I was just checking through my travel blogs as I was sure I had already covered London, and I was right. Travel Log 26 when I visited the UK in 2014 https://tomewriter.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/london-travel-log-26/
However, as I was in London yet again only the other week [5th – 13th November 2016], I thought I would add to the previous adventure.
I arrived on Guy Fawkes Night and was pleased to learn from my younger sister that I had been invited to join them at a Fireworks’ Party that night. My sister, Terry and brother-in-law, Rudy met me at Heathrow and drove me back to their home in Totteridge, where I would be staying during my time in London.
Having unpacked [not much as only brought cabin luggage] and had a cup of tea we set off for Beckenham in Kent. The traffic through London was unbelievable and it took over an hour to cover the 30 miles or so from Totteridge. It was a bitterly cold night but the company of friends and the food and drink provided certainly made up for it.
The fireworks were fantastic.
Sunday was to be a quiet day with our cousins coming over for lunch. Terry prepared a wonderful meal and I did my bit by setting the table:
The reason for my visit to London was to get my British passport renewed, but also because it was my brother-in-law’s birthday on the 9th; so I thought I would ‘kill two birds with one stone’. It also gave me the opportunity to catch up with friends.
Now that I am residing in the south of France, the trip to England is a lot easier than from Australia; and being so close [2 hours flying time] I’ll be able to do it more regularly. All the same; as it had been two years since my previous visit I had a list of ‘things to do and buy’ whilst in London.
First on the list was to visit Brent Cross Shopping Centre, which was our local haunt when my family lived near there which was before I moved to Australia, and they moved to Golfe Juan. So Monday morning Terry drove us to the shops and I went spending….
Amongst my purchases was a present for Rudy. Rather than buy yet another predictable bottle of wine, I spotted a stall named the Amazing Chocolate Workshop – it was utterly brilliant. Everything from nuts and bolts, spanners, pliers, tools of all sorts, to a deli section displaying cheeses, sausages, ravioli, graters, knives, wooden spoons; and a cosmetics counter with lipsticks, compacts, tubs of makeup… but ALL made of chocolate:
I ended up buying Rudy a set of pliers and pincers:
The problem is he said they were too fantastic to eat!! Oh well… one tries :o)
Loaded up with a pair of jeans, Christmas cards, a nativity set, 2017 wall calendar, 2017 refill for my Filofax, crossword puzzles for my sister, Lesley [at Golfe Juan], and a few other odds and ends we returned home for a well-deserved rest.
Tuesday was the day I had booked to have my passport renewed. Having pre-arranged and pre-paid for it prior to leaving France, the appointment was booked for 10.45am. Terry came with me to Victoria – we took the underground train from Totteridge – even with such a brilliant service the journey still took an hour due to the peak time rush. I had forgotten how crowded the trains get in London at that time of the day.
After a small hiccup I was told to return at 3.40pm to collect my new passport. We took the tube to Oxford Circus and walked down Regent Street to a Pret-a-Manger Café for lunch. From there Terry went off to her office – not all of us have retired from work yet – whilst I decided to walk back to Victoria at a leisurely pace as I needed to kill time.
Fortunately although overcast it remained dry. It was all the same quite cold, so the walk was welcome just to get the blood pumping.
Unlike the last time I was in London I saw sights that, although were very familiar, it was nice to see again, and some I had not ever noticed before.
Setting off then from Regent Street I walked its length south to Piccadilly Circus to say ‘hello’ to our old friend “Eros”, and was pleasantly treated to another sculpture I had never seen before – the Horses of Helios [created by London artist Rudy Weller].
From Piccadilly I walked down Haymarket and came out at Trafalgar Square making sure to acknowledge our famous Sea Lord, Admiral Horatio Nelson atop of his column:
For those who follow my blogs and/or my writings in general they would know my love of anything historical. Europe, in deed, London in particular is steeped in history, and I could, time permitting, spend endless hours trying to capture all statues and monuments that record those events of the past.
Last week included a day that is held dear to the majority of the world’s population – or at least to those who lived through the two World Wars and survived them, or who had friends and relatives who perished in them; whether, either as civilians, or as combatants. It is also a day remembered by those generations that grew up following those conflicts; and it is hoped that future generations will continue the tradition of observing the 2 minutes silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…
It was my original intention to attend the Cenotaph at Whitehall on Friday 11th November to be there at the appropriate hour to pay my respects. Unfortunately my schedule of planned events meant that this would not be possible.
However, as I was at Whitehall on the Tuesday [8th] I took a moment to stand in front of the War Memorial and offer a silent prayer.
I continued along Whitehall reaching Parliament Square where Big Ben loomed above me, Westminster Abbey before me being prepared for the Armistice Day commemorations, and sighting a statue I certainly wasn’t expecting to see in London… Abraham Lincoln:
By the time I arrived at Victoria my feet were killing me. I should have known better and worn trainers not boots!!
At least my passport was ready and I was able to return to Totteridge to enjoy a relaxing evening.
I had a day at home on Wednesday, but met up with old friends in the evening – it was great to see them again, even though two of them had come out to Golfe Juan with their respective partners to pay me a visit the previous month. Still – it’s always nice to be with friends!
Thursday was another full day. Terry and I went out shopping yet again, and then made a special visit to pay our respects to our dad who had passed away in June 1989 having lost his battle to cancer; and from there we went to say ‘hello’ to our cousin Ron, who also left us in September 1987 due to a massive heart attack – he was 36. I always make a point of visiting my departed relatives every time I am in London. Both men were a great influence on my life, so it is only fitting that I shall never forget them.
On a lighter note, that afternoon Terry and I headed back into the West End as she was in search of a restaurant for an event she wanted to book up. As it turned out the café at St. James’ Park no longer took bookings so another venue had to be found. We walked across Horse Guards Parade narrowly avoiding a group of mounted soldiers, smiled at the guards on horseback at the gates on Whitehall and headed northwards in search of a suitable venue or two.
From Whitehall we proceeded onto Covent Garden where we were to meet up with Rudy. Terry had bought tickets for the Musical “Half a Sixpence” being performed at the Noel Coward Theatre in St. Martin’s Lane; but first we were due to meet up with some friends for dinner.
It was only just after 5pm and we needed to kill some time. Rudy was keen to find some ski gloves so we visited a couple of shops and he was happy to find a pair he liked, and even happier when Terry bought them for him… well it was his birthday after all :o)
Although the Christmas lights have been erected around town it is a shame that, apart from a few shops, they have not been illuminated as yet – I expect it’s too early in the season. The ones in Covent Garden represent giant mistletoes… I reckon they will be wonderful when they are lit.
Dinner was at an Italian restaurant named “Sartori” is located at 15-18 Great Newport Street. The food was first class and reasonably priced. If you’re ever near there it certainly worth a visit: http://www.sartori-restaurant.com/
On to the show… and what a brilliant performance it was by all the actors – it was a highly enjoyable and entertaining musical. Thanks Terry for such a perfect treat :o)
There was more shopping to do on Friday, taking 2 minutes out at 11am as a mark of respect, and Saturday it was time to pack. We had another dinner with family on Saturday night, and then a drive to Heathrow on Sunday morning.
The week was over and before I knew it I was back in Golfe Juan.
It certainly was a well-packed, well-planned and entertaining sojourn in London, and perhaps a nice way to end a year that had such a traumatic start for me. Christmas is yet to come, and I shall no doubt enjoy it with my immediate family. If any friends are nearby I’m sure a drink or two will be shared to see the New Year in.
2017 is only six weeks away; what it will bring is anyone’s guess, but we can only hope that it will bring us all peace, well-being, and happiness.
RLB – Tomewriter