Mims' Musings

Posts Tagged ‘travel

Tim Peake’s Picture of London from Space

I have lived in South East London (right inside the green circle) for my whole life. It’s a 25 minute overground train journey to Central London (referred to as Central for short). The squiggly black line in the middle is the River Thames (pronounced “Tems” – please note my pronunciation guides are half serious, half satire on my own ridiculous accent). 

When I travel to other countries, I seek out the places the residents love to spend time, so I thought I’d share with you my favourite 5 London spots. Please feel free to comment with your favourites- either in London, or in your hometown!

1. Greenwich (pronounced “grenitch”) Park

Greenwich Park is just 15 minutes drive from my house and I’ve always loved it. My Dad always drove me here when I was feeling anxious, we used to pick chestnuts there in the autumn (I still try to) and it still makes me feel calm, like a landmark touchstone. Apart from beautiful views, I love visiting the Royal Observatory (where I used to work), and walking down the hill into the town and visiting Greenwich Market or walking by the river. 

2. Borough (pronounced “burra”) Market 

Food heaven, what more could you want? Endless stalls of enticing produce, my favourites are the Thai coconut pancake stall, and the cheese stall. There’s also a great takeaway pasta place which can’t be beaten. Plus there are brilliant restaurants around the market too, including one where everything on the menu involves chocolate! 

3. Southbank Centre 

There’s so much to do here, some of the best theatre, author talks, free art installations, a shops which are great for presents that are a bit unusual, endless restaurants, but my favourite thing is how much of the building you can access and just relax in. One of the top floors has a children’s library play area where little ones can crawl and run around, and another floor has sofas overlooking the Thames where I’ve spent hours reading a book, I’ve even fallen asleep there and no one has bothered me. 

4. Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop (Covent Garden)

I love the buzz of Covent Garden, but this toyshop is so special. At the back of the picture you can see their speciality- cardboard pop up theatres, I love just going and looking at the craftsmanship of them. Plus there’s always a selection of toys which feel nostalgic but are still fun today, and you wouldn’t find them on the high street. 

5. Cecil Court

Visiting this road is a must-do for any book lovers. It’s lined with shops rammed with antique books, first editions, as well as old second hand books at reasonable prices. There are also shop fronts with antique trinkets and a costume jeweller which has provided bling for films and tv shows, including Downton Abbey if you’re that way inclined. My favourite shop on this road is Marchpane, which specialises in children’s books, my most treasured copies of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales First Editions are from there. It’s rumoured that the road was J K Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley of Harry Potter fame, I’m not sure if it’s true but it feels magical anyway 

If you visit any of these places on my recommendation please do comment and let me know! 


Did you spot the bird in the picture? Even I didn’t know it was there until I just loaded it up on the laptop. There’s another one below as well. (10 points to whoever spots it first).  Our last 24 hours of the trip started of beautifully, walking around the gardens at Kirstenbosch. Immediately we realised we should have done this at the start of the trip and spent more time there, it looks like an awesome place to picnic.

Below is a selection of pictures from the gardens, enough to produce my own ‘Protea of Africa’ Calendar. There were some truly beautiful things in that garden, including the King Protea which there’s a picture of below (it’s the really massive one), and the raspberry coloured Protea which is so rare it doesn’t have a name and could only be found on this one path we went down. At the gift shop I bought an egg box full of indigenous South African seeds and soil to grow them in, so hopefully some of them will survive at home.


Here’s me in my new rugby top, I’m sure you can all see the sense of relief that I’ve survived this epic journey. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t feel like it’s flown past it feels like I’ve been away from home for an age. But now I’m excited to get back and see what lies ahead on my return. For one thing there’s the 800 page Mandela book to get on with!

So, on we trekked down to Ballito, where my Uncle has a holiday house. We had a day up in Durban where we walked from one end of it to the other, (which turns out to be quite a long distance!). This is me in front of the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which was built for the World Cup.

We were lucky enough to go in the SkyCar up the arch of the stadium, which gave us a great view of Durban. We were impressed with how beautiful the beachfront area is, but also surprised how quiet it was. This is why we ended up walking so far, in the search for a ‘town centre’.

We stopped at the International Convention Centre in Durban for a convenient toilet break, and I was delighted to find something called the Durban Peace Quilt on the walls. There were several quilts made up of panels, all in different shades of blue and with some lovely peaceful images. It really made me want to bump quilting up the list of crafts I want to learn!


