Author: Sarah

Shere….Surrey’s prettiest village?

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Do you recall the closing scenes of Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason when Bridget’s parents get married (for the second time) at a beautiful village church? Or perhaps you might remember The Holiday with Kate Winslett who lives in a snow-covered pretty village and does a house swap with Cameron Diaz? Well, both films were partly filmed in Shere which sits between the towns of Dorking and Guildford in the Surrey Hills and it’s clear to see why the location managers saw this village as being quintessentially English. It’s mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, it has a stunning Norman church (St. James’) and the River Tillingbourne runs through its centre.

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Part of being a mum is providing taxi service for soooo many years and with one of my children at a 2 hour meeting this evening, I thought I’d head over the Shere whilst waiting for him, make some progress on my bucket list and make the most of this glorious spring evening. And it is so gorgeous with timber houses, a couple of pretty pubs including The White Horse which is featured in The Holiday and there’s even a free car park just a very short distance from the village centre. Unfortunately, few people seem to use this car park and instead claim every space possible in the village centre making it hard to get some photos free of cars. But, nonetheless, it is ever so cute and well worth a visit if you love a British rom-com! In fact, my parents happened to go to Shere during filming for The Holiday and saw it being sprayed with fake snow but didn’t know why!

 

And as I mentioned the other day, I was so surprised to find out that Kate Winslett’s home ‘Rosehill Cottage’ in The Holiday isn’t even real! The exterior, including the pretty stone wall, was built, used and dismantled all within 2 weeks so anyone going along to look for this pretty home will be faced with just a field!

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If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you might recall that I went to another village in England last summer which is often regarded as one of THE prettiest in the whole of the country….Castle Combe which is in the Cotswolds and has been used in many films. So, if you’re coming to England and REALLY want to see English villages at their best, I can’t recommend Castle Combe highly enough! Check out this link here!

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So, I’ve got one more filming location to go to and then I can tick off this challenge from my bucket list. I feel like I’m really getting there now and, with my road trip starting in just 22 days’ time and a mini cruise, May is going to be a brilliant month!

Sky Garden and Borough Market, London. Just…WOW!

Last Friday, I was incredibly lucky to go to two amazing iconic places in London that were opened centuries apart and they are, without doubt, two of the most fabulous places I’ve ever been to!

The Sky Garden

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The Sky Garden is at the top of a 34-storey building in the City of London and is the 12th tallest building in London that opened in January 2015. At 20 Fenchurch Street, you might know it better by its nickname ‘The Walkie-Talkie’ because of its distinctive design and whilst I’m sure that many people like me love its look, it was actually awarded the Carbuncle Cup for the worst new building in the UK! In the top 3 storeys, there are two bars, two restaurants, a public viewing gallery and the capital’s highest public garden. You also get 360 degree views of London and, best of all, it’s FREE!

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Although I recently went to the Shard which is the tallest of London’s skyscrapers at 95 storeys high, I was keen to go to the Sky Garden as it was featured on the last series of The Apprentice. However, one of the criticisms of the Sky Garden is that it’s hard to get tickets which are released about a week in advance. So, unless you live or work nearby, you’d have to be extremely lucky to find tickets available at a time that suits. However…….I was more than lucky! I put something on Facebook about having difficulties grabbing a ticket and it turns out that an ex-colleague’s husband actually works there so he arranged for me to bypass the public ticket and queue and experience the stunning view.

So, on Friday, I found myself overlooking London from far above! As you come out of the lift and into the public gallery, you can climb the 3 storeys that take you up and around the back of the restaurants giving you stunning views and I can completely understand why this would be an incredible place to be at sunrise or sunset. On the windows looking down on the city are transfers that tell you which buildings are right in front of you, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, The Gherkin, etc. I was warned that the prices of food and drink there are astronomical so I had lunch before going there but I’m REALLY pleased that I went and I’d urge you to go too!

