Lovely London

We left my sister’s house to head to London, but thought we’d call in at Windsor on the way.

Windsor has a lot to recommend it, most particularly the huge castle that looms above the town at one end.

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The flag was flying signifying that the Queen was in residence, I think.

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It’s hard to think of this castle as a fortress until you see it, and then its origins are very obvious, particularly from this viewpoint.

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There is a Royal shopping arcade which looks as though it was originally part of the railway station. The railway station must have been magnificent back in the day, when the royal train was possibly a frequent visitor. There is a replica train on display, but I found it hard to be interested; perhaps if it had been the original I might have mustered some enthusiasm.

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I’m not sure why all these flags were flying, unless they are always flying?IMG_7051

The River Thames runs through Windsor and it is a lovely sight, with swans, rowing sculls and, of course, beautiful buildings.

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Windsor Parish Church has a rather magnificent painting of the Last Supper, painted in circa 1600 and presented by George III. I took a photo but it’s difficult to capture the vibrancy of the colours.

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After Windsor we headed to London and checked into the Airbnb which was to be home for the week. We rented this rather lurid pink house, reputed to be one of the narrowest in London (see what it used to look like here).IMG_7058

It is a long, really skinny wedge shaped house, but it had everything we needed and was in a really convenient spot.

Once we took our car back to the hire place, with great relief, I might add, we set out to explore London. Our first stop, of course, was Liberty’s. I just love this iconic building

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which is as beautiful inside as out. This is the inside of the lift; all oak carved panelling. IMG_7071

I got a bit overwhelmed and finished up not buying any fabric – again! Every time I visit Liberty’s I feel like this.

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London buildings are gloriously bedecked with floral arrangements and I managed to photograph a few to show you. I’ve put them in a slide show in case you want to skip them.

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A plant of a completely different kind – there are trees which have been planted too close to the railings so have just grown over the railing. This one is a case in point.

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We were wandering along to Hyde Park when we came across this man with his hawk. He’s hired by a local hotel to stand around for four hours a day to scare away the pigeons. He demonstrated the process and it was so interesting. The hawk wears a tracker so it can’t get lost, and it flies around upsetting the pigeons but not killing them as that’s now illegal. IMG_7091

We kept walking to Buckingham Palace and found it almost completely deserted. The only people in sight were the police.

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I have never seen this area so empty. This is the Queen Victoria memorial, and it’s mid-morning, a time when it’s usually heaving with crowds.IMG_7099

These flags probably give the best clue as to what’s going on. There were police everywhere but not a single spectator.IMG_7101

Some of the views across St James Park are beautiful. I really like this shot of the London Eye which seems to be framing the buildings and trees. IMG_7103

I was rather enamoured of the Duck Keeper’s Cottage in this idyllic setting.IMG_7108

Big Ben is looking a tad sad with all the scaffolding wrapped around it. I’m glad we’ve seen it in all its finery previously.

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We decided to take a boat ride to Greenwich as I’ve never been and have always been keen to visit. It was interesting to see all the landmarks from the river. The Globe Theatre…

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This lovely building is Hay’s Wharf, named after its proprietor who quickly found that wharehousing was much more profitable than many other forms of commerce. The building was burnt down and subsequently rebuilt and has some beautiful features.

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we travelled under Tower BridgeIMG_7131

and past the Tower of London. This photo shows the Traitor’s Gate; prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes, so that must have been quite charming. IMG_7136

I really wanted to see the Meridian Line, don’t ask me why.

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Mark and I stood either side of the line at 0°, so this is where Greenwich Mean Time is calculated from.

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The Royal Observatory is well worth a visit, with some really interesting clocks and information on navigation.

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This view of the Queen’s House and the Thames is represented on the camera obscura. IMG_7185

A close-up view of the house projected on a table by the camera in real time. IMG_7190

Greenwich has quite a lot to see, including the Painted Wall, which was part of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich. Injured and retired sailors lived in this salubrious environment designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It was recently restored and is truly magnificent. I couldn’t capture it all, but here’s a snapshot of some of the painting, which was done by Sir James Thornhill, the first British artist to be knighted.  It took 19 years to complete, being finished in 1726.

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Much of the magnificence is on the ceilings. The paintings celebrate England’s naval power and commercial prosperity, as well as its newly installed protestant monarchy. I noted with interest that there were 16 Catholic successors in front of William III, none of whom were considered to be eligible because of their religion. There are hundreds of figures represented on this ceiling; mythological, allegorical, historical and contemporary.

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This painting shows the mixture of the mythical and the historical. Mythical figures surround the king who is showing off his male progeny thus declaring the continuation of his line upon the throne.

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I think my favourite part of this whole building was Skittle Alley, which is in the basement and consists of a bowling alley to give the patients something to do. Practice cannonballs were used as bowling balls. We could not wait to give it a go.

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I’m only showing Mark’s efforts because they are much better than mine – he took out all the skittles every time. IMG_7230

I managed to get a video of this. Unfortunately there’s no little machine to reset the skittles which rather cut our exercise short and created some employment for the young attendant.

Greenwich Palace was built by Henry VII, but eventually fell into disrepair before being cleared to make way for the building of Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital for Seamen. Excavations revealed these cellars and I was interested to learn that the curved niches were bee boles, or areas to house bee hives during winter.

