(in Spain, Portugal and UK)


Wednesday 5th June, 2019
Thursday 6th June, 2019
Friday 7th June, 2019
Saturday 8th June, 2019
Sunday 9th June, 2019

Wednesday 5th June, 2019

Drop Cap e had surprisingly little problem getting to the airport, picked up well in advance of our time together with two of our tour mates, also going to London. When we reached the terminal, however, it was absolutely inefficient to say the least. Still we got the bags through at last and had a snack then waited for the off. When we got on board we found that our allocated seats were not together. Mac was in the middle of a row of three and I was on the aisle of the centre block. Actually it was the other way around, but I took the aisle instead. After talking back and forth across the aisle, the large lady sitting in the aisle seat next to Mac offered (in Spanish) to change with me. Muchas gracias! After that it was easy, apart from the Captain telling us that Heathrow was so congested that there would be a 45 minute delay before takeoff. Soon after he amended that to 5 minutes.

Bedford Hotel photograph

Bedford Hotel Room

Drop Cap nyway we got to London, changed our euros for sterling, topped up our Oyster cards and caught the Piccadilly line to Russell Square. Not a major problem, but getting out of the station with the luggage was the hardest thing, also pulling the bags along the street and not tripping up other pedestrians.

The Bedford definitely seems to have upgraded, at least the foyer and public areas, but the bedroom looks just the same.

After unpacking a bit we walked over the road to Trattoria Verdi and had a pleasant meal (a bit pricey though) then went for a walk around the area, which has upgraded a bit too from last time, not so much scaffolding etc. We found the laundry but could not locate a Natwest Bank which we need to make a deposit and also check my card has been stopped. Back to the hotel, my ribs are starting to hurt again and my left foot and leg are quite swollen - apart from arthritic pain in hip and knee, I don't know why! What is happening to me??!!

Thursday 6th June, 2019

 Leicester Square photograph

Shakespeare in Leicester Square

Drop Cap ot a good night, the bed is a bit too firm. However, we got up, had showers and a good breakfast (also improved from last time) then set out for a morning of admin. First we walked to Euston station (to see how long it would take) and collected our train tickets for Wales and from Whaley Bridge. No dramas, it all worked.

Next we headed for a very upmarket Natwest Branch at Tavistock Square where we deposited the large wad of pounds we had converted from euros but Mac decided not to enquire about my card in case they stopped his too, then we would have problems.

Leicester Square photograph

Leicester Square

Drop Cap hen we got back to the hotel we sorted ourselves out and went off to Leicester Square to the TKTS booth, to see what was on in the theatre. It was starting to rain, the first we have seen in weeks, if not months, so we stopped at a coffee bar for capuccinos and muffins. We decided that that would do for lunch. At Leicester Square we bought tickets for "The Play that goes Wrong", a similar thing, murder mystery and all, to the Farndale Murder Mystery we have just done at Glenbrook. It starts at 1930 so we have to eat early.

British Museum photograph

The British Museum

Drop Cap fter a rest we walked to the British Museum just around the corner. One of the good things about the Bedford is its walking distance proximity to many interesting sites. The British Museum is a wonderful site where you could spend years!

Mildenhall Hoard photograph

Part of the Mildenhall Hoard

Drop Cap his time, for the first time we had to go through a security check, opening bags and generally being scrutinised.

Mildenhall Hoard photograph

Part of the Mildenhall Hoard

Drop Cap nce in the museum we went to see some of the British exhibits, like the Mildenhall Hoard, lots of lovely gold cups and plates, and the artifacts from Sutton Hoo, which we had seen before. It remains incredible that so much is still being found under ploughed fields.

Lewis Chessmen photograph

Lewis Chessmen

Drop Cap owever, my objective was the Lewis Chessmen which I have wanted to see for years. Another ancient artifact, just picked up on a remote beach in the Hebridean islands. They were amazing, such graphic human faces! I loved them.

Getting seriously tired now, we went back to the hotel for coffee and a KitKat. The room had not been serviced. I know we have been in a lot but that's no real excuse. Anyway, time to change for the theatre, more later.


