WEDNESDAY Today I had arranged with Brian to have the whole day off so that I could go to the Home Office Immigration department on West Croydon to find out some details about my visa.

I got up at 7:00 AM and dressed warmly as it was a cold, wet morning and it was still a long time until dawn. Along with some sandwiches for lunch, I took my camera, tripod and the two new gradient filters I had bought during the week. I caught the tube over to Embankment then the Circle Line to Victoria station where I caught the train out to West Croydon. The Home Office building was a 20 minute walk from the station and there was already 5 people queued up in the cold outside the door. By the time the doors opened at 8:30 there were about 80-100 people in the queue.

In the end, it turned out to be a waste of time going out there as the woman who interviewed my said that it was pointless getting my four months added on to my visa at this stage as once they have done it it cannot be done again¹. She recommended that I should wait until my visa was about to expire and apply for the time to be added on then, even though I would be over 27 by then.

Back at the station, I caught another train, heading back into London and got off at Battersea. I walked along past Chelsea Bridge with the huge Battersea Power Station² towering over the Thames on my right, its four huge chimneys disappearing into the cold, low cloud which hung over the city. I wandered along the riverbank taking photos and looking at landmarks and buildings along the way.

Battersea Power Station


Further along the embankment, I came across some steps leading down to the river. The tide was out so I went down to the water’s edge took a few photos then sat there and watched the ancient river roll by…so much history. I climbed back up to the footpath and walked along to the Parliament Gardens then around past the statue of Richard III – Coeur de Lion in front of the magnificent Houses of Parliament.

Battersea Bridge and the River Thames.

After a quick look around Westminster Abbey, I sat in Parliament Square beside the bronze statue of Winston Churchill and had lunch with the pigeons then did a few jobs around town before catching the tube back to the pub. 

¹ In those days, New Zealanders were eligible for a work visa which allowed them to live and work in the UK for a total of two years. Whenever you left the country, the visa was put on hold until you returned when it would re-start. You were able to get the time you were out of the country added back onto the visa allowing you to spend a total of two years in the UK. These work visas could be obtained by any New Zealander under the age of 27 and the UK working holiday was a popular part of many New Zealanders overseas adventures.  

²The disused power station was made famous as the main feature on the cover of the pink Floyd album Animals.


Well, here I am again at the end of another diary, another year and, this time, another decade. It is 5:45 PM and Linda and I are watching the video “Cocoon – The Return” upstairs at The Red Lion pub in Lambeth, London. We have been working here for 3 weeks now as a live-in bar couple. The pub is owned by Brian Bradley, a Kiwi from Moeraki¹ and most of the staff are Kiwis so it is a good atmosphere to work in.

We spent four days at White Stubbs Farm² after we returned from Africa. Joyce filled us in on what had been going on around the area while we had been away and it was still the same back-biting, narrow-mindedness that we had left behind 4 months before. The Woodman was once again in the hands of the Pikies³ and Terry & Lorraine (the publicans) are gone. It sounded as though Terry had gone on a binge of barring people from the pub including old Nobbie (a local drunk) which would have been a bad move as the locals would have complained to the brewery who would have told Terry and Lorraine to shape up or ship out. I guess they shipped out!

We had a good sleep-in on our first morning at White Stubbs Farm and went down to the Woodman for lunch. It was dead…the only people there were AK Top Roy and his scarecrow wife.

About 2:00 that day we caught the train into London and mucked around for the rest of the day until 7:00 when we met Mike and Scotty on the Tottenham Court Road. We had a few drinks at a pub then headed to Break for the Border, a Mexican restaurant where we’d arranged to meet the others from the overland. We had a good night there and slept on the floor of Robyn’s sister’s flat.

Next day we went job-hunting and got an interview at The Red Lion. It is a busy inner city pub and we were very busy over Christmas and New Year. In the week leading up to Christmas, Linda and I spent all our wages [we were earning 100 pounds each per week with full board and lodging] on new clothes and Christmas pressies for each other. It was a really good feeling to have money to spend and not have to worry about saving.

The Red Lion, 121 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1.

We also rang home. Linda rang Helen one night after trying a few times to get through without success. Everything is fine at Dry Creek† and it was really good to talk to her again. Brian was away that day so we didn’t talk to him. I rang Joe [my brother] early one morning and we had a good yarn. He was going to spend some time with our cousin Tig over the Christmas break.

Christmas Eve was a Saturday night and was very quiet but the Friday night was horrendously busy. Linda and I had a quiet Xmas by ourselves at the pub. We cooked up a huge christmas dinner and had all the trimmings with it – chocolate, nuts, crackers, christmas pudding. We both gave each other Swatch watches and I gave Linda a new address book, a scarf, 3 photograph albums and some other bits & pieces. Brian and his wife gave her a top and a toilet bag and Harry (another of the bar staff) gave her a scarf. Along with the watch Linda gave me some Kouros aftershave which she dad bought duty-free on the boat over from Spanish North Africa, a shirt and a few other bits. Brian and Sue gave me a diary and a rugby jersey and Harry gave me a shirt. Quite a haul!

On Boxing Day we had a sleep in then went for a walk over Westminster Bridge, up through St James Park to Buckingham Palace where we joined a throng of tourists watching the changing of the guard.

In the evening we went and saw the stage production of Allo Allo‡. It was really good with the original members of the TV show in the cast.

Last night, for New Years Eve, we had a beach party with a disco. The party went on till 7:00 AM this morning and we had a pretty good time. Later on tonight, Linda, Louie, Jennie and I are all going over to SoHo for a Chinese meal. It is a cold and rainy night but our new home is warm and comfortable.

¹A small fishing village on New Zealand’s South Island.

²A small farm owned by our friends Joyce and Ernie Stubbs whom we had met while working at The Woodman before we went to Africa.

³Gipsy thugs

‡The stage version of a popular TV sit-com set in WW2.

†Linda’s mother Helen lived at Dry Creek Station, the high country farm where I had worked as a shepherd and where Linda and I had met.