Saddest, weirdest, 'funnest', trip ever

Old Jun 28th, 2012, 12:02 AM
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Great report on your excursions in the Dales. Yorke Arms is now on my someday list!
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 07:42 PM
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Oooh - staying at the Yorke Arms would be a dream!

pressing on . . . Tuesday - Canceled flight, Finding a way to Jersey, and a wonderful upgrade

I was the only guest last night so am alone in the b'fast room -- but still the patriotic music to signal 'soups on'. My stay has been quite nice -- the B&B gardens are lovely, it is walking distance to the Falls, Aysgarth is a convenient base for getting around the Dales, and the owner let me use her computer - but I still think the purple and breakfast serenade are just a tad quirky

After checking out I head down the A1 to Leeds/Bradford airport for my 1PM FlyBe flight. The routing was Leeds > Exeter > Jersey. I got there w/ plenty of time to spare, turn the car in at Hertz and walk over to the terminal and look for FlyBe check in . . . OK -- Exeter flight isn't on the board?? The airport is under construction and there is quite a bit of confusion - There was an airport greeter to help folks find where they need to be . . only it was her first day on the job and she didn't know anything.

Apparently FlyBe doesn't have any landside staff at Leeds - they use a sort of generic customer service desk. Come to find out -- the Exeter flight was canceled (the plane had mechanical problems and never left Exeter) They first said I couldn't fly out until tomorrow. OH NO -- they didn't!!

I insisted there must be some way - and they found availability 6 hours later to Southampton and eventually arriving in Jersey late that night. Crap! Got a food voucher and stomped off (well not really 'stomped' but I wasn't a happy camper). Plus it was too early to check in for the Southampton flight and there is virtually nothing landside but a sort of snack bar.

I saw the same airport greeter -- and she commiserated about my predicament. Another couple overheard our conversation and said "you know, Jet2 has a jersey flight in about an hour." No we didn't know (they are in a different part of the terminal and the flights didn't display). I ran over there and booked - then ran back to FlyBe's customer service desk to find out about a refund. "Here is the e-mail address" - OKAY, I'll deal w/ that later.

Went through security and waited . . . And there is a total power failure in the departure lounge! This trip is jinxed (!) . . . No announcements and LOTS of people wandering around w/ looks on their faces from mild curiosity to total rage. One shop stayed open for cash only w/ all their £££ out on a counter and the clerk making change. Everything else shut.

The power is still out -but it must only be affecting airside since more people keep coming through security and the lounges are totally crammed. Flight announcements resume and even though the terminal is still dark -- my flight boards on time!!

It was a nice flight - landed in Jersey about 50 minutes after my original FlyBe ETA.

I am staying at The Old Courthouse in St Aubin for the next 3 nights (THANK YOU Gordon_R!!!). I had decided to rent a car just for Wed, Thurs, Fri morning so took a cab to the hotel.

What a find - I booked a small non-water view single and they upgraded me to a large harbor front king. The views from my room are amazing! I may never leave

They explained the weird parking system - and gave me a book of scratch cards. I already had a pretty good understanding from Gordon's posts on my Jersey thread, but seeing the actual scratch cards . . . My goodness, who devised this?? You have to scratch off 5 separate sections on the cards every time you park. The little car park across from the hotel is free parking from 5PM to 8AM so I can park over night no problem, but have to use scratchers in the afternoon/morning.

There are several places to eat in the hotel from a posh restaurant (which is also the breakfast room), to a patio bistro, to a pub, and others I didn't try.

Tonight I ate in the bistro - rack of lamb which was very good. Walked around the harbor and up into the town proper

http://www.oldcourthousejersey.com/first.aspx

Next: Durrell Wildlife park, Orchids, Scenery, Samares Manor . . . and getting lost more than once
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 03:26 AM
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You have to scratch off 5 separate sections on the cards every time you park.

And if you are parking somewhere all day, you have to display a whole collection of individual paycards along your dashboard! Truly one of the weirdest parking payment systems anywhere in the world. How was the parking in St Aubin anyway? Manageable or difficult as it so often is?
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 07:07 AM
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I had no problems. It was easy and convenient. The car park seemed to be totally full during the day -- but by late afternoon there was always space. One day I got back after 5PM so just used a scratch card for after 8AM the next morning. The other day I returned maybe 3:30 or 4-ish so used two scratchers - 1 for the afternoon and one for the next morning.

