Archive for the “London” Category

Woke up this morning and packed everything up – it’s all carry on – so pack tight! Our original flight had been moved back several hours so that gave us an extra half day in London. We hopped the tube again, went to a store it place and dropped the bags there.

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Back to the tube and headed over to see The House of Parliament and the surrounding area. The word ornate does not even begin to describe these buildings and churches. I look at them and while I see the beauty in them I get the feeling that there is a one upmanship among the builders and architects of the time. Blue skies and white puffy clouds would have made for nicer photos but one has to take what is there.

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Of course I did take photos of some windows today, but for the blog the doors seem appropriate for parting shots from London.

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We tubed back to the luggage and lugged it back to the tube and then the light rail to Gatwick to catch our flight to our next destination. The British Air lounge at Gatwick was extremely nice and comfy loaded with great food, coffee, wine, and cheese. Next destination – tomorrow’s blog post (hopefully tomorrow not sure if the internet connection will hold long enough to post tonight).

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The last few days have been summer in London. Today – well, let’s just say that fall has arrived – wet, cold, and windy. So we started out the day by heading out to Greenwich. A few tube rides and a train and we wandered around the town. Even with the wind and spitty skies it was quite different from London. The feeling was a bit lighter, not as heavy. Still a lot of history here for sure.

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St Alfege Parish Church and part of the graveyard in front of the church.

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One of the lower courtyards in Greenwich.

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The Greenwich Royal Park Herb Garden was beautiful. We just happened to be there when a bunch of children riding their scooters all around the maze.

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The window thing is still jumping into the camera – there are so many great images I just can’t stop shooting them. Good thing I’m shooting with a camera and not a sling shot!
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So, what’s this about old, very very old things? Just to have a quick taste of not so old – here’s a bit of architecture just outside the Greenwich train station [Husband edit: Actually, I think this us at the Canary Wharf station catching the Docklands Light Rail train]. No – not the kind of windows that are jumping into the frame of the camera, although there is one old window trying to make an appearance!

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On to the old, old, very old. I mean REALLY old – like say 350BC! And so close I could have actually touched most of them. Really. Totally amazing because this type of access is unheard of in the states and basically reserved for museum curators. Not so in the British Museum. Now with all that said, there are plenty of signs asking that you “Please do not touch the exhibit”. Yes. I definitely wanted to run my hands over this ancient pieces – but the only thing that I let touch them was my gaze.

On a sarcophagus 1220BC

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Stone carvings and reliefs from ancient Egypt.

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~728BC

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Red figured rhyton (special cup) made in the form of a gryphons head with a youth, 350-360BC.

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….. and – Cleopatra. She died when she was 17! Amazing for all of the stories and movies that have been made.

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Sorry folks – I missed the card for this guy, but check out those eyes!

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From the British Museum we headed across the street to The Montague for afternoon tea. Afternoon tea was very nice and also very filling! Sandwiches, marvelous scones little pastries and pots of tea (Earl Grey for me and Darjeeling for Charlie).

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Today was our day to explore The Tower of London. Wow – what a place steeped in so much history. We started out with a tour guided by one of the Yeoman Warders – who actually live in the tower. There are many buildings in the complex and a total of 22 towers!

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We walked through a hall with suits of armor that actually were the ones worn/used by the kings. Henry VIII has several different suits of armor. Starting from when he was in his twenties. As he got older his suits got larger and larger. Finally ending with this one – looks like he thought rather highly of himself.

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The next hall had statues of the horses that the kings rode. These date from 1690 – so move over Roy Rogers and Trigger – the Kings of England had statues made of their horses!
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Of course everyone has to take photos of the guards – so I gave it a shot and well, took more than one, and I do believe their weapons are current day and operational!
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Ravens at the Tower are good luck. There is actually a flock of them there and they are considered Royal Pets – and are well fed and taken care of. They actually do get out and socialize on their own as well.

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The Tower of London is well known for holding prisoners and executions as well. Many that were held/detained/etc. left their mark by carving their names, and sometimes more in the walls. I guess you could call it medieval graffiti.

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Later this afternoon we took a special tour of Buckingham Palace. Wow – what a place. Again more history, but this time not near as gory. All the finery, art, architecture,antiquities, unbelievable. It of course was a no photo venue – but worth the time and they ended our tour with champagne. So we can actually say that we had champagne in Buckingham palace!

 

Finishing up, you guessed it – windows!
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Today started early with some fruit scones and a tube ride to the car rental place. After a couple of days of crowded tubes it was quite different this morning with basically empty tubes!

 

We were on the road early and headed off to see Stonehenge. Of course Mr GPS told us to take the second exit out of a round-a-bout and we somehow took the first! But not to worry, Mr GPS rerouted us! Yes siree rerouted we were. And I really liked the new route – road with no markings and beautiful scenery. Of course there were no places to pull over – ratz. Could have been wonderful photos. I’m not sure how they manage two way traffic on those roads as they are about a car and a half wide! We pulled waaaay over and it was still hairy.

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Stonehenge was pretty cool even with the ton of people there. A little post processing and I can probably get the people out. While there may have been a lot of people there when we were there, there were hordes when we left – so our timing was good.

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From there we wandered around the countryside and checked out Bath and several other towns. Old churches fill the towns and are sprinkled on the hills all around.

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Of course country means livestock and here the main livestock are, what else, sheep! I’ve come to the conclusion that sheep are to England what cattle are to the US (and vise a versa). The pigs here get to roam the fields and have little huts I’m guessing to sleep in.

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And of course it wouldn’t be a blog post without a window picture….

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So – after running way low on my batteries yesterday (aka jet lag) I slept until 11 today. Gasp – I’m usually up around 5:30! Not to worry though we managed to cram a lot of things into one day. We started out by shopping at Harrod’s. Wow – what a store. Clothing racks with every hanger perfectly aligned, and even a shop area with <cough> dog stuff – including dogs and a doggie spa. Yes, you can take your dog into Harrod’s (hear that Niik? you would be a hit there!).
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Their food courts are amazing. So many awesome and wonderful things there. Even saw jars of truffles! Oh yes, that store especially the food area could be dangerous, verrry dangerous.
And what is a trip to London and Harrod’s without lunch?? Tragic. So of course we had a light lunch at Harrod’s (keeping in mind it was around 2 and we had 6:30 reservations at a one star Michelin restaurant ). We lunched at Harrod’s – splitting a bruschetta and a tuti-fruiti dome. Both were delightful and of course photo ops I couldn’t resist.

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Walking around London is a treat for the eyes. All the old buildings are amazing. I seem to be keying in on  windows lately.

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… and then of course there’s the old “I go to take a photo and animals just have to make appearances even when I don’t plan it…..
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On to food and very possibly, awe heck – for sure – the best meal I have ever eaten – BAR NONE! It all started out with reservations at a Michelin restaurant. We got there only to find the place closed! Yuppers the restaurant was closed up for remodeling —  our reservations were made with them and made in June – but they seem to have totally forgotten to tell us. Yes, they took the reservation and then never let us know it would be closed! Bad form for sure.
We managed to find a “sister” restaurant and with the emailed reservation in hand we walked in and asked if they could please squeeze us in. Squeeze us in they did and more. We ordered from  the prix fixe dinner -  which is what the original plan was. However – before the first course came they presented us with a marvelous starter of pork belly, snail and something else delicious.
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Wow is all I can say. What a fantastic start to the meal – and what a nice thing for them to do.
Next was the first course – I ordered chilled carrot soup and Charlie had the soft poached egg “Burford Brow”. lettuce, peas, Scottish girolles, and sweet onion.
This was just as good or better than the starter.
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The main course I ordered the Grilled bavette of beef, bone marrow gratin, swiss chard and beetroot, Charlie ordered the Cornish silver mullet, spiced carrot puree, sweet and sour beetroot.
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All through our time there our server and the restaurant manager kept checking in asking how everything was. Of course everything was fantastic we were loving every bite. The main course was absolutely marvelous – things just kept getting better.
On to desert – and this is usually where wonderful restaurants seem to just do OK. Not so here! We both had the Wild honey ice cream and crushed honey comb. Again this course was just as good or better than the first course! And they added a delicious plate of chocolates as well!

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A complete home run. Without a doubt – this restaurant Wild Honey is the best restaurant I have ever eaten at. Gordon Ramsey – if you are reading this – you have got to check them out if you haven’t already been there! Wild Honey is at 18 George St London.
So – the meal is finished and the manager comes to our table to tell us they are very sorry about the mix up at the original restaurant and that our entire meal and wine has been comp’d. Woah – unbelievable. Thank you Wild Honey for a wonderfully memorable meal.

To top the night off we hustled over to the Tower of London for the Ceremony of the Keys. This has been done every night for over 700 years. Wow. Amazing and very cool complete with the story of how parts of the ceremony evolved. No photos allowed at the ceremony though.

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Good night all! More England tomorrow.

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Yesterday was basically a full day in London. arrived around 9 in the morning, got to the flat we are staying at after about an hour on “the tube”. The flat is nice and roomie with street views of London with the marvelous windows and brick work of neighboring buildings. We took the train to the Borough Market – a wonderful excursion into cheeses, meats, and meat pies. I had a Wild Bore meat pie that was quite tasty and Charlie had a duck wrap.

Got back to the flat and I crashed – OK maybe it was jet lag – but I needed a nap. Meanwhile, Charlie went back out with the iPad to get help with the horrible way it was doing 3G – internet was dicey at best. Even here on the laptop which has wireless here at the flat the internet comes and goes at will. The sim card for the iPad was the source of that device’s problem and it now does a wonderful job of staying connected. However, being what it is – websites like my college class I can see and read – but with frames I’m stuck – no way to write replies. ARGH – this distance teaching may be a bit of a problem.

Last night we had an amazing dinner at ABENO a Japanese restaurant where they cook on the table in front of you. MMMmmm took video which will get uploaded and of course a few pictures as well. After dinner we walked to the theatre and saw War Horse. Oh my gosh the horses were puppets – but the word puppet does not make them sound good. There is no was to describe it other than totally amazing. The horses moved like real horses, sounded like real horses, and had expressions like real horses. Three letters for this are WOW.

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Photos from the flat and at the Borough Market.

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