Theatre programme photograph

Theatre Programme

Drop Cap e got the tube to Covent Garden where we found a meal at Zizzi's, a fun pizza joint in Bow Street. Then we strolled down to the Duchess Theatre. For the first time ever at a theatre I had to open my bag for security, going in. This occurred at the British Museum this afternoon too. The Duchess is a rather bijou theatre and we had good seats close to the stage for the mayhem to come. Before the play even started backstage staff were searching through the audience for a lost dog "part of the cast". This set the tone for the rest of the night as they asked ladies to check their handbags for the dog! The show was hilarious, funny and very slapstick. Mac was impressed by the staging and stage carpentry which was outstanding, most of it had to collapse at various points. It was fast, frenetic and funny. I loved it. Maybe not indicated for someone with broken ribs!

Drop Cap e walked home from theatreland, not too far, another benefit of the location of our hotel. We have had lots of walking today. No matter how much rest we get, (or how much weight we lost) I still find a day's sightseeing and walking on London's pavements very hard on the feet. I think it is the feet that are the problem, not the streets!

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Friday 7th June, 2019

Boudicca photograph

Statue of Boudicca

Drop Cap oday we decided to do the 90 minute walk along the South Bank from Westminster to London Bridge which we got from the Eyewitness Guide. So we set off to Westminster in the Tube. We emerged into the first real rain we have encountered (well, it rained a bit yesterday but cleared up very quickly) since well before we left home. I had my Rainbird jacket and hood, but Mac's jacket wasn't really waterproof, so we tried to keep out of the worst of it.

Swaddled Big Ben photograph

Swaddled Big Ben

Drop Cap nyway we walked over Westminster Bridge by the statue of Boadicea and saw the view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Swaddled Houses of Parliament photograph

Swaddled Houses of Parliament

Drop Cap oth of these are being renovated and large bits are wrapped in scaffolding and plastic, a different view from the usual.

Adventure playground  photograph

Adventure Playground

Carousel photograph


Drop Cap here were a few quirky details on this walk. A few of them were a lovely adventure playground for kids with climbing frames and nets, a carousel and a yogurt bar in a red bus!

Yogurt Bus photograph

Yogurt Bus

Eye and County Hall photograph

London Eye and County Hall

Drop Cap e passed County Hall and the London Eye, but didn't think it was clear enough to make it worth while. We called into the OXO building to a very interesting and quirky craft and design shop but Mac wouldn't let me buy anything (luggage concerns).

Mac at National Theatre photograph

Mac at National Theatre

Drop Cap he way led past the National Theatre building, a rather grim 50s style concrete bunker. I seem to remember this was the place we visited the Museum of the Moving Image way back in 1990, before it moved to Manchester.

Tate Modern photograph

At the Tate Modern Gallery

Drop Cap hen we arrived at the Tate Modern Art Museum which is set in a disused power station. We called in because it was getting very wet outside, and passed the time looking at a few of the exhibits in some of the galleries, only scraping the surface of course but some of it was interesting, if not really my style.

Tate Modern  photograph

Tate Modern

Drop Cap othing much appealed to us although we both quite liked a room full of paintings made with oils and squeegees that gave a very Impressionist look (to me a cityscape under rain, to Mac a landscape of cliffs with water at the bottom) They gave the impression of wetness anyway.

Tate Modern photograph

Egg At the Tate Modern Gallery

Drop Cap lso we both loved a very large sculpture of what looked like a blown egg, opened down the front. It was quite impressive. Among other sculptures was Degas' young ballet dancer, which was lovely to see, and some spindly Giacometti figures, which I quite like.

Tate Modern  photograph

Giacometti Sculptures at Tate Modern

London St. Pauls photograph

View from the Tate Modern Museum

Drop Cap e decided to have lunch here as it was still raining and went to the 6th Floor Kitchen and Bar. This had a stunning view over the river to St. Paul's Cathedral and the food was some of the best we have had lately. We shared a serve of olives, bread and oil and balsamic then had a delicious roast chicken breast with potato gratin, asparagus and broccolini. Mac even ate the asparagus. We finished up with rhubarb eton mess which was delicious, and coffee. With a carafe of rose from Spain, it is obviously our main meal for today We may go out for a Pret a Manger sandwich later.