Borough Market

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The inspiration for going to Borough Market? Bridget Jones! The market features most in the last film Bridget Jones’ Baby but it seemed to be an attractive market on screen and I was keen to suss it out. Well, as a complete non-foodie, I came away wanting to cook as it offers every conceivable food there! There was even a round of cheese the size of a car’s wheel! I really haven’t been to anything like it before and vibe was amazing. The market is meant to have been around for over 1,000 years and is almost right next to London Bridge train station/underground so very easy to get to. It operates as a wholesale and retail market. It’s hard to really capture the vibe from a bunch of photos but I hope that these show you a little bit about what’s on sale there. I really can’t wait to go back there soon!

 

Brighton beach on a sunny day!

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A sneaky extra blog post whilst out and about! Working in Hove on the south coast just down the road from Brighton, I thought I’d grab the opportunity to add another photo to my photography bucket list and I think this photo could go under two categories: ‘from below’ (which I’ve put it under) and ‘reflections’. I wasn’t expecting the reflection underneath the British Airways i360 which gives stunning views of Sussex from 162 metres up so that was a pleasant surprise. I don’t know about you but I don’t think this photo seems quite real! Almost photoshopped or even painted! But I just took it on my iPhone.

And you can’t go to the beach without having an ice cream!

        

Notting Hill filming locations in London

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And this is my 4th of the 4 filming locations I thought I’d share with you from last Friday’s fun-filled day in London. You may have noticed that Hugh Grant has featured in 3 of my 4 rom-coms (with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Love Actually being the other two) although I’m really not a huge fan of his! Honest!

Notting Hill was released in 1999. However, what you may not know is that the house belonging to bookseller William Thacker (played by Grant) actually belonged to Richard Curtis who wrote the screenplay and also wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral. After the film came out, the house’s famous blue door attracted many visitors coming along to write their name on it so the owners decided to replace it with a black door to stop drawing so much attention. However, after some time and new owners coming along, the door was painted blue again and it’s very easy to spot at 280 Westbourne Park Road, Notting Hill…..although it could do with a lick of paint! If you do go to see it, do check out St. Luke’s Mews which was used in Love Actually and is just around the corner.

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Notting Hill has a stellar cast with Julia Roberts, Rhys Ifans, Emma Chambers, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, and Hugh Bonneville. And you can imagine that these stars and Hugh turning up to film on these real streets could have attracted significant problems with onlookers and paparazzi photographers! However, to get the locals on side and cooperate, the location manager wrote to thousands of people in the area, promising to donate to each person’s favourite charity and this resulted in money going to 200 charities.

If you’re going to do the Notting Hill experience, you have to check out the famous Portobello market which is open Monday to Saturday with Saturday being the main day when everything is for sale, such as antiques, food, new fashion, accessories, household goods, vintage clothing and accessories, collectables, bric-a-brac, furniture and food. The market features several times in the film including the opening scenes.

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William takes his world-famous actress girlfriend Anna Scott to meet his family at the birthday meal for his younger sister (Emma Chambers). Around the dinner table, I love how they each argue about why they should be allowed to have the last remaining brownie and how they have the most tragic life! But my favourite scene is when William and Anna leave Bella and Max’s home after having had a fabulous evening. As the door closes behind them with William trying to convince Anna how well the evening had gone, they can hear the family fall into fits of belly laughter on the other side of the door, no longer able to contain their shock about having THE Anna Scott for dinner! You’ll find their home at 91 Lansdowne Road.

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Other locations include The Lancaster Room at The Savoy hotel which was used for the press conference at the end of the movie and the beautiful Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath which is just about 20 minutes away from London. And if you do go there, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of London.

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So, it’s been great to check out some filming locations although I still have more to do for my bucket list. I plan to go to beautiful Shere in Surrey which has been used for several films but I found out last night that in the film The Holiday with Kate Winslett, Jack Black and Cameron Diaz, the beautiful English cottage wasn’t real! The set guys constructed its shell, built a fake stone wall and then dismantled it within 2 weeks after filming had ended….leaving behind a field! But The White Horse pub features in it so I’ll go and check it out!

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Over the next couple of days, I’ll tell you about two of my favourite places I visited on Friday: The Sky Garden and Borough Market. I really had so much fun and am beginning to think about doing another mega-London day to do some rather quirky things….like visit the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town!!!!!

