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Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Old Aug 29th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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Latedaytraveler--I neglected to answer your question about the wedding dress exhibit. I liked it. The exhibit focused on when it became popular for brides to wear white and how the custom developed. They showed some wild dresses worn by celebrities and rock stars. I don't remember exactly who wore what and I didn't jot down those details but I remember one being purple. They had Camilla's gown but not Catherine's on display. Some dated back quite a number of years.

Someone made a very strange post on here that was removed by the moderators.

Yes--I wish we were able to visit the British Library and we were in the neighborhood twice but there is never enough time to do it all!

Nola--the place we stayed was rather small but very clean. It was quite quirky and filled with all sorts of Victorian era collectibles. It was almost like staying in a museum.

Enjoy the revisit to the library and yes definitely skip the hideous line for the Platform 9 3/4.

SandyBrit--the post was not hi-jacked by your comments. It makes for a good conversation. We did enjoy those afternoon teas and scones and clotted cream with jam! We had a few at the B&B and elsewhere throughout the trip.
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Old Aug 29th, 2014, 07:05 PM
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Irishface--Enjoy your trip! Looking forward to your report when you return

DAY 10 BLETCHLY PARK AND THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF COMPUTING

We had thought to visit Bletchly Park on a weekend but when I was home looking at train time schedules, the London Midlands line was undergoing track works mostly on the weekends. At first it said no train service would be available and I should check back closer to the time. Then it said we would need to take a few buses and the 40 minute trip would take close to 4 hours???? Alternatively, when I plugged in a weekday time it worked and a normal train time would pop up as a selection. I did not pre purchase the tickets from home.

We went on a weekday morning--the next day after the hurricane rains which was a clear day but very windy and much cooler. We approached Euston Station and waited on the queue. We noticed that this station appeared smaller, older and more drab than the others we had taken in the past (Kings Cross on this trip, and previously St Pancras, Waterloo, Paddington). Anyway we purchased our off peak group saver rate ticket and boarded the train.

The London Midlands train at 9:46 was scheduled to arrive at Bletchly Park at 10:30. Well we go one stop and the conductor announces there is a stuck train ahead of us so the signals are not working for us to continue. And so we wait and wait until the all clear to go. Needless to say the 10:30 expected arrival turned out to be 11:45 in reality. They offered a partial rebate on the trip but to get it you have to fill out a form and have it mailed in and then they would post you a credit. What am I going to do with a pound check now? Would they credit back the credit card? I didn't fill it out.

By the time we arrived to Bletchly Park we were hungry but we took the timed ticket for the 12:30 guided tour and grabbed a quick bite in the cafeteria right before the tour was to begin. I had tea again

You pick up the guided tour at the Chauffeur's hut. As the story goes, the leaders at Bletchly Park recruited young men and women for the secret endeavor. None were told the big picture. They were only told what their small involvement would be and they were sometimes brought in by driver's and they stayed in nearby people's homes or in dorms. Hench the name chauffeur's hut.

The gentleman who conducted the tour (I should have written down his name) was fabulous and funny. The hour flew by and so did people's hats! I said it was a windy day and the tour is conducted outside the huts. You get a ton of insight into who worked in which huts and how they interacted and how they were kept apart. Plus you get a perspective on how outsiders to the project perceived the folks inside. Since so many people were coming and going most folks thought Bletchly Park was an insane asylumn.

After the guided tour you are free to visit the museum, the mansion and the huts themselves. The huts have old typewriters and desks in them and films show throughout with holograms for people so you can learn their story.

In the museum you learn about Alan Turing and his contribution to the code breaking of the German enigma machine which helped to end WWII a lot sooner. The guide though spoke about Bill Tutte who is not as well recognized for his contribution but apparently he perfected what Turing created.

The museum did acknowledge that after the war, they treated Turing badly. He was gay and since that was illegal in Britain in those days, they ended up jailing Turing for a number of years. Turing ended up commiting suicide shortly after. It wasn't until after his death that his contributions to the code breaking were more widely acknowledged.

