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Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Old Sep 8th, 2014, 03:42 AM
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Hi EUROPEANNOVICE

"We had a great session with the guide. Many questions asked and answered and a lot learned throughout the tour with a good dose of humor thrown in too."

Sounds as if you did have a great guide. I am sure that DS will remember that visit as he studies history in the future.

To me the outstanding feature of our tour (other than the graciousness of the MP- an uncle of one of my students) was seeing the Chapel of St. Mary's Undercroft. This jewel survived the fire in the 1830 in the "Palace of Westminster" as Parliament is officially known I guess. A few years back, Margaret Thatcher lay in state here before her huge funeral at St. Paul's.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_par...7621765942023/

BILBOBURGLER

Mr. Skinner must be getting up there in age now. Occasionally when I watch Commons session on Youtube, I catch a glimpse of him in the front row. He usually wears a gray blazer so he sort of stands out from those in dark suits.

Coincidentally, I was also in London this June, three years later from the original trial, when Rebecca Brooks (she of the long red hair) was found not guilty.
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 05:01 AM
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The Parliament Tour was one of the highlights of our trip in 2011 (I wasn't frisked like you europeannovice, thank goodness). We got to sit in the green seats in the House of Commons, which apparently not all tours get to do. I do wish I knew an MP and could get a tour like latedaytraveller; that sounds spectacular. No matter, we definitely plan to tour it again next year and I love the idea of taking tea there!

Sad that there's only one more day to your report, europeannovice, but looking forward to reading it! Cheers.
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 07:22 AM
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"Coincidentally, I was also in London this June, three years later from the original trial, when Rebecca Brooks (she of the long red hair) was found not guilty."

I suppose 10 guilty men must walk free to ensure that 1 innocent man is not convicted, even so that was a laughable result. Did you see videos of her husband hiding computers so the cops couldn't find them. "Foolish but not criminal"

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/judgem...l-says-defence
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 11:15 AM
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BILBOBURGLER, lol - as the French say, "Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose."
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 07:27 PM
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Thanks all.

Nola--Enjoy your re-visit to Parliament. It is a wonderful tour and the tea was nice on the terrace just don't go hungry. Plus watch out for that one security guard Hopefully you won't encounter her!

DAY 14 LAST FULL DAY IN LONDON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON WALKS INNS OF COURT, TATE MODERN MATISSE CUT OUTS

Well a trip to London would not be complete for me unless I visit Boots for a few of my favorite things that I can not get back here in the states. I love Compeed--little blister pads that come in various sizes. I had commented before I find it ironic that it is manufactured by a US company but they do not sell the same item here. They call it something else and do not use the same materials. The ones in the US fall off almost immediately. We go into Boots and they were having a buy one get one half off sale--Yay!! So I stock up of course

Next we decide to try to venture to the Natural History Museum again and line up before opening. We got there fairly early prior to opening and the queue was already forming. Within 15 minutes the queue was wrapped around the gates. As they let you in, you zig zag across the barriers like rats in a maze. Seriously it was a funny site and once at the top of the security check in line I looked back and took a picture of the masses of people going around the maze.

The outside of the building is an architectural wonder. The animal carvings are so detailed. I loved the outside of the building almost as much as what was inside.

Once inside we dashed over to the dinosaur exhibit in the blue zone before the queue would begin to form. It was an interesting exhibit but truthfully I have seen better at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh which has a massive dinosaur collection and at the Natural History Museum in NY. The highlight for little kids is the roaring dinosaur toward the end of the walkway which we were not impressed by. We have seen the same thing at the Toys R US store in Times Square when my son was little so now that he is older we didn't think much of it. The rest of the exhibit was okay. They don't talk about the fact that some of the dinosaurs were found to have feathers.

We then used our two for one voucher for the special exhibit 1,000 years of man which we enjoyed much better. It talks about cro magnon and homosapiens and discussed their similarities and differences. The exhibit discusses the first man made tools that were created and how they were used and when the first humans inhabited Great Britain. This was a good exhibit. By the time we left that exhibit, we saw that the dinosaur exhibit had a queue of about an hour. A very very long queue had formed.

We moved over to the orange zone for the Darwin Center and explored the cocoon. This is the newest wing of the Natural History museum built in 2009 I believe. There was no activity going on at the Attenborough Studio until much later in the afternoon. The Darwin Center houses many species in the biodiversity chain (mostly insects and such). Sometimes you can speak to a member of staff as they examine specimens but only one lady was performing research under the microscope and she was not available for questions and answers. They have many computer screens that you can stop at and garner information about particular scientists such as Darwin himself among others and also learn about different ways and methods the research is being performed. They have some interactive screens which asks you to group specimens into categories. I liked this part of the museum.

We moved along to the green zone with the rocks and minerals. Old fashioned glass enclosed cases. Next, we took the space escalator in the red zone and did the Japanese earthquake simulator. By this time the museum was getting unbearably crowded and we wanted to leave. We really didn't get to explore the red zone. The crowds were enormous and it was very hot and stuffy in there.

