A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Miss Chris

The Tower then Royal Albert Hall

A quick free trip to the Tower then another concert, this time at Royal Albert Hall.

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1st a walk to the Tower of London. Last year I’d missed seeing where Anne Boleyn lost her head and since I’ve read several books on the wives of Henry the 8th I did want to see both where she lost her head and where she was buried. We knew that we wouldn’t have much time at the Tower as we were getting a late start but, thought we’d do a Beefeater’s tour.

We got to the ticket window and got into the shortest line. As we stood there the woman in front of us turned around and asked if we had tickets yet. We said no so she asked if we wanted to go in with her and her friend. We didn’t know if it was a joke or true, but, apparently, she had 4 tickets and 2 friends did not show. So we went in with our new friends, free of charge. We offered to buy the tickets but she said no that it was a gift from someone in England.
IMG_20181125_143351222.jpg Where Anne Boleyn lost her head, along with Catherine Howard and several others.
We went straight to the 1-1/2 hour tour, which gave us some history and ended up in the chapel where Anne Boleyn was buried.

We then had to go see the Crown Jewels, they never fail to impress! I did find a nice tiara in the Crown Jewels shop to wear at our next party since they wouldn’t loan me the real ones.

We had a concert at the Royal Albert Hall which was going to be over 1-hour walk, hence, we got a cab from the Tower. We had booked a table for 5 pm at the Coda Restaurant, this is on the 5th floor of the hall.

We did not realize that we’d need to show our tickets before entering the Coda, and having just exited the taxi, we were not ready. I set the backpack down along with my cashmere sweater and after removing some items to access the tickets asked Dale to put stuff back in the pack while I took care of getting our tickets scanned. We gathered our stuff and went up to the Coda.

When we got into the restaurant and left our coats I realized that my sweater was not with me. We got seated then Dale ran down to see if my sweater was still there. He found that he was unsure which entrance we used. He was sent to the lost and found who assured him not to worry as it would turn up.

The Coda is a very elegant restaurant and the food was fabulous as well. After dinner, we shared a dessert and had a coffee, then needed to get down to our seats. I bought the tickets some time ago and forgot where they were located so we were pleasantly surprised to find that we were close to the stage, far enough back to have a full view.
This concert was the Classical Spectacular, the final concert of the classical series. It consisted of several excerpts from music that we are familiar with and mostly fun pieces. As it turned out, this concert was just fun! Some of the pieces we heard were: Jupiter from the Planets, Waltz of the Flowers and Finlandia.

The orchestra started to play Pomp and Circumstance, which we all know is played at graduations. Dale and I were stunned when the crowd belted out, at the top of their lungs, words and waved the British flag. We never knew there were words, much less that people would be singing so gustily. They were having such a good time that they not only sang it once but twice and then again later. We found that it is called Land of Hope and Glory.
It was the same thing with Rule Britannia, the crowd sang their hearts out. The 2 opera singers who we sang along with were wrapped in British flags. We decided that this is really the way to sing instead of having someone reach high notes and see who can hold them the longest. Next year we must know the words and have our flags at the ready. The attached site is of the Spectacular Concerts several years ago, to show the enthusiasm and fun.

At the end of the program the 1812 Overture was played with cannons and guns shooting, colored lights flashing, and at the end, balloons were released from the ceiling.
After the show, we went to lost and found but my sweater had not been turned in. We said that we’d call to check back. We exited the Hall and Dale remembered that someone told him that we had likely entered thru Door 9. We went to that door but it was locked and a security guard was there. I looked in thru the window and there on a chair, my sweater was hanging, all by itself. I told the guard, “that’s my sweater”. I then opened my coat to show him the cashmere dress I was wearing that matched. He let me in to get my sweater and we went on our way.

Wow, what a show and what a day!!!

Because we had to take a taxi back to the hotel there was no glogg. We had to settle for our own wine and some cakes from Harrods to finish our day.

Posted by Miss Chris 09:03 Archived in England Tagged london travel royal_albert_hall international_travel the_tower anne_boleyn Comments (0)

1 Night, 2 Concerts in London

A dinner in a Crypt, Mozart and Rachmaninov

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After a full day of walking yesterday, we were tired and decided that with 2 concerts tonight, back to back, we’d take it a bit easy.

We have never been to Westminster Abbey so decided to stop there to see about visiting the following day. Of course, we had to stop at the Christmas Market on the way to Westminster for some Glogg!

We stopped at Westminster but decided not to enter as we didn’t want to rush. We had a look at the gift shop, bought a few little things then, because we were hungry went on to St. Martins. As we walked outside, helicopters were circling then along came a protest, people protesting fossil fuels, food additives and things artificial. We joined the march for a bit.

