Thursday, 30 June 2011

Game, set and day at Wimbledon and a giveaway!

Wednesday finally was time for us to see the men's Quarter Finals at Wimbledon.

We took the train and then the tram from our local station to Wimbledon. We are really lucky that we only live a few miles away. Usually we would drive but during Wimbledon fortnight this is an absolute no no! One year we were taken to Wimbledon by one of my Hb's work clients and he parked where we thought was perfectly legal only to come back in the evening after a very pleasant meal to find the car had been towed. That was a very expensive episode which we have no desire to repeat!

Outside Wimbledon train station there is a regular bus shuttle up the hill to the famous grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet club (to give it it's full title).

We really enjoy this bus trip as it is not a normal route for any bus and and it's really quick journey. We also managed to get on the open topped double decker so we had a great view for the 10 minute bus ride.

We passed the village Cath Kidston shop (above) and were able to peek into several VERY expensive homes nearby! Houses like the ones below sell at around £8-10 million.

We had packed a big picnic, enough to last for a long day of tennis and after all the usual security checks we were inside the famous grounds. We are lucky enough to have attended Wimbledon for many years but this year was the first year we had seats for Court Number 1.
We arrived just before the grounds opened (at 10.30am) so I was lucky enough to take some photos before the crowds poured in.

This is looking in towards Centre Court with the Rolex Clock.

Once we were inside our first port of call were the shops. I  L*O*V*E everything that is sold at Wimbledon. It is really high quality, if a little expensive, and the staff are so courteous.

We bought a limited edition 125 Year towel, 2 limited edition mugs, a 125 years of Wimbledon limited edition keyring and a new charm for my "Tennis" Links of London necklace.

The matches do not start until 1pm and so we had time for a "Pimms" for me and a coffee for my Hb

We also started our picnic as you are able to eat your own food both in the pavilions and even court side.
After lunch we had a wonder around taking in all the sights and also taking some photos to show you.

This is "Henmann's Hill" or perhaps "Marrays' Mount" now with all the crowds gathering to watch the giant TV screen.

This is the famous Fred Perry Statue outside Centre Court.

A view of one of the outside courts.
By 12.50pm it was time to take our seats on Court Number 1. This is the first time I have been inside this court, we had been lucky enough to get seats for Centre Court for the last 3 years. I was SO delighted though to have our seats this year as it was Men's Semi finals day and my FAVOURITE tennis player was on as the 2nd match....Rafael Nadal...swoon. Yes I know I should be shouting for Murray but I saw Nadal play in 2008 and I was well and truly hooked! He is such a joy to watch.

The first match was also a great draw. We saw Tomic Vs Djokovic. It was a very good match and although it was only 4 sets Tomic put on a good fight. Clearly though Dyokovic was a worthy winner who has gone on to tomorrow's semi finals.

There was a brief gap after this match, enough for us to get our some more of our picnic....

How could it be anything else?! I prefer the slightly healthier opinion of strawberries and grapes rather than cream and we sat and munched through these until we saw Nadal and Fish coming onto court, there was such a roar for Nadal.

Nadal has a very funny ritual before he starts playing of setting out his water bottles in a specific way. He lines 3 was fun watching this first hand...

The match was brilliant, despite Nadal's win again it was no walkover. The crowd treated to a spectacle of tennis magic. Nadal is left handed and has a back hand that delivers such a blow. It was such a joy to watch him play.

He was so overjoyed to win the match!
and he signed for autograph hunters as he left the court to thunderous applause.

So now Nadal goes on to meet Murray and Djokovic meets Tsonga in the semi finals tomorrow afternoon. I wonder if both may even get through to the finals? In any case we will have watched at least one of the finalists. I will be glued to my TV to watch the final matches. 
Before I leave I thought you might like to see my new charm to add to my existing "Wimbledon" necklace shown in this post. Well here it is
It is a special limited edition "Links of London" charm produced just for this special 125th Wimbledon. My dear Hb treated me again.