We left and hopped on the tube toward Holborn. We had stayed in Holborn the last time we were in London so we remembered there was a cute little pub near the tube station and wanted to go there for lunch. It is called the Ships Tavern--a pub downstairs and seating upstairs for lunch and dinner. DH and I had a pint and DS a soda. DS and I had fish and chips and DH had a steak and ale pie. The food was good. Candles were glowing for ambiance. We wanted to be near Holborn because at 14:00 we were looking forward to joining the London Walks Inns of Court Walk.

A large group had formed but where was the guide? Finally Angela showed up and took our money for the tour. Prior to the tour I learned a lot about the London legal system from posts with Annhig so I joined the tour well informed already!

Angela is an actress not a solicitor or barrister. I think if you take the tour with Shaun or Tom you would have a different experience since they are barristers. Angela was a good guide but she read her script including some very cute literary citations. We loved looking at the 4 Inns of Court and were amazed at how quiet it is just a block in from a major street. She pointed out the insignias in front of the buildings and explained the uses of the inns and how many obligatory meals one had to attend. We discussed the history of the Knights Templar and passed by Temple Church.

We had wanted to eat lunch at middle temple hall to view its interior originally but when I inquired about that prior to arrival they were not in session so public lunches were not available at that time. During the walking tour you don't go inside any of the inns either.

During the tour, Angela pointed out one building that had survived the Great Fire of London and it was a medieval timbered building. She allowed us time to take a picture of it. We were taken to a store front where the barristers can purchase their wigs, suits and robes. The tour ends by the Royal Courts of Justice near the Strand. Overall it was a very good tour.

We took the bus after the walk over to Tate Modern. We had tickets for the 18:15 guided tour of the Matisse Cut Outs and we had time before the tour so we sat down at the museum cafeteria for another cup of tea and scones. I like these afternoon breaks of tea time!

We toured the museum a little bit and then it was time for our guided tour of the Matisse Cut Outs. Well the guide shows but she couldn't figure out how to operate the head sets. Another museum staffer had to help her and we waited for about 20 minutes into our tour until everyone had a useful headset. She assured us she would give us the full hour once we got started and she did as promised.

I thought a 18:15 tour time would mean a little less crowded but no that would not be the case. The rooms were packed and her microphone would go in and out so sometimes we heard her and other times not.

As far as the exhibit itself, I liked it very much. It was the first time that a sizable collection of Matisse Cut outs were in the same place for this special exhibit. It is heading to NY after London and then the pieces will be scattered about back to their original owners. Matisse was ill and could not stand to paint anymore. His father was a tailor and he knew how to work with fabric. Matisse experimented with this new genre. You can see the pin holes where he instructed his staff to position the pieces just so and moved them if he didn't like the original location. The colors were wonderful and the guide explained certain shapes etc. She wanted to know our thoughts on certain pieces. Despite her mechanical difficulty with the headsets, we did enjoy the tour and exhibit very much.

After, we walked over Blackfriers Bridge to the district line tube back to our hotel. Upon arrival at our hotel we were given a 50% off voucher for dinner at the hotel pan asian restaurant called Umami and we made reservations for our last evening. We arrived fairly late but they were still serving dinner. It was a special tastings menu. I have to say the food was quite good. We closed the restaurant by the time we were finished and it was about 22:00 but at least we didn't have a far commute back to our room. Time to pack because the next morning we were heading home. Two weeks flies by so quickly.

DEPARTURE DAY--I might as well finish up.

We opted not to take the tube back to Heathrow airport so instead we had arranged for Just Airports to pick us up the next morning. Right when we were at checkout the driver came in and we were off to the airport. We had breakfast at one of the new restaurants in Terminal 2. We remembered about the 15 minute walk to the gate so we left plenty of time to make it on time. Security there was a breeze.

The weird part was going on the plane itself. A plane full of people and I approach my seat only to find a metal frame but no seat cushion. This could only happen to me! At first I am stunned as to why there is no seat and no staff member seemed to notice before they let people board the plane???? I pointed this situation out to one of the flight attendants and she said "Yes, that appears to be a problem isn't it?"

My DH joked that the last person took all his carry-on stuff with him including the seat. I was worried that someone might have gotten sick on the seat and that is why it was removed. Meanwhile others were filling the plane and they had to call maintenance to get me a seat cushion. My DS said they should have moved me to Business Class but they didn't do that. Instead after about 15 minutes someone came on board with a seat cushion. You would think they should have inspected first. We still left on time at least.

The audio equipment also didn't work on the flight for all of coach even though they tried to re-load it a couple of times. They offered everyone some additional miles for that--big deal.

Anyway back home now and I got to relive all this by writing the trip report.
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 07:34 PM
  #126  
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Even though the prior post is so long, I forgot to mention that when leaving the Natural History Museum which was afternoon already, the queue to get in was also about an hour or more. Just a massive queue.