Unlike underpasses in London, where they tend to be half brothel/half toilet, the one in Durban is decorated with lovely tile displays of native flowers, the best named one being the ‘num-num flower’. I have to say, whichever creative soul thought of altering this flower should be commended, it definitely put a smile on my face!

After nearly a week in Ballito/Durban/seeing family near there, we moved on to Port Elizabeth where we saw more lovelly family, then began driving along the Garden Route to Cape Town. I’ve decided to include this picture because what happened next was our stop in Wilderness, at the Wilderness Beach Hotel. The rooms were nice enough. But what I may as well have been spotting in those binoculars, was in fact a TERRIBLE MEAL. At the hotel restaurant we waited an hour for our food, which then varied between Lukewarm to Freezing cold.  During the wait I’d lost the will to eat, then when my meal came the pork filling was cold, but I struggled on, took a few bites and realised the meat was rare. Then realised you can’t eat pork rare. I wasn’t very well that night.

We then had another stop before reaching Cape Town, in a place called Swellendam, where we had a great meal at Powell’s Coffee House, completely making up for the previous night’s disaster. Next door to the restaurant was a wedding shop where they were sewing dresses, if we weren’t in such a rush I would’ve spent hours in there!. We then arrived at my Uncle’s house where we’re now staying with my Uncle, Aunt and two cousins until we head home. This picture was taken today at Hermanus, where we had a great lunch and even spotted a few whales.

Although I would be lying if I didn’t admit I felt a little twinge when I saw this reminder of how far away from home we are!

So onward to the last part of our jouney we go. On the agenda are Robin Island, Table Mountain and I’m sure some adventures with my cousin who we’ve been playing poker with (note the lucky hoods!). Stay tuned for the next installment…

A mainly visual post today. Including highlights of our trip in the Victoria Falls area: the sunset cruise on the Zambezi, the Victoria Falls themselves (note the pretty rainbow!), the walk with Lions we did, Gem squash (if anyone knows where to get these in London please tell me!), the beach in Ballito where we’re now staying, and the souvenir from my Dad’s Aunt Maureen’s birthday celebration!




For more information on the charity which runs the lion walks, please go to:








So, here we are. After a tiny stopover in Paris, we travelled for 10 hours to Johannesburg.  Dazed and disorientated, a gathering of ‘Chefs on Tour’ at the airport didn’t help! Around 50 chefs, all gathered and waving flags, can be quite surreal to the weary traveller.

Pictured above is Johanessburg’s equivelent to the Oyster Card from what I can tell, called the Gautrain. We got the yellow line from O R Tambo airport to Sandton (just about visible in the picture!). As we were riding this cool looking gold train, my dad told me that it was built in the UK. As I observed how clean it was, how incredibly comfortable the seats were, and how fast and smooth the ride was, I couldn’t help but think, if it’s built in the UK why don’t we have anything that good?!

As we were staying overnight in Sandton City, we spent the afternoon in Nelson Mandela Square, where there’s a mighty impressive statue of the man himself! We spent hours going around the Labyrinthine shopping mall, watching a bit of the South Africa vs. New Zealand rugby game, then we all watched a movie.

Today we caught a flight from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia. Then spent most of the day going through border offices, first at the airport to enter Zambia, then at the Zambia border to leave it, then a few minutes later at the Zimbabwe border to enter it! It was quite an experience. But well worth it once we got to our hotel…

This is part of The Kingdom Hotel, near the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. In this building is the Casino and gift shops, then when we’re staying is the pool, about 10 blocks of accomodation and a huge restaurant.

This is what’s known as the ‘Gorge Bridge View’, (not because it’s Gorgeous like I thought….), it’s about a 5 minute walk from our hotel and as you can see, it’s amazing! On the left side there’s a bungee jump, and a zip line that goes all the way across, which I’m actually semi-tempted to go on.

Just behind where this gorge is, we could see the spray from the Victoria Falls themselves. Tomorrow we’ll go see them properly- exciting!!!
And so ends the first installment of our African Adventure….make sure you don’t miss the next installment, subscribe! (enter your email address in the top right)

This area has a lot of castles, it seems like nearly every sign points to a castle. On Day 3 we visited Warkworth Castle which is just down the road from where we’re staying. It looks like it was an impressive structure in its time. What we don’t understand is the whole process of ruins becoming ruins.

Where do the extra stones go?

