Diane

Je suis rentree..

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    ... as it says really, we're back from our three week whirlwind tour of Europe and Asia...well, Hampshire, West Sussex, Essex, Suffolk, London, Paris and Hong Kong anyway!

     

    Hell of a long flight, as ever, which made me appreciate even more the fact that my folks and in laws put themselves through it on a more or less annual basis, just to come see us. Bit of a result for us on the return though as flight was overbooked so we were given STG2000 to stay an extra day, plus airport accommodation and meals and stuff. Meant we spent 15 hours in Hong Kong rather than the planned 8, but that worked well too, as we were so tired by the time the flight took off at midnight last night that we were asleep before the plane had left the ground! Helped offset the cost of the flights too.

     

    Not much sign of any recession in the counties we visited. Everything very green and pretty, and made me realise what Australia lacks: hedges! The architecture of Paris was stunning, as ever, although with the exchange rate of just about one euro to the pound, it makes things very expensive there: about 9 pounds for a pint of beer!! Eurostar is fantastic though, as you're pretty much door to door. London also seems to be thriving, lots and lots to do: Shrek the Musical was excellent, the London Bridge Experience a (literal) scream, and we even got to lunch with Boris Johnson in City Hall (well, he was there and we were, at the same time, but I doubt if he'd remember it if you asked him!!)

     

    The new digital TV channels in the UK are very strange - I have always said that TV here is pretty naff, but I think the UK has overtaken Oz in the naff-TV stakes now!

     

    All in all, it was a fantastic visit, but it's nice to get back and away from the crowds of people, particularly in Hong Kong - absolutely packed with thousands of women (apparently it's a weekly thing when all the women workers in the City meet up, but there was barely a spare patch of pavement!), and in Paris when the day before the long Bastille Day holiday there saw every man, woman, child and his dog either in gridlock in the streets, or packed like sardines on the metro. Good to remember also how careful you have to be in crowds such as this (caught a guy on the London tube trying to slip his hand into my handbag, and had to slap some teenager's hand who tried to grope me on the Eiffel Tower!)

     

    Now just trying to stay awake till an acceptable "bedtime", so sorry if I've rambled a little!

     

    Have I missed much?

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    Hi Diane,

     

    Glad to hear you had a good trip for the last 3 weeks have you now have all the unpacking to enjoy:biggrin:, What was Honk Kong airport like?, we have a short stay there in just over 2 weeks ,well a few hours really?

    The new PIA is great you can have great fun playing around with your profile page in the edit mode,Tykes page is the best so far, and i bet there is a few good ones on here now.

    Good luck with the staying up thing,there is always coffee and chocolate and jam on toast to keep you going,

     

    all the best

     

    Andrew

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    Hi Andrew, and thanks, feeling a little bit floaty at the moment, but still awake!

     

    Hong Kong airport is HUGE! On our trip outward, we had just over two hours there: took us about that long to walk between our arrival and departure gates! If you have more than a few hours to fill, and want to go out of the airport to have a look around, I found Tripadviser really useful: there are several suggested itineraries for various lengths of time. We had planned for ten hours, but had fifteen in the end, and caught a bus into the city, ferry across to Central and tram up to the peak, amongst other things, but if you're just in the airport, there are loads of shops and stuff, or there's a hotel in the airport where you can pay a small amount to get a shower, or have a few hours sleep (we left our hand luggage there - they were cheaper than the official airport left luggage desk)

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    Cheers, my wife pointed out i had a typo on Hong Kong- Honk kong made lisa gigggle, :biggrin:, I blame it it on not sleeping lol, Must be nearly bedtime over there now i guess.

     

    Thanks for the infomation,

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    WOW congrats and it does sound like a huge adventure. I can't wait to go back over on a holiday in the future and show the kids where they were born etc but it will be a few year yet I think!

     

    Strange what you say about the telly, having only been here 18mths I have to say it still annoys me all the adds and I still miss UK tv but then I don't watch as much TV as I used to and I record the ones I want to watch so I can skip the adds.

    We went on a snowboarding holiday on the Eurostar right into the mountains it was brilliant. Paid a bit extra and went first class too :smile:

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    Guest Guest5035

    About time you are back, glad you had a good time, did you hire a car from Heathrow, going back again shortly ourselves, not booked yet, just waiting for the right time.

     

     

    yes i behaved myself!!

    :notworthy:

    stevo

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    Thanks Stevo: We hired one for a few days from some people in Essex - Stondon Masssey to be exact. Friendly, helpful, honest, competitive, and they also hire vans and motorbikes (OH nearly changed his mind and went for a Ducati they had there, but we thought fitting three cases and a guitar on that would be a bit difficult). We were warned beforehand about a scam that's been in the papers recently regarding UK car hire companies who try to blame you for damage to the car that you haven't done, and ttake large sums off your credit card to pay for same, but the company we used was totally upfront and honest, so we had no worries on that front at all. Hardest thing was getting to grips with the modern electronic features on the car (a brand new Renault Scenic I think) - such as not having a key to start it, just a button, speed trap alerts, and an electronic automatic handbrake! Made me feel we are a little stoneage here!

     

    Andrew: we flew here originally on 9th August - make sure you pack a few jumpers in your luggage as we found it really hard to buy any here at that time of year (all had their summer stuff in!)

     

    Michelle: worth waiting a few years anyway or the kids won't remember much about the visit anyway. The ads here are very annoying, and I have to admit some of the UK ones are very clever (and far more mention their websites than they do here - another sign of being a little behind the times here!) - but I think on ABC and SBS here we get a lot of the best programmes, often before they've hit the screens in the UK. There's one new digital channel in the UK that seems to specialise in showing really ancient repeats of programmes that weren't all that good the first time they were shown.

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    By the way, how wierd it feels to have 1p's and 2p's given in your change rather than the price being rounded up/down. 5p's seem so miniscule and 50p's seem tiny and flimsy now!

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    Can't believe you said no sign of a recession TBH.

     

    Well, the shops seemed to be booming, lots of new model cars around, and no-one seemed to be short of a bob or two in the towns. Even had a look in real estate windows in Hadleigh (Suffolk) and was amazed at the asking prices: that always used to be a cheaper area (in-laws moved out that way from Essex because of that very reason) but certainly not looking the case any more. I guess the pound/euro exchange rate is an indicator of the general national situation, but certainly in the South East corner of the UK that we spent our time, there was no sign of any doom or gloom! Amongst parents of teenagers that we spoke to, there didn't seem any great concern about future jobs either, just a little concern over university fees, but the general concensus seemed to be that those would be lowering in the coming years due to competition. Lots of government money being spent in and around London too - perhaps because of the forthcoming Olympics.

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    I wonder if the hosues are selling, asking good money is very well. Good to hear things are on the up though. I would think the good moods will be due to NOTW closing.

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    My family (Essex/Herts border) also report that there is little sign of a recession. Restaurants are busy and my nephew has sold loads of new and used Minis this year. The council area we used to live in has 2% unemployment, much better than Adelaide! So don't move to Australia - move to Uttlesford!

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