Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

England - fit for a Queen (and Jacks of course)

‘THE PLACE where fairies and castles live’ is how Jacky referred to England before we visited.
Thanks largely to the landscape, the people – and of course the small matter of THE proposal – she now refers to the motherland as simply ‘Fairytale-land’.
It’s only when you look at something through the eyes of someone else that you truly appreciate what you’re looking at.
It’s like staring at a piece of art which you normally wouldn’t give a second glance to.
If the artist or art expert is standing next to you telling you about the intricate detail of the piece, you’ll soon appreciate the effort which went into creating it in the first place.
And so earlier this month I took on the role of host for our whistle-stop tour of Devon, Cornwall and London.
To say I am an expert tour guide is an understatement only equal in size to Big Ben.
I think I learned more about England in two weeks than I did from living there for 34 and a bit years.
In order to give Jacky the best overview I had to do some serious swatting up.
By the time I’d read most travel websites on London I thought I was pretty up to speed.
Devon and Cornwall?! Pfah. That’s been my backyard for over three decades, I know as much as anyone would need to know surely?
Epic fail on all counts.

Jacks: Why do the ponies live here [on Dartmoor]?
Me: Um… because they can afford the rent...? Oh, um, er… pass.

Jacks: Why do they serve fish and chips with wooden forks?
Me: Because... oh b*llocks, I don't know. Pass.

Jacks: Where are we right now?
Me: Central London.
Jacks: Where?
Me: Um… somewhere between Leicester Square, Notting Hill and Picadilly Circus.
Jacks: You don’t know do you..?
Me: Have you ever seen a real pigeon?

Jacks: Where are all the English people in London?
Me: Very good question. Hmmmm… pass.

Jacks: Why is it called ‘Boxing’ Day?
Me: Because… of… the... fights which take place on December 26th? Ok, pass.

Jacks: How old is that building?
Me: Which one?
Jacks: That one. Points at castle-type building in very Central London.
Me: Very old.
Jacks: How old?
Me: Bugger. I don’t even know what that place is.
Jacks: Isn’t that the Tower of London?
Me: Of course it is, I was just playing with you. Um, have you ever seen a real pigeon?!

So now I think we’re both pretty clued up on England.
Returning to England with my Mexican treasure on my arm was the stuff of dreams for me.
Her meeting some of my friends and family was insanely lovely.
And as I mentioned, taking in some of the sights – especially in London – was a unique experience for both of us.
I’m constantly amazed at how old many of the buildings are. You feel like you’re walking through the pages of an encyclopedia.
I’ve been to London plenty of times but only really for certain events. You know, a concert, a birthday, a West End show.
This trip was different. The aim was to cram as much into four days as possible – without us both needing a holiday after taking a holiday when we returned to Mexico.
And we certainly did as much as I think anyone could have.

Big Ben and big red bus - check!

In no particular order we visited The Houses of Parliament, The Tower of London, The London Eye, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Notting Hill, Camden Town, Harrods and Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace (twice), London Bridge, The Natural History Museum, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and Abbey Road to name just a few places.
Our visit to The Natural History Museum was of particular note when I mentioned that the 'casts' which Jacky was looking at were in fact real dinosaur fossils dating back millions of years.

Don't look now but I think we're being followed...

CCTV in London has undergone a major upgrade

One of the museum's education displays, with its fun house mirrors, also raised a few smiles.

Does my bum look big in this...?

My offer to take Jacks to the world-famous Abbey Road was also comical. When I asked I was met with an enthusiastic "yeh..." only for me to ask her if she knew what it was and for her to reply just as enthusiastically "no...".
She soon got the picture (literally).

Walk this way

When you’re showing someone around who has never seen it all before you can’t help but feel pride in what they are witnessing and experience.
London is beautiful, historic and crazy all in equal measure.
And I felt like bursting at the seams hearing Jacks quite literally cooing at the visual delights – made all the more beautiful donned with tinsel and Christmas lights.
So are any of you planning a trip to England in the near future?
If you are then you might find the forthcoming paragraphs useful with regard to must-see locations and info/prices/web addresses and contact details.
While many attractions such as The Natural History Museum ( are free to visit, there are a great many other paid-for attractions which simply have to be on any visitors’ list.
One of these is The London Eye ( / tickets from £17.01) which will obviously now always hold a special place in our hearts.
It’s 135 metres in height (roughly equivalent to 64 iconic red telephone boxes) and it offers stunning panoramic views across London.

Big Ben? Pfah... not from here

The London Eye group is also now offering 40-minute sight-seeing river cruises down The Thames (Adults from £11.25) with live commentary.
I’ve personally never sailed down the Thames so this gave me a truly different perspective to London.
The tour guides are also nearly, ahem, as knowledgeable as me and they have plenty of facts and figures which will entertain the seasoned London-goer.
Oh and when visiting this area of London keep your eyes peeled for a celebrity or two. Batman director Christopher Nolan was spotted taking in the sights with his family around the attraction during our visit.
The Tate Britain ( which houses the UK’s collection of British art from 1500 to the present day, as well as special exhibitions and events is also worth a few hours’ of your time.
As is The Royal Observatory Greenwich ( which is the home of the Prime Meridian of the World, and London’s only planetarium.
Also if you’re looking for accommodation in the capital and – like we were – you’re on a tight budget, you’d be simply mad not to consider checking out The Umi Hotel in Notting Hill ( / tel: +44 (0) 207 221 9131).
Management here boast that there’s ‘no need’ to shop anywhere else on the web as they boast the cheapest prices.
It’s a 3* independent hotel and it has won several top awards and has been listed in The Telegraph’s Top 50 Budget Hotels.
It’s also super-conveniently located between three tube stations (Notting Hill, Bayswater and Queensgate), it’s minutes away from the West End, and it’s really close to Portobello Road famed for its market and Hyde Park.
Oh, and the staff are really nice and they serve a truly mean Americano coffee.
With us now back in the land of tacos it’s good to know the English can work some true magic, and that it’s still seen as being part of ‘Great’ Britain by new visitors from afar.

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