emspace thoughts

What's floating around in Em's brain today?

Friday, June 11, 2004

What a mad mad week it has been!

An old friend visited from Hong Kong so I decided to take some time off and show her and her husband around the UK. Well it was a good excuse to take some time off work and it was nice to revisit some old haunts. Ended up enjoying some of the best weather to hit the UK in such a long time as well as doing some crazy walking! Geez, must have walked a total of about 30 miles - not bad going for someone who barely walks about 100 yards normally on a working day!!

Saturday was spent in London, where my friends were still with their tour group, having spent 10 days on the tourist track in Italy, Switzerland and France. Some of their group wanted to visit Harrods, so I met them there after they had finished shopping. They wanted to try some "English food", so we took them for a pub dinner. Can't get more English than that. Then we wandered around Piccadilly Circus for a while looking for a CD that we eventually found, but then decided was cheaper in Hong Kong. Very typical Chinese trait....

It was just my the three of us on Sunday, having lost the people from the tour group who were headed back to Hong Kong, so we went for a bit of a walk in the glorious sunshine. Starting in Waterloo, we walked across the millenium (Hungerford) bridge and felt it swaying, down towards Westminster Palace, across to St James' Park and on to Buckingham palace, taking in the sights and loads of pictures along the way. It must be about 20 years since I last made this walk, so it was nice to recapture all the sights without being on a tourbus. Also watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace - it's not exactly a grand spectacle, but as I've never seen it before, it was as much as experience for me as it was for my friends and on the D-Day anniversary as well. A quick wander through Green Park and we hopped back onto the tube to go to Covent Garden. We could have walked I guess, but we were gettin' kinda hungry. Faced with the ridiculous London food prices, we ended up lunching at Pizza Hut. Not exactly authentic cuisine, but it was cheap and we got ice cream thrown in and my friends commented it was nicer than the stuff in Hong Kong. Then I mentioned that you could get rice in Hong Kong Pizza Hut and they concurred. Back on the tube and engineering works meant we had to walk to Tower Hill from Bank. Good job it was a nice day, but it was quite a long walk and with my hay fever hitting critical levels, it was pretty tough going. Got there in the end and some more photo opportunities. Afterwards, back to Chinatown for some hard earned dinner.

A trip down memory lane to my uni days was had on Monday as we ventured out of London over to Cambridge for the day. Again another gloriously sunny day meant lots of beautiful photos and I kinda threw my 'ex-Cambridge student' weight around as we managed to get into Trinity and St Johns to look around for free. After a morning looking around colleges, my friends' Hong Kong shopping urges kicked in, so we started looking at the shops before heading back into London and more food in Chinatown, getting a little lost on the way back to the station. My friends were beginning to enjoy British Chinese food, suggesting that the quality of food in Hong Kong has taken a downturn whereas the Chinese food in the UK has improved a lot.

A less strenuous day was had on Tuesday as we travelled from London up to Manchester before we started on more sightseeing on Wednesday, firstly taking part in a tour of Manchester United's ground Old Trafford and then moving onto more shopping at the Lowry Outlet Centre. The tour of the United ground was really good, a lot better than I had expected and if I was a tourist, I think I would have really enjoyed it. Took you into the ground and behind the scenes, going into the actual changing rooms and giving you the chance to sit where Beckham once sat. With United taking the FA Cup this year, you even got to pose with the cup. Great stuff! Well, my friend's husband had a good time... My friend got her own back though at the outlet centre, scooping up a bargain as she managed to get a leather jacket worth £179 for just £15 from the Mexx outlet. Another Chinese meal in the evening, this time at the Glamourous - Manchester's largest and tastiest Chinese Restaurant and again, they were impressed by the portion size as well as the free soup and dessert!

We headed back to my hometown of Liverpool yesterday, dropping by on the Metropolitan Cathedral (aka Paddy's Wigwam) and the best Chinese Archway in the country. Said hello to my folks before I finally got to try out the "Tea House" - a HK style Chinese cafe in Liverpool that my cousins rave about, but I hadn't got round to visiting. Not bad for Liverpool standards. More shopping in the afternoon as we visited the Liverpool FC Superstore before going back to Manchester and heading out to the monstrous Trafford Centre. Just for a change, we took my friends for an Indian at the Shere Khan and my husband was very impressed at how well they took their curry! My friend exclaimed that this was the best meal yet and showed it by eating three times the amount she normally did.

Half price dim sum was experienced today as we gathered for a last meal in Manchester at the New Emperor in Chinatown. Again, they were wowed by the quality of the food here. Then after lunch, the last bout of crazy bargain hunting was had at Primark as they spent two hours there religiously checking out each aisle to make sure that they didn't miss out on the chance of getting some quality clothes at a rock bottom price. This store is rapidly becoming the top tourist attraction for friends from East Asia. They didn't quite break Eddie's record of two and a half hours and £80, but they got close! A final coffee and then we headed out to the airport as we waved bye-bye until we meet again - probably in March next year.

So there you go, that's what I have been up to.
If anyone wants me to show them around the UK, please book in advance... hahaha!