Due to the politics and the fact that the National Museum of Computing did not seek lottery funding but Bletchly Park received lottery funding, there is a fence now separating the two properties. To me they are part and parcel of the same big picture project. The code breaking would not have been done as quickly if they had to do the calculations manually rather than by the machines that were created.

We visited the National Museum of Computing from 3-5PM. At first when we entered there was a gentleman who asked if we wanted to read the plaques or get a lecture and we chose the lecture. As he began more folks joined us on the tour. This was very technically detailed about the radio waves and the creation of the Colossus machine. My DH seemed to follow along. It went over my head and my son's but we listened attentively. He was very informative if I only understood it all it would have been better. The machines were very impressive.

On display in the museum, they had an enigma machine that my DH played with. We recognized the old punch card machines that we used to use. They also had commodores and atari's and a space invadors game plus pac man that you can play with a joy stick. Remember those? My son had fun playing all those nostalgic machines and so did we! Then they also had minecraft for the younger generations which was hard to pry my son away from.

They had a special exhibit on graphic design and you can create your own special effects with a camera and a green screen. We stayed at the museum until the end of the day. It was a lot of fun.

Back by Euston Station we took bus #30 over to Marylebone near Glentworth Place for the Phoenix Palace restaurant. I read about this from one of FlannerUK's posts when someone asked about a good Chinese restaurant and I jotted it down. The food was very good. Thanks FlannerUK if you are reading this.

We then took bus #74 at Baker Street back to the hotel which again was packed with people boarding around Oxford Street. Babies, strollers and suitcases on the bus.

NEXT: LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM AND WALLACE COLLECTION
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 12:48 AM
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The unfortunate Turing wasn't jailed. He opted for chemical castration instead.
In a way, like Oscar Wilde, he was a victim of his own nativity.
Wilde was misguided enough to sue for libel. When he lost the case, the police had to prosecute him for homosexuality.

Turing was robbed by a rent boy and reported him to the police. Again, the police had no alternative but to prosecute him.
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 01:17 AM
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"The Normans where just the next load of norse-men who invaded, but the also the last and the first who developed good propaganda."

We British always claim to have resisted invasion since 1066 and we usually manage to conveniently forget 1688.
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 02:57 AM
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The last norse-men.
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 03:29 AM
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Hi again EUROPEANNOVICE,

What a great day at Bletchly Park. interesting about the chauffeur's hut . Sad about Alan Turing. The work done there was so pivotal to the WWII war effort.

Glad DS enjoyed the Computing Museum. I sometimes think of my first computer - an IBM hand me down in 1995 from my daughter. Didn't know what to do with it at first. It would be fun to fool around with one now and see how it works now.

Looking forward to more especially the Wallace Collection...
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 04:28 AM
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Good morning europeannovice:

I enjoyed the television mystery drama miniseries "The Bletchly Circle" about 4 women who used to work as code breakers at Bletchley Park broadcast on PBS. Reading your report fabulous.

Alan Turing this article speaks for itself. I was growing up during this period and was not aware. Suspect it just wasn't talked about at least by my parents - http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/24/world/...-royal-pardon/

Yes very glad your son liked the Computing Museum. We sometime talk about the huge computer that our oldest child took with her to college back in 1986 and it was expensive. Nothing like what is available today.

Thank you for sharing so many details.

Sandy
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 12:41 PM
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It is very different from Chartwell which looks more like real home than a museum. They say he was very fond of Blenheim but he chose quite a different place to live as an adult. I liked the landscaping all around Chartwell.>>

for those who want to spend more time in that area, there are some delightful little places like Toys hill and Ide hill, Chiddingstone, and Westerham being the closest. Wonderful walking too. and for those with an interest in such things, one of the founders of the National trust, Octavia Hill, is buried in the church in nearby Crockham Hill. With all the lovely gardens in the area and easy access to the places mentioned by European Novice, you could easily spend 2-3 weeks round there and never run out of things to do.
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Old Aug 30th, 2014, 04:46 PM
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ANNHIG, great suggestions about further exploration in Kent - not sure that I will ever get there but it's nice to know.

