Friday, 5 October 2012
Day Three in The Big Smoke!
Are we bored yet??? Good! Coz there is a lot more to come! Fasten your seatbelts for we are just about to embark on day three of Todd's and my adventures in the big city. We were really looking forward to seeing our good friends Jo and Colin on our third day in London. Jo used to be the housekeeper when we worked at the Manor. She had left and moved away to Broadstairs about 3 years after I began working there, but we have always kept in touch and Todd and I have been to visit with them on more than one occasion in Broadstairs. Jo and Colin are two of our most favourite people of all time!
They are a very well travelled couple and had in fact just returned from a short break abroad in Croatia. They are two of our besties and we love hanging out with them. Jo and I talk non-stop the whole time. In fact Todd says it is very difficult to get a word in edgewise. Apparently we never take a breather . . . and we just go on, and on, and on . . . I am sure that Todd and Colin do a lot of eye rolling behind our backs, not that they would ever admit it! They had been able to book into the same hotel as us, so that was a double bonus!
After initial hugs all round and joyous hellos we all proceeded to hit the nearest Tube Station as we were off to the River Thames for a lovely cruise, just like the Royals did last Spring, except we didn't have bells, whistles and a whole flotilla following us! I managed to snap a few pictures before we got started.
There he is . . . Big Ben in all his wonder. Probably the most photographed clock in the world. With it's iconic Westminster Chimes and gongs, a sound anyone in the commonwealth is more than familiar with! It just wouldn't be a trip to London without a picture of this clock! Duty done.
Todd and I with the London Eye (another London Icon) as a back drop behind us. The sun was shining in the wrong way so the Eye doesn't actually show up very well, but I am loving Todd's mischievous smile in this one! He looks like he's got something to share with us all!!
And Jo and Colin! I've decided that Colin always looks the same in ALL of his pictures. He's really not that serious a fella really. He's got a wonderful dry wit and can come out with some really funny stuff . . . although you would never guess that to look at him!
And then a picture of the four of us taken by a helpful fellow-tourist. We had just taken one of him and his partner, so he kindly obliged in return. I have heard of people taking off with your camera's when you ask them to take your picture, but he looked pretty safe so we took the chance. Notice . . . in this picture the Eye is perfectly in focus and it is we four that look a bit dodgy!
We were soon on the boat and beginning our journey down the Thames. I was a bit concerned because I do get motion sickness quite badly, but it was ok, and only at the end of the cruise that the boat began to rock a bit. We cruised on down the river passing all sorts of iconic buildings and sights . . . but there was a dodgy speckled window right where we were sitting so I didn't get any good pictures at all of our way down the river. We landed in Greenwich and disembarked.
We ended up in the Greenwich Outdoor Market! What an amazing place. It was filled with colour, and people, and the aromas of what seemed like hundreds of street market chef's preparing and plying their wares for us to sample! The rest of them went for curry . . . but naturally, I had to be different.
This Japanese/Korean food booth caught my eye. Everything smelled sooooo good. So I chose to order a Chicken Teriyaki from them. Unfortunately so did everyone else in the market, haha . . . Todd, Colin and Jo were all finished their curries and waiting for me before I even got to taste my food . . . but . . .
As you can clearly see, it was well worth the wait! It was some good! I thoroughly enjoyed! (Even though I had to eat it sneakily in a Costa Coffee shop while the rest enjoyed hot beverages and I tried to look inconspicuous as I dug in surreptitiously!)
After that we explored the Greenwich Naval College grounds. At least I think that is what it was called.
I should have taken notes instead of just pictures. I took a LOT of pictures. Todd thought I was being quite snap happy . . . and almost 400 pictures later, I had to concur.
That is Canary Wharf you can see in the distance across the river there.
And I thought this was quite nice as well . . . but the real piece de resistance was this . . .
The Painted Hall, probably one of the finest dining halls in all of Europe! Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, it was originally intended as an eating space for the naval veterans who lived here at the Royal Hospital for Seamen. Its exuberant wall and ceiling decorations are by James Thornhill and pay tribute to British maritime power.
