A Joyous London Holiday

When I came out from Stansted Airport, near London, on the night of 21 September 2010, my smiling daughter Syazana was already there to greet me. From there, we boarded a train to Liverpool Station and then took a bus to Notting Hill Gate, reaching her apartment at Cheniston Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, close to 1:00 a.m.

Our travel movement was easy as her apartment was located just about 2-minute walking distance to High Street Kensington underground station. Londoners called it ‘the tube’ whereby the main stop station is the Paddington station. Other than the tube, we also took the double-decker red-colored bus which always arrived on time. As practiced by other seasoned Londoners, we too bought the Oyster card which could be used when traveling by tube or by bus.

For purpose of communicating with family and friends back home, I changed the sim card of my mobile phone to a local one, called Orange.

While in London, my daughter brought me to several Malaysian food restaurants, other than the usual fast food outlets. We had our lunch twice at the Malaysia Hall London cafeteria located at Queensborough Terrace in Bayswater area. The cafeteria was located in the same building as that of Malaysian High Commission. We also ate at other restaurants in the Bayswater and Paddington areas, such as Bonda Café, Tuk Din Restaurant, Delima Restaurant, C&R Malaysian Cuisine and Khan’s. When we did some shopping at Westfield, we had our lunch at Jom Makan Restaurant.

While I was there, Malaysian Food Festival was held at Trafalgar Square on 24 September 2010. As it was a Friday, my daughter and I were only able to visit the festival and taste the varieties of Malaysian food after my Friday prayer at London Central Mosque located at Park Road, Regent’s Park. It was a joyful affair except that the evening was chilly and windy.

Since my holiday was for about two weeks, my daughter had planned for us to visit several popular spots. One evening, we went to stroll on the Westminster Bridge, above River Thames. Tourists all the world were seen taking photographs of the Big Ben or Westminster Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament. I used to read in a travel magazine stating that this clock tower (now known as Elizabeth Tower) is the most photographed structure in the world.

Another favorite spot for tourists as well as Londoners is the Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. It was advisable to be there on Wednesday morning, around 11:00 a.m. as there will a colorful parade called “Changing of the Guard”. The guards, in red coats, performed their rehearsal at their barracks first before marching smartly to the Palace. When I was there, the guards’ band was playing a familiar instrumental theme, a nostalgic “Mission Impossible”. Spectators clapped loudly and happily after they had finished it.

On 27 September, we had our breakfast at a famous restaurant in front of our apartment, called The Muffin Man Tea Shop. Situated at the corner of Wright’s Lane and Cheniston Gardens, this restaurant is famous for its sandwich and muffin. Our plan for the day was to go and visit a famous landmark in Greenwich. It was about thirty minutes travel by train from central London.

Greenwich is also popular as a university town. Normally tourists came to Greenwich to visit the world’s Prime Meridian in the Courtyard of the Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory is the home of the Prime Meridian of the world, and of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). We can print our own certificate, pre-signed by Director of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, stating the date and time of our visit and standing at the Prime Meridian.

We also took the opportunity to visit a nearby city, Manchester. The journey by Virgin Train started from Euston station. The two-hour travel took us to Manchester Piccadilly station, after stopping at Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport stations. We stayed at Ramada Hotel, just a walking distance from the station. During the day, we went to Salford Quays by tram and had lunch at Harbour City. At night, we enjoyed having Malay food at Ning Restaurant, located at Oldham Street.

After we came back from Manchester, we took Amira for lunch at Satay House situated at Sale Place, near Sussex Gardens. In fact, her mother Juliana Bahari is a close friend as well as my former office mate.

It is popularly known worldwide that London is a shopping heaven. Most people go to Oxford Street and nearby places, including Knightsbridge area where the Harrods is located. For souvenirs, I prefer to go to Bayswater area to buy them. Items such as postcards, key chains, fridge magnets, t-shirts, mufflers, London street signage, mufflers and other items are reasonably priced. For quality second-hand goods and paintings, we can buy them at Portobello Market.