EUROPEANNOVICE, you mentioned that you saw Princess Diana's wedding dress in the V & A bridal exhibit. Here is another take on her dress in today's Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...nteen-years-da
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Old Aug 31st, 2014, 10:47 AM
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Josser--right thanks for the correction. They gave Turing a choice of jail or chemical castration--what a choice after all he did for the country. Sad really.

SandyBrit-thanks for the link. That about sums it up. Sad he wasn't properly recognized for his efforts during his lifetime.

Annhig--Yes--the southeast is loaded with wonderful National Trust properties and English Heritage properties. Too many to choose in a short visit. The area around Chiddingstone is also beautiful.

Latedaytraveler--Princess Diana's dress was not on display at the V&A, only Camilla's dress was on display. I think you are confusing when I said Princess Diana's picture with William was on display at Buckingham Palace and the outfit William wore in the picture was in a display case.

Thanks for the link too. I think Diana was actually lost in that dress. I personally liked Catherine's dress much better.
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Old Aug 31st, 2014, 08:52 PM
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DAY 11 LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM AND WALLACE COLLECTION AND MOSTLY MOZART AT ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS.

Okay so today we had a few choices, we could have done Greenwich and skipped the Wallace Collection and London transport museum because the upcoming days were planned with pre-booked things, or we could have done either Wallace or LTM with the London Walks walk called Lure of the Underground which we had also wanted to do.

However, I really didn't want to miss the Wallace Collection and DH and DS didn't want to miss the London transport museum both of which me missed on our first trip to London. Plus we had been to the Chatham Historic Dockyards on this trip so we did learn a lot about England's dominance of the seas there along with the ropery tour. While it would have been nice to take our photo op on the prime meridian, we chose the other alternatives for the day instead.

After breakfast at Cafe Forum we took the tube with a transfer at South Kensington to the piccadilly line (if only the Gloucester Road station piccadilly line were operating it would have been a bit easier) to Covent Garden. We had 2 for 1 vouchers to use for the LTM so we paid for one adult and the child goes free.

The museum had a special exhibit for the 100th anniversary of WWI. It was centered around how many bus drivers transported their buses and drove the buses to the front line to provide supplies to the troops. It also spoke about how many women went to work to support the war effort. The total war when everyone and the entire country's economy was involved in the war effort.

The permanent exhibit showcases the history of the tube from its inception and shows which tunnels were built first. It has maps and tube cars on display. It was a very nice little museum. We spent a lot of time in the gift shop. Mind the gap and all.

After the museum we were hungry for lunch so we remembered having eaten at Browns the last time we were in London and ate there for lunch on this day. The food was good but I can't recall what we ate. I didn't jot down each meal like some folks do.

After lunch we took the tube at Charing Cross to Baker Street for the Wallace Collection. We got there a little before 2:30 which was the time for their highlights tour that I had wanted to join. The collection is from the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess of Hertford, Richard Wallace.

The tour was supposed to last only an hour but the woman conducting the tour gave us a lot of background and history of the family first and then we examined each piece she wanted to highlight in detail. My DH and DS got bored and walked away from the tour and explored on their own. I stuck with it for the entire two hours. We examined different pieces whether it be a plate or a sword or vase or masterpiece (and there were a lot of those). We discussed them at length. I thought it was interesting but I can certainly understand DH and DS's boredom. Some others dropped out too as it went beyond the hour but a good number of us stayed with her.

The Wallace Colleciton has an extensive collection of arms and armour too. I think it matches or maybe even exceeds that at the white tower in the Tower of London. The courtyard for tea looked lovely but we didn't stop there.

The Wallace Collection is still being renovated and as such master pieces like the Laughing Cavelier are in the basement on display. I enjoyed the Wallace Collection very much. It will be fantastic when the improvements are complete.

When we left it was rush hour and I didn't want us to take the tube over to Trafalgar Square during rush hour. We took the #13 bus back to Charing Cross instead. I made reservations at Cote at St Martins Place for dinner. It was either be like a sardine for 10 minutes during rush hour on the tube or take the slow scenic route for an hour on the bus and have a seat which is what we did.

