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Trip Report TR: solo again in London and Wales - more art, history, & literature

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WHY: to visit/explore those museums and points of interest that I had missed on my previous visits to Britain

WHY NOT: still not interested in shopping, fine dining, or serious photography – did take a few snaps on my IPhone though :)

WHEN: five nights Monday, June 24 – Friday, June 28 –solo in London, followed by seven nights on one of those much maligned coach tours through central England with three nights in WALES which ended on Saturday, July 6

WEATHER: great for London, really hot a few days, with a some scattered showers here and there – brully up one or twice – no downpours

GETTING THERE: Virgin Atlantic from Boston to Heathrow, my first time with this airline which I really enjoyed. More leg room in my view. Then HOTEL BY BUS, a shared shuttle service which cost £22 prepaid. Two other parties were also dropped off. Again, the traffic was horrendous so trip was quite lengthy. Glad I wasn't paying for a cab!

HOTEL: returned to the STRAND PALACE within a five minute walk from Trafalgar Square. Arrived around noon. Although check-in was at 2, I said that I would take “anything.” So I took a single “with shower” on the first floor. Now I am not fussy, but this room was just too small and somewhat damp. Later that afternoon, I made my concerns known. The hotel was completely booked that night, but I was told to pack my bags in the morning and I would be moved to a larger “club single” on the second floor the next day. Problem solved.

MONDAY EVENING, JUNE 24: After a few hours rest, I ventured to nearby CHARING CROSS STATION to purchase my first OYSTER CARD for £35 which I used for the Tube, train, and busses during the next five days. Actually I was quite proud of myself, never having used the Tube on previous visits – relying mostly on foot power with an occasional cab.

I hopped on the Northern Line to Euston Square. My destination was the nearby BRITISH LIBRARY, a huge modern brick edifice, opened in 1997 containing some 14 million volumes including a copy of the Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s first folio. The Library was just closing at six, but I had come to attend a lecture (pre-booked for £5) offered to complement its present exhibit called PROPAGANDA POWER and PERSUASION. I chatted beforehand with a lovely older couple who attend talks there on a regular basis – definitely Bloomsbury types.

Don’t let the lecture’s title throw you off - “Not a Day for Soundbites: the Craft of the Political Speech.” The four panelists included former senior Laborite MP Bob Marshall Andrews and former chief speechwriter for Tony Blair, Philip Collins. The latter made it clear that he had joined the Blair camp “after” the decision to invade Iraq. Sparks were flying in a manner characteristic of Parliamentary debate. Current Prime Minister David Cameron did not escape unscathed either as panelists analyzed soundbites from Nelson Mandela, JFK, Tony Blair, and Barack Obama among others. The audience was over 200 strong and the 1 ½ hour presentation passed quickly. While my taste in music and live performance is limited, I really enjoyed this high end interchange by British journalist and politicians.

I ducked out before the inevitable book signings. Back on the Tube to Charing Cross, I spotted the Golden Arches on the Strand. Realizing that I hadn’t eaten for some 20 hours, I enjoyed a McChicken sandwich and coke. Some things never change.

I was happy to be back in London…

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