Globe Theatre photograph

Globe Theatre

Drop Cap was starting to get tired, and had forgotten my pills so the pain was starting up again. Nevertheless we walked on to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre where a matinee of Midsummer Night's Dream had just started. The girl said for five pounds I could go in and stand to see it but I didn't think I could so we just browsed the shop and bought a couple of small items.

London in Rain photograph

London in the Rain

Drop Cap was feeling so bad after this that we decided to go home, we had nearly finished the walk anyway. We couldn't find a cab so crossed Southwark Bridge to Mansion House, Tube to South Kensington then change to Piccadilly Line and home to Russell Square. Very tired, but I saw on the news that Ash Barty has made it to the final of the French Open, plays tomorrow, I may watch it if I can find it on TV. It does seem as though all the big names are missing though, I hope she makes it.

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Saturday 8th June, 2019

Camden Market photograph

Camden Market

Drop Cap ot a very productive day, in general. We got out early enough with the intention of walking the Regents Canal towpath. We decided that it was a long ride to Warwick Avenue and Little Venice, so we got the Tube to Kings Cross, then Camden Town. Being Saturday morning Camden was bustling with locals and tourists browsing among the many and varied (some very eclectic) shops and stalls.

Camden Lock  photograph

Camden Lock from Above

Drop Cap t Camden Lock we found a stall (among many delicious looking offerings) which sold the most superlative doughnuts and bought three. We sat on a bench in the sun and indulged. Mac also bought a second hand copy of "Biggles, The Camels are Coming" at the little book shop by the water.

Camden Lock punt photograph

Punting at Camden Lock

Drop Cap here always seem to be people boating in various ways on the canal. There is a hire boat service which lets out little motorised dinghys as party boats and several parties were already in full swing. People punted (punters?) from side to side and of course the narrowboat waterbuses and occasional workboat utilised the wharf.

Waterbus photograph

Waterbus at Camden Lock

Drop Cap hen the waterbus arrived we bought our tickets, finding it was quite well patronised, mostly for the Zoo since it is Saturday, and we enjoyed the trip. We have taken this generally underutilised service many times now and always recommend it as a hidden gem, and a good way of resting the feet after sightseeing.

Little Venice photograph

Little Venice

Drop Cap e had all good intentions of walking back to Camden along the towpath, however, despite the map from the Eyewitness Guide we got completely screwed up and walked for an hour along the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, instead of the Regents Canal. We had no idea where we were, just knew it was not the right place.

Canal photograph

Grand Union Canal

Towpath photograph

Cat on Towpath

Drop Cap his arm of the Canal is very heavily used as liveaboard moorings, often double and triple parked. The area is not very salubrious, despite finding a cat lounging on the towpath, and there were notices up to beware of criminal activity.

Litter Mural photograph

Mural made of litter by Schoolchildren

Drop Cap e did find a very interesting artifact along the way, a mural made of rubbish picked up from the canal by local schoolchildren. It was very decorative and also made a good point.

So we retraced our footsteps till we got back to Little Venice where we found a late lunch in the Waterside Cafe Boat. Then we walked to Paddington Station, got a train back to Kings Cross, then Russell Square and home. It was a cool and extremely windy day but did not actually rain, however it was extremely uncomfortable and my eyes feel full of grit!


Drop Cap fter a bit of rest we went out and found dinner at a Turkish Restaurant called Antalya, just up the road, practically next door to the Bedford. We had an interesting meal starting with filo rolls filled with feta cheese, then I had Iskander chicken which was lots of chicken chunks with tomatoes and mild peppers topped with garlic flavoured yoghurt on a bed of diced bread. Mac had the same with lamb. We had a glass of pinot grigio and it was good and very filling.

