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Sharing London With Good Friends

Meeting up with good friends on our last day in London

rain 40 °F

Our last day in London was going to be busy, we were meeting our friends Jocke and Eva Alspund from Sweden. Jocke and our daughter-in-law-Bekki are cousins. I’ve written about them before, we met on Facebook, then in Finland 2 years ago and then in London last year. We have enjoyed meeting up with them although when they were in California, we were in Toronto so we missed having them over.

Jocke and Eva were not due in until about 3 so we had some time. In the morning we packed most everything up so we wouldn’t need to spend time on that as we knew it would be a late night. We’d planned to do the Jack the Ripper walk then eat dinner at the Swan at the Globe Theater at 10 pm.
Dale and I went walking to the Globe looking for last minute presents then over to the Borough market for a meal to split. We found books for ourselves and our favorite Ethiopian food at the market. I also found some gluten free mince tarts.

We met Jocke and Eva in the lobby of the hotel and as we were all a bit hungry decided that we’d go to the Christmas market to buy some glogg and Raclette over potatoes, another favorite. We sat and ate and talked. The weather was getting worse but we had over an hour to spare before the walk so we headed up to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights.
When we got to Oxford Street, Eva’s rain jacket had soaked thru in places and we were all cold. We ducked into a store and headed for the café. Most of the large stores have cafes. We sat down with coffee and revised our plans. Forget the walk, have dinner earlier then go to one of our rooms and have some cake and wine, and for me either tart or cake from Harrods.

I called the Swan and moved our reservation to 8 pm, then we got started on the walk to the Swan. We did stop for some presents at one other store then rushed to the Swan making it a few minutes late but they still had our table.

The Swan is a wonderful restaurant overlooking the River Thames and on to St. Pauls. It is a favorite but since it is a little pricey we can’t eat there every day. But the 4 of us had a great visit and had great food.
More visiting in Jocke and Eva’s room with wine and cakes. We discussed our future travel plans, but they will not be able to make it to London next year, so we will try to make it to Sweden. Jocke told us about a castle that we’d love that they really like and that we should visit. We also made some tentative plans to meet in Canada, on a road trip that we have all independently wanted to make, all the way to St. Johns.

There is always something in the works!

We woke up early for a change, had breakfast and said goodbye to Jocke, Eva and London. Until next year!

Posted by Miss Chris 08:16 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel international_travel swan_at_the_globe Comments (0)

The London Eye and Westminster Abbey

First a ride on the London Eye and then a tour and Evensong at Westminster Abbey

overcast 40 °F

Finally, a free day in England.

We’d planned to go to Stonehenge and Avebury today. I wanted to see both sites but without a car, we needed to take a tour. A tour would have been fine except that strong winds and flooding rains were predicted for today. We opted to skip the sites one more time and hopefully will see them next year.

We decided to go to Westminster Abbey and to get there we must walk along the river to the Westminster Bridge. As we got to the London Eye we saw that there was no line. We decided to take a ride before continuing to the Abbey especially since the sky had cleared up some.

Wow, what an amazing ride. The cars do not stop except for handicap persons, otherwise, it is a continuous, slow ride. We couldn’t see the tower but could identify where Buckingham Palace was located and of course, many areas where we have walked every day.
After the ride, we went on to Westminster Abbey for a tour. We signed up for the 2 pm tour, taking the audio tour in the interim. We got to see some of the Abbey while we waited.

Unfortunately, there are no photos allowed in the Abbey so one must rely on the website or books. But the abbey is an amazing place. As death masks were made of many people buried there, the sculptures are quite realistic. If you are going to the Abbey, I’d really recommend that you take the guided tour. You get into places that you wouldn’t otherwise.

