29 November, 2015

Christmas Extravaganza -- a bit of a damp squib

Late yesterday afternoon, we went out en famille to see the Abingdon Christmas Extravaganza -- specifically, the fire show followed by the Christmas light switch on and fireworks.

We were particularly looking forward to the fire show.This was a new attraction last year and had been brilliant -- a very skilled guy who performed all sorts of acrobatics and antics with batons of fire.

We arrived early and managed to find a reasonable place standing up behind the few rows of benches that were set out for those who preferred to be seated. However, once the performance started, we found that we couldn't see a thing. People had pushed in front of us and stood blocking our view, while those people at the front who had benches, and so should have been sitting down, chose to stand up, thereby blocking everyone's view, In a desperate attempt to see something, we and the kids walked round to a point behind the stage and stood on the edge of the pavement so that we could peer through the gaps in the backdrop and at least get vague glimpses of fire. However, even here, an adult pushed in front of my oldest daughter, entirely blocking her view.

At this point, feeling very disappointed, we gave up and went in search of a warming hot chocolate from one of the nearby cafes, but unfortunately, the queues were so long there, that we simply decided to go home. We caught a glimpse of the fireworks on the way (which were good), but we didn't see the actual light switch on.

It's funny how sometimes the things that you are most looking forward to turn out to be the most disappointing, while something totally unexpected can be amazing. It's also sad that people can be so selfish. If people had behaved a little bit better, it would have been possible for everyone to have a good time and enjoy the fire show. As it was, those of us who weren't prepared to push and think only of ourselves lost out.

08 November, 2015


We had a great day out in Greenwich a couple of weeks ago. I worked out that this was one of the few areas of London that I hadn't visited and so we decided to make a day of it.

We travelled there by the Docklands Light Railway, and this in itself was quite an experience. The Docklands area is very dense and we found ourselves travelling along very close to many skyscrapers (largely owned by financial companies), interspersed with small modern housing developments and lots of restaurants and eateries. This looked like a good place for a young professional to live -- if you could afford to buy a property here!

We started off by visiting the Old Naval College. This was beautiful -- both the Painted Hall and the chapel are open to the public and they are covered in stunning eighteenth century frescoes. Furthermore, this is free. So well worth a visit. There was also some filming going on outside the collage when we visited, which the kids found fascinating.

We went on to the maritime museum -- again free and full of interesting exhibits to do with the ocean. We particularly enjoyed the environmental exhibition, the exhibit showing artefacts of sea travel throughout the ages, and the hugely ornate Prince Frederick's Barge (built in 1732 and used for royal occasions).

Last but not least, food. We ate lunch and tea at the Waterstones Cafe in Greenwich. This was a pleasant place -- not as busy as the other local cafes and with very friendly and welcoming staff. We ate supper at Cantina Laredo on Upper Saint Martin's Lane. This serves delicious Mexican food and is one of our favourite restaurants in town.

We didn't manage to visit everything that there is to see in Greenwich, so we plan to go back at some point to see the observatory, the Queen's House and to have a wander in the royal park.