Monday 1st June, 2015
Tuesday 2nd June, 2015
Wednesday 3rd June, 2015
Thursday 4th June, 2015

Monday 1st June, 2015

Drop Cap oday was a total schemozzle, not to say nightmare! We rose early, had showers and breakfast (should have made it a cooked one!) We checked out of our five star hotel and taxied to Gare du Nord. This is when it all went pearshaped. Apparently there had been a fatality on the British side, therefore the train was delayed..and delayed...and delayed...

Drop Cap e should have left at 11:10 but did not start moving until 14:40! At least we could wait in our seats on the train as the waiting room was becoming uncomfortably crowded. We were given free water and were able to buy lunch from the café on the train. But it did not stop us getting very frustrated. I could not call Geoff to tell him we were delayed because I didn't know his London sim number.

Drop Cap nce on the English side we were held up by signals for up to half an hour at a time (not very easy slotting trains so late into a busy terminal station, I guess).
Eventually we made it into St. Pancras, onto a taxi and finally arrived at the Bedford Hotel at nearly 17:00 to find Geoff waiting, thank God. "Carry your bags, gov?". Not being able to contact him, I had been worrying.

Bedford Hotel Room photograph
Our Room, Bedford Hotel

Drop Cap he Bedford seems to have been renovated since our last stay ten years ago. It seems less dingy than last time we were here. The room, being a double, not a triple, seems quite large enough for two and has a nice well appointed bathroom. And they have not increased their rates as they had warned they might do, so it is still 90 GPB for Geoff's single and 127 GBP for us per night. Not bad for London. We even had a complimentary dinner here tonight and then settled to catching up and doing a bit of admin, paying our domain renewal (which came in while we were on the boat) and reading emails.

Drop Cap ery tired. It is very cold and windy in London. We walked out to find a money exchange for the large amount of euros we had left over and the pollen made my eyes leak like a sieve.

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Tuesday 2nd June, 2015

Drop Cap t was a wild, windy and wet night, which was duplicated when we awoke.

After breakfast we gathered ourselves together with coats, scarves etc and went off to do some admin. We posted the letter and cheque to HostingBay (for our domain renewal) bought some aspirin at Boots then headed for the Tube at Russell Square, where we activated and topped up our Oyster cards with ten pounds each, so then went off and started using them.

London Museum Docklands photograph
Model of Old London Bridge, Museum of Docklands

Drop Cap irst, we headed for the Museum of London, Docklands at West India Quay. This entailed Tube to Holborn, change to Central line for Bank, change to DLR for West India Quay. The museum was excellent. We started off with coffee for Geoff's morning tea, then went up to level three and began with the Roman remains of the Port of Londinium. There was a lead ingot there, straight out of Lindsay Davis with a signet on the top saying Property of Vespasian.

Docklands Museum photograph
"Sailor Town" Museum of Docklands

Drop Cap hen the history flowed, from Romans to Saxons, to Vikings to Normans, all about the docks and dockyards.

Air Raid Shelter MofD photograph
Geoff in the Air Raid Shelter, Museum of Docklands

Drop Cap here was a very good, rather moving history of the slave trade and its consequences and we finished up. rather pooped, in wartime (WWII) London, with air raid shelters etc. There was more to bring it up to date but we had been there two hours and needed lunch!

Drop Cap o we went off and had lunch in a pub style place near Canary Wharf. Mac had croque monsieur, Geoff had a fishburger style sandwich and chips and I had a sandwich with salt beef and cheese with cole slaw and salad. With mineral water, trying to minimise.

Fan Museum photograph
Exhibit at the Fan Museum, Greenwich

Drop Cap fter lunch we went back to the DLR and trained to Greenwich where we sought and found the Fan Museum. I had wanted to go here last time but it was not open on Mondays and I did not have another day. This is a lovely and interesting small museum which displays fans of all eras and all materials (even one made of Welsh slate!) and demonstrates how they are made.