After the tour, it was already nearly 4 pm. We wanted to eat something small in the Café but it was closed so we went to the cloisters and had bananas and trail mix that we’d brought. It was really cold and raining in the garden outside of the cloisters but as they are from the year 1,000 or so, it was such a historic place to sit. We ate then went into the Nave to wait to be seated for evensong.
A large crowd gathered behind us but we’d been told to wait there and we’d be seated first. Well, we were not seated first as the crowd was from a school. We were told to go and wait off to the side. We waited until all of the people invited from the school had been seated. We couldn’t see where they were seated as we were on the front side of a medieval screen. Once we were let in we were pleasantly surprised as we and a few others in our group were let into the unoccupied bishop chairs, by the choir, while the members of the school group were seated outside of the choir area.

We’d heard that the full Westminster choir would be singing and they were. Boys from 9-11 and older people to fill out the harmony. The organ was right above us. It was a really nice way to spend a cold evening.

We stopped at the Christmas market for our glogg and another round of steak and fries and lamb and fries. We went into a nearby building with tables set up to sit and eat and drink when we saw a young couple with a young child looking for a table. As ours would seat 4 we told them to sit at our table. Turns out they were from Saudi Arabia.

We have never met anyone from that country so it was great to get to talk to them. We didn’t ask political questions as there are too many issues today but we discussed things that were important to them as a person, their child, and what they were doing in London.

After eating we went back to the hotel, full of food, glogg and adventure.

Posted by Miss Chris 13:59 Archived in England Tagged london london_eye walking travel westminister_abbey international_travel Comments (0)

One More Performance, Les Mis

Shopping at Hamleys and then Les Miserables at the Queens Theater

rain 40 °F

We had a few stops to make today before this evenings performance.
I had to get to a camera shop. Just before we left home I found that my lens cover was missing. It had been getting loose and falling off when bumped so it was likely on the ground somewhere. We couldn’t find one at home so thought we’d wait until London. In the meantime, I’d been taking off the clear protective lens, shooting photos then putting that lens back on. Then I found that the last time I’d put the clear lens onto the polarizer lens I’d jammed it so that the 2 were stuck together. Each Dale and I tried to separate them but to no avail.

We found a camera shop close to other places we were heading. I showed the person behind the counter my poor stuck lenses but he could not separate them either. He suggested that it would likely be cheaper to buy a new polarizer and clear lenses rather than try to have them separated. Alas. They did have a lens cover that fit my camera, I put the stuck together lens in our backpack, put the cover on and we went on our way. It was cloudy anyway so the polarizer lens wasn’t going to help.

We popped into an Irish pub and had some dinner before heading on to Hamley’s, a 5-story toy store. There we so many things our grandkids would like but we only wanted to buy some small items, as luggage space would be at a premium plus, everything the big kids would like was pricy and we could likely buy the same items at home. But it was fun, there were things that even we would like to play with.
We stopped once more at Selfridges to see about other gloves for me but they didn’t have what I wanted. We took another look around, shot a couple more photos then went off to our next and last performance, Les Miserables at the Queens Theater.

The Queens Theater was within walking distance and an enjoyable walk as the Christmas decorations were lighting the way.

We got to the Queens Theater in plenty of time. I’d brought my heels along but then was too lazy to change shoes. So there I was dressed up with trail runners on. I didn’t look to see if anyone cared because I didn’t.
I was hoping that Dale would enjoy Les Miserables. I’d only seen it on a PBS special. I’d donated money and gotten the DVD but never watched it. Dale had only heard the music that I’d play when it would pop up on Facebook.

I thought our seats were nosebleed, but because we were only 2 rows back, the entire stage was visible as was the orchestra pit. The music was wonderful in person and both of us were so moved. The story is timeless, it’s the same old issues even today; ill-conceived wars, love, life, and death. Hopefully, we will get to see it again next year. But we will try to read the book before then.

We walked back to the hotel, stopping for glogg and sipping it as we walked.

Posted by Miss Chris 08:33 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel les_miserables international_travel queens_theater Comments (0)

1 Night, 2 Concerts in London

A dinner in a Crypt, Mozart and Rachmaninov

overcast 40 °F

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

overcast 40 °F

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)

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