Why are the outlines of rooms left uneven?

Why not level it all out to one neat row?

So many questions!

Anyway that delightful pictures is Colin and I climbing through the ‘hole’. It used to be a chapel when the castle was in full use.

After the castle we came home to watch the Queens Club Tennis Final between Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Unfortunately we didn’t see any of the table tennis game pictures above!  It was the first time 3 generations of our family had all sat down to watch tennis (my grandmother and her sister, my parents and us). What intrigues me is how when Murray wins he is labelled the ‘young British hopeful’ but when he does badly he’s suddenly the ‘Scottish national’? What would happen if Scotland did break away from the United Kingdom? Who would we claim as our tennis hopeful! We would be doomed!

Day 4 saw us venture to The Holy Island, Lindisfarne .  There was much excitement in the house as the journey there would need to be accurately timed to get across the causeway before the tide came in and after it went out. The first time I learned the term ’causeway’ was when we read The Woman in Black at school.  I couldn’t help but reflect on that book as we drove across the causeway to Lindisfarne, but I soon forgot what I was thinking when we got there. We ate in a lovely pub where the sparrows were so tame they took bread out of Colin’s hand!

We took a walk up to the Lindisfarne Castle, which used to be an old battery. We found it amusing that they’d made such an effort to build this castle yet it didn’t see a battle for 300 years before it became a residential castle. I was impressed with how warm it turned out to be, we even managed to get tans- something we thought would never happen so far north!

After the castle we relaxed on a hill looking over the sea, then walked down into the town where we saw the old Priory. Next to the Priory was St Aidan’s Winery where we sampled Lindisfarne Mead for the first time. I’d never tried mead before and couldn’t believe how amazing it tasted. They also had many different flavoured wines which I would have liked to taste, like Elderberry, Damson and Strawberry, as well as Toffee Liquor. They also had honey scented candles which reminded me of candles I used to have when I was a child, shaped like beehives with little decorative bees on them.

Our last stop on the island was the Gospel Gardens, where we were intrigued by an emblem of a goat with wings. When we left the island we were all exhausted. We were all surprised with how enjoyable we found it, it’s well worth a visit if you’re ever in the North East, especially to see how peaceful it is, such a change of pace to London life!

So far Day 5 has been a really relaxing day, but who knows what adventures this afternoon will bring!

7 People

7 Seater Car

7 Hour trip (Allegedly…it turned into 8)

7 Day Holiday.

This is how our adventure ‘Up North’ began. We’re now staying in a place called Warkworth, Northumberland, I’d be lying if I tried to claim that I have any idea where we are. One side affect from having an international family is that my British geography is awful. I just know that we’re definitely North, and furhter north than I’ve ever been before.

Spending 8 hours in a car with my family (and lovely boyfriend of course), did seem like a daunting prospect. The ideal solution would have been to read for the whole journey- but alas! motion sickness prevents me from such literary bliss. Anyway here’s some things I did come up with to ensure that the 350 miles just fly away.

1.  Breaks

This is the most important part of planning a long drive. The skill isn’t just where to stop but when.  If the stop is too early then the obstacles of thirst, hunger or needing the bathroom may get in the way of your ultimate most comfortable journey. Of course you don’t need a delicious beer to make it a good break, but it does help!

2. Sleep

This is my preferred option. However on this particular occassion I had some trouble drifting off. Here is Colin demonstrating this technique perfectly.

3. Raindrop Race/Window Drawing

Particularly useful if you’re going up north. On this occassion I drew an ‘egg’ and watched the raindrop sperm fertilise it.

5. Games

Small ones without many pieces work well. This is the extremely addictive Lonpos which is a great travel game, or at least it would have been if my brother didn’t drop one of the pieces.

6. Listen to Music

This one will only work if you have a fully charged iPod, otherwise it can be annoying when the battery runs out and you’re only 5 miles away from home. However if you’ve remembered to charge it, setting yourself a task like making sure every song has a star rating can be fun.

7. Think about the Destination

Realising there’s a lovely comfy bed waiting for you is good motivation when you feel like you’ve become too intimate with your car seat.


1. Don’t fiddle with things you don’t know how to work!!!

This is my Dad managing to set the heating to come on and off at 6 different points during the day.

2. Appreciate the ameneties

This is what we want our future house to look like =)


Relax and enjoy! Which we intend to do!

Check back later in the week to see what else we do during our week in Warkworth

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