Friday, October 9, 2009


Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 British Museum and Princess Diana ….

Well we definitely had a wonderful first day in London. The expected rain didn’t arrive until after we’d finish our dinner; the day was damp, overcast but dry.

Slept through the night and woke about 7 am, just in time for breakfast which turned out to be a filling and very good full English breakfast complete with freshly cooked ham and scrambled eggs. A great way to start the morning and by 9 am we were each headed in different directions; Jim to the British Museum around the corner and I headed out on a Princess Diana quest. I’ve seen the memorial to her in Paris several times but never the ones here in London.

My first stop on the Underground Tube was at Notting Hill Gate Station for two reasons; it is near the Kensington Gardens and I also wanted to see the famous street called Portobello Road where they hold the Street Market every Saturday morning. It is a very colorful area with pastel painted townhouses and many “Retro” stores for clothing, jewelry, books, etc. Loved some of the signs: over garages: “please keep clear - garages in constant use”, “warm your cockles in our fully heated beer gardens” and many more.

From there I walked to Kensington Palace Garden Road looking for the Palace. I accidentally found myself on a street of very expensive private homes, mostly Embassies of various countries I finally determined. I tried snapping a photo and got yelled at by a security man and then he ended up giving me directions to the Palace after informing me that these are private homes.

As I entered the garden area I noticed some beautiful pieces of sculpture which turned out to be a very new memorial to Princess Diana that were installed this summer to mark the tenth anniversary of her death. It’s called “The Small Field of Flowers” and composed of ten large metal flower sculptures by Sofie Layton that have been placed inside the gates of Kensington Palace where the hundreds of floral bouquets were placed in the weeks after her death.

The staff told me that all of Diana’s personal effects were boxed and shipped to her family after her death. But, the charity auction of some of her gown before her death resulted in about ten dresses being donated back to her Charitable Foundation and those gowns were displayed in a special room in the palace. There were also about ten other rooms that held large photos of her and also videos on large screens of film taken during her lifetime and also interviews of people who knew her. It was all very nicely put together as a tribute to Diana by the Royal Family.

The rest of the tour took me through the rooms of the palace that were used by the royals as their home and the seat of government prior to moving into Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace was also the home for the Duchess of Kent and her daughter Victoria until Victoria was made Queen. They have restored her bedroom here with the actual furniture that she used until she died. Spent an hour and half touring the Palace.

From there I headed out into the Kensington Gardens and then over into Hyde Park in search of the Princess Diana Water Fountain that was dedicated to her memory in 2004. Difficult to find but with some assistance I found it located just above the Lido area on The Serpentine Lake in the center of the park.

It was a very moving experience to view this memorial; people walking the area were very quiet and emotional. It is located on a grassy knoll and is a nearly round stone water stream. The features are varied to symbolize the different facets of Diana’s life; some are broad and others narrow, some are rough and rocky and others are smooth. People would stoop down to touch the water as they quietly walked the circle.

Back out into Hyde Park I walked southeast towards the exit of the park and then down several streets to locate the Harrods Department Store for the last of my Diana quest. There I saw a marvelous store complete with doormen and also the Shrine dedicated to Diana and Dodi and the statute of the two of them in a different area of the store. My quest complete I headed out to find the Underground Tube that would take me back to the hotel. We’d agreed to meet back at the hotel at 2 pm and I arrived just minutes before Jim returned after five hours at the British Museum.

Changed our socks and headed back out to the Underground for a trip to see the Victoria and Albert Museum and also Victoria’s Memorial to Albert in Hyde Park. A surprise in the museum was a fabulous chandelier in the entry by the artist Dale Chihuly, his designs are so distinctive that one knows them immediately. He did a ceiling in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and also a chandelier that hangs in the Museum in Columbus Indiana for my Hoosiers friends.

Outside the Museum we found an ice skating rink with people skating. Many Christmas decorations everywhere celebrating the Christmas Season added a cheery note to an otherwise gray day. We’ve had fun and enjoyed the unusual words and phrases. We hear over and over on the Tube to “Mind the gap between the train and platform”…our train from the airport was headed towards “Cockfosters”.

We decided to take the Tube back to Westminster Abbey as we knew that it was open for tours until 6 pm this evening. We both enjoyed walking the Abbey; it was like a large cemetery full of very important people; Jim especially enjoyed the Poet’s Corner with the famous literary people including Lord Byron who died in Greece. We spent a good hour slowly making our way around the building that is divided into three areas. Many Kodak moments but only in your memory like a true Traveler. They don’t allow any photos or videos inside the Westminster Abbey. Outside we took our last photos of Big Ben before descending underground into the Tube for the trip back to the hotel area.

Our dinner this evening was an Italian one at the Pizza Express just across the street from the British Museum; very tasty and very different from Greek pizza; much thinner crust. Tomorrow we head for the airport and our final flight home. But we did stop at a Starbucks to inquire about wireless. Its five pounds a day through the T-Mobile service so decided to go to an Internet Café and get one hour on their computer for one pound to check in with the family and any important news from home. About the time we finished there the rain started so once again we got out the umbrellas for the two blocks to the hotel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.