The dinner at this Cote was okay. I liked the Cote at Tunbridge wells better food and ambiance wise. This one was much noisier and their fixed price meal was slightly higher because they are located in London of course.

I forgot to mention earlier on that I had pre-purchased tickets for the mostly Mozart concert at St Martin the Fields for this evening. I had read reviews that said the group was not that great and the concert is geared only to the tourists. Maybe because I am a tourist, I thought they were pretty good.

Well originally I had wanted to see a classical concert at the Royal Albert Hall during Proms but I had read that the venue is awful in the summer months. No air circulating making it stifling hot with thousands of people in attendance and not that great acoustics. That did not sound appealing so I was in search of something else and found the concert series at St Martin in the Fields. Like I said we enjoyed it.

We were sitting next to a couple from the states and behind us from Canada (so I guess the concert does attract many tourists). The man seated next to told me about Robin Williams death. I was shocked. He was such a great comedian. When we came back to the hotel we saw the headlines in the newspaper. So sad.

NEXT: ROYAL DAY OUT AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE ALONG WITH APSLEY HOUSE AND WELLINGTON ARCH
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Old Aug 31st, 2014, 08:58 PM
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It should say both of which "we" missed. I noticed a few typos which I can't go back to correct.
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Old Sep 1st, 2014, 04:37 AM
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Hi again EUROPEANNOVICE,

"I think Diana was actually lost in that dress. I personally liked Catherine's dress much better." Agreed, the fabric was stunning, but the whole ensemble overwhelming - especially those balloon-like sleeves.

The London Transport Museum sounds interesting, particularly the bit about the buses used on the front during WWI. So many exhibits around the "Great War" now in London.

I am glad you made it to the Wallace Collection and stayed throughout the tour. It's understandable that DH and DS could get bored and drifted away. I love the house itself including that fabulous balustrade encasing the marble stairs. The dining room looks so inviting although I did not eat there.

Then on to the concert at St. Martin's - what a full day. Looking forward to more...
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Old Sep 1st, 2014, 05:56 AM
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Thanks, Latedaytraveler. It was a full day but not really an exhausting day (except for the hour long bus ride which was our choice since we could have taken the tube to save time).

I too loved the architecture of Hertford house in addition to the fabulous collection inside. We also did not eat or have tea in the courtyard dining room because when we got there we had just had lunch.

The concert was very nice and relaxing too.
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Old Sep 1st, 2014, 06:55 AM
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DAY 12 ROYAL DAY OUT AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE ALONG WITH APSLEY HOUSE AND WELLINGTON ARCH

Today we had timed tickets for the Royal Day Out at Buckingham Palace. The Royal Day Out includes the Queen's Gallery which you see first on a timed basis (ours was the first of the day at 9:30AM), Buckinham Palace State Rooms and the Royal Mews. We took the district line to St James Park. Yeah, no transfer necessary this morning since we didn't need the piccadilly line.

The Queen's Gallery has a special on the Georgians describing the family tree of who succeeded who over time. There are some portraits and baubles to see. The Queen's attic it is often described. Nice attic.

Then we move on to the state rooms at Buckingham Palace. You go through airport style security which at Buckinham Palace is fine (wait until I describe the security at Parliament!). We missed the changing of the guard since we were inside the palace at the time but we had seen it last time so no big deal.

The gold, the gilt, the glamour. The masterpieces are hanging on the walls as you traverse from room to room. The Palace tickets includes a special exhibit on royal childhood. On display are pushchairs or strollers, highchairs, clothing, toys of various royal members over the years. They show films and video footage of Queen Elizabeth II's children. For instance, Charles and his sister were sitting in the parlor and reading books etc.

There is a picture of Princess Diana holding William as a young lad wearing a green jumper and they have the green jumper in the display case. I am surprised they kept the clothing from each child that long to be available for such a display so many years later.

At the end of the tour you see a bit of the garden and there is a garden cafe which we did not go to since we weren't hungry yet.

