Returning to London, I stayed with my Sri Lankan aunts and cousins in Harlesden. They took me to Marble Arch, the remains of Winchester Palace and on a tour of the kitschy London Dungeons. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and had a lesser known great view of city from the top of the long spiral staircase at the Monument to the Fire.
An Australian friend was working as a nanny in London at the time, so we decided to meet up. We went to the usual sights together- The Parliament Houses, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the River Thames, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. We went shopping at Covent Garden and Camden markets.
I discovered the centre of GMT at Greenwich and one of my favourite London sights- the Tower of London. I made a pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s Globe to watch The Winter’s Tale and saw the Swan Lake ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, which remains the best ballet I have ever seen.
Family friends, Claire and Lisa, took me to Admiralty Arch, Regent’s Park and the London Zoo. We saw the Queen’s black swans at St James Park and the canals of Little Venice. They took me to Oxford St- which became my favourite place in the world to shop. By night, we went to a new restaurant chain called Wagamama and a trendy Soho bar.
The plan was to work the English summer at Perry’s – the restaurant owned by Claire and Lisa’s parents/my Dad’s friends- Alan and Viv. So, I travelled to Upwey, Weymouth to live with my grandparents.
I met Sarah at Perry’s and we became friends. When we weren’t working, we would meet our other friend Liz at Upstairs Downstairs for a coffee or go to the beach to watch Sarah’s brother’s play in the beach volleyball tournament sponsored by Jose Cuervo.
There are 150 pubs in the Weymouth area, so we also went to The Golden Lion, the Hog’s Head, The Black Dog, The Swan, the White Hart, The George Inn, The King’s Arms, The Red Lion and the Old Spa on a regular basis.
After working the dinner shift, we would go out to The Malibu nightclub where we had VIP membership and could get one pound shots on Monday nights. Sometimes we also went to Verdes, or The Rendezvous nightclub.
Around 3am, everyone ended up at Scoffers for chips, cheese and beans.
One morning, after a particularly hard night of dancing, my grandma burst into my bedroom to tell me that Diana, Princess of Wales had died. There was nothing else on television for weeks.
A family friend that visited my grandparents weekly had a cocker spaniel, so they included me on their dog walks to Worbarrow Bay, Poole Harbour, Portland Bill and to chase the swans at Poole Park.
I went on day trips to Durdle Door and the Man O’War at Lulworth Cove on the English Channel. I spent a day at the deserted Tyneham village and one at Corfe Castle.
Travelling to Swindon and Cirencester to visit my Dad’s side of the family, they showed me Chedworth Roman Villa and we strolled through the Cirencester Park. I revisited Bourton-on-the-Water and went to Bibury trout farm.
As the summer drew to a close, Sarah decided to come on my planned Europe trip with me. And so began our grand tour around 13 countries in three months.
First stop was Holland.
Related posts: England, Singapore and Malyasia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling, By special request, Friendship: Great Expectations?, Home is where you make it, I first started writing