Spring is one of the best seasons to enjoy London, and once again we would be house sitting in Putney, south-west London.
We had spent the last three months in south-west France, so the opportunity to spend five weeks in London to look after Gracie the dog and Gordon the tortoise was exciting.
House sitting is a great way to enjoy London without spending a fortune on accommodation.
Here’s a link to get a 25% discount with Trusted Housesitters.
But first, we had to get to London
French Train Strikes
We had booked the 7.40am train from Saint-Raphael on the Cote d’Azur to Nice airport to arrive in plenty of time for our 12noon flight to London Gatwick.
However, when we arrived at the train station at 7.20, we found it was closed. It was supposed to open at 6.30am.
What we didn’t know, was today was the first day of rolling strikes by the SNCF (French Railway) staff, and all trains for two days were cancelled.
Perhaps we should take note of the local news?
We found there was a bus leaving for Nice at 9 am and due to arrive at the airport at 10.15am.
Whew, still plenty of time. Plus, the flight was running 30 minutes late.
Check Whose Bag you Take off the Carousel
London Gatwick is a busy airport and so we were surprised to see our red and black High-Sierra luggage immediately on the baggage carousel as we arrived after passport control.
Perfect timing! Terry grabbed the bag and off we went through customs, lining up for the shuttle to the main terminal for the train service to Clapham Junction.
Just as we were about to board the train, Terry noticed one of the two locks on the bag was missing.
“Hey, they cut off one of our locks”, “actually, um it’s not our bag!”
Identical in appearance with even the same lock, Terry had taken Jack Pollock’s bag!
Shit! in all of our travels we have never done this or had it done to us.
Dammit! How do we deal with this?
We went to EasyJet Customer Service and sheepishly told them what had happened. Fortunately, they had seen it all before and after a bit of paperwork, Terry was led back through security to pick up his bag.
He was advised his bag was waiting for him, and presumably a very angry Jack Pollock.
But neither our bag nor Mr Pollock was there. He had also mistakenly taken the wrong bag and had left the airport. Fortunately, he was staying in a hotel attached to the airport and was able to quickly return with our bag.
Terry greeted Mr Pollock by saying “Thanks for taking my bag!”
Jack apologized profusely and still thinks that he took our bag and made us wait for his return. Sorry, Jack.
More Train Delays
Once again perfect timing as the train for Clapham Junction was due to depart in 2 minutes. But, oh no the train wasn’t moving as the announcement came this train was broken down.
We would have to wait 30 minutes for its replacement. At least it’s only a 1km walk to our house sit.
Welcome to England, the heavens opened as we arrived at Brian and Ros’s house soaking wet.
House Sitting in Putney
Returning a second time to a housesit is a win/win for both the homeowner and the housesitter. With routines already established gave us time to get reacquainted with Gracie on her walks and with Gordon coming out of his hibernation.
Day Trips into London City
Meeting up with friends from Instagram is always a bonus on our travels, so when our Instagram friend Jess @jesstravelsdotnet took time to meet up, we were able to see another side of London. Check out her website Jess Travels
We met at Brick Lane in East London in a wonderful chocolate shop Dark Sugars Cocoa House. Brick Lane could also be known as Curry Lane as it had so many Indian restaurants.
A wander through the undercover Old Spitalfields Market with lots of trinkets and quality goods. So different from the old Petticoat Lane Market not far from here.
We were tempted to stop for lunch with the many food stalls enticing us with their delicious array of food.
Jess suggested we should try a Halloumi wrap at BoxPark in Shoreditch and so pleased we did as the wrap was delicious.
A walk-through Shoreditch for the famous street art and we popped into The Blues Kitchen. As we were admiring the decor, the creative director invited us in to see more of the decor, especially the private bar downstairs.
Museum of Methodism and John Wesley’s House
As we walked back towards the River Thames we all noticed a beautiful old church, and being curious, we decided to take a look.
The interior of the Wesley Methodist church was beautiful as was the small garden area behind the church.
