The Thrills of London

Arriving back into London was a little bit stressful for me. My flight had gotten in slightly late to Leeds airport. Leeds is located approximately 310 km above London or a two hour train ride away. As train tickets cost a whopping £65 (about nz$130) to buy on the day, I had brought my train ticket in advance for a much more reasonable £15. The type of ticket meant I had to pick a specific time to travel rather than the more flexible anytime tickets which are usually more preferable. With the late flight, and the airport bus caught in rush hour traffic on the way into the main Leeds city, I made it onto the train with only a minute to spare. And this was with running like a mad woman from the bus-stop with heavy backpack and front pack into the train station forcing my way through to the ticket barriers. Can’t have been a terribly attractive sight. Sorry to anyone that got in my way.. But at least I didn’t spend £65 buying another ticket.

Arriving into London I zoomed to my hostel (good old Astor Victoria, a reliable hostel at a good price), and then headed straight into my nursing agency Continental Travelnurse to pick up my final piece of paper for obtaining my UK nursing registration.

I was up to the final stage after over a year of a nightmare-like process. I had finished the month-long university course and now needed to sign a final declaration and pay one last fee. The Nursing Midwifery Council [NMC] had also brought in one more annoying step that was announced last week in which you had to have an appointment at the NMC headquarters to show your official documents in person. The NMC certainly try very hard to make the process of registration as long and painful as possible, and this new appointment step to check my documents and make sure they were real valid documents actually didn’t surprise me terribly much. As my Continental agent pointed out, the NMC will probably ask for a first-born child as the next part of the registration process. Anything to put off foreign nurses coming to work in England despite the nursing shortage here.

Being a Friday and 4pm by the time I arrived in London, I was quite keen to get my declaration into the NMC before the weekend, as on Monday I had another flight out of the country planned. I power-walked to Continental, then power-walked to the NMC, got everything handed in and the final fee all paid. Just that one silly appointment left and I would be finally all registered.

Yay!

Then walking out of the NMC building in Oxford Circus feeling quite exhausted, I noticed a bunch of paparazzi clustered in front of a hotel down the street. Wondering which celebrity they were waiting for, I joined the crowd with my camera ready.

Within five minutes a very famous person emerged – Lady Gaga!!

Coming out of the hotel
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Doing some fan photos
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I would have loved a photo with her of course but it was amazing how the crowd surged forward at her. Poor Gaga. I was too busy trying not to get pushed over while taking photos at the same time. My first real celebrity sighting! So cool! Gaga was nice enough to pose for some photos with random people in the crowd before jumping into her limo and driving off.

Saturday was spent chilling as the freezing cold rain at La Tomatina and stress of yesterday had caught up with me in the form of a coughy cold. The most productive thing I did all day was paint my nails a pretty colour and watch Game of Thrones.

Sunday was more active with meeting up with Shelley and her mum Dorothy for a tour of Buckingham Palace. The palace was very nice with lots of fancy decorations and paintings. All that usual palace stuff I’d come to expect. Tours were priced at £21 each. A bit overpriced compared to other palace tours I’ve been on (as in over double the price) but quite a typical price for a London attraction. And Buckingham palace is certainly very very famous. They had some particularly nice vases and dragon fireplace decorations which I liked.

Jumping for joy out the back of the Palace
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After that all my energy was gone (silly cold making me feel all lethargic) so it was back to the hostel to relax and have fun chatting with my roommates. Poor Dorothy was quite tired too with having only just arrived off the plane from New Zealand that morning. Shelley took her back to her home in Basingstoke (south of London) to start a week of mother-daughter activities.

Monday morning I caught a tube out to Camden Town and looked around the market out there. Lining the sides of the canal with plenty of neat little stalls mixed in with the generic touristy one, I had a great time wandering around. So many stalls had cute little dresses. It was a good thing I didn’t have much cash on me otherwise I might have found the temptation too hard to resist. This market is open every day so well worth spending a couple of hours at. Quite a few stalls do all sorts of international foods for cheap prices so even head out there just for lunch.

Boots for sale
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Some fresh lemon ginger tea while overlooking the canal
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Once I had finished meandering around there, it was time to get back to my hostel to pick up my pack and start heading to the airport. Because of yet another one of Ryanair’s cheap flight deals, I was heading to South France for one last travelling holiday before starting my work contract in two weeks. See you soon Montpellier and gorgeous French beaches!

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