run your dishwasher. Take a minute to go around your home and collect dishes that have wandered to side and coffee tables. Take them to the dishwasher and load 'er up; you'll have clean plates and bowls to use upon your return.
Take out the trash. Because who wants to be greeted by the smell of garbage?
Wipe down countertops. Get your kitchen and bath looking cleaner quickly by removing crumbs, water spots, etc., from these big swathes of space.
Give quick order to clutter. If you're cleaning truly last minute and have a lot to put away (ahem), give yourself a head start on a deeper clean by making small piles in the appropriate room. It might not work for everyone, but if I'm really short on time, this method keeps me from feeling more overwhelmed when I get home.

Oh, and one more thing - clean out your fridge to get rid of anything that's going to develop a life of its own whilst you're away.  When we got back from a trip to Detroit late last year I found a mouldy capsicum that had developed its own personality in our vegetable crisper ...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Tower of London

Aerial view of the Tower of London - you can walk around atop the Tower walls

Last time I was in London I braved the biting cold and long lines to head down to the Tower of London for a look around.  I've been there before and I really enjoy wandering around in so much history.

The Tower of London is part of the Historical Royal Palaces (Hampton Court, Kensington Palace etc.) and the entry price is a wee bit steep I think at £21.45/adult - but they're very cheeky as they include in that price a "voluntary" donation of £1.95 in that price.  If you buy your ticket on the day at the Tower, you can ask to not include the "voluntary" donation and your ticket price will be £19.50.

I'm all for roof and masonry repairs, and opening up more of the Tower to the general public, but over 2 million people visit the Tower each year, and I think £19.50 is quite pricey enough per person without gouging another £1.95 from each person that walks through the gates.

Anyway, boring pricing details out of the way, the Tower is fantastic.  It's well worth a visit, just for the chance to be around so much history.  I'm a big fan of Royal history and the novels of Philippa Gregory, and it feels such an honour to be able to walk in the same steps as Henry the Eighth and William the Conqueror.

Traitors Gate - the Tower used to be surrounded by a moat and small boats could be rowed through these gates.

This time I joined in one of the amazing free Yeoman Warder Tours.  You can join one of the brilliant Yeoman Warders (popularly known as Beefeaters) for a 45-60 minute walking tour of the Tower - my guide was great, a real showman, and he had so much information on imprisonment, execution, torture and much more.  The Yeoman Warders live with their families within the walls of the Tower - if you look carefully you can see their homes as you walk around on the tour.

You can also visit the Crown Jewels, the Ravens, the Bloody Tower, Beauchamp Tower, the site of the Scaffolds (yurk!), White Tower, Fusilliers Museum and the Traitors Gate.  You can spend a day here without too many problems; there are cafes and places to sit for lunch.

I caught the bus there and the tube back.  The District and Circle Line tubes stop at Tower Hill station and, surprisingly, the Tower is just across the road - easy peasy.

Amazing life sized statues of lions made from chicken wire near the entrance.  Lions, tigers, eagles, owls, elephants and even kangaroos have lived within the walls of the tower since the early 1200s. 

The Tower of London