The Painted Hall sits within the King William Court. Wren submitted designs in 1698 and the roof and dome were in place five years later. When in 1708 James Thornhill began decorating the interior, he was instructed to include as many references as possible to the importance of the navy in Britain’s fortunes.
It is here that Admiral Nelson's body lay in state after his death, some months after the well known Battle of Trafalgar. We still beat the French.
It's completely free of charge to visit. I love free things, and I just adore this photo I found on Pinterest of it, which was taken using some of the mirrors that lay throughout this magnificent building so that one can peruse the very beautiful and detailed ceiling paintings without getting a crook in one's neck!
Or you could just do a Colin, and sit on one of the dining chairs and people watch. Also a very interesting pastime. Or, you could be like me and . . . Colin watch.
Proof positive folks that he does sometimes crack a smile! I can't remember what he was saying here, but I am sure it was something very profound and witty!
We had much better seats on the boat going back to Westminster, and as you can see, it was a lot cooler than the earlier trip. Now Todd looks like the serious one and Colin is looking across the table charming Jo with his toque and wit.
I was able to get a few good pictures on the return journey. I am not sure what that egg shaped building is called in the background there, but that is the Tower of London in the foreground.
This is a place steeped in History and where most criminals were taken to be held and tried before having their heads chopped off. We have visited it before on several of our forays into the Big Smoke . . . it is filled with tourists, and Beef Eaters, and the crown jewels. You also have to mortgage your home in order to pay the price of entry.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth l is the only person to have entered in through "The Traitor's Gate" (the spot where all criminals are taken into the tower) to have come out alive.
The beautiful dome of St Paul's cathedral, one of Christopher Wren's most famous buildings.
I can't for the life of me remember what this building was . . . I think the London Boy's School, but I can't be sure. It was pretty at any rate.
Cleopatra's needle on the London Embankment. Cleopatra's Needle is the popular name for each of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks re-erected in London, Paris, and New York City during the nineteenth century. The London and New York ones are a pair, while the Paris one comes from a different original site, where its twin remains. Although the needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, they are somewhat misnamed as they have no particular connection with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The London "needle" is one such example, as it was originally made during the reign of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III but was falsely named "Cleopatra's needle". Todd knows much more about these things . . . The American one is named after the tribe of Manesseh, and the London one is after the tribe of Ephraim. Or maybe it's the other way around. I'll have to ask him when he gets up. the Paris one doesn't count. It's in France. (LOL My apologies to the French, but I couldn't resist!!)
Another view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament taken as we were returning to the boat docking station. After this we jumped back onto the Underground and went back to our hotel to freshen up and rest for an hour or so before going out to dinner.
Found this and thought it quite funny, if true. Thankfully we were very lucky with our London weekend. It only rained on the afternoon of the day we went to Kensington Palace and then on the day we returned home to Chester.
That night we hopped onto the Underground again and went to a lovely French Restaurant in Kensington, called Cafe Rouge. We had a bit of trouble finding it because we had forgotten to jot down the exact address before we left the hotel. Colin though, ever up to the chore, managed to find it on his HTC phone map and directed us to it by following the blue needle of his phone sat. I have dubbed him our Little Blue Needle, because he managed to get us everywhere we needed to go with that little device of his, and like most Sat Nav's . . . it did take us all around the houses to get there. More on that tomorrow.
We had a lovely dinner together with fabulous food.
Jo and I each had the Salade de Fromage Bleu to begin with. It was gorgeous. Bitter Chicory leaves, topped with toasted walnuts, blue cheese, pears and a french dressing. For my main I had the Pavé d’Agneau, a delicious rump of lamb served with a leek and potato mash, french beans and a thyme au jus. Delicious. I am afraid that I didn't get a picture, but trust me, it was just fabulous. (Todd get's embarrassed when I try to take photos in restaurants of food.I don't know why??? )
Once again we returned to our hotel at the end of the day exhausted, but in a very good way, and all the better for having been able to spend the day with our very good friends. That truly was the best part.
Tune in tomorrow for our final day!
A happy thought to carry with you for the day.
"I'm so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers."
~Lucy Maud Montgomery
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . 7 Layer Mexican Dip.