Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Groovin' in the UK - Days 10, 11, 12

Humans indulged in yet another scrumptious English breakfast and I said my goodbyes to the Westie duo at Scotland Lodge Farm. Judging by their grayish coats, they must have last taken a shower a couple of months ago … lucky fellas. I would like to get into the hippie mode as well but Ms Owner would kick up a fuss if I missed my weekly bath.
Back to civilization and traffic, London city roads were rather narrow and laden with a myriad of road signs telling you where to go and what to do. Red double-decker buses and black cabs greeted us, amongst the hustle bustle of tourists and immigrants congregating in the city. We stayed in Cleveland Hotel at Bayswater, which was conveniently located near Hyde Park and Bayswater eateries. Cool hotel with comfy beds and modern amenities. First stop, the infamous Hyde Park … now this is what I call a park! Never ending grassland, bushes and trees aplenty to leave my mark on. There were dog walkers, dogs walking their owners and dogs walking on their own, sweet. Have never met this many even tempered dogs in my life, Back home, with my feisty demeanour, I would have got into minor skirmishes with a number of dogs at the park but none of that here. I was cool with the local dogs throughout the trip which left my owners slightly stunned. Must be the weather, environment, attitude and the K9 friendly facilities … goes a long way in cultivating good habits.
Hyde Park is linked to Kensington Park , which is linked to St James’s Park, which meant that one could spend the whole day exploring the area, meeting up with fellow K9s and playing ball. I was game but my owners couldn’t keep up with me and decided to call it day.
Okay, okay, one more final sprint and I will let you guys take a breather ... promise.
Day 2 in London and I had my first experience of commuting on public transport via the underground Tube. Not a common sight but they do allow dogs on trains, humans have to pay while dogs get to ride for free … excellent! I took it all in stride and hardly batted an eyelid to take up my seat amongst London’s working class. The commuters smiled and smirked to see a JRT sharing the compartment but I wasn’t too bothered … I’ve more important things in mind, places to go and sights to see.
Got off at Knightsbridge and my owners made a beeline for Harrods, place of worship for shopaholics. Mr Owners and I wasn’t keen on meeting any gods today so we stayed outside to watch the Londoners go about their daily business. Put on my best behavior trick and attracted a number of locals who were resting on the sidewalk benches and they wasted no time chatting and taking photos with me. Must say, I am blending nicely into the British culture … ahem.
Took the tube to Westminster and we ran into a sea of tourists snapping photos of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye on Southbank and cruising on the River Thames. So many people and things going on that is was a little overwhelming, even for a JRT.
There were street buskers, anti-capitalism protesters and immigrants from every corner of the globe … little wonder they call it the melting pot of the world. The protestors looked like an interesting lot but it was a sit down protest, which appeared too static for my liking.
Walked to St James’ Park for a spot of lazing in the sun and frisbee catching. Caught a glimpse of Buckingham Palace but the hoard of tourists hogging the palace guards meant that photo taking opportunities were limited. Guess the royal Corgis will have to wait for my next trip for the pleasure of having tea with this JRT.
At Covent Garden, owners shopped for souveniers and indulged in ice cream whilst I took a power nap to recharge my batteries.
Walked through London city center towards Chinatown and bumped into a pet mouse owned by some pub goers. Had me going for awhile, but I soon sniffed out the battery operated vermin. Met a couple of tourists who very glad to see me as they were missing their own JRT back home. Plenty of pubs and theatres in the city centre and the locals do hang out at these places a lot.

Final stop for the day was Portobello Road in the cool and colourful suburb of Nottinghill, where the arty-farty community hang out. How’s this for a grunge-hippie wannabe pup?
They love their pubs in this city. During the weekends, when the pubs are bursting at the seams, the humans are unperturbed and will shuffle along to the pavement to continue drinking. At the Portobello Gold restaurant, I barely had time to catch forty-winks when a cute short legged female JRT tip toed into the pub area. We played bitey face under the pub stools while my owners had their beer, groovy!
Day 3 in London, time to pack our bags and head home. Before that, we visited the world famous Camden market. Bustling day market with variety of stalls selling food, crafts and knick knacks.
A river ran through the market and they had a canal system which continues to operate under the old method of flooding and draining, for tug boats to get through the higher parts of the stream … all very interesting and I wrecked my brain trying to figure this system out. Yup, I tend to do that a lot more nowadays, thinking deep thoughts ... owners say that it is old age catching up with me.
Out on the main road, shops were uniquely decorated with loud frontages and odd designs to attract customers.
At Heathrow airport, the animal customs officer allowed me to check in later, closer to flight time as they are very particular about animal comfort and didn’t want pets to stay cooped up for long periods of time in crates, how thoughtful. With a couple of hours to burn, my owners showed that they were an enterprising lot by sniffing out a local pub just beside the airport for a last sip of the local ale.

Other than the runaround by local customs, I made it through UK and Malaysia borders fairly smoothly. Great to be back home where the weather’s predictable and you can walk around comfortably in barefoot, not having to tip toe on cold pavements. That said, the weather in UK despite being on the cold side is certainly more conducive for agility or any dog sport. You could go on for longer periods without having to pant, heave and drink as much.

Grand event, invaluable lessons and a lifetime of memories and experiences to savour. I will sorely miss these bits:
· Running till my heart’s content at the gigantic Hyde, Kensington and St James’ Parks in central London,
· Catching the London underground tube to get around, beats walking plus I get to be carried around like a lapdog.
· Meeting new friends at B&Bs, making myself at home by scampering in and out of the garden, kitchen and living room as I pleased.
· Watching the ducks waddle by at the streams and brooks running through towns and villages.
· Snoozing at the local pubs after a full day of exploring the countryside.
· Fact that the English absolutely love animals and their pets, particularly dogs.

Can't wait to rummage through my souvenir collection …


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