The only other place I used/needed them was in Gorey.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 03:37 PM
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This is just an amazing trip, Janis. I want to take your report and fly over!!!
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 06:47 PM
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Sorry for the hold up -- was hoping to finish up Jersey and London by this weekend. But the next couple of days aren't in my Journal - wrote quick bits in my little 'Keep Calm & Carry On' notebook and now I can't find it Will try to recreate from memory what I saw/did on Jersey. So the odd detail may be slightly out of order but using my photos it should be pretty close:

Durrell Wildlife park, Orchids, Scenery, Samares Manor . . . and getting lost more than once

When I landed yesterday I spoke w/ the Avis rep at the airport to check how/where I'd get my car today. They don't have an actual desk in the airport but a sort of portable rostrum. He rang up the depot and found out I had booked for pick up at the airport and they couldn't deliver the car to St Aubin. Not to worry, there is a bus stop about 2 blocks from the hotel soeasy to get to the airport.

When I woke up the first thing I noticed was I couldn't see much of the harbor (which is about 60 feet from my windows). REALLY foggy. Very good breakfast - off the menu plus cold continental/buffet items.

I walk up to the bus stop - soon a #15 bus arrives and in about 15 mins I'm at the airport. Only problem . . . The airport is pretty much shut down due to the fog. No arrivals or departures. Ergo -- no staff/no Avis rostrum!? I mentioned I'm traveling 'off the grid' so to speak. No phone or laptop. This was the really the first time I truly regretted that decision.

A man let me use his mobile (he had come out to pick up several students going to a conference/competition . . and was returning empty handed). I rang up (or actually - he rang up) Avis and about 15 mins later the agent drove up in my car. He drove to the depot and w/i a few mins I was on my way.

My plan was to concentrate on the eastern half of the island today and more of the west side/beaches tomorrow. First stop the Durrell Wildlife foundation.

It is quite large - I ended up spending maybe 2.5 hours there. The Meerkats!! . . . they are soooooo cute This was actually better/more interesting than I expected. But maybe in hindsight my time would have been better spent exploring things more uniquely 'Jersey'. (I've been to Port Lympne in Kent a couple of times and while the 'atmosphere' is different at Durrell, they are pretty similar)

http://www.durrell.org/Wildlife-park/

Okay Gordon_R . . . I have s slight bone to pick w/ you! You recommended the Old Courthouse - great! You explained the nutty parking scratch cards - very helpful. You gave me lots of good/useful suggestions - really helped me plan my time. BUT you neglected to mention some of the roads Off the few main roads -- the signs are practically useless. It is like they don't want you to know where you are! And narrow?? Some of the single tracks in the Dales are motorways by comparison

At least rental cars all display a big red "H" - probably to prevent mayhem

Have to dash off so will pick this up later tonight. . . .
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 09:02 PM
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From the animal park I made my way to the Eric Young Orchid foundation. I didn't have a decent map the whole time I was on Jersey -- just those glossy tourist maps from the hotel and a similar one from Avis. My &^%$* road atlas was useless. The Channel Islands were supposed to be an inset on page 3, but the inset was missing. So instead of a few missing roads/villages, the whole bloody island was missing (just tonight I noticed that one of my old UK atlases I have here at home has a terrific map of Jersey . . . )

Anyway, the 2nd time I passed the same house/garden I figured I was going in circles! What probably should have been a 10 or 15 minute drive took easily 45 minutes! But it was definitely 'worth' the hassle. What gorgeous flowers . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wZ7FQy3BCI
http://tinyurl.com/85lfxdw

Then I drove down to Samares Manor where I had a late lunch (quite good) before exploring the gardens. Was too late (thanks to driving in circles to hell and gone) to get a tour of the house -- but I can come back tomorrow w/o paying again. I have to decide if I want to come back tomorrow or skip it and do the west side of the island.

This place is really beautiful (and worth the trek)

http://www.samaresmanor.com/

http://tinyurl.com/7lg7fhb

I had assumed that driving through St Helier (the only city) would be difficult . . . But that was the easiest bit. The main thru roads are very well sign posted and it was easy peasy. Samares Manor > St Helier > St Aubin could not have been simpler. Got back to the hotel about 5:30 so I didn't even have to use a scratch card . . .

The fog had lifted by mid morning (at least on the east side of the island). There was a bit of light rain followed by brilliant sunshine. So it ended up a very nice day. I explored a bit more of St Aubin and then walked back to the hotel around 7PM and decided to eat at the hotel again.

Ordered a whole cracked crab. Both the barman and the waitress came back to make sure I knew what I had ordered. I guess they thought I'd freak when whole a crab arrived at my table Being from Northern Calif. I am VERY used to eating/cracking/cleaning whole dungeness crab. Jersey crab is very similar. It had a bit larger claws, and the meat was a bit less rich/sweet. So maybe not quite as good as dungeness, it was still VERY good.

Had a night cap out on the deck and took another walk along the harbor front. This is such a neat place!