 I know that I am a very lucky girl so I decided that as a treat for my blog readers I would offer one lucky reader, as a  giveaway, the very special limited edition keyring I bought. I so enjoy your visits to me here and I really love reading all your comments. Even the "lurkers" ( I mean this is the very kindest possible way), yes my stats show there are many of you out there from all around the world, hello to you too! :0)
We hunted high and low for this as it had sold out everywhere in the shops around the courts last week. We managed to get the VERY last one available, which was the one on show, at one of the kiosks.You do not need to have you own blog but you do need to leave a comment at the end of this post to join in the fun. Please leave a contact email if you do not have a blog that I can contact you through, should you win. I will post world wide. There are no hoops to jump through for this; you do not need to follow me (but I really thank those of you who are) etc etc. It's just a good old fashioned gift that I would like to offer as a thank you to one of my lucky reader's. So if you are a "lurker" out there don't feel too shy to put your name in the hat, everyone is very welcome. Last day for putting your name in the hat is 8th July.

I hope you enjoyed your trip with me to this year's 125th Wimbledon and let's see who is crowned men's singles champion on Sunday. (And good luck to you all for my little give-away).

Bye for now,

Jane x
(PS Just for this post I will not respond to any of your lovely comments, so that I do not affect the numbers in the give-away). 

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tales from Tuscany..a day in Florence

As most of you know I really am a city girl - born and bred. I was born in London, educated in London, trained in London and lived the first 2 years of our marriage in London. After that we bought our house which, although it is in Surrey, it is actually an outer London Borough. Here I get the best of both worlds; relative peace and quiet, some lovely open spaces but I live only a 20 minute train ride to London. So when we had our recent holiday in Tuscany we knew that the draw of Florence would be too much to ignore and we could not wait for a visit.

Florence has to be in my favourite top 5 cities of the world. She really is a total jewel of a city. We last visited 2 years ago and decided to try to see some different sights this time. We drove to the Piazzale Michelangelo where you are able to park for free and got out to see Florence stretched out, glistening in the sunshine, below.

This is looking down at the Ponte Vecchio across the Arno.

And this is looking out to the East.

And here is a copy of David which stands in the middle of the car park! We have seen the real David in the Accademia in 2009 and it really is worth a visit. There is a photo of the "real" David which I took in 2009 below.

We were able to walk down from the car park and crossed the river via the Ponte Vecchio which is always heaving with people at any time of the day. We decided to make our way to the Uffizi to see if we could skip the queues by buying tickets for later in the day. We were really lucky to be able to get timed tickets for 1.30pm in the afternoon so with them safely tucked away we made our way to a church we had not visited before, Santa Maria Novella, up near the railway station.

What a beautiful church this is, both on the outside and inside. Photography inside was not allowed but 2 of my favourite items were a Botticelli painting of the Nativity and a wonderful ceramic washing area for cleansing the priests' hands.

Afterwards it was nearly time for our visit to the Uffizi. I had a little "insider" information that there was a rooftop cafe inside, only accessible by ticket holders. So we saved ourselves for lunch as I thought this would make a very memorable setting to eat.
The location of the cafe did not disappoint us

We were able to enjoy this splendid view whilst we ate our lunch.

Once we were fully refreshed it was time to hit the galleries and marvel at the treasures they contained. Everything was just jaw dropping. Again photography was not permitted but my most remembered pieces just had to be Birth of VenusPrimavera and The annunciation. It was quite incredible to see these paintings, which are world famous, in the flesh, hanging just a few inches in front of you. They really do make your spine tingle. We spent most of the afternoon in the Uffezie which was the best time as outside it had become very hot indeed. The only photo I did snatch was one from the window inside looking down the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio.

After our  gallery visit we decided to just have a stroll around the city in the late afternoon sunshine and take in the sights.

By 5pm it was time to return to our car and drive back to the peace and quiet of Pancole. We arrived just in time to get showered and dressed for dinner where we enjoyed a meal out on the terrace of the hotel restaurant and a cool glass of wine...bliss!

I hope you enjoyed your trip with me to fabulous Florence, a real jewel in the crown of cities.
I shall be back again very soon with some more "Tales from Tuscany". But my next post will be a report back from this year's Wimbledon Tennis Tournament where we have seats in Court Number 1 on Wednesday, I am really looking forward to my day there. I hope the weather improves, as the first week of Wimbledon has been very showery..fingers crossed but it will be a great day, whatever the weather.

Bye for now,

Jane x