April to June 2005


Saturday 2nd April, 2005
Sunday 3rd April, 2005
Monday 4th April, 2005
Tuesday, 5th April, 2005
Wednesday, 6th April, 2005

Saturday 2nd April, 2005

Drop Cap verything went like clockwork as we made our way to the airport and the plane. We had a very good run through with our minibus and no problems at check-in or customs. They didn't even notice that Geoff's hand luggage was chock-full of lancets and needlepoints.

Drop Cap he flight was uneventful until Singapore, where Geoff made the mistake of doing his insulin before knowing when his next meal was coming. As a result, within two hours of reboarding he went into a major hypo, thrashing and jerking, biting his tongue so the blood flowed and causing real worry to the cabin crew (and us). But we got him back eventually and a large breakfast helped sort him out. Even the Captain sent a message, asking if he was OK. Very embarrassing, but one of the hazards of air travel across time zones etc. with uncertain eating times.

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Sunday 3rd April, 2005

Drop Cap e got into London Heathrow on time, about 12:20. We had to wait an hour for our shuttle and when we got to the Bedford Hotel - it is a dump! A tiny, weirdly shaped room with a folding bed for Geoff - I don't think that is a triple! We didn't get in until about 4:00 p.m., so tired that I changed my mind about a walking tour. However, we showered and changed and went exploring.

The Gherkin photograph

The "Gherkin" Insurance Building, by Geoff

Drop Cap e saw a lot of things we had not seen before on our travels, like Horseguards Parade, with a mounted horseman guarding it, Admiralty Arch, THE Charing Cross and the Banqueting House, as well as the new sights of the London Eye and the "Gherkin", a peculiarly shaped building which I think is an Insurance Company. (All this on the bus trip in from Heathrow.)

The London Eye photograph

The London Eye from Waterloo Bridge

Drop Cap n our walk we went via Holborn down to the Strand, across Waterloo Bridge and up to the London Eye. We decided we were too tired to appreciate it this evening but it is very impressive.
It is a lovely sunny day, too.

We couldn't walk any further so came back to Bloomsbury in a cab and had a light and delicious pizza in Pizza Express just across the road from the hotel.

Drop Cap e rang Herry Lawford (Radha's father) when we got back and arranged to have dinner at his house on Tuesday. That sounds good. I don't think I can keep my eyes open much longer, Mac and Geoff are both snoring, so I will finish today here.

Drop Cap omorrow, British Museum Walk, validate travel cards, book theatre for Monday or Wednesday night, and reserve first class tickets to Guildford for Thursday.

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Monday 4th April, 2005

Drop Cap t rained this morning and was rather cooler. We enjoyed a very adequate continental breakfast in the garden restaurant overlooking a pleasant Italian style garden with spring flowers in urns and a pool with a fountain. Very pretty. To be honest, the hotel is not really a dump, we were just tired yesterday. The room would be really good for two, it is just rather crowded with three.

British Museum photograph

Facade of the British Museum

Drop Cap e got organised and went off to Holborn Station to meet the guide of the walking tour of the British Museum (London Walks). We got a Seniors discount! The guide, Chris, was very good, an archaeologist passionate about antiquities and very enthusiastic about her tour. We walked off to the British Museum and were immediately wowed by the Great Court, which was formed by the removal of most of the British Library to its new home, leaving only the fabulous domed Reading Room. They have roofed over the courtyard with glass, making it both warm and weatherproof. After getting our breath back we went to see the Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone photograph

The Rosetta Stone

Sutton Hoo Helmet photograph

The Sutton Hoo Helmet by Geoff

Drop Cap t is strange and wonderful that such significant objects are often not impressive to look at but mean so much. Next we looked at the "super wow" factor (Chris) Assyrian friezes in bas relief (which I thought were better than the Elgin Marbles - sacrilege!) which we saw next; there were some stunning pieces of sculpture. The figures from the Tomb of Mausolus were amazing. We progressed via the Portland Vase into the exhibit on Sutton Hoo, which included some fantastic pieces of the treasure buried in a ship funeral in East Anglia in the 6th century AD.

Drop Cap e only had a very brief overview of some of the exhibits and I would have liked to see the Egyptian Rooms. But there wasn't time and our feet were killing us. So we went and had lunch, then returned to the British Museum to buy some souvenirs.

Blithe Spirit programme

Programme cover for "Blithe Spirit"

Drop Cap fter this we went to Leicester Square to the Half Price Ticket Booth, where we bought front row stalls tickets to "Blithe Spirit", starring the wonderful Stephanie Cole as Madame Arcati, (We have seen her in "Waiting for God" and other things on TV) and Aden Gillot (who played Jack Maddox for three seasons in "The House of Elliott") and several other people I have seen on TV

Drop Cap t was on at the Savoy Theatre, all Art Deco and stunning, and being in the front row was brilliant, Geoff could stretch his legs out and we didn't miss any of the fantastic set or the facial expressions of the cast. We had a wonderful night, the play was so funny and well played, and we walked back in the crisp night air (it had stopped raining).

Drop Cap part from being VERY footsore and tired, we have had a great (and long) day.