Next: A Glass Church, Mont Orgueil Castle, Samares Manor house tour . . . and getting lost again
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 10:57 PM
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Getting lost (well OK, a bit lost) is just part of the fun in Jersey. I live in a rural area on the mainland so I suppose the "culture shock" of driving in Jersey is less pronounced to me. The road signs at junctions generally indicate the direction to different parishes (there are 12 in all, including St John, Trinity etc). If you know which parish the place you are heading is in it's not that hard to follow. The tourist map you can collect in the arrivals hall at the airport is detailed enough. Another specific feature of driving on the island is that many of the rural roads are officially classified as "Green Lanes" which have a speed limit of 15mph and priroty to walkers and horse riders.

Avis hire cars: I always use them these days as they have the best prices on-line and don't rip you off with a compulsory purchase of at least 1/2 tank of fuel. This is important as you'll never use this much fuel in a short visit (unless you really do spend the whole time going round in circles in the green lanes of St Martin). I did point out in your original Jersey Help thread that not all the hire car companies have desks IN the airport. Avis does have a full service open-all-day reception desk and depot but it's off-airport, a short shuttle bus journey away. You were unlucky that the fog (a surprisingly common occurance at JER) put a spanner in the works. Collection at the hotel is no problem provided you specify this on the on-line booking form.

Samares Manor is indeed a very pleasant spot - they often do falconry displays there and have very nice gardens (it's just up the road from where my sister lives). The Durrell Wildlife park is rightly famous and I know people who've travelled from Australia to visit it. It is small scale compared to most internationally known zoos and the range of animals is geared mainly around the most endangered species. They also don't get the footfall to generate enough income to update/expand as often as other zoos/wildlife parks. Those expecting something like the amazing San Diego zoo would probably be disappointed.

Looking forward to the next bit!
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 07:36 PM
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Yes, I found Avis very reasonable. Unfortunately, w/ me getting lost and driving farther than I needed to, I actually had to buy a bit of petrol.

A Glass Church, Mont Orgueil Castle, Samares Manor house tour . . . and getting lost again

Another nice breakfast. I'm torn what to do today. I haven't explored at all on the west side of the island, but I also missed Mont Orgueil/Gorey and touring Samares Manor. What I really need is another day or two (I fly up to LGW tomorrow morning)

It is sunny and warm, and I had already scratched off parking til late morning so I decide to walk along the bay to Millbrook (a little over halfway to St Helier -- maybe 2 miles) to see the Glass church. St Matthew's Church is a fairly nondescript small, simple church on a busy street. Nothing much to attract attention . . . UNTIL you walk inside. It is just full of glowing white glass created by Rene Lalique. Everything . . Altar rail, Altar pieces, font, cross, doors . . . everything. It is amazing

http://www.glasschurch.org/

I was running late and didn't really have time to walk back so I caught a bus that dropped me back in the middle of St Aubin.

Finally decided to head east. First stop Gorey and Mont Orgueil castle. Thought I knew the way A3 - easy peasy. Wrong. I get on the A3, no problem, but the next junction is signed "A4 Inland Route". WTF! Okay what happened to the A3? No signs, nuthin'. Come to find out even though it said A4 -- it was actually the A3 . . OK -- Gordon, splain that one to me

Eventually got my bearings and found Gorey and parked out on the harbor wall below the castle. Wow -- What a lot of steps (!) - around every corner is another staircase. And amazing views! And a fascinating hologram of the Queen called Equanimity.

http://tinyurl.com/7presst

Hung around Gorey and the castle for close to 2 hours and made my way back to Samares Manor (didn't get lost this time ) in time for the 2:30 tour. What an interesting house/family history - parts date from the 11th century and it is still lived in.

After the 90 minute tour I visited the rural life/carriage museum. On the way out I went inside the doocot (Dovecote/Colombier). As dovecotes go it is pretty large and has a thatched roof, though access is limited (My fav doo cot is still the one at Minster Lovell)

Had tea/cake in the garden cafe, then drove back through St Helier ( smug font on . . . didn't take a single wrong turn )

Walked down to the Boat House (a complex of bars/cafes) on the other side of the harbor, and had tapas and wine and watched the tide flow out and the boats settle on the harbor floor.

walked back to the hotel and partially packed then went downstairs to the cellar pub and had a 21 yo Macallan (it was £5.10 which I thought was a bargain)

Next: Airport fogged in, B&B Belgravia, 'Horrids', Design exhibition at V&A, Royal Albert Hall/Elgar/Julian Lloyd-Webber
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 09:37 PM
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Enjoying the report, Janis. Curious as to the choice of being "off the grid." Seems a Sat Nav and a phone would have made things a little easier. Almost seems masochistic.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 07:57 PM
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"Curious as to the choice of being "off the grid." Seems a Sat Nav and a phone would have made things a little easier. Almost seems masochistic."