A day before leaving London, we took a 20-minute train ride from Paddington station to Reading Central in order to have dinner at our family friend’s house – Raja Iskandar and his wife Erna (now a Dr). In fact in the previous week they came over to take us for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant at Edgware Road in Bayswater area. We felt very delighted to be able to see them again.

I tried to recall on my first holiday in London in March 1986. Actually at that time I was attending a 2-month course in lubrication at Agip Petroli in Rome, Italy. When the classes were cancelled on a Friday and the following Monday due to public holidays, we took the opportunity to go to London. I went there with my office mate, Salahuddin who was also attending the course. Based on experience during his studentship, we put the nights at Bed & Breakfast (B&B) at Norfolk Place, Sussex Gardens. The nearest tube was Lancaster Station.

During the short stay, we managed to visit Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Buckingham Palace, Soho and Little Venice. I do remember seeing a poster which was on sale at the sidewalk with the words: “If You Are Tired With London, You Are Tired With Life”. Surely enough, I never feel tired with London!

My 2010 London holiday came to an end on 8 October. We took a train from Liverpool station heading for Stansted Airport. After saying goodbye to my daughter, I entered the terminal for my journey home. The plane took off at about 9:00 p.m. for LCC Terminal in Sepang, Malaysia, thus ending my truly memorable 18-day stay in London ( and Manchester ) with my loving daughter, Syazana.

6 Interesting Facts About Manchester United FC You Probably Didn’t Know Before

Manchester United FC is probably one of the most successful professional football clubs on the planet. Also known as The Red Devils, the club is based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England. Here are some interesting facts about Manchester United you probably have never heard before.

Fact #1 – Manchester United was not the first choice for the football club’s name.
When founded in 1878, the club was named Newton Heath LYR Football Club after the Carriage and Wagon department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Heath. The name was changed to Manchester United Football Club on 24 April 1902 due to change in ownership.

Fact #2 – The Red Devils is the first English team to compete in The European Cup.
Despite the fact that the Football League objected the participation of English football teams in the European Cup, Manchester United took part in the 1957 European Cup as the first English football team to do so. Before they were beaten by Real Madrid on the way to semi-finals, the club beat Anderlecht FC from Belgium with a score of 10-0. This is remains their biggest win to date.

Fact #3 – The 1958 Munich air disaster claimed 8 players’ lives.
The plane crash that happened on 6 January 1958 cost 8 of The Red Devils players their lives. They are Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, Geoff Bent, Eddie Colman, David Pegg, Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor, and Billy Whelan. After winning a match against the Red Star Belgrade FC, the plane carrying the team players, officials, and journalists crashed in Munich, Germany. A total of 23 passengers were killed in that accident and several others were injured.

Fact #4 – The club holds many title records.
This football club holds the record for most top-division titles (19 times), most Premier League titles (12 titles), most FA Cups (11 cups), and the most FA Cup Final appearances (18). The Red Devils is also known as the first English football team to win the European Cup in 1968.

Fact #5 – The Red Devils lacks of UEFA European Cup.
Despite the fact that the Manchester United managed to get into the quarter-finals in 1984-1985, the team has never succeeded in winning any UEFA European Cup.

Fact #6 – The team is now under the most successful manager of the English football history.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson started managing club in November 1986, Manchester United has successfully won 27 major honors. This Scottish football manager received the honorary title Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen of England in 1983 and upgraded into the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995.

The History of Manchester United

Manchester United are arguably the best club in the world, but this multi million pound club started as Newton Heath L&YR F.C. in 1878, as the works team for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Health.

They played on a small, dilapidated field on North Road, near the future site of the Manchester Piccadilly railway station for fifteen years, and then in 1983 they moved to play on Bank Street in a nearby town called Clayton. In 1902 this ground was closed as Manchester United were nearly kicked out of the football league due to debts of two thousand and five hundred pounds, but thankfully just before the club could be shut down they received a large investment from J.H.Davies, the managing director of Manchester breweries.

