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Entries about walking

A Visit to Parliament

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

overcast 40 °F

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

overcast 39 °F

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)

Sightseeing in Winchester England

Tours of the Great Hall and a city walking tour

rain 40 °F

We’d planned to go to Stonehenge and Avebury today, as it appeared on the map to be closer to Winchester than London. I looked up tickets and could not find an easy way to get to both places, so we decided to put that off until next week when we can easily do a day trip.

We decided that we’d finish up the sites in Winchester that we did not have time to do before. 1st up was a visit and tour of the Great Hall. We were in there for the trial but we didn’t have a chance to really see the hall.

I saw that there was a tour at 11am. We left quickly, caught the 10:23 bus then walked up the hill to the hall. The hall is thru the downtown area then up a hill about a 15 min walk. We arrived in time for the tour. It is always amazing to me to walk through something from so long ago.
We wanted to do the walking tour out of the Visitor’s Center at 2:30 and thought we’d stop for some hot tea to warm up. It was really cold and raining. As we were walking we saw a tea shop and I thought it might be fun to take some home. There were lots of steaming hot samples of tea so we sampled all available. We even bought some.

There was a steady rain when we got down to the Visitor’s Center but we signed up for the 1-1/2 hour walk. City lead walks are usually a good way to learn about the city and this was no different. The guide showed us among other things: walls, probably 1,000 years old and an entry used by King Charles the 2nd to get to his mistress when staying in the city. A quote from the mistress that Dale and I love ““Pray good people be civil, I am the Protestant whore” https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Nell-Gwyn-Gwynne/

The photo of Queen Emma's house. She died in 1036
After another steaming hot pie we were tired, picked up another bottle of wine and went back to our hotel.

Posted by Miss Chris 02:43 Archived in England Tagged winchester england walking travel international_travel great_hall queen_emma Comments (0)

A Day Trip to Chawton

Visiting the home of Jane Austen and her family

overcast 40 °F

I love Jane Austen, I’ve read her books over and over. Poor Dale has watched every movie based on her books with me. So seeing that Winchester was close to where she lived and wrote, we had to go.

Fortunately, the bus that stops in front of our hotel goes straight to Chawton the site of her house. You must ask the driver to stop at a stop not usually used. Then walk to the house, about a 15 min walk.
The house is surprisingly small, with artifacts from the family inside. It was so amazing to see the small round table that she wrote at. The top is original but the bottom is not. Items of silver and dishes are original, as are several pieces of jewelry and clothing.

Upon entering the house, we were met by a gentleman, Jeremy Knight. He gave us lots of information and was quite enthusiastic about the house and contents, and of Jane Austen. It turns out that Jane Austen was his aunt, adding several greats to Aunt. What a privilege to meet someone like him.
After touring the house, kitchen and gift shop, and trying my hand at writing with a quill pen, we went on to the Chawton House. This was the home of Jane’s brother who was adopted by the Knight family in order to pass down the property. Women couldn’t inherit the property at that time. Jane stayed in this house for a while and visited often.

The walk to the Chawton House was so beautiful, trees changing colors and fields with sheep beyond. There were few people in either place or walking. We had everything to ourselves.


The Chawton House has a kitchen that was built in the 1500’s and parts of the remainder of the house were built in the 1600’s. The kitchen has been turned into a tea room/café. We were hungry by the time we arrived at the house, so had lunch in the kitchen. It is well worth stopping for lunch or tea and cake. By the way, everything is made in-house. The chocolate gluten-free cake is to die for!
After lunch, we took a self-guided tour of the house. It is a large home and great if you like wood paneling. There is a library full of books written by women from the 1600’s to 1800’s. Unfortunately, the books are only for researchers but they were fun to see.

We enjoyed ourselves so much that it was dark when we started back to the bus stop. We were a little concerned because we had to cross a very busy street with no signals. But we made it in one piece.

After stopping back in Winchester downtown to buy wine we decided to try a little place for dinner that I’d read about. It was really cold outside and lunch had left us. We went to a tiny place that serves pies: pies stuffed with beef, chicken, game, veggies, you name it. The pies can come with mushy peas or mush (potatoes). Almost everything is gluten-free so I could eat most anything on the menu. Now it’s a new favorite!!!

Posted by Miss Chris 10:33 Archived in England Tagged winchester walking travel international_travel jane_austen_house chawton_house Comments (0)

Winchester and the Great Hall

The treason trial of Sir Walter Raleigh in the Great Hall

sunny 45 °F

It was the performance going tonight that brought us to Winchester. When we decided on London and the concerts we wanted to see we also checked out the Globe. We’d had such a great time at the Globe that we wanted to see another performance, even though we knew that we’d be at the indoor theater. I found a performance of the “Treason Trial of Sir Walter Raleigh” at the original 800-year-old Great Hall and bought tickets.

It was later that we discovered the performance was in Winchester. Our first reaction was, “where is Winchester?” We pulled out the map, found Winchester and then places nearby to visit. Hence the trip to Winchester.

We hoped to visit the Great Hall before the performance but, after a walk up to the Hall, we found it was closed. We’d forgotten that there was to be an afternoon performance as well. We walked around the hall area, looking at the remains of the Winchester Castle, a favorite place of King Henry Vll and the place where his son Arthur was born. The hall is all that remains standing.

There were a few items we wanted to buy for grandkids so found the bookstore and then went on down to the markets by the Cathedral. This time we walked thru the entire Christmas Market buying hot roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.

We stopped for dinner at Cote Basserie, the place recommended by the Visitor’s center. This restaurant has an extensive gluten-free menu. Both Dale and I ordered off this menu so that we could split the meals, Beef Bourguignon and Cassoulet. I was so stuffed after such a hearty meal but knew it would last for the cold evening.
The Great Hall, built in the 1200’s, was the site of the Treason Trial and many other trials. It also is the location of King Arthurs Round Table. The original trial took place about 415 years ago.
The trial was set up more modernly, actors wearing modern day clothing and there was the use of electric lights, but they used the transcripts from the original trial. The actor who played Sir Walter Raleigh looked like the picture of Raleigh and was very convincing.
There was no heat in the building so we were given red blankets to cover with. But, we were completely spellbound during the proceedings, the 2-hours passed by so quickly.

A side note; the couple seated next to us asked where we were from, our accents seem to give us away. They also asked where else we would be traveling. When we mentioned that we were avid Downton Abbey fans and going to visit Highclere they were so excited. The woman said that she’d taken tours to Highclere for afternoon tea in the past. We showed them some of our photos of our Dowton dinners and they appeared to be impressed.

After the performance, we went back to Cote Basserie, only a 5 minute walk. The staff was expecting us. We finished the evening with a French version of Irish Coffee and a small Chocolate Pot.
Stuffed and happy we went back to the hotel to get ready for another day.

Posted by Miss Chris 02:15 Archived in England Tagged winchester walking travel sir_walter_raleigh international_travel great_hall Comments (0)

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