Four Weddings and a Funeral filming locations in London

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I was going to wait until tomorrow before blogging again but, after talking about Bridget Jones’ Diary and Sliding Doors, I’ve found myself glued to the laptop!

Few films get more British than the rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral released in 1994. But did you know that the whole film took just 6 weeks to make and cost less than £3 million!  Written by Richard Curtis, it tells the story of a group of tight-knit friends and their quest to find love. And whilst you may think that the story line takes us all over the UK with its various locations, it was filmed in and around London….and I’ve been to two of the churches.

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It’s at the first wedding where we meet the rather socially awkward Charles (played by Hugh Grant) who becomes infatuated with mysterious American lady Carrie (played by Andie McDowell). Whilst the invitation to Angus and Laura’s wedding suggests that it takes place in Somerset, it was actually filmed at St. Michael’s Church in Betchworth, Surrey, just a couple of miles west of Reigate. I was going to visit the church last week as it’s only about 30 minutes from where I live but work plans changed. However, I did visit the church many years ago where, very sadly, I went to the funeral of a close friend but I remember her telling me when she first moved into Betchworth how the church had been used in the film, causing much excitement amongst the villagers!

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It’s at the wedding of Bernard and Lydia when Charles again sees Carrie but, this time, she’s with her politician fiancé , Sir Hamish Banks. This wedding has one of my favourite scenes were Charles ends up on the same table as many of his ex-girlfriends who all seem to have to embarrassing stories to tell about him. It’s also at this wedding where Charles meets Henrietta (Anna Chancellor) who is rather meanly known as Duckface to Charles’ friends. Rather than the wedding taking place in Cripplegate, it was actually filmed at the beautiful Old Royal Naval College Chapel in south east London and it’s open to the public. Definitely worth a trip as you’ll also find it by the Cutty Sark and in the grounds of the Royal Naval College which have been used in many films such as Les Misérables and Gulliver’s Travels.

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This wedding gives the impression of being very Scottish with guests invited to ‘Glenthrist Castle, Perthshire’ but, again, it’s not far from London. It was filmed at Albury Park Mansion, a grade II listed property close to Guildford Surrey that has been converted into luxury apartments. And it’s at this wedding of Carrie and Hamish where patriarch to the group of friends, Gareth (played by Simon Callow), collapses from a heart attack whilst Hamish gives his speech.

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Funeral

Gareth’s funeral takes place at St. Clement’s Church in West Thurrock that saw an end to its regular congregations in 1977 after it fell into disrepair with the cold and damp setting in. However, 10 years later, the firm Proctor and Gamble restored the building and the outside was used for exterior shots for the film. 

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Finally, it’s Charles’ turn to get married and he intends to marry Henrietta despite his real love for Carrie. However, just before the wedding, Carrie breaks the news about how she and Hamish have separated and with this news, Charles cannot bring himself to say the words ‘I do’ when the time comes, prompting a slap in the face from Henrietta! And it’s this filming location that I went to on Friday, St. Bartholomew the Great, London. As well as Four Weddings and a Funeral, it’s provided a backdrop to plenty of other films too like Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes. The inside is, well, magical and I can’t recommend a visit to here highly enough.

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Of course, there’s more to the film than just the weddings and funeral as there are some wonderful locations for wedding receptions (like Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire) and ‘The Jolly Boatman Inn’ (which is actually The Crown in Amersham, Buckinghamshire).

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about one more film and how I saw a very special ‘blue door’ in London on Friday!

Non-film news: I’ve added something to my bucketlist. The England netball team won the Commonwealth gold medal beating the Australians, who had been the favourites to win. I absolutely loved netball as a teenager and was lucky enough to captain my school team. I didn’t get to the 2012 Olympic Games so with the next Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham, I can’t wait to see the team play and soak up the atmosphere of a home games!

Right, folks, some report writing for work beckons but I hope you’re all having a good Sunday

Sliding Doors filming locations in London

Just like yesterday’s post about Bridget Jones, let me tell you about another of my favourite films, Sliding Doors, which was released in 1998 and how I went to a really amazing filming location from the film the other day!

