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Entries about st albans

Little Chef

Little Chef


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We left the campsite early and stopped for breakfast at a Little Chef.

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There are not that many Little Chefs around anymore and until today I hadn't been in one for nearly fifteen years. The one in the outskirts of St Albans is now a Starbucks, but when it was still a Little Chef I remember being taken there a couple of times with my sisters when we were 12 or 13 years old by our grandparents after a fun weekend swimming session. Going to Little Chef was quite a novelty. I'll never forget going there, not only because our grandparents were with us but also because on one occasion the man at the till was astounded when he saw that we were triplets, and gave us a big packet of Jelly Babies for free because he "had never met triplets before"!

The rest of the journey back to St Albans was uneventful because by coming back the day after Bank Holiday Monday, we avoided the awful traffic.

Posted by 3Traveller 03:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom st_albans Comments (0)

St Albans: Re-acquaintance with my hometown

St Albans


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Edit from January 2019: Little Marrakesh is still there, and is still one of my favourite restaurants in St Albans. St Albans Museum moved into the refurbished Town Hall on St Peter's Street in 2018.

I've had a very nice couple of days at home, revisiting the familiar and also looking at part of it in a new light.

Yesterday morning Mum, Emma and I went on a St Albans heritage walk round the Abbey parish, looking at the WW1 wall memorials with an official guide. These war memorials are either unique in the UK or very close to that. Instead of having a 'normal' war memorial, memorials were put on walls around the parish instead, some on private houses. Each memorial has the names of men from that street who died in the war. I'd passed by one or two of these before but never stopped to look properly, so it was interesting to find out a bit more about them. Our guide was very informative. What brought it alive were the stories behind some of the soldiers; many of them were brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins or friends of others either on the same memorial or other ones that the guide showed us. A couple of times she also pointed out a house close to one of the memorials and said that one of the soldiers on the memorial had lived there.

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After the walk finished Mum went round to Edward & Maria's for lunch and Emma and I walked round the market. I bought a chocolate brownie from a particular bakery stall which does especially thick, moist and tasty ones; I saved it for later, though, instead of having it there and then. After this quick look round the market we had lunch at Little Marrakesh, a Moroccan restaurant I'm very fond of. They do a good set lunch deal; a starter and main for £9.95. They do an exceptionally well-flavoured salmon steak with vegetables in a creamy sauce, served sizzling in a tagine. The hummous and bread was very good as well. Another thing I love about Little Marrakesh is its atmosphere and decoration. I haven't been to Morocco yet but it's almost exactly how I've always imagined a restaurant there to be like.

From Little Marrakesh Emma and I went to the cathedral to have a look at a small temporary exhibition of photos of and more background information about the soldiers from the wall memorials we had heard about earlier. I took a few photos of the inside of the cathedral while I was at it.

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The Clock Tower and an ice cream van were our next stops, before continuing on to St Albans Museum.

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Mum met up with us there and we all had a look round the new temporary exhibition, which was also WW1 themed; the 'home front' in St Albans and in Worms, St Albans' German twin town. I thought it was a really good idea to have information about the experience from both sides. From the temporary exhibition we moved upstairs to the permanent one. I've been to this museum several times over the 29 years of my life and so I have some favourite exhibits; the helmet and chainmail of Sir Richard Lee (knighted by Henry VIII), the colourfully painted Tudor roundels (small wooden discs/ mats used to hold sweets or sugared fruit), medieval leather childrens' shoes, the fishtank with fish in it, the 15th-century book printed in English in St Albans and the stuffed woodland animals and birds.

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Today for pudding at dinnertime we had fresh strawberries, sugar and cream - something I really wanted to have while I was in England this summer. It's one of my all-time favourite puddings! I had the occasional strawberry in Ecuador but they were always slightly sour. Maybe because they have such a wide range of sweet, ripe and juicy tropical fruits, non-tropical fruit like strawberries aren't quite at the same level there and are actually better in a non-tropical country like the UK. (That's my theory, anyway.)

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Posted by 3Traveller 12:43 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom market museum cathedral sisters mum clock_tower st_albans st_albans_cathedral Comments (0)

Return to the UK: 100th anniversary of start of World War 1

Madrid Airport, London City Airport and St Albans


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At check-in I had to pay about 40 euros because my case was three or four kg over the weight limit. I had a feeling it would go over - I had no way of measuring it beforehand. Unfortunately I had no space in my rucksack or laptop bag to move 3-4 kg worth of stuff into, so I had no choice but to leave it in there and just pay up. At least I got to choose a window seat :-)

Once through security and baggage x-ray I had plenty of time to look round duty-free but not buy anything.

The flight left on time. I managed to get some photos of the Spanish landscape after take-off and then after a while some food was brought round; a pot of couscous and vegetable salad and a pot of chocolate mousse. It felt like quite a novelty to hear English being spoken by British accents by the cabin crew.