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Tuesday, 5th April, 2005

Drop Cap p a bit earlier this morning but still seem unable to get out before 9:30. First to Leicester Square to Stanford's, where Mac bought some more maps, then morning tea in our first Pret a Manger (healthy food chain) very good. Off to Waterloo, where we bought our tickets for Guildford on Thursday. The guy advised us not to bother with First Class as it was only a forty minute ride and First had no more luggage space than Standard. And no reserved seats either. Hope we will be able to work it out.

London Eye photograph

Mac at the London Eye

Drop Cap rom Waterloo we followed the signs along the Jubilee Walk to the London Eye. There were a great many people queuing up, but they got through very efficiently in about ten minutes. Then another line to get on, a little more than ten minutes, probably. But it was managed very well and the line moved quickly.

London Eye photograph

Eye in the Sky (the pod behind ours)

View from Eye photograph

View of Parliament from the Eye

Drop Cap nowing how I feel about cable cars and ferris wheels I wasn't sure if I would like the Eye, but it was very easy and not scary at all. The view was (as advertised) spectacular, from the Gothic spires of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey to the truly weird Gherkin, via St. Paul's etc. etc. I was glad I did it and feel that it is one thing you really should do once, but I would not bother doing it again.

Gt. George St Arch  photograph

Entry Arch to Great George Street, London

Drop Cap e had sandwiches and drinks at the outdoor Cafe (rather a brisk breeze off the water) then walked further west along the Jubilee walkway to cross Westminster Bridge, then to Great George Street for the Cabinet War Rooms, which Geoff wanted to see.

Drop Cap t was actually very interesting, the buried bunker where Churchill and his Cabinet fought the war. They shut it up on VJ day 1945, and didn't open it again until the 60's, when they prepared it for tourism. I'm glad I wasn't one of Churchill's typists! I felt somewhat claustrophobic, but it might just have been sore feet!

Drop Cap e came home about 3:30 to have afternoon tea and showers before Herry sends a taxi for us at 6:30. Very generous of him, but I am sure, if he told us his address, we could have found it by train, but I am glad I don't have to.
More later.


Drop Cap e had a very pleasant evening at Herry and Ayako's home, a lovely conversion down a driveway in Tooting Bec (I think) Ayako served us smoked salmon and strawberries, and a beef stirfry with asparagus and rice, followed by cheesecake and coffee. We had a very good evening and Herry sent us home in a cab.

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Wednesday, 6th April, 2005

Drop Cap y birthday dawned with wild wind and rain, very chilly. Mac and Geoff complained all day about the cold, but I only objected to the rain.

Drop Cap e headed off to Leicester Square, where they left me at the National Portrait Gallery, which I really wanted to do, while they went off to Mayfair to buy me a birthday present.

Drop Cap he National Portrait Gallery was great - no great "art", but lots of portraits of the artists themselves. The Gallery was terrific. You started on the top floor with the Tudors and worked your way down to the moderns on the ground floor. Most unusually, they had an escalator up to the top. I saw originals of many portraits I have seen reproduced in Heritage magazines from Elizabeth I and Richard III to Baden Powell. I stopped at the end of the Victorians. You can only take so much.
What struck me most, and I have thought this before, is how alike so many of these portraits are. I think there must have been a fashion of beauty and people, perhaps without strong features of their own, were fitted in to the mould. And perhaps also standards of beauty have changed, because the portraits of acknowledged beauties like Mary, Queen of Scots, Anne Boleyn and Nell Gwynne did not seem particularly good looking to me. Of course personality has a lot to do with perceived beauty, and you don't get that too often in a posed portrait.
However, I enjoyed it very much and when I came down to meet the men I showed them the full length painting of Judi Dench, which was very good.

Little Venice photograph

Little Venice, London by Geoff

Drop Cap thought we could risk heading out to Little Venice, despite the rain, and ride the waterbus to Camden Lock, so we caught the tube at Charing Cross and went. We had lunch on a floating barge restaurant, homemade (and very large) burgers on a slice of ciabatta with potato salad and salsa. I enjoyed it and the hot chocolates we had with it. It started to pour with rain as we walked down to the Waterbus stop to find nobody there. The Waterbus came in ten minutes late but the driver told us he was closing down due to weather conditions. Can't blame him, really, there were only three people on board. So we headed back to the hotel.

Drop Cap ac gave me a pretty little floral Halcyon Days box and Geoff gave me a somewhat larger one with a pattern of a maze on the top and message inside "You're amazing". They are lovely.
We rested for a while then started packing for an early start tomorrow.

At about 7:30 we went out for dinner at a local Italian place, Trattoria Verdi. The place was jumping and had a blonde pianist playing themes from the movies and light classics. The food was excellent - Mac was not really hungry so just had spaghetti bolognaise with grapefruit juice and a glass of wine. I had mushrooms stuffed with ricotta and spinach, breaded and served with garlic butter - delicious, then grilled lamb cutlets, tender and pink, just the way I like it, lovely flavour with potatoes broccoli and carrots, with sparkling mineral water and a glass of wine. Geoff had duck pate, garlic bread and prawns with lemon and garlic, followed by apple fritters and ice cream. He had OJ and wine and we all had coffee. Lovely meal.

We were planning a walk, but it was too cold and we didn't have coats as it was just across the road from the hotel.

Drop Cap ut it has been a lovely birthday. Tomorrow bodes to be strenuous and I hope all will go well with getting the car. Hope it fits us all and our belongings as well.

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