Wasn't really a 'choice' I guess. I don't have a satnav at home and I usually have no problems just using a road atlas. My mistake was buying one in central Edinburgh - the one I found was a smaller scale than I usually have. It wouldn't have helped on Jersey anyway (since the whole island was missing ) and I didn't get lost anywhere else.

The phone . . . well, my carrier doesn't have international service. I had considered getting a cheap PAYG in Edinburgh. But jetlag recovery was first priority, and for the next 2+ weeks I was in very rural areas.

I've traveled to the UK scores of times w/o gadgets/gizmos/electronics and lived to tell the tale . But I do think I'll at least take a phone next time.

Friday: Airport fogged in, B&B Belgravia, 'Horrids', Design exhibition at V&A, Royal Albert Hall/Elgar/Julian Lloyd-Webber

Another very good breakfast. Then I finished packing, checked out, loaded the car and took one last walk along the harbor front. If I ever make it back to Jersey, I'll stay at the same place again - it really was lovely (though next time I'll probably have to PAY for the posh room )

It was overcast but warm and I drove over to the airport. It is only a few miles from St Aubin . . . But in those few miles it went from overcast to pea soup! By the time I got to the car park you could barely see the terminal bldgs. (Avis lets you just park the car at the airport and drop the keys in a box in the terminal)

Oops! Nothing is landing or taking off. My FlyBe flight to LGW is scheduled at 11:00 and I a ticket for the V&A at 4:15. I'm not too worried since my B&B is very near Victoria and I should have enough wiggle room. But the departure board keeps filling up w/ red DELAYED flights . . . and no flight announcements. Lots of unhappy looking people

Then all of a sudden they announce my flight is in final boarding (?) . . . and we land 10 mins early.

I took the GEX to Victoria - probably for the last time. For me the main advantage of the Express is (was) being able to just get on and pay on board from your seat. But now you have to buy your ticket before crossing the barriers. So honestly, I don't see any reason to pay the premium for the GEX.

I booked B&B Belgravia on Ebury Street. About a 5 min walk from the station. This was sort of last resort - I usually rent flats but after about 3 weeks of searching back in Feb/Mar, I wasn't finding anything.

Well-- It could not have been nicer for the price. Of course the location is good - half way between Victoria and Sloan Sq. The double room was decent sized w/ built ins and a very ingenious/modern bathroom squeezed into a small space. The breakfast room is nice, they do cook to order and cold buffet. Free wifi Plus a lounge w/ a computer for residents use.

I still prefer having a flat/kitchen but B&B Belgravia will stay in the database for sure.

My tix for British 20th Century Design @ the V&A is for 4:15 so I have lots of time. I head first to the Royal Albert Hall. I buy a paper - usually the Telegraph - most days when in the UK and way back Rothbury I had seen an ad for tonight's Philharmonia concert - Elgar w/ Julian Lloyd Webber. What better to get in the mood for the Jubilee? Got a really great seat in the front row of the stalls 6 seats from the stage (at the Albert Hall the stalls are elevated and the same level as the stage.)

Then I walked over to the V&A and had a late-ish lunch in the Morris, Gamble, Poynter Rooms. I've eaten there a few times and it has usually been very good. But just sayin', don't order roast lamb at what is essentially a cafeteria But the wine was very good.

It was a terrific exhibition over several rooms. All sorts of themes of 20th century British design. From the festival of Britain to the new towns to clothing to 'British Invasion' music to furniture to to to. But it was sort of weird . . I've been to many special events at the V&A, Tate(s), National, etc and they are usually very crowded. There was almost no one there. The guards looked very bored . . no one to watch.

OK--I am officially OLD!. OMG. Equus (I saw the original production in London) Laura Ashley (when I lived in England 1/3 of my house and 2/3 of my wardrobe were Laura Ashley) Habitat (the 2/3 of my house that wasn't Laura Ashley was Habitat) are all in this Exhibition . . . and I'm paying to see them??

I wander around the museum a bit and then walk up to Harrod's. I know, I KNOW But I have a long standing tradition of buying a Halcyon Days enamel box every trip to London and Harrods usually has the best selection. I picked out one commemorating the Jubilee. (then I got out of Dodge )

On to the Albert Hall and ordered a gin & tonic for the interval. It was such a fun concert. In parts, almost last night of the Proms-ish what w/ Pomp and Circumstance and Land of Hope and Glory. Plus Enigma Variations and the Cello Concerto (plus some other pieces I can't recall just now).\

One scary/sad thing happened, A very elderly lady siting upstairs behind me collapsed shortly into the second half. It definitely looked bad. The emergency workers did their very best to tend to her w/o disrupting everything. But they ended up carrying her out (her family was sitting in the front row of the 2nd tier so were in the line of sight of every person in the Hall.) There were two Japanese girls sitting between the woman/family and the aisle. They had to get up and stand next to the organist