Manchester United’s first major signing was of Charlie Roberts of Grimsby Town for £750 in April 1904, they believe that this signing helped Manchester United to third in the very next season. In the 1905-1906 season Manchester United were finally promoted to the First Division, where two years later they emerged as champions for the very first time.

On the 19th of February Manchester United played their first game in the still standing Old Trafford stadium, their first game was looking an ease, beating Liverpool 3-0 at half time only to lose 4-3, they went on that season to win no silver wear, and in the next ten years the club started declining in the ranks until 1922 when they were relegated back down to Division Two.

Three seasons before world war two, Manchester United were promoted, then relegated, then promoted once again, providing them with a spot in division one once the war was finally over.

In the season of 1956-57, Manchester United became the first season to compete in the European Cup, and it was in this competition that Manchester United recorded their biggest win to date, beating a Belgium team 10-0 before being knocked out in the semi finals by Real Madrid.

Tragedy struck the next season as a plane crash killed 8 of Manchester United’s players on a trip to the Germany for a European match. Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan where the players killed that day, these players will never be forgotten.

In the early 70’s Manchester United changed the badge to the badge we know off today. Soon after that, in 1986, the introduction of Sir Alex Ferguson was happening as he took over the manager’s position.

Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t have much success at Manchester united until the year of 1998 where his team secured the best season in the history of English Football, completing the treble of the Premier League, the FA cup and the Champions League.

Manchester United seemed ordinary until the season of 2006-07 when they won the Premier League, scraping past Chelsea. This gave Manchester United and their young guns of Rooney and Ronaldo confidence to rule the scenes in the next season as Manchester United completed the double, winning the Premier League and the European Cup.

How Has Manchester Changed Over the Years?

Some cities in the world are famous due to their many distinctive qualities from the other cities like the presence of big universities, a number of national and international restaurants with appetizing food, luxurious and moderate hotels, a large number of shopping opportunities and fame in sports. Manchester is among those well-known cities which not only grasps the tourists’ attention but also the interests of people living all over the world for residential purposes. It is the second largest city of UK and is also called ‘Capital of the North’. There are many museums, theaters, bars, clubs, and galleries for you to visit and keep you happy.

In the late 1700s, Manchester was a small village with a minimal population. However, over the years it has grown into a metropolitan city. Manchester has developed incredibly since then. The Manchester Airport serves Manchester and North West England and has the most passengers outside London in UK. Manchester now also has a very well spread and developed railway network. Manchester Piccadilly is the busiest English train station other than London.

Manchester is now becoming a city where people are choosing to settle. Once it had a bad reputation resulting from its industrial past. However, the scenario has drastically changed over the past decade and now Manchester has a lively, exciting air. Many people conceive it as a young, vibrant and thrilling city, where there is always something happening. In fact, many perceive Manchester as a rival to London.

Old Manchester was much expensive in terms of living, studying and shopping. However, now due to the presence of shopping malls and shops in large number, the commodities are available at affordable rates. The five star luxurious hotels are still expensive, but some are offered within your limits. Manchester is also developing in terms of construction and beauty as many buildings and parks are now constructed there. Construction of new architectural and exciting buildings has provided a charm for the tourists.

In the past, there was only one big university in the city where thousands of students of different countries were getting education, but now Manchester has many big universities with well-recognised degrees around the world. It has got a prominence and fame in learning and education.

The city has made good use of historical buildings to attract tourists and modern art can be spot throughout the city as well. New flagship stores, tall glass shops and new hotels are the gems of Manchester.

In sports, Manchester United is famous in football; it attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world due to its sports and tactics. Throughout the years, the Millennium and the Commonwealth games have prompted on a huge uplift to the city. It is regarded as the centre of football with two most popular teams Manchester United and Manchester City.

Manchester is becoming more modernised in terms of industrialisation as well. It has an industrial past with the textile industry of mills and goods provided to other states through canals and shipping. It was named as the best place for business in UK in a poll. Manchester offers many opportunities for work and jobs.