Saturday, August 20th, 2016
Rain and sunshine today. We left the house early today after sharing
breakfast with a young couple who arrived last night from Australia and
our Japanese lady who has stayed here for five years during her visits
to London. We ventured to the famous Saturday Markets at Portobello
Road. Walked out of the Underground to pouring rain! We had fun finding
all of film locations for the movie "Notting Hill".. some were easier than others but after the rain stopped we managed to find all three that were listed in the Rick Steves Tour Book. There were two different shops, one used for the outside shots of the bookstore and the other for the interiors. The "blue door" was used to indicate the home of Hugh Grant but the interiors were filmed in a studio. We passed on the
sales up and down the road, but did enjoy walking inside several of the shops. There was a good one on old maps but we have enough of those! After getting instructions from the phone; we soon found ourselves on the bus to V&A Museum.
spent three hours wandering the massive exhibits. One of my favorites hangs from the ceiling over the information desk as you walk into the main door; the Dale Chihuly chandelier. There were rooms so full of china that it was in cabinets reaching to the ceiling of the tall rooms. I looked and looked for a five fingered vase but couldn't find one. Our friend Shari collects them and we always search the museums for one. Generally, we find at least one. One room was under restoration but we were able to look down into it from the higher floor and had a wonderful view of the Trajan's Column (split in half because of the height) and the "door of Glory" from the interior of St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Both recreations of the actual but wonderfully created.
We rode the tube back to Victoria Station and then searched all over for Westminster Cathedral to check Mass times for
tomorrow...we knew it was in the area as we'd seen it yesterday. Finally rounded the right corner using our google maps and found it. The area is under massive construction as they enlarge Victoria Station and very confusing. After a short visit and a walk through the Holy Door for the Year of Mercy; we ended in the Willow Walk Pub for beer and then decided to also stay for dinner. It never rained hard enough to open the umbrellas for the rest of the day.
Sunday, September 21st, 2016
Sunday morning breakfast then off to the bus in our Sunday best for
the 10:30 am high mass at Westminster Cathedral (Catholic) not the abbey.
Four priest, a beautiful organ and a cantor that sang the Latin like an
angel. Bus #24 took us from our front door to the door of the church!
Outside, after mass, we checked our planned route and went towards the
bus....oops....suddenly we lost each other....I was waiting at the
crosswalk and Jim was on the wrong bus. Thank goodness for texting!
Afterwards we caught the bus 24 again and continued to Trafalgar
Square. There we jumped off and walked the short block to the only
remaining building in the world where Benjamin Franklin lived. He was
there in late life for sixteen years, trying to negotiate an agreement
regarding taxes between the colonies and Britain. He worked on many of his discoveries while he lived
there. This was our first use of our National Trust annual pass that we
purchased before leaving home. It was a 40 minute tour that was
informative and well executed. Jim remembers that one of the first major exhibits when he became a docent for Bowers was a Benjamin Franklin exhibit. He said the photo was for the girls at Bowers.
Back over to Trafalgar square and
into the National Gallery for an hour and a half of museum time for Jim.
I had fun shopping in the gift shop. Soon he was back, we shared our
banana from breakfast and he went to find a trashcan. Suddenly a
guard was bringing him back...he missed a small step and had fallen.
His knee hurt a bit but otherwise he seemed fine. Embarrassed but not hurt, soon we were on our way to the Tube. As we
got on .... Jim tangled with a stroller and got caught in the closing
doors....I was able to pull them apart and he got in. As we got off several people stopped to ask if he was okay...that was nice! That was the last
mishap of the day.
Soon we were at The Shard...located at Tower
Bridge...95 stories high. When we had dinner at Shakespeare's Pub on Friday evening, we met a nice young man named Damian, who had been raised in Denver Colorado and returned home to England to attend Cambridge University. He has stayed in England and he highly recommended we go to The Shard for a drink and enjoy the views. Better than riding the London Eye, he said. And, Jim doesn't like the slow pace of the Eye which does one loop stopping regularly for you to enjoy the views. We went to the bar on floor 52 and enjoyed
drinks, some food and a fantastic view. Pricey, but we'll worth it. No
causal clothing allowed (we were in our Sunday best....I was a bit worried about the small backpack but they ignored it); and a minimum of 30 GBP per person in food and/or drink. We probably should have asked for tea on the 32nd floor but were not sure of how to do that so followed the staff lead and went to the 52nd. But we were very happy with our decision and Jim enjoyed a glass of beer with fois gras on toast and I had wine with a three cheese selection. This was our dinner plus the cheeseburgers that we picked up at McDonalds on the way home! We had a small table in the corner which gave us fantastic views in each direction. Of course, my phone died as soon as we arrived! It is also my camera. Fortunately we each carry a small power pac to recharge when this happens. So, I had to wait a bit but did take many great views of the Thames River, London Tower, City Hall, and the Tower Bridge which were below us along with the Lipstick building and many others.
And so we ended another great day and the
rain began a block from home. And we passed Big Ben, Ten Downing Street and Westminster Abbey twice on our trips by bus today. Took some nice photos from the moving bus for our memories.
Monday, August 22nd, 2016
Today is a rest day. Jim woke during the night and found that he could not put weight on his knee; yes the one that he'd fallen on at the Museum. He put the knee brace on (we always travel with one and also a folding cane for these occasions), elevated it, took some Motrin and went back to sleep.
This morning Mario fixed him a tray for breakfast and carried it up the two flights of stairs for me. I enjoyed breakfast with a young couple from Shanghai, China. Their English was relatively good and they spoke beautiful French having lived in France for eight years. He is in the design business and we talked about my hometown of Columbus, Indiana when he started talking about the architects of the various buildings they were visiting in London. He seemed impressed? They have yet to visit the United States. Columbus is well known for having a number of buildings designed by many different famous architects.
Today we'd planned to visit St. Paul's Cathedral, walk the Tower Bridge, visit the new city hall with the glass spiral walls, the British Museum, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. They will have to wait for another trip. Other than Parliament, I have toured all of the others before, a few would have been new for Jim.
Tomorrow we head back to Gatwick Airport to pickup our automobile and then drive to Oxford for our next home. We will be there for nine nights as we explore the areas north of London that we want to see; many of them for the second time. This will also include our day at Highclere Castle where they filmed Downton Abbey; the reason for this adventure!
Only a day of rest will tell how well Jim will walk. We plan to attempt to walk to the Pub next door for dinner this evening. So glad we have the wonderful window to look out at the trees and the sky from our bed today. The prediction was for a day of rain...but the sun is shining brightly! At our ages, a day off is not all that bad of an ideal! I will attempt to download some of the photos to the computer and if successful, I will add a link for you on the blog.
And so until next time.....