Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mostly Pictures

This will be my last post on this London trip.  I just put in several pictures of places or iconic images of London.  I was concerned about visiting London in November because of the weather.  It turned out to be fine.  We didn’t have any rain and it was about 50 degrees for the most part.  The lines are short or nonexistent going then too.  I got the impression that in the summer the lines are fairly long.

These are pictures of the London Eye.  It takes 30 minutes to go all the way around.  Another picture of a very narrow building.  A strange statue and a beautiful park.

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Next, is a guard and a horse drawn carriage.  And a pub.

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Lastly, a view from the Thames River.  And some buildings.  :-)

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Now, back to normal life…..

Westminster Abbey

I hope you all aren’t getting too bored with this trip.  I think I have one more post on our trip and then I’ll be done.  These are pictures of Westminster Abbey where William and Kate got married.  I don’t know if you know but they met here at the University of St. Andrews.  The little restaurant they met at has a sign up so I will take a picture of it and post it soon.  IMG_4060 IMG_4057 IMG_4061

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is another popular area in London.  We walked through the square and there were lots of artists of various types.  There were actors, musicians, artists, etc.  One man had drawn several (maybe 100) flags in chalk and then people were putting coins on the one they were from.  I am not sure the point but T put a few pence on the US flag and he thanked us for it.  There were many coins on America, China, Korea, and Canada.  The others just had a few or no pence.  The park area has statues and huge lion statues at the boundaries.  Here is one of the statues.

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A huge blue rooster!  The following are some musicians and “actors”.  Not really sure what they call themselves.  Andrew was so shocked that they didn’t have any feet or object holding them up.  It took him a little bit to figure it out.  It does look pretty neat though.

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The boys and Kent loved all the fancy cars in London.  We saw lots of ferraris and a rolls royce and many more that I don’t know.  Here are 2.  The second one is hard to see.  It was dark when I took it but it is a metallic glittery silver mercedes.  I have never seen one like this before.  Wish it had come out better so you could tell better what it looked like.

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Borough Market and Paddington

Our hotel was just a 5 minute walk from Borough Market.  I had not heard about it until recently and I was so glad we found it.  It has been around since the 13th century.  It has recently been  renovated.  This market sells produce, cheese, bread, olives, exotic meats, and many other items.  They sell food which was delicious and we ended up eating lunch there almost everyday.

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One interesting booth sold kangaroo burgers, alligator, elk, and horse.  We didn’t get anything there.

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The boys loved this “hog sandwich”.  This turned out to be our Thanksgiving meal.

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I don’t know if the Paddington movie is already out in the States but we found Paddington scattered throughout London in the places we were.  He was always wearing something different.  Here are just 3 Paddington’s we found.

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Shakespeare and Harrod’s

One afternoon we walked to a replica of the Globe which is Shakespeare’s theater in another town outside of London called Stratford-upon-Avon.  A few years ago they found evidence that Shakespeare had actually acted and written plays in London as well.  They have tried their best from all of the research they have done to come up with a theater as close as possible to what could have been.

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The picture above on the right is the stage.  Our tour guide said they don’t use much scenery when they act out their plays.  If you can see, there is an open area in front of the stage before you get to the seats.  Back then, you paid 1 pence to stand up on the floor, 2 pence to sit in the stands, and 3 pence to have a seat where “you can see and could be seen”.  Now, and then, if you are in the standing area you must STAND the entire time.  You cannot sit while you are watching.  Again, the guide said it was good for them as actors because no matter how much you like Shakespeare sometimes it can get boring.  Standing would keep people paying attention.

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These days they try to keep the ticket prices affordable.  You could get a standing ticket for 5 pounds which is about $7.50.  One problem though is there is no roof so if it rains you have to watch in the rain.  The guide also told us that at the original Globe most of the attendees were men.  He said most of the women stayed home.  He also said these plays were 2-3 hours long and it was common to spend that much time for something like this.  And finally, he said if you read the plays it seems that Shakespeare was writing his plays specifically for this type of  3-D theater.  Of course, I can’t remember now the lines or plays he gave as an example but it did make sense.

Shakespeare has also made up many words that were not around before him.  You’ll have to google it but I remember “dead as a doornail”, accomodation, and cold-blooded.  There were many others.

Another place we visited was the huge department store Harrod’s.

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Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, & Gwyneth Paltrow

We packed in so much in such a short time.  We literally got up and filled the day with as much as we could.  London is very similar to New York so we really could have stayed for a few more days and been able to see even more.

We went over to Piccadilly Circus to eat dinner twice.  They have so much in this area.  The shopping is great and has any store you could imagine.  They had their Christmas lights up above the streets so that was nice to see as we walked around.  It was so crowded and the restaurants had long lines to wait.  We ate at a hamburger place which had started in Hawaii the first time, and the second time we found a chicken place that had a table open for 4.