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First, for those of you who might have not seen this film, I personally think it’s a gem of a rom-com and I won’t give too much away. Its story line focuses on Helen (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) who is fired from her job in PR, drops an earring in the lift as she starts her journey home (which is picked up by ‘James’ played by John Hannah) and goes to catch the London Underground train.  However, at that point, the story splits into two parallel worlds: the one where Helen just about squeezes onto the tube train (and consequently gets home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman and is befriended by James who she bumps into again) and the world where she misses the train, gets mugged and lives with her boyfriend, unaware of his infidelities. There are many moments  in the film as the story lines intertwine.

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The idea of the film came from director Peter Howitt who was late meeting a friend one day and was walking down Charing Cross Road.

“I impulsively dashed across the street, and was nearly hit by a car, and that brush with death got me thinking. Something inside my head thought, ‘That’s interesting. What if he had hit me then?’ What are the knock-on effects, the domino effects.”

And actually, Peter gave himself a cameo role at the restaurant where Helen is working as he’s the long-haired guy who orders food. And at a pre-filming party, John Hannah’s wife (actress Joanna Roth) got the part of the ‘suspicious lady’.

Much of Sliding Doors is filmed in London, obviously with the London Underground taking a central role and it’s Embankment Station where Helen catches/misses the train. The mugging takes place outside the Landmark Hotel on Marylebone Road, close to Regent’s Park. The Landmark itself is a stunning 5 star hotel and you can have afternoon tea in its Winter Garden Restaurant which I did many years ago.

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Many of London’s bridges feature in the film as well as restaurants such as Bertorelli’s in Fitzrovia where Helen works in the one of the story lines and, in the other, she drinks with James. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Fulham Road features in both parallel worlds.

But the location I’m most excited to tell you about is Fat Boy’s Diner which features a couple of times in the film and it’s where my action packed day to London started with breakfast. It’s a typical American diner and located just across the River Thames from the O2 in Trinity Buoy Wharf. Having caught the underground train to North Greenwich station, I walked to North Greenwich Pier and jumped on the ‘Predator’ boat which I had all to myself! The staff were lovely and I devoured a Cumberland sausage baguette knowing that I had a very busy day ahead. And if you’re in the area, do take advantage of the Emirates Air cable car that also goes across the Thames from near the O2 to the Royal Docklands. During rush hour, it’s a 5 minute journey each way but outside of its busiest times, it doubles its journey time so that you can listen to the running commentary and see the Docklands beneath.

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And don’t forget one of the most famous quotes from the film:

James: Cheer up. Remember what the Monty Python boys say.

Helen: “Always look on the bright side of life”? 

James: No, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

Visiting some film locations is one of the many things on my bucket list and tomorrow I’ll tell you about somewhere else I checked into the other day, a STUNNING location from Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Happy Sunday everyone ♥

 

 

 

Bridget Jones filming locations in London

There’s little I like more than spending a quiet evening in with pjs on, curtains closed, phone switched off and and a British rom-com on. Sometimes, these films have story lines that you can identify with but often it’s that inevitable girl-meets-boy plot about will they or won’t they live happily ever after. So, after my recent action-packed journey to London where I found some filming locations for some of my favourite films, I thought I’d share a bit of information with you in case you too would like to check them out. Today’s film? Bridget Jones.

The film Bridget Jones features Renee Zellweger playing the title role but it actually started as a regular column in The Independent newspaper in 1995. Helen Fielding wrote about the trials and tribulations of a 30-something year old dealing with the complexities of life and love. And she has the most innocent charm and the ability to make some terrible faux pas that perhaps we’ve made too. From these columns, the novel was published by 1996 and then the film followed just a few years later in 2001. As I’m sure you’ll know, Renee is actually American but I was fooled by her received pronunciation which was as a result of working with acclaimed voice coach Barbara Berkery. You might not have heard of Barbara but she helped Lindsay Lohan sound very British in the remake of the Parent Trap and for a number of Gwyneth Paltrow films such as Sliding Doors. With first person narrative that gives insight into Bridget’s mind, the story begins:

It all began on New Years day, in my 32nd year of being single. Once again I found myself on my own and going to my mother’s annual turkey curry buffet. Every year she tries to fix me up with some bushy-haired, middle-aged bore, and I feared this year would be no exception.