Drop Cap his block teems with restaurants: Denise's French, CharcoCharco (Japanese) Il Fornello and Trattoria Verdi (Italian) Hot Pot (Oriental) Chamballa (Indian) and takeaway styles like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell to say nothing of the ubiquitous Pret a Manger, Caffe Nero and Costa. So we won't go hungry! (Huh!)

It is still cool and windy but the sky is clear. Hopefully a good couple of weeks for the canal. And Ash Barty WON the French Open, which brings her to No.1 in the world!!

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Sunday 9th June, 2019

Drop Cap oday we found out that British trains are just as likely to have weekend trackwork as we are. We headed for Westminster pier to take ship for Greenwich. We planned to return by Docklands Light Rail but found that some of it was closed for "scheduled maintenance". Sounds familiar!

Holborn photograph


Drop Cap n the way to Holborn Station we explored Holborn itself, a very attractive arcaded area with upmarket shops and inviting coffee shops. Among the more ordinary medium rise buildings of the area, the architecture stood out. A great deal of the Bloomsbury area is Victorian, although Bedford Square and Russell Square were actually developed in the Georgian period. (by the Duke of Bedford, surprise, surprise.)

Holborn photograph


River Map photograph

River Map at Westminster Pier

Drop Cap nyway, arriving at Westminster dock, we waited a few minutes in the dock waiting area, enlivened by a colourful and almost accurate wall map of the river, then we cruised down the river to Greenwich with commentary enlivened by a cheerful Cockney crewman who collected tips from just about everyone on board before he let us off the boat.

Jet Boat photograph

Jet Boat on the Thames

Textured Buildings   photograph

Textured HiRises

Drop Cap here was a lot of river traffic, for a Sunday, from ferries to jetboats and the new developments by the river were...interesting, with large buildings seemingly coated in textured materials. The pseudo medieval Victorian towers of Tower Bridge were quite a contrast! I know which I prefer!

Tower Bridge photograph

Tower Bridge

Greenwich College  photograph

Greenwich Contrasts

Drop Cap t Greenwich there was a street food fair which smelled wonderful but we wandered up the main street and found a great bakery where we bought baguettes with ham and salad and two lovely mini lemon meringue tarts and a coke and took the beautifully packed paper bag to the park which is part of the old Naval College built by Georges 11 and 111 and is now the campus of Greenwich University.

Greenwich Fountain photograph

Greenwich Fountain

Drop Cap e found a seat by a fountain and had our picnic. It was delicious and the view was very historic, disturbed from time to time by glimpses of the (some very peculiar) modern high rise office buildings across the river.

Queens House photograph

Queens House Greenwich

Drop Cap had wanted to see the Queen's House, built for James 1's wife Anne of Denmark by Inigo Jones so we walked up to it, nestled between the two massive wings of the College. Unfortunately it was being used for a very swish society wedding so was closed to the public, although the Security person said the second floor was still visitable.

Queens House photograph

Queens House Greenwich

Drop Cap e decided not to bother and thought we had better try to find a way home. We walked back to the river, passing a quite incredible ship in a bottle (a street installation of some sort) and on to Cutty Sark. We could have taken the boat again but decided to try DLR to Canary Wharf, then the Jubilee Line to Green Park, then Piccadilly Line to Russell Square.

Ship in Bottle Greenwich photograph

Ship in Bottle Greenwich

Drop Cap he plan worked, with just a little confusion at Canary Wharf, but we got home eventually. My bloody ribs started playing up again. When will it heal! Maybe two weeks on a slow boat will allow it to knit.

We packed the three duffle type bags for the boat, trying to decide what to take, will it be hot, will it be cold? God knows!


Drop Cap e had dinner at a local Indian Restaurant. We had a very sweet waiter who saw how Mac helped me to sit and looked after me and he said "God Bless you sir!" The Chambela is a lovely Indian restaurant, rather upmarket for the area and we had a very good meal - the biggest poppadums I have ever seen with a selection of delicious chutneys - we shared lamb rogan josh and a vegetable korma with plain steamed rice. With a bottle of Strongbow each it was delicious.

Tomorrow is the off!

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