We got to St Martins in time to eat dinner in the Crypt below the church. Fish pie with mash on top, veggies and potatoes with a glass of red wine. We were stuffed.
We had 2 candlelight concerts, 1st at 7 pm was several pieces, most very familiar and some just fun then after the interval we heard Mozart’s Requiem. We’ve heard the Requiem in Vienna twice but this was a smaller church and, there were 2 choirs singing. It was very moving and amazing, especially being in the 1st row.

Then at 9:30 we heard the Rachmaninov Vespers, this was a 1-hour concert. Dale says that I have heard the music before, as many nights he puts on music for our enjoyment. I didn’t remember the music but most of it was very beautiful.

It was a cold but beautiful night to walk back.
We walked a total of 3.9 miles. Not bad for being lazy!

Posted by Miss Chris 15:59 Archived in England Tagged food london walking travel international_travel st_martins_in_the_field Comments (0)

Shopping, Walking and a Concert in London

Harrods, Selfridges and a concert at St Martin in the Fields

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Our first plan for today included over 9 miles of walking, but we soon figured out that it wasn’t going to be realistic.

I’d found online that The Tesco Superstore had wines that were our every day at home and we didn’t bring enough. We thought we’d start our day with a walk to the superstore.

After walking we found the Superstore only to find that the wine selection was no better than the Express store much closer to the hotel. We bought our wine and went on our way.

Next stop was Harrods, this was a last minute decision as it seemed like a good place to get food and just see it once and for all. We thought that we’d do a bit of shopping for a few people. I also wanted to buy some boots but, after seeing an entire floor for shoes I decided to just shop online. There was too much to see.
We did stop for lunch and the couple close to us turned out to be from Seattle. This was their first trip outside of the U.S. or Canada. But, they were leaving the following day so they wouldn’t have time to see some of the things we enjoyed, as they were only in London for a day. We couldn’t imagine only spending a day here. We are looking forward to relocating maybe?

Dale and I had watched all of the series on Selfridge so you can guess where we headed next, Selfridges! The walk was fun as all of the streets are decorated as are many store windows. People were out everywhere!
Selfridges was just like the series, at least what we could see. We didn’t see Mr. Selfridge though. We went thru the store, shopped for boots for me, a little something for a dear friend, and gloves for Dale. They gave us a Black Friday discount for the gloves making it a really fun purchase. Not to mention no more cold hands for Dale.

Tonight was the first concert in London we had tickets for. We had to hurry thru throngs of people down to the St. Martins in the Fields church. It was sometimes a difficult walk as we had to push our way thru the crowds and once or twice we didn’t think we’d make it. But we did.
We got to the church without having time for dinner. Fortunately, we were able to sneak some trail mix that we’d brought so we didn’t starve. We heard Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. It was a small group that included a harpsichord and it was magnificent. We think that it was the best performance of the “Four Seasons” that we have seen.

We were hungry after the concert and found a restaurant nearby. Then walking back to the hotel we thought it would be a good idea to pick up some Glogg to warm us. As we were walking to the hotel, along the river and drinking our cup of Glogg we saw some people on the riverbank. Normally, the banks are underwater with the tides. Now the tide was out and there was a group of people gathered around a fire on the sand. Several were playing drums and some were playing with fire, literally.
We stood around watching the group and thinking that if we were younger we might have joined in some of the fun.

We walked 8.3 miles plus numerous stairs.

Posted by Miss Chris 12:21 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel mozart westminister_abbey st_martin_in_the_fields international_travel the_crypt Comments (0)

A Visit to Parliament

Got into Parliament in time to see Prime Minister, Theresa May answering questions in the House of Commons

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After a train ride from Winchester, we arrived in London. We love London, it is bustling with people and this time of year is completely Christmas.

It was early but we got our room, dropped our stuff and set out for the river walk. Someone had said to make sure we went to Parliament and with all of the Brexit talk, we thought we’d take a chance on seeing some action. But first a stop at the Christmas market for some Mulled Wine with a shot of Amaretto.

We walked to the Parliament building and found out that Prime Minister, Theresa May was addressing the House of Commons. At that point, the Public Gallery in the House of Commons was closed so we opted to go to the House of Lords 1st. But, when we arrived in the hall we found that the House of Commons had opened the Public Gallery and we were in time to get in.
We got into the Public Gallery and found the Prime Minister discussing Brexit with the House. Questions of all sorts were being thrown at her and she was able to answer quickly, thoroughly and articulately. Lots of MP’s were protesting loudly with others agreeing. Dale and I agreed that the P.M. is amazingly intelligent.

