I just had to start this post with this shot – This was the sunrise on the first morning I woke up to in London.
I got the same question from everyone when I told them I’m headed for London – No, I didn’t go to London for the Olympics, although I was watching it on TV everytime I’m back in the hotel room. Taking the red eye flight out to London, I managed to sleep for 10 of the 13 hour-flight but it wasn’t the most comfortable of sleep and I got a stiff neck despite having my frequent travel companion, the red neck cushion with pink flowers. I woke up to this sight though, so the stiff neck was momentarily forgotten:
It wasn’t even 6am local time when I landed in Heathrow Airport, but I lost some of that sleepiness upon collection of the rented Audi A4 TDI.
This was my ride for the next 5 days!
It was peak hour traffic so I ran into some traffic delays going into the city. At the same time I was right in the heart of the Olympics so these specially reserved lanes for the Olympics had to be avoided!
The last time I was in London was two years ago in 2010, when I visited the then-Lotus F1 team factory (now renamed to Caterham F1) and Cosworth, after catching Malaysia-based Singaporean karter Daim Hishammudin race at the WSK Master Series in Siena. That was my first WSK race and also where I met MIKA HAKKINEN who waved “Hi” to me each morning – he’s really nice!
London was exactly how I remembered it, especially with the bricks!
I had some free time on the first day and Madame Tussauds was just round a few corners from my hotel, so I went to rub some shoulders with superstars!
Move over Kristen Stewart…
The only motorsport element I could find in the whole museum came in the form of this guy called Lewis Hamilton. I think Jenson Button is not dressed yet so I couldn’t find him.
There are wax figures from Hollywood movie stars to global singing sensations to earth-moving politicians to the blue-blooded and sporting icons. Since it’s the Olympic period now, here are some related personalities…
Jessica Ennis is such an inspiration, my new-found idol…
There was some Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie experience, super cool…
London just has this vintage tinge to it that I really embrace… look at this refuelling station at the corner of a street!
London may be the last place you would think of having roasted duck Chinese style, but yes London has the world-famous Four Seasons roasted duck. So my first full meal in London was Chinese food – don’t laugh, my friend has never tried it so I did it for him!
Roaming the streets of London, there were some really cool eye-candies.. I was referring to cars, not British men!
Those cars were TO DIE FOR – they were parked outside a hotel and had parking summons held neatly in place by the wipers, but I guess that’s a small price to pay for having your car on perpetual head-turning display.
On the highway, I drove past what looked like a scrapyard and isn’t this cute?
Leaving London, my next destination was to Coventry, birthplace of the British cycle and motor industry, which was just a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. First stop there? The Coventry Transport Museum! Admission is free and I spent HOURS covering every inch of the museum and soaking up the hundreds of vehicles on display. My favourite? The 1990 Jaguar XJ-s ‘Barbie Car’ – 5.3-litre V12 engine beneath that pink hood!
The first British motor car was made in Coventry in 1897 by the Daimler Motor Company, then more small motor manufacturers began to appear. Coventry became a centre of the British motor industry and Jaguar Land Rover and Rootes were the prominent British manufacturers based there.
However, Coventry suffered the Blitz during World War II and the city was destroyed. The decline of the British motor industry during the late 1970s and 1980s hit Coventry hard and everything went downhill from there. Today, Coventry is much healthier than before but it no longer is the Motor City it used to be.
Near the Transport Museum is the ruins of the old Cathedral juxtaposed againt the new Cathedral…
I climbed 181 of these steep steps to get to the top of the old Cathedral – PHEW!
Nice view though!
Coventry is also where you can find Lady Godiva’s statue – the famous Lady Godiva who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants.
It was on to Lifeline next, the manufacturer of fire safety equipment and fire safety systems to the motorsports industry worldwide.
I went behind the scenes at Lifeline, understanding more about their systems and learning how to refill a simple extinguisher. More in a separate post.
From London to Coventry, my next stop is Turin, Italy! Till my next postcard…
View here for more photos of my UK trip.
View here for more photos of the Coventry Transport Museum.