It probably is not like that the rest of the year but in August the queue was unbelievable.
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 09:08 PM
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I'm amazed about the crowds at the museum. I've been many times but only once in maybe the last 8 or 9 years and I've never seen it like that. Was it the bank holiday or something?
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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 01:01 AM
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The queue was the same when we visited on a Sunday in March. We went straight to the dinosaurs and spent the next hour shuffling inch by inch across the walkway. We lost enthusiasm 10 mins in, but there was no way forward or back, so we had to keep shuffling forward.
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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 03:57 AM
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Hi again EUROPEANNOVICE,

Again, a great last day. Too bad the Natural History Museum was so crowded, but sounds interesting.

Nice to revisit the Ship's Tavern in Holburn - I have passed it many times. Glad you enjoyed your London Walks through the Inns of Court. I recall your exchange with Annhig on the subject - helpful to have an expert on board.

The Matisse Cutouts were great, eh? It's a once in a lifetime show. You finished off the day nicely with a dinner in the hotel. Sounds good.

Thanks for a great trip report. You described so well the many venues that I have enjoyed in my recent trips to London. You folks have provided DS (I tend to think in terms of my own grandchildren) with wonderful experiences.
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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 04:10 AM
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Seat cushion problem - happended to me too on an Air Transat flight to Vancouver. Cabin crew admitted someone had been sick on the incoming sector - yuk! You could smell the vomit as well, just disgusting. I insisted we were moved to another row - which they did, and placated us with some free drinks/snacks but no upgrade unfortunately.
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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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Aww, it's over. But what a great trip you had and took us on! Appreciate all the details and will surely be using a lot of this as I plan for 2015.

I, too, had a seat cushion issue but it was body odor related. Y'all remember the Seinfeld "Smelly Car" episode where the valet had the worst case of B.O, ever? That was my seat. They changed out the cover but not the cushion since we were already in the air but didn't do anything else for me; full plane. It was Air France and I hope to never fly them again!
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 04:33 PM
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I want to thank everyone who followed along as I wrote about our adventures in the UK.

Nola--glad our our trip report will help in your planning. Will look forward to reading yours too when you return! Enjoy

The seat issue was really gross. First, the flight attendant said, "yes, that is a bit of a problem isn't?". Then when I asked for the possible reason and wondered whether someone was sick on the flight before, she asked me "Why, do I smell puke?". The flight was fairly full so they didn't plan on moving us or even just me. They should do a thorough inspection of the seat conditions and rectify it before the next set of passengers come on board but they don't.

Gordon--at least you got moved to another row.

Nola--Yuk!

Latedaytraveler--Yes, the Matisse Cut-outs were wonderful and to see so many in one place for the exhibit was a treat. I am glad you enjoyed my descriptions. Sometimes after I finished a post for a day I thought it might be too lengthy but glad you followed along.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 06:38 PM
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Hi again EUROPEANNOVICE,

"Sometimes after I finished a post for a day I thought it might be too lengthy ..." No, your entries were just right and very informative.

Dare I ask - where are you folks going next???
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Old Sep 13th, 2014, 05:15 PM
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Thanks,

I tried to be as descriptive as possible.

We haven't decided where to next, but probably somewhere domestic. Need to recover from this one. We saw and did a lot but even after two weeks there were still some things we missed that we would have liked to have visited: Greenwich, the British Library etc. Thought for sure we would get there this time around and we didn't have time for the library. Either it was too early or too late when we were in the surrounding areas. Oh well. To keep on the list for next time!
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 06:44 AM
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Just saw this in today's Telegraph . . . The Matisse exhibition has been the most popular show ever staged at Tate Modern

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/a...tion-ever.html
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 04:49 PM
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Janisj- Thanks for the link. I only wish it were that empty like in the picture on the day we visited but the masses were certainly present that evening. I had thought that a Friday evening guided tour at 18:15 would be less crowded than during the day but it was really packed in the rooms. I enjoyed the exhibit very much. It is on to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in NY next.

Your visit is coming up soon. Will look forward to your trip report!
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 05:25 PM
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JANISJ, thanks for the link. I am so glad I saw the show in June and took the tour with one of the staff. A friend is going to see the Cutouts at the MOMA in New York this fall so I will forward the piece.

Like EUROPEANNOVICE, I look forward to your trip report. Have a great time....
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 06:50 PM
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Really enjoyed your trip report, I am looking into doing almost this same trip. Could you share with us the name of the B&B you stayed at near Tunbridge Wells?
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Old Sep 17th, 2014, 01:55 PM
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We were taken to a store front where the barristers can purchase their wigs, suits and robes.>>

Ede and Ravenscroft, I presume? did you see the daft things they make us wear and how expensive they are? I only bought my gown there, which I still have, 35 years later still almost good as new. My wig I got 2nd hand through my Inn and it still looks as grim as it did the way I got it. Thank goodness I only have to wear it once a year or so.

anyway, I'm glad that you enjoyed the tour of the Inns of Court and that you felt well prepared. You'll have to come back so you can have lunch in Middle Temple though.
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 06:16 PM
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Just read this report. Wonderful! I'm thinking of including SE/Kent in my trip next summer. Great detail and ideas. Bookmarking.
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