There are many scenes from Bridget Jones that were filmed in London. The first one I headed to was Bridget’s flat which is at the The Globe Tavern on Bedale Street and just a few minutes’ walk from London Bridge. It’s right by Borough Market that sells every conceivable food and that was used for the scene when she drags her Christmas tree back to her flat in the latest film Bridget Jones’ Baby.

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The fight scene in the Greek restaurant between Daniel (played by Hugh Grant) and Mark (played by Colin Firth) was actually unchoreographed. In a 2013 interview, Colin described how he thought: 

Guys, the last fight we had was when we were 7 in a playground and whatever fight we have now is probably going to look exactly like that!

Hugh and Colin did all the fight scenes insurance issues prevented them from actually hurling themselves through the window of the restaurant! That was a time to call in the stuntmen. And where was this scene filmed? Just opposite Bridget’s flat on Bedale Street called ‘Bedales of Borough Market’, which is a wine merchants.

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North of the River Thames close to the stunning Leadenhall Market and Sky Garden, you’ll find Royal Exchange Buildings on Cornhill. This is the final scene of the original film where Bridget thinks that she’s blown her chance of love with Mark and she goes chasing after him to explain everything. However, he comes out of a shop with a brand new diary suggesting a new diary means a new start. And, yes, this is the snowy scene where she’s forgotten to put on her skirt! But the scene was actually filmed in April which snow machines doing a fabulous job tricking us to believe that it really was Christmas!

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One filming location outside of London that I’d love to go to is Snowshill  which is a beautiful village in the Cotswolds where Bridget and Mark meet for the first time at her mother’s annual turkey curry buffet where everything is cooked in miniature!

My mum, a strange creature from the time when gherkins were still the height of sophistication

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So, just a few scenes from Bridget Jones that I went to but tomorrow’s film? Sliding Doors

Had THE most action packed day in London!

Wow! Wow! Wow! I’ve been home for about an hour and I could swear that my feet are about to fall off from all the I’ve done today. Over the past week or so, I’ve mentioned on here about the things that I hoped to do and I did them all….and more! There’s too much to tell you in one blog so what I’m going to do is run through everything in brief detail with some photos to give you a flavour of the day but then go into a lot more detail over the next few days.

So, the day started with going to Fat Boy’s Diner which is THE diner used the film Sliding Doors. Well, to get there from North Greenwich underground (at the O2 arena), you have to call a guy on a mobile and he comes to pick you up in his boat! It was like having my own boatman to tend to my travelling needs! I was the only person on the boat (there and back). The diner is fantastic and I thought I’d have breakfast there to start my day. Then, after going back to the O2, I caught a cable car which goes above the Docklands and O2 which gave the most impressive sights of London.

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I did various things today which related to some of my favourite films, mainly British rom-coms. So, I photographed the door of Bridget Jones’s flat in Borough Market, the famous blue door in Notting Hill, St. Luke’s Mews from Love Actually, St Bartholomew the Great Church from lots of films (including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love) and the entry to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. At Kings Cross station, I found platform 9 3/4 with a very long queue of people waiting to have their photos taken in their choice of scarf depending on which of Hogwarts’ house they felt they’d belong to! 

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Markets featured today with trips to Borough Market (oh, wow. I wish I could cook as it’s a paradise for walking buying the most amazing ingredients) and the beautiful Leadenhall Market (which also features in Harry Potter).

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I didn’t think I’d fit in Little Venice but the taxi drove overhead on the way to Notting Hill and the barges on the canal looked beautiful that I had to go there too. And by complete surprise, I found that it was right next to Sheldon Square which is used in the summer to show films on large outdoor screens.

