It was that time of the year and we all went for a 2-week family holiday in the UK. The last family visit was in 2016 so we decided to stay a big longer this time.
Sunday, 16 Dec 2018
We took the Malaysia Airlines flight on the new A350 XWB. It was my first time trying out the new plane. It was a much better experience than the A380. Sofia (3 years old) had her own seat and she thoroughly enjoyed the flight, while Erina (8 months) gets to sleep in the bassinet.
Mon, 17 Dec 2018
From Heathrow, we had a van ready to pick us up. The guy took us to our rented flat at 49 Westbourne Terrace, near Paddington Station. There was one major problem tho. Although the flat is really nice, it was on the 4th floor, and the lift isn’t working. We then found out “it will be repaired after Christmas”.
We had lots of heavy luggage, and my mother-in-law and kids won’t be able to enjoy a decent holiday going up and down 4 floors every day. We had a major argument with the Airbnb agent on this. Naturally, some screaming had to be done to ensure our view was understood. In the end, we agreed to stay 1 night and get a full refund for the remaining of our 2 week stay. We did some quick search on AirBnB and found another place in West Kensington, which we will go the next day.
Tue, 18 Dec 2018
In the morning, I accompanied Mak Su and Kak Long to Hyde Park Corner. They took the sightseeing tour bus as it was their first time in London.
After that, I returned back to the flat and helped out with the luggage. We moved out from the Paddington flat, and moved to Comeragh Mews, another Airbnb property in West Kensington. This time it’s a 3-storey mews flat. It was landed (hence easier to bring out the kids with strollers). It was much more spacious too and could fit all 7 of us comfortably.
It even comes with a rooftop terrace with a decent view of the neighborhood.
After we had settled in, we explored the area and later in the evening went to Harrods for some light shopping and dinner.
Wed, 19 Dec 2018
I woke up early in the morning and walked to the nearby Costa. This little ritual later became my daily activity during our stay here!
In the afternoon, we went to meet up with Luis Arturo, a photographer that Aliaa hired. The guy took some nice photos of us in the city. It was quite a challenge getting the kids to pose, but thankfully we managed to get a few decent shots.
After the photoshoot, we went for teatime at John Lewis. After being in the cold for a bit (during the photoshoot), it felt good to be sipping hot coffee and warm cakes for teatime.
In the evening, before we head back to the flat, we went for grocery shopping at M&S Oxford Street. I saw the precooked meals section and this brought back so much memories from my postgraduate days in Cardiff. Back then, I would buy these meals for my dinner. It was cheap and easy to prepare, perfect to be eaten while watching online TV in my student room!
Thurs, 20 Dec 2018
I woke up early in the morning and went to get coffee from Costa, the one near West Kensington station.
Today is the beginning of our 2 day trip to Oxford, Blenheim Palace, and Windsor. I arranged for a car with driver from UK VIP Chauffeurs. I knew the owner Nader, from my SPAD days. For today, Nader arranged one of his drivers, Wali, to take us to Oxford. He guy arrived with a Mercedes Viano at 9AM. It was a pleasant drive through the English highway. We arrived at Oxford around 10:30AM.
We started off with a tour of Christ Church College. Aliaa and myself visited the college while we were studying in the UK. The intention of trip is to bring Mak Su and Kak Long for a tour. We took them to see the halls where Harry Potter was filmed, and for a tour of Oxford City.
After that, we went our separate ways for a bit, and I was able to visit the Bodleian Library. I toured the library complex, and visited the Divinity School, completed around 1480. Back then it was the
We later had lunch at Westgate Mall. It was my first time at the mall. I was impressed by how large the place was!
A friend suggested that we dine at Comptoir Libanais. The food turned out to be amazing (and we keep on going to Comptoir a few times throughout our holiday in London).
After lunch, we had a quick stroll at the shops outside Westgate Mall, and then headed to the car. Our next stop is Blenheim Palace. The journey took about 2 hours. We arrived at Blenheim Palace just after sunset. It was a clear winter night, perfect for our christmas tour.
While waiting for our tour, I took Sofia around the mini theme park for the rides. She had lots of fun playing in the cold weather.
We then had late teatime at the cafe (it was just 5:30PM) while going through the gift shop.
Our tour of the palace started at 6PM. Blenheim Palace is known in popular culture as having been featured in the James Bond movie “Spectre” (2015).
Blenheim was completed in 1722 and has been the residence of the Churchill family, who carry the title Duke of Malborough. The palace is also notable as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
After we were done at Blenheim, the driver took us to our flat in Windsor which we rented for 1 night. We arrived at the flat at about 8PM.
The flat at Windsor was a modern building (which I find to be quite rare in England haha!). It comes with 3 separate rooms, and a very nice bathroom.
After we have checked-into the flat, I went out to buy dinner at a nearby shop area. The tour at Windor starts the following morning.