If you are interested in the history of Methodism, the Museum of Methodism is located here on the grounds. To learn more, you can take a virtual tour by clicking on this link here.
Leadenhall Market was the highlight of our visit with Jess because we arrived at the market and were greeted by a group of people from a bygone era.
Winston Churchill was giving one of his illustrious speeches as onlookers stood and listen, with a pint in hand.
Experiencing quirky things like this is was makes travelling so memorable.
The Leadenhall Market building is beautiful with boutique shops, bars and restaurants.
Admiring Modern Architecture
From Leadenhall Market, it was an easy walk to see examples of modern architecture like the Leadenhall building, the famous Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie building and City Hall on the opposite bank of the Tower of London.
A few hours with Jess and we were now introduced to another side of London.
There are a few options for seeing an overview of London, from the popular London Eye, The Shard, The Modern Tate Museum and Sky Garden.
We heard about the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie building on our last London visit so we were keen to visit.
Entry is FREE. You just need to book online for a free time slot at least one week ahead. To learn more, click here.
Since Terry was celebrating his birthday in London this year, we decided to enjoy Terry’s birthday celebration at Sky Garden.
With drinks and a fabulous view of London city, the atmosphere of Sky Garden was a great choice.
Museums in London
When the weather isn’t on your side, one of the best options is to visit one of the many FREE museums in London, open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Our favourite this time was The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square for its paintings but also the beautiful interior.
Day Trips from London City
With Putney situated in southwest London, you are spoilt for choice on what park to visit.
A favourite of ours and Gracie was Richmond Park with Isabella Plantation. But we also liked to visit Bushy Park with Hampton Court Palace and the famous Royal Botanic Kew Gardens.
Springtime was spectacular at Kew Gardens and it is so easy to spend a few hours here wandering amongst the many areas on display.
The blossom trees and tulips made the walkways so pretty with the flower beds near the Palm House capturing your attention.
A walk along the Treetop Walkway or exploring inside The Hive or a walk through the Princess of Wales Conservatory were all new exhibitions for us since our visit 30 years ago.
The Temperate House recently opened after a major five-year refurbishment is one of the best things to see in Kew Garden.
And if you are staying for a picnic lunch, Kew Palace is a beautiful setting. We were able to see inside with a small donation.
To learn more about the Botanic Gardens of Kew, you can click here
Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park
One of the best walks we enjoy with Gracie is Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park. Finding the season of spring in full bloom is a highlight of spring in London.
You just don’t want to leave this wonderland.
Catching up with Friends in London
With a week in between our house sitting assignments and our return to France, we booked the week catching up with family and friends.
We have to say our social calendar was full this April in London.
Sarah, our daughter in law’s Mum was over for a visit.
Our son Daniel and wife Jess spent time in London.
Catching up with Rod and Karsia of Waffled at the Broadway Vegan Market. We had met this cool couple during a walking tour of Porto and became good friends quickly.
Costa and Diana, we shared a yummy southern Indian meal and a BBQ with some great Romanian wine from Costa’s Dad. We had travelled northern Thailand and Laos with these guys and have remained close friends.
Maura met up for lunch with her cousin Ann in Solihull and said Hi to Julie while there.
In London, it was a lovely lunch on the River Thames with Maura’s old colleague Ian and his wife Sandra.
Finally, a BBQ evening with Terry’s Richmond Cricket Club friends Trevor and Fiona, and Steve and Sheneen who were visiting from Australia.
We even caught up with fellow Kiwis Rikki and Carmel who we had met through Instagram whynottravel_x. They were staying near to us, so we had a few drinks and some laughs on a night out in Putney.
HouseSitting in London
One of the great benefits of Slow Travel is using housesitting to experience and revisit cities like London.
And returning to London for a second time, we still find new landmarks to visit.
Housesitting is an affordable option to travel for longer. And you can choose to housesit for short or long term breaks, even a weekend getaway.
Here’s a link to get a 25% discount with Trusted Housesitters.