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I found Neal’s Yard tucked away in Covent Garden which provides a splash of much needed colour on an overcast day. It’s full of healthy food, drink and treatment so a diet coke was out of the question and I paid for the most expensive apple juice ever! I then found one of the Seven Noses of Soho (more about that to come later this weekend).

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I went to the British Library (which is the biggest in the world), the British Museum  (although this was my last thing of the day and my feet didn’t carry me far into it) and the Sky Garden! Oh, wow! It lived up to my expectations and more.

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I could not have fitted in anything else today and I feel like quite the tourist! I’m absolutely shattered and I’ve got a bit of work I need to finish off tonight. But I’ll tell you more about the above things over the weekend. I hope you all have a good one ♥

 

An even busier trip planned to London!

Those of you who read my blog yesterday will have seen all the things I’m hope to do when I’m up in London this Friday afternoon: filming locations, iconic London buildings, a visit to the impressive Sky Garden, etc. Well, a new development……hubby’s going to work from home this Friday which means I can go up there earlier and this means only one thing….a chance to visit a couple more places! 

Now, if I’m going to be in London over lunchtime, I should make sure that I head to somewhere a bit special and with one of my bucket list challenges being to visit 10 filming locations, I’m going to head to Fat Boy’s Diner which was used in one of my absolute favourite films, Sliding Doors. You might have seen from yesterday’s list that I love British rom-coms. Essentially, Sliding Doors is about what happens when Gwyneth Paltrow’s character either catches or misses a tube train, leading to very different outcomes for her. I could watch this film over and over again! But this diner features in the film a couple of times and is right next to London’s only lighthouse ♥

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And talking of rom-coms, I’m hoping to pop along to Betchworth, Surrey tomorrow as I’ll be working nearby in Reigate in the morning. St. Michael’s Church was used for the first wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral where Charles, played by Hugh Grant, is the best man who forgets to bring the rings! Again, another top film and one that genuinely makes me laugh.

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Back to Friday and London, I’ve a couple more things that I’m going to try to do but I’m going to keep you in suspense for now! Plus I can surprise hubby who always reads my blogs x

Planning an ACTION PACKED 5 hours in London!

I wrote fairly recently about whether people are either tick-box travellers or whether they like to spend time reading the plaques on landmarks to find out about the history, etc. And when writing this, I had my forthcoming 6-day road trip in mind.

But I’ve got an adventure to go on this week….I’m off to London on Friday afternoon and I’ve got SO many things I want to do. Yes, I’m the type of traveller who wants to get in, take photos, tick it off my list and head off to the next place. Now, I live in Sussex which isn’t far from London but I rarely go up there and I want to make the most of my time. So, these are the places that I’m really hoping to visit and photograph:

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  • The trolley going into the brick wall on ‘Platform 9 3/4’ at King’s Cross train station (yes, referencing Harry Potter)
  • The British Library which is in the biggest library in the world
  • The British Museum (which is open until 8.30pm on Friday)
  • Neal’s Yard (I’m so excited about ticking off this one)
  • Leadenhall Market including the entrance to the opticians (which was a filming location for the door into the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
  • Little Venice
  • The blue front door used in the film Notting Hill where Hugh Grant’s character lived (and also photograph the coffee shop where Hugh spills his orange juice over Julia Roberts and the bookshop where Hugh worked.
  • St. Luke’s Mews which was a filming location for Love Actually where the character Mark declares his love to recently-married Juliet by holding up cue cards
  • The Globe Tavern (which was used in the film Bridget Jones’ Diary for her flat)
  • Borough Market
  • And………..my VIP visit to the Sky Garden where it’s been arranged for me to bypass the public ticket/queue. I’m going to be signed in by someone who knows someone who knows someone I used to know!

Actually, now I’ve written it, that’s a very long list!  If you look at my bucket list, you’ll see how some of the above will be positive steps towards either ticking off or working towards some of the challenges. So, this is going to take careful planning, a heap of energy and a fully charged phone to capture everything! And, yes, I’ll blog on Saturday afternoon to tell you how many of these I managed to tick off.

I’d love to hear about your favourite places in London…..just in case I can squeeze in one more place!