Slate Fan photograph
Fan made of Welsh Slate at the Fan Museum, Greenwich

Fan Museum photograph
Exhibit at the Fan Museum, Greenwich

Drop Cap hey had a special exhibit of French "belle epoch" fans from the end of the 1800s to the start of WWI. Beautiful, fragile artworks, one would wonder how on earth they survived. We had a peep at their pretty fan-shaped garden and the lovely hand-muralled orangery where some lucky people were enjoying afternoon tea, then left.

M and G at Cutty Sark photograph
Mac and Geoff at Cutty Sark

Drop Cap rom here we walked down to the Cutty Sark. This has been restored after the disastrous fire some years back. It now sits on top of a glass building (store, displays etc) then we braved the Tube and retraced our steps. Geoff considered the Greenwich Foot Tunnel which goes under the river but we were all too footsore. My pedometer shows over 10,000 steps today.


Drop Cap e had dinner at Trattoria Verdi, just across the road. As they did ten years ago they still had a girl playing the piano, show tunes etc, Quite nice ambience. Geoff had ravioli with lobster sauce, Mac had veal and I had chicken both with a mushroom sauce. They tempted us with a decadent dessert trolley and Geoff had apple tart and ice cream. Mac succumbed to tiramisu but I had fresh fruit salad. Very nice, lots of strawberries, then they brought liqueurs on the house. Oh dear!

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Wednesday 3rd June, 2015

Mac and Geoff at Queens Square photograph
Mac and Geoff at Queens Square

Drop Cap his morning we took a load of laundry (Geoff's and ours) to a local laundrette and put them in for a service wash.
We strolled through Queen's Square, another of the lovely gardens with which this area is liberally provided. The area is also liberally provided with hospitals of all kinds, ambulance sirens sound all day and half the night. Mac saw an ambulance labelled CATS and got all excited but it stood for Child Acute Trauma Service and had a picture of a cat in a billy cart on the side. Mac says it is the nearest he has come to a cat since Germany!

Lincolns Inn photograph
Lincolns Inn

Staples Inn photograph
Staples Inn

Drop Cap hen we headed for Holburn Tube to join the London Walks Inns of Court Walk. This was quite interesting, taking in the four Inns of Court, Lincoln's Inn, Inner and Middle Temple and one other whose name I have forgotten. Also Staples Inn which was devoted to Chancery Law and was a very Tudor looking building which was actually a fake - er - reproduction : bombing again!

Lincolns Inn Fields photograph
Lincolns Inn Fields

Drop Cap e walked in Lincoln's Inn Fields, (shades of the Reluctant Widow)another lovely private garden, and later saw Temple Bar, a griffon which denotes the start of "the City" - even the Queen has to ask the Lord Mayor's permission to enter. Don't imagine he says no, though.

Inns of Court photograph
Inns of Court

Gas Lamp Alley photograph
Gas Lamp in a Corridor, Inns of Court

Temple Bar photograph
Temple Bar and Royal Law Courts

Drop Cap oving on to Middle Temple we passed the round Temple Church, quite lovely. We couldn't go inside without paying because there was an organ recital today.

Temple Church photograph
Temple Church

Drop Cap he tour was interesting because the guide, Molly, gave us lots of information about the legal system and how barristers were trained and qualified in Britain, which is probably fairly close to our own but there were some Americans in the group who found the system very confusing.

Drop Cap fter the walk we had lunch at a Pret a Manger then headed for Leicester Square and the TKTS Booth. We bought tickets for "The 39 Steps" at the Criterion for tonight in the first row of the Upper Circle at very nearly half price.

Drop Cap hen to Stanfords for a couple of Canal Companions for later in the trip. After which we came back, collected the laundry and crashed for a while. We plan to meet Geoff at 1800 for dinner and head for Piccadilly Circus for the theatre. Should be fun. Over 10,000 steps so far today.