From the House of Commons, with all of the bickering, we went over to the very quiet and polite House of Lords. One official described the difference between the houses as a palace vs a nice room. The House of Lords is very ornate with gold trim and the Lords are very proper.

We were getting hungry so thought that we’d go back to the Christmas market and look for food. Sure enough, we found grilled steak and fries and grilled lamb and fries, all grown grass fed and gluten-free. Then we found Swedish Glogg, omg: mulled wine, port, vodka and spices.
What a Thanksgiving!

Posted by Miss Chris 05:42 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel parliament thanksgiving international_travel prime_minister_theresa_may Comments (0)

Downton Abbey aka: Highclere Castle

A visit to Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle

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We have been Downton Abbey fans since it began, had Downton dinners, 7-9 course dinners, hired kitchen help complete with aprons, and of course dressed the part. So today, after buying tickets to visit 2 other times, we were really going to Downton (Highclere). They call it Highclere, but we all really know it is Downton Abbey.

We didn’t realize when we bought the tickets, they were for a Special Guided Tour. We found out today that it included a gift bag and tea, complete with sandwiches and cakes.

We were to arrive at Highclere at 1 pm and since we don’t have a car we got a taxi. We went to the front desk this morning to reserve a taxi and the dispatch was sure we should leave by 12noon. We thought it was a little early as it is only a 28 min drive, but dispatch wouldn’t go for 12:15.
As it turned out, Google maps led the driver to the wrong entry so we ended up arriving at about 12:55. Just in time to enter the gates. The gates opened at 1 pm and we were to be at the door of the castle at 1:30. We had ½ hour to tour the gardens but as it was really cold we had enough after ½ hour.
At 1:30 the staff opened the door. We didn’t see a footman and never saw Carson. Alas! We were given the instructions that there were to be no photos taken in the house. Hence, no interior photos are included in this blog.
We were welcomed into the entry, where we left our coats, and on into the Saloon. The Saloon was smaller than it comes across on the show but ceilings are just as high.

Lady Carnarvon met us there and welcomed us and she gave us a brief history of their home. The history was very condensed as the home has existed since the 700’s.

From the Saloon we went to the library, seeing the couch where Lady Mary, Lady Grantham, and Lord Grantham sit, the fireplace where Matthew stood up, and many other scenes took place. It was much like the program with a couple of pieces of furniture moved around.

To get to the drawing room you must go thru a music room which is a small room for small gatherings. According to the tour guide, there hasn’t been any music in the room in the recorded history. On the walls are embroider tapestries, and I checked to see, sure enough, they are actually embroidered from floor to as high as I could see. There are a desk and chair that had belonged to Napoleon. When there is a wedding on the site, Highclere has the bride sit at the desk to sign the marriage certificate.

The drawing room is much like the show, with furniture moved to different places. There are lovely antiques in the room, not shown; for example, a tea holder.

A smoking room was where the men gathered after dinner parties and look quite comfortable. There are 3 game tables, one with inlaid gems which are quite lovely.

We went to the dining room which is much like the show, only a small portion is shown. I noted that the table did not have a cover and appeared to have scratches and marks on it much like ours. I did not feel so bad after seeing that table.

The dining room is very long and the table, which has many leaves, opens to seat about 30. I could just imagine our dinner in that dining room, what a dinner we could have. I did note that there was no chandelier. Hence, the candelabras on the table during the dinners.

We went upstairs using a back stairway. We got to see the bedrooms of Lady Grantham, Sybil, Lady Mary, and Lady Edith. We could picture them in those bedrooms! We could also picture Lady Mary and Lady Grantham carrying poor Pamuk down the hall as we walked down it. We had quite a laugh over Pamuk. Dale and I commented on how the fire that Edith started was all repaired! There were other Downton Abbey fans in our group and it was fun to share these moments.

As we went down the wonderful staircase back to the Saloon, I thought of Lady Mary. I ran my hand down the banister the entire length imagining myself as a lady in a beautiful gown descending elegantly into the saloon.

We were able to spend some time in the Egyptian exhibit. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun with Howard Carter. Dale and I saw many of the original items in L.A. back in the ’70s but it was interesting to see this. Many of the items here are recreations as the originals went back to Egypt.
We went on to the gift shop to collect a gift bag then to the coach house where we were treated to a special tea. Gluten-free was not a problem as they brought me my own sandwiches and cakes, and very good cakes I must say.
Our taxi was waiting for us after the end of the afternoon. We went on back to downtown Winchester for a last mulled wine and evensong in the Winchester Cathedral.

What a wonderful stay we have had.

Posted by Miss Chris 12:26 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel castle international_travel dpwnton_abbey highclere_castle Comments (0)

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