We moved along to the Royal Mews. The mews keeps two types of horses--Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays. Most of the horses were at Balmoral for the summer but they had two or three of each breed in the stables.

A tour was just about to begin on the stagecoaches which we joined. They have a 250 year old stage coach that has been used in many coronations. It has gold wheels and gold is everywhere. Queen Elizabeth II chose to use a different stage coach for her 60th anniversary jubilee since that one works but wobbles. They have a brand new stagecoach too.

The guide explains how the stables came to be called the mews. During the time of Richard II, there were royal hawk nests at Charing Cross. The word mew refers to the birds moulting. In the 1500's there was a fire and the royal horses were moved into the mews which became their new stables. Hence the derivation of the name mews for the royal horses. Something to that effect.

Now we were getting hungry so we moved along to Hyde Park Corner and near the subway (underground walkway) we saw a Pret a manger which looked inviting so we ate there.

We approached Wellington Arch first and since we had our English Heritage passes that were good for 30 days, we toured that under the pass. A nice little exhibit. Spiral stairs or the lift to the top and then you work your way down.

Finally we moved along to Apsley House. It was a little dark in there but more masterpieces, china sets, and swords on display. As you approach the staircase you see the large statue of Napolean and his fig leaf.


When we entered the dining room that can seat 45?? there was a gentleman standing in the room who gave a lecture about the room, the centerpiece which is a stunning multi piece silver set and other info. He talked for about an hour and a sizable group sat all along the dining room table listening.

Since we were close we took the tube to Knightsbridge and attempted to go to Harrods since the last time we didn't go there. It was a mob scene in there. We barely saw a little of the food halls and declared we had enough.

One more tube stop to South Kensington for dinner at Orsini again. This was our third time eating there. We really enjoyed the food at this lovely little family restaurant.

NEXT: JEWEL TOWER, FRISKED AT PARLIAMENT, TATE BRITAIN AND BILLY ELLIOTT
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Old Sep 1st, 2014, 04:55 PM
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EUROPEANNOVICE,

Another great day, eh? Glad to read about your visit to Buckingham Palace which I missed because my trips to London have been in June. I have done the Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews on different occasions. What is the price for the Royal Day Out, if I may ask?

DS must have enjoyed the horses, carriages, and limos in the Mews. I am sure you saw that wonderful new carriage given by some Australian.

I also enjoyed Apsley House. Got a chuckle out of Napoleon's nude statue in all his glory. The paintings are fabulous. The Brits do love Wellington as well they should.

Look forward to your day in Parliament...
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Old Sep 1st, 2014, 05:38 PM
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The last time we visited London it was also June so we could not tour Buckingham Palace then either. To be honest I prefer June as the better time to visit London. The crowds are a bit less in June, the weather is a bit cooler and the flowers are in full bloom. In August it felt more humid and it seemed more crowded.

The Royal Day Out is £34.50 per adult and less for children. My son did enjoy the mews, certainly better than the Queen's Gallery and state rooms from his perspective. The tour guide in the mews was very good too. I loved the brand new carriage.

Yes I really enjoyed Apsley House. I enjoyed the information provided by the guide in the dining room too.

Both the Wallace Collection and Apsley House have a lot of masterpieces and "stuff" (silver, plates, swords etc. etc.) All very unique. Fine collectibles they are, aren't they?

Yes they adore Wellington. Walmer Castle is another one of his abodes.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 11:46 AM
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latedaytraveller, we did not have a tour at the British Library. We barely had an hour there and spent it in the Treasures Room, which was heaven! When we go to London next year, I will have to make time for a tour.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 06:05 PM
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Hi NOLA77382,

Glad to hear that you are taking the tour of the British Library "next time." It includes so much information, especially about the "readers" and their particular interests,also their wealth of holdings in exotic languages.

The BRITISH LIBRARY has branched out in recent years with lectures, events, courses, and the like. It's a vibrant institution.
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Old Sep 5th, 2014, 03:34 AM
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Hi EUROPEANNOVICE,

Waiting to hear about your visit to Parliament and the Tate...
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