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I was able to buy tickets to the Mary Quant Exhibition at the V&A and it was terrific. A couple of my favourites are here, some are wearable and some, perhaps, not!

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I have had some lovely catch ups over the course of this holiday, with Andrew taking me fabric shopping on Goldhawk Road, stopping off for coffee whilst we were at it. We had such a fun time!

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I also caught up with Alex from Sewrendipity, and we had the best conversation about sustainability, The Great British Sewing Bee and travel. Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo.

In spite of being to London a few times in the last few years I had never seen this statue. It’s dedicated to the pilots of Bomber Command who died in the war. My Dad was a pilot in Bomber Command, but thankfully survived. I think he would have loved this.

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We did and saw many other things, some of which we did the last time we were in London, and as this post is long enough I won’t go on about it. However, I do have to mention that our son, Archie, flew in from New York as a surprise (shock!), and traipsed about London with us. I managed to get him to visit the V&A and the Natural History Museum, which we both really enjoyed. This cross section of a giant Sequoia was pretty amazing, and when it was cut down in 1891 nearly 70% of the earth’s land mass was covered in natural habitat. Now it is less than 40%, so 30% gone in just over a hundred years. It’s an interesting and scary figure to contemplate!

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Archie doesn’t enjoy having his photo taken, so I had to do it by stealthIMG_7465IMG_7460

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So that wraps up nearly eight weeks of travelling around the UK. We are home now and I am looking down the barrel of a lot of laundry, cheered up by the fact that some of said laundry is fabric. We’ve had the most brilliant time and I do have to note that we arrived to a wintry Perth day which was almost identical to the summer London day we left the previous day, so I finally get the excitement of the local inhabitants when the sun comes out for any extended period of time. Having said that, we had pretty good weather the whole time we were away with only two days of real rain.

Fadanista

26 thoughts on “Lovely London

    1. Oh Martha, it’s such a beautiful place. I’ve been a few times but it’s sooo expensive that I’ve never bought anything there. Also, so much Liberty fabric that I just can’t choose!

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  1. All so interesting Sue. You left just in time, apparently they have 10 C in the south today and rain. 8 weeks is ages, you must be pleased to be home too. Thanks for sharing it all with us. xxx

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  2. Thanks for allowing me to travel with you vicariously – it’s been a wonderful mix of both familiar and new places. It was great to meet you too!
    I’m looking forward to seeing what you make with your fabric booty 😁.

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  3. what a fantastic trip and you did have great weather, some of those photos you took in the countryside look like picture postcards. Love all the flowers in the doorways in London. thanks so much for such great blog posts.

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    1. Thank you so much Beth, we mostly had great weather, only getting rained on a couple of times, but it was not summer weather by any stretch of the imagination! Having said that, it is a beautiful place with some gorgeous scenery and I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved those flower bowers too.

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  4. I have enjoyed your photos and commentary on your trip. I would love to see pictures of and read about the area where you live. My husband also wanted to visit Greenwich for the prime meridian line.
    My husband’s great uncle flew and trained pilots with the RAF during WWI. He died in a training accident, but left an English wife and child. This child migrated to the US from Wales with his three children in 1969.
    His Uncle Alvin went to Germany as a lawyer during the Nuremberg Trials after WWII. He then returned to the US.

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    1. Thank you Kathy. Your family history is really interesting. I can certainly include some stuff about where I live, although I do sometimes show bits of it in my blog. I probably could do more, so will think about how I can do something.

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  5. What an incredible journey you had Sue! You explored so many extraordinary places and your photos were amazing – thanks for sharing generously. After two months, I can imagine how happy you must be to be back home with tons of lovely memories (and laundry). I really enjoyed seeing your many catch-ups with our sewing friends, proving that our network gives rise to real friendships. Also loved to see your travel wardrobe during me-made-may xxx

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    1. Thank you my dear friend, it was an amazing trip and we are now thinking about the next one which will include the catch up with you! It is wonderful how our social media networks forge such lovely and lasting friendships.

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  6. What a fabulous journey, Sue! Thank you for sharing your interesting thoughts and magnificent pictures!
    Can’t believe eight weeks are over! Since participating in me-made-may 2014, weather has never been so cold in May like this year.
    Have a lovely wash of your new fabric.

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  7. Thank you Sue for such an interesting tour round the UK, you have certainly seen parts I have not visited. and probably never will. I now look forward to seeing what sewing you do and what you make from your fabric purchases. Please keep writing the blog, it gives me so many brilliant ideas.

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  8. This travel tip is a little late for this trip but for your next visit to London: buy a one year membership to the Victoria & Albert Museum. It doesn’t cost that much more than 2 single entrance tickets and it allows you free, un-timed access to any of the special exhibits. You just show your membership card to the exhibit guard and in you go! Brilliant!
    We bought our membership mid-Atlantic Ocean, on the airplane. When we got to the museum there was a temporary membership card waiting for us at the Members Desk. So Easy!

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  9. Wonderful following along with you and Mark on your ab fab holiday, I have made lots of notes as we are planning one similar plus Ireland. Love the London Airbnb, our last trip we stayed on an Airbnb houseboat at Kew- also fun and quirky.

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    1. Ooh, I really wanted to find an Airbnb canalboat, will definitely look next time. We did so much more than I had blogged, so if you want other details let me know.

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