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I took some photos of the coast of England as we approached. I noticed white cliffs, but I'm almost certain we were passing over Dorset/ Hampshire rather than the Dover area. Landing in London City Airport was a novelty because I'd never been there before and it was something different to see us land so close to the Thames.

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I had no problems at all in security and my case arrived OK. Emma, Kate and Mum were waiting for me in Arrivals - a wonderful moment.

After looking round the house and settling my stuff back in, Mum and I had some dinner and then watched the service at Westminster Abbey commemorating the beginning of World War One 100 years ago today. We both thought it was exceedingly well done, especially the choice of music (Vaughan Williams' 'A Lark Ascending' worked brilliantly, for example) and the way everyone in the congregation held a lighted candle at the start of the service and then gradually sections of people blew theirs out until only one candle was left, at the grave of the Unknown Warrior. This candle was blown out at 11 pm, the time that war was declared in 1914. The candles going out was done deliberately to echo Sir Edward Grey's famous comment that "The lamps are going out all over Europe".

We also did the 'Lights Out' event, where all households across the country were encouraged to turn their lights off between 10 and 11 pm. We had the TV going to watch the service on, but all other sources of light were switched off.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:22 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom airport spain madrid sisters mum st_albans Comments (1)

Bleary-eyed beyond belief

London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Mariscal Sucre (Quito) and José Joaquín de Olmedo International (Guayaquil)


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I'm writing this from Guayaquil, because I didn't have internet connection while I was actually at Heathrow.

I actually left St Albans the night before, on the 15th, because my plane was due to leave Heathrow at 6.35 am and I didn't want to go on a long, expensive taxi journey in the middle of the night. I caught one of the latest possible trains to St Pancras International - Mum, Kate, Emma and Mark saw me off at St Albans station - and got the tube from there all the way to Heathrow Terminal 4.

I sat down in a normal waiting seat, read and had a snack or two. After a while a female airport employee came up and said it was OK for me to go into the exclusive club lounge and lie down on the couch there, because it wasn't officially open so nobody else was in it. I checked that it was definitely OK for me to be there and she said yes, so in I went and set up my position for the night... Of course, after only 15 minutes or so two security men appeared on their round of the terminal and kicked me out! The fact that I'd been told it was OK didn't make any difference with them, so I had to go back to where I'd been sitting before.

The plane was about half an hour late leaving Heathrow so since I had a short connection time at the other end already, I practically had to gallop through Amsterdam Schiphol to get to the right gate in time. I had no time to look round any of the shops. While I was in the boarding queue I noticed that it said 'gate closing', but despite running over time they still let everybody in the queue on the plane, thank goodness. Then it turned out that I needn't have bothered rushing, because we spent an hour and a half sitting on the plane before it set off due to a problem with one of the computers!

Unfortunately on this flight I was in the middle of the middle row, not next to a window. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep and I also read a lot on my Kindle. We only arrived at Quito half an hour late because we'd made up an hour on the way (maybe the wind was behind us). I and the other people who were staying on the same flight to go on to Guayaquil didn't have to get out of the plane and go into transit at Quito, unlike what happened the other two times I've done this journey. We left at the right time so arrived bang on time at Guayaquil. I was apprehensive about whether my hold bag would make it on the same flight or not after the rush at Amsterdam, but as it happens my bag was the first out so you can imagine my relief!

It was just getting dusky when I stepped out of the arrivals lounge. 28 degrees, but also very lightly spitting with rain which felt quite refreshing.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:18 Archived in Netherlands Tagged trains united_kingdom airport layover ecuador guayaquil st_albans Comments (0)

Departure eve

London and St Albans


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I went back to London this morning, this time to Wimbledon to collect my CELTA folder. I finished the CELTA course near the end of March last year and we were told then that six months afterwards we could come back and collect our folders if we wanted them. So in September I emailed to ask if I could come and collect mine at Christmas. The college has two sites and unfortunately the site from where I had to collect my folder wasn't the one where I actually did the course, which was a shame. I would have really liked to have gone back there for a look round. Technically I could have walked to the other site, but I couldn't hang around at all in London because my flight is due to leave Heathrow very early tomorrow morning and I hadn't packed yet. There were two other things I had to do in St Albans as well.

On the way home from St Albans station I stopped at the cemetery and said hello/goodbye to Dad and also my grandparents, who are buried very close by.

Once I got back I finished off a project I had been working on for the past few days... sticking down letters and cards Dad's patients had written about and/or to him and given to the surgery when Dad retired last summer. I stuck them in the same special hardback notebook his colleagues at the surgery had all written messages in at his retirement party. A notice had gone up at the surgery asking patients for anecdotes involving Dad. Months later they were still receiving them, from irregular patients who had come in and seen the notice for the first time. The surgery had passed them all onto Dad and after reading them he had tucked them into the notebook but not stuck them down... something I'm sure he was intending to do but never got round to due to chemotherapy cycles. So I did the sticking down for him. I felt very touched and proud reading them, though very sad as well of course.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:52 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom dad english_teaching st_albans Comments (0)

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