Drop Cap e had an early dinner at Cagney's, just over the road, then headed for the Criterion. The show was very funny, three guys and a girl playing 137 parts in a re-enactment of Alfred Hitchcock's 1930's movie of "The 39 Steps". It was hilarious and reminded us of the "Complete Works of Shakespeare in 90 Minutes" which we saw at the same theatre in 2000. We were upgraded to the front row of the Dress Circle since the house was quite thin, so that made it even less than half price.

Drop Cap e came back to the hotel and were having a cup of tea with Geoff for supper when he bit on a biscuit and broke a back tooth! This is becoming an epidemic. He is contacting his insurance company and will try to get it fixed tomorrow. But we are leaving London on Friday!

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Thursday 4th June, 2015

Drop Cap eoff googled dentists and found a practice in Tavistock Square a short walk from here. They agreed to try to slot him in between appointments. So he set off about 0830 and was back with us in Russell Square by 1030 with a temporary "May last two years" filling and so that was good at a cost of 165 GBP. Not bad by our standards.

Russell Square Gardens photograph
Russell Square Gardens

Cabmans Shelter photograph
Cabmans Shelter Near Russell Square

Drop Cap ac and I had morning tea at the café in Russell Square Gardens, then when Geoff joined us we went to see the old "Cabman's Shelter" which Geoff had discovered near Russell Square. These shelters date from Victorian times when they were a charitable set up to enable hackney and hansom cab drivers to sit out of the rain and have a cuppa and a bite while waiting for fares.

This particular one had been placed in its position and converted to a takeaway coffee van in more modern times but I believe there are one or two of the originals still extant and used for the same purpose.

Lunch at British Museum photograph
Lunch at British Museum

Drop Cap fter this we went to the British Museum where we walked around the Egyptian section for a couple of hours. It was very interesting, lots of mummy cases and artifacts. Lots of people there too. It was quite crowded. After this we had lunch in the Great Court Restaurant at the museum, which was OK.

Street Sign Near British Mus photograph
The Last Street Sign, Near British Museum

Drop Cap alked back towards the hotel and on the way we passed a medieval style narrow street which displayed one of the hanging signs I enjoyed so much in Europe. So this is my last sign!

We stopped into a souvenir shop and bought a SIM card for my phone, then topped it with ten pounds credit. Then back to the hotel to pack for tomorrow.

Bedford Hotel Garden photograph
Italian Garden, Bedford Hotel

Bedford Hotel Garden photograph
Italian Garden, Bedford Hotel

Drop Cap e spent some time in the lovely Italian garden of the Bedford Hotel. This is the feature which makes the Bedford stand out for us from the run of the muck "budget" hotels which proliferate in this area. The sun was shining and it was possible to take your meal or coffee to a table outside, which was great.


St Pauls and Mill Bridge photograph
St Pauls and Millennium Bridge

The Eye from Jubilee Bridge photograph
The London Eye from Jubilee Bridge

Drop Cap e went on the most entertaining London Walk this evening, the "London Bullshit Tour". Geoff found it on line and liked the sound of it. We met the guide at St. Paul's Cathedral, a lovely funny guy in a red sequin jacket and black bowler - "you won't miss me!" and he led us on an irreverent mystery tour around parts of London we would probably never have seen by ourselves. We crossed the Millennium Bridge, great views of the Shard and Tower Bridge, through the OXO Tower and Gabriel's Wharf. The guide was absolutely shameless but gave us four - count them - four true facts. The rest was proudly bullshit and a good two hours of fun.

The Shard photograph
The Shard

Drop Cap nfortunately neither Geoff nor I had taken our cameras, so some of the sights must remain anonymous, but Geoff had his smart phone of course, and took one or two shots with that.

Drop Cap ack to the hotel, very footsore, I have done 5 points worth, 19,515 steps, 11.7 km. Mac and Geoff have done more, what with the walk to and from the Dentist.

Drop Cap omorrow the train to Glasgow, and the tour continues.

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