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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Raider Rachel in London

With (hopefully) just a under 2 months before we go, it's important to take some time to appreciate the country we are leaving behind. I know we're taking an exciting step into unknown territory, but it's easy to forget that there are beautiful and impressive things surrounding us right now.

In February we took a week off. It came post IEC Kompass stage of our visa application, and I must say I really needed a break! Despite the fact we live less than an hour away from London by train, I very rarely go there, so we took the opportunity to have a day sightseeing.

Our first point of call, the newly opened Shard! At £25 each, it's not a cheap attraction, but it is impressive. The day we had chosen to visit was unfortunately a little misty. We arrived at our allotted time and were led in, tickets in hand. Security into the building is tight, with visitors required to go through scanners and put coats and bags through separately, much like an airport! The ride to the 33rd floor takes mere seconds, and then you're ushered into a second rapid lift that takes you to the top. Our first impressions were a little disappointing, mostly because we couldn't see anything. A wall of white surrounded us on all sides! The binocular/telescope system kept us occupied though, and we spent some time trying them all out and checking out the landscape through different times of the day. After about 45 minutes the mist slowly began to lift, and the view widened until we could see a generous distance. There is only so much sightseeing you can do there though, we spent about an hour and a half at the Shard, and it was definitely enough. If you ever check it out, check the weather and make sure you go on a clear day, also I would consider going after dusk, the images we saw of London at night were stunning!

After a quick dart on the Tube (which I adore!) we had a quick dash to one of my favourite shops, Forbidden Planet. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's the best place to go and geek out (http://forbiddenplanet.com/) I seriously hope we find an equally nerdy shop in Vancouver! I prohibited myself from buying anything this time, I could spend a huge amount of money there.

Next on the agenda, the Natural History Museum! Having never been here before, we ran around the dinosaur exhibition like kids, took lots of pictures of bones with no recollection of what they actually are and got annoyed with the bugs exhibit (it was filled with squabbling school children.) I loved the architecture of the building, but not so much the prices in the cafe, so when we got hungry we hotfooted it out of there, grabbed a sandwich at Piccadilly Circus and ended the day in a bar with a glass of wine.



The second and more recent London excursion also explains the name of the blog. At the beginning of 2013 I promised myself that this year I would stir things up and do exciting things! And so I threw caution to the wind and signed up to a charity abseil for a children's cancer charity, CLIC Sargent.

This initiated lots of comments about Lara Croft/Indiana Jones/stunt woman and voila, the nickname Raider Rachel cropped up.

The event involved me abseiling 130ft down Battersea Power Station, a great London landmark which is currently being developed, so possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We turned up with plenty of time to spare and then they were running a little behind, which meant we were standing around in the bitter cold for quite some time, poor Ian froze! But after a bit of a wait I got suited up (it was surprisingly heavy, walking up the stairs made you feel like a spaceman!) and given a 5 minute safety chat. Then it was up the top, and somehow found myself being one of the first people coming over the side. Despite the fact my heart was pounding in my ears, I did love it. At one point I had to cross a window, and my shoes kept getting caught in the net covering it, I had to keep shaking my feet to get away from it, which put me off balance. I've seen the video and it's not very elegantly done. But ah well, in the end I raised £503 (and counting!) for a great cause, and I had an amazing day. If anyones interested in further pictures, they can be seen on my sponsor page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RachelBrownAbseil


  1. Golden Age Collectables on Granville St in downtown Van sounds like it'll be a must for you to check out :) It's very similar to Forbidden Planet - sells comic books and all other manner of geeky stuff too (t shirts, mugs, action figures etc)

    What/where is the Shard? Think that must have opened after I left the UK...I've never heard of it! Also good on you for doing that abseiling...it looks like great fun :)

  2. Wow, I just looked up Golden Age Collectables, I will definitely have to add that to the 'To Visit' list! Thanks for the tip :)

    The Shard is a skyscraper in London, and apparently now the tallest building in the EU. Its a recent build and only opened to the public in February of this year, so that might be why. And thanks, abseiling was brilliant, if a bit scary!