I made what's only my second visit to the UK (my first was in early 1989), heading off to London to spend a fortnight with my brother Shelley who was admitted to Hampstead's Royal Free Hospital critical care ward. My Mom had come out a few weeks earlier from South Africa, so did my Dad a week or two later (he and I arrived at Heathrow on the same day). My brother Cade also arrived a few days later to continue his media degree in London. Fortunately, Shelley's condition improved and he was taken off the critical list, and headed back home to East Finchley where he chilled, regaining his strength for the next round of chemo. Hardly a holiday for anyone, but it WAS nice to spend time in an English city again, eat English food and see the family.
|EMERGENCY ROAMING. This is the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, where we spent a good few hours every day visiting Shelley in Moore Ward. He was completely poked for the first few days, but he was up and about before the end of my fortnight there. We also had the chance to meet his close friend Lisa and a range of other mates of his - nice people, all. PIC NOTE:the church steeple poking out from behind the trees on the right is actually a burned-out shell past which a road leads up to Belsize Park, where Shelley and Ryan USED to live before moving to East Finchley in the middle of this year.|
|LOOKING OUT. The view from Shelley's first ward at the Royal Free, looking toward Archway (the high-rises in the distant). He actually had a very nice view all the way across the City to the Canary Wharf area in London proper. East Finchley is a couple of clicks to the left of the pic (behind the hill, on top of which stands Alexandra Palace). If you're bussing from East Finchley, you have to change buses at Archway, which gives you a chance to stock up on kebabs from a shop near the bus-stop which advertises "Probably the best kebabs on the planet". I tried them. They were not THAT far wrong - certainly a lOT better than noodles and tofu...|
|ALL IN ESTATE. A ten-minute walk from the Royal Free is Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill, one of the 'designated viewing points' for anyone wanting to get an impressive view of the city. On the other side of the Heath is Kenwood Estate, where they were having a series of open air summer classical concerts during my stay. Naturally, we whipped out the picnic hampers with relish...|
|This is a pic of me, Ryan, Mom and Cade on our way to one of them on a sunny Saturday evening.The lower pic is us about half an hour later, sitting on the lawns in front of Kenwood, patiently awaiting the beginning of the concert but exercising considerably LESS patience when it came to getting stuck into the bag of ham, cheese, baguettes, humus and other nice 'things for your face' what we'd brought along. There were a LOT of people and the weather was perfect - and the music was quite good too. We were in the proles' area - the vast lawn where people can relax for free, nosh and listen to the music that filters over via the PA system from the actual 'paid admission' area. There, paid guests have snacks laid on and can actually SEE the orchestra. Oh - just in case you were wondering, the crowd in this pic isn't REALLY trying to avoid sitting near us - it just looks that way. Really.||
|IN THE MARKET. Cade and I spent a decent afternoon strolling around Camden in pursuit of cheap jeans and food. Unlike almost anywhere in Asia, this is one place where my haircut is rated as "unremarkable". We got some Jordanian delicacies down our throats for lunch, and then found some places selling some stupidly cheap Levi 501s (used, of course - or should that be 'pre-worn'). We also visited a VERY interesting cyber-gear outlet called CYBERDOG. Their website is almost as funky as the outlet. Worth checking out. After spending money, we spent time in a luvverly beer garden at the Man In The Moon and nursed a series of chilled ales. Yerm. Try as we might, we could think of absolutely NOTHING wrong with this experience, and I was forced to spend more than one occasion 'down the pub' to check that my impression had, um, integrity and that it could be relied upon. It could.||
|HEAVY PUB-LICITY. My Dad and I took every opportunity to enjoy a quiet one at a local whenever we could. This is a facet of a lifestyle which we can't enjoy very often where we live (good pubs with beer gardens being non-existent in Taiwan and Transkei alike). Here, we're around the corner from the hospital between visits to Shelley.|
|VER LADS. On my last Saturday in London, I got the chance to spend a few hours and a Guiness or three with a very old friend, Alex McGowan. He was on our University radio station Rhodes Music Radio (RMR) with me in Grahamstown (SA) in the late 80s/early 90s and was a damn good presenter as well as Station Manager before he passed that mantle to me. A typical Scot, he's been hoarding shekels for the last few years working as a Marketing and Communications type for the Young Vic theatre company, and has MUCH less time for things radio these days (as well as a tad less hair).|
|Mind you, I haven't changed much - see this pic of us taken almost 10 years ago at Varsity when he and I were VER LADS!!! Never mind the fact that we looked like American tourists, this was considered very 'street cred or dead' in 1991! Shaved heads are de rigeur in Londres at the mo', so I was WAY ahead of my time when I did it for the first time back then. If you want to see more about RMR and my Rhodes days, check out my VARSITY DAZE pages again.||
|WALKIES! The London branch of the family (that is, my Mom and brothers Cade, Shelley and Ryan) live in a decent flat in the North London borough of East Finchley. Their building can be seen behind Mom as we stroll up Elmhurst Crescent on our way to the hospital on the day Cade arrived in London after leaving the USA for what he hopes is the last time.|
|SO WHO ARE YOU AGAIN? Not a very good quality pic, but that's what happens when one does one's image compression too quickly. Dad, Cade and Mom get re-acquainted at the flat after not having seen each other for quite a few years since he left to study Media Arts at the University Of South Carolina in the States.|
|HASSLING THE HELP..In the kitchen of the London flat, I and Cade try to
do our best to distract Ryan from more important things - like, doing the
dishes. One of the things we DID manage to do to distract ourselves was to
visit the Art Of Star Wars
exhibition at the Barbican Centre - good to see the REAL things used
to create this unreal universe. Darth Vader even had a room all to himself
|JAWING WITH JULES. On my last morning in the UK, I was lucky enough to get the chance to spend some time with our close friend Jong-Eun (Julie) who works a few hours away from London. She worked with us in South Korea in 1997-98 and headed over from Seoul to live in the UK for a while before returning in mid-2001. It was GREAT seeing her again, though we only had time for a long breakfast at a French restaurant near Victoria Street station before I had to leave for the airport. For a reminder of who she is, see our Seoul pages again.|
BLOODY TOURISTS! Erm - gosh. This looks suspiciously like me doing the tourist thing. Dad and I spent our first evening there strolling around Central London, catching a perfect sunset from the bank of the Thames across from Westminster, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Luvverly - now where's that postcard?
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