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Our waitress at the second restaurant was a 22 year old young lady who had moved to London recently.  She said she had hippy parents (when she was born- they aren’t now) and her name was Blueberry.  Here she is:

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We went by Buckingham Palace but the Queen wasn’t home.  :-(

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Lastly, for all of you pop culture people.  I got a picture of the edge of the street Gwyneth Paltrow lives on.  She lives on one side and Roger Moore and Sean Connery across the road.  It is a beautiful area and I was so mad I didn’t think to take a better picture.  The tour guide said that all of the houses have to be the same color cream.  Apparently, the people who live there own the houses but don’t own the land under it.  The owner of the land leases it to them and in the lease says they must take care of the property and leave it the color that it is.  London real estate is so pricey and these homes are row homes and about 4 stories high.  They cost about 30 million pounds (@$45 million USD)

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This is the end of the street which runs down to the left of the picture.  There is a somewhat busy street that separates it from Connery and Moore’s home.  I don’t know which one is Gwenyth’s.  This picture is not one big house but probably 2 or 3 beside each other.  It looks busy but when you ride by it seems somewhat private.  You definitely are not right beside their houses.  There is a big rectangular park that runs the entire street in front of the houses.  The guide says they use that area for their garden since they really don’t have one behind their house.  Anyway, probably more than you wanted or cared to know….

 

Tower Bridge

So, from the Tower of London you can look right over and see the Tower Bridge crossing over the Thames River.  It is a beautiful bridge.

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I think it is prettier at night.

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It is for driving and for walking.

taking a picture standing on the bridge
taking a picture standing on the bridge

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Sorry the pictures aren’t that clear.  Another fun fact is how long it takes a taxi driver to get his license to drive a cab in London.  We took an unofficial survey with each taxi driver we had.  We asked them about the process and how long it took.  We learned that it is a process that you do on your own time table, but that the average time it takes to learn EVERY street in London is 3 years.  We did get 2 outliers of 5 years and 18 months, but on average it is a 36+ month process.  They do offer classes you can take but it is mostly done just getting out on the streets and learning where you are.  They all said they had to learn a map in their head and when someone gives you a street or place the map shows up in your head.

The testing is very stressful for them.  They said they walked in a room with only themselves and a tester and they would give you an address and you had to write down the fastest directions to get you from A to B with turn directions etc.  Then they were given an address and they had to instantly show it on the map.  I asked them why they didn’t just use a GPS but they said the people there expect to go places quickly and they wouldn’t have the patience to wait on them to put it in the GPS.

Lastly, we need to always remember to thank people and be polite to those who are helping us.  One of our drivers said he had been working for 8 1/2 hours and we were the first people to have a conversation with him that day!  We shouldn’t be too busy to at least say hi and ask them how their day is going.

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Be back tomorrow…..

Thanksgiving in London

Last Thursday we got up and headed for the airport.  We decided to spend Thanksgiving in London since all of our family would be together in Virginia.  Surprisingly, when I started researching how to get there I found that flying was half as cheap as taking the train.  We got our tickets to London for $14.99 pounds which is about $ 23.00 American dollars each way.  It was a good thing the flights were inexpensive because the hotels there are costly.

The next few posts will be about our trip.  I took a lot of pictures so I can make a few posts with them.   Hope you enjoy.

The first place we wanted to go was the Tower of London.  Kent and I had been there when I was pregnant with Timothy so it had been a while.  There is so much history there and it really is interesting to hear all the stories.  I will tell you all that I remember from our tour.

The Tower of London sits on the River Thames (Timz) and was built in the 1000’s.  The first building completed was called the White Tower.

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William the Conqueror built it and it has been a royal palace along with a prison and torture chamber.  Many royals and “regular” people are buried there under the floor in the chapel.  There were 2 areas they held executions.  One was on the tower green which was inside the complex and was for the nobles.  Interestingly, there were 7 executions and 5 of them were women!  One you may know was Ann Boleyn.  She was the wife of King Henry VIII.  She had given him a daughter and promised him a son which she was not able to do.  He brought 20 charges against her (treason, witchcraft, making fun of her husband, etc.) and she was found guilty of all of them.  They say she was kneeling on the green praying when they cut her head off with a sword and the people gasped as they said her mouth and eyes were still moving as they raised her head up to show she was finished.

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Also, within the compound is the building that houses the crown jewels.  We couldn’t take a picture but we saw all the beautiful stones and the infamous 500 karat clear diamond.  It is huge.  We could take pictures of the armor they used for their fighting.

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The second picture is the collar of torment that was used on women.  Nice…..

I didn’t get a picture of the other area where the executions took place.  These were held for the public to watch so they wouldn’t think about committing treason.  After they cut their heads off they would just throw their bodies in a hole and bury them with no markings, names, coffin, etc.  They have over a thousand bones and I think only about 30 or so have been identified.  They definitely wanted to make a point.

The tour guides are called “beefeaters”.  These were originally the king’s body guards but now they tell about the tower.  To get this job you must have served in their military for over 20 years.  They live there on the grounds and wear a very unique outfit.  They do a great job telling the history of the tower in an entertaining way. Oh, by the way, our beefeater said there are different stories of why they are called beefeaters but nothing has ever been found that was official and written down.  So, he didn’t know.

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Don’t know if you’ve heard about the poppies?  In November they honored the 100 year anniversary of the WW 1 soldiers.  They made a ceramic poppy for every fallen soldier and placed it out for all to see.  They were supposed to have kept them up until the end of November but this is all that we saw.  Most people here were wearing a red poppy on their clothes to honor them.

Hope you’re not bored.  Lots more to come tomorrow.