London Revisited

14th May, 1995
15th May, 1995
16th May, 1995
17th May, 1995
18th May, 1995

Sunday, 14th May, 1995

Drop Cap he plane was delayed at Rome, therefore late at Amsterdam and London, but the Insight guy met us at Heathrow and buzzed us into Victoria. The Grosvenor Thistle is very grande olde worlde. Our room is in a wing and is quite small but perfectly adequate. Corridors wind on forever, you could get lost, but it is quite elegant even if it is so close to Victoria Station that you can hear the announcements on the PA. In fact the foyer of the hotel has an entrance onto the forecourt of the Station, very convenient. We had dinner at Garfunkel's, got some English cash from the teller machine and home to bed.

Monday, 15th May, 1995

Drop Cap fter a good continental breakfast in the swish Clarence restaurant we found the Insight Service Desk and confirmed all our tours, picked up our chunnel crossing tickets and booked for "The Mousetrap" tonight. Then off to the nearest NatWest bank, where, with our chequebook and servicecards we got more English money and 500 pounds worth of French currency. So that's under control.

Palace photograph

The Gates of Buckingham Palace, London, UK

Drop Cap s it was nearly 11 o'clock we walked up to Buckingham Palace and joined the hordes of camera toting tourists for the Changing of the Guard. There was no way we could get close enough to the railings to see the actual change but we stood by the road and watched the guard march up behind the band and police horses. Republicans in Britain should take note - a Monday morning, the Queen not even in residence but thousands of tourists (who spend a lot of money in Britain) turn up to see the pageantry. The historic buildings would not be the same without it.

St.James Park photograph

In St. James' Park, London, UK

Drop Cap hen we walked through St.James's Park by the lake to Westminster in time to see and hear Big Ben strike midday. Then to Downing Street, but it has been blocked by heavy railings and you have to have a pass. We watched a car (bearing a pass holder) go through, stop at a barricade and get searched, even underneath. Then the barricade sank into the roadway and on it went.

Regents Canal photograph

Regent's Park Canal, Little Venice, London UK

Drop Cap e then used our railcards to go from Westminster to Warwick Avenue and Little Venice. We took a waterbus (a converted narrowboat) up the Regents Park canal to Camden Lock. It was a great little trip meandering along the waterway, by stately type homes, London Zoo and various bridges and tunnels. We had lunch at a French Creperie at Camden Lock and got back to the Grosvenor by 3.30 to do a load of washing and rest for the "Mousetrap" tonight.

Canal Traffic photograph

Canal Traffic on the Regent's Park Canal, London UK


Drop Cap e enjoyed "The Mousetrap". It was well done and we had difficulty picking the murderer. I notice on the souvenir programme that Paul Darrow played the part (of the murderer, it is the lead) 25 years ago. I can see him doing it although he might sound a little refined for it. It was good though. Back to the hotel, bought a sandwich and donut at a stall at Victoria (surprisingly fresh and delicious) and had a midnight feast. Being in Britain, the hotel has tea and coffee facilities which were distinctly lacking in Italy.

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Tuesday, 16th May, 1995

Hampton Court photograph

Tudor Entrance, Hampton Court, London UK

Drop Cap oday we got up late, breakfasted sumptuously, then went to Hampton Court. Our railcards covered it, surprisingly, I thought we would have to buy another ticket but they have extended the zones. Hampton Court was great, we were there all day, it was so interesting. The Tudor Kitchens were fascinating, the most complete of their period in Europe. Henry VIII's rooms are mostly destroyed by William and Mary who thought the lovely Tudor buildings with their twisty brick chimneys were "Gothic monstrosities". Their own apartments were very nice, somewhat more restrained in the use of colour and gold leaf than the Tudor ones were.

Tudor Kitchen photograph

Tudor Kitchens, Hampton Court, London UK

Hampton Court photograph

Panorama, William and Mary Frontage, Hampton Court

Drop Cap he gardens were lovely - we got lost in the maze with a gaggle of French and English school children and had lunch in a marquee in the grounds. We saw the deer in the park, refrained from falling into the Long Water and watched a game of Royal tennis in the Tudor tennis court. It looks very energetic and complicated. We had afternoon tea in the "Privy Kitchen" and got back about 6.30 to do some more washing. It was raining quite hard by now and we had to dodge through the showers to have dinner in a local steakhouse.

Long Water photograph

The Long Water, Hampton Court, London UK

Wednesday, 17th May, 1995

Drop Cap oday we took our included half day tour of the London sights, including a short cruise on the river. It poured rain but it was alright. From the cruise boat we saw the nearly completed Shakespeare Globe Theatre replica at Southwark. Last time we were here we saw the first two round sections in place. When we got back to Trafalgar Square we checked out the whereabouts of Her Majesty's Theatre because we got very lost on Monday night, looking for the St.Martins.

Drop Cap unch at Pizzaland then off to Harrods. This is incredible and we only saw the ground floor and Lower ground floor. I got indigestion wandering around the food halls, probably at the prices. The display however was beautiful, artistic and , to a food lover, most inviting. On the lower ground floor they had a section called "The Harrods Shop" which sold, would you believe, souvenirs of Harrods! It is really an institution. Here I was able to buy the Harrods shopping bag Anne wanted and a cloth one for myself. Back to the hotel to do some ironing and get ready for "the Phantom".

Drop Cap aving checked our route we were good and early, in time for a glass of wine in the bar at Her Majesty's Theatre before taking our seats, 5th row centre, orchestra stalls. Wonderful! We were directly underneath as the chandelier rose and fell, in imminent danger. It was so close to the stage that we could see the faces clearly and hear every word. Very loud of course, but Mac enjoyed it as much as I did. Not only for the lighting and special effects either. I would say that it was no better (no worse either) than the Sydney production, but the Theatre was more appropriate. There were even people sitting in the boxes. We had a great time. Home to rest the feet, we plan to go to Battle tomorrow. My ankles are really starting to complain. I hope I can hack the rest of the tour.

Thursday, 18th May, 1995

Battle photograph

Site of the Battle of Hastings, Battle, UK

Drop Cap oday we bought tickets from Charing Cross to Battle, in Sussex, about one and a half hours towards Hastings, on the South Coast. It is the site of the Battle of Hastings, 1066 and all that.

Battle photograph

Battle Abbey, Battle, UK

Drop Cap nglish Heritage looks after Battle Abbey and the battlefield site and it is very good. There is a surprising lot of the Abbey left and a very good audio "guide yourself" system. There is restoration work going on there now, which is our subscription money at work, I suppose. Mac twisted an ankle and fell heavily in the ruins and has been limping badly ever since.

Pilgrims Rest photograph

Pilgrim's Rest Cafe, Battle, UK

Drop Cap t has been a peculiar weather day, heavy showers one minute, sunshine the next. We didn't take our coats, which we should have done but it wasn't too bad. We had a late lunch at the Pilgrim's Rest cafe which is dated 1370 and is really a pilgrim's rest house for those who could not claim a bed at the Abbey. All OLD beams and plaster. Battle is a rather cute little town. Neil should have made it. Home for our carvery meal in the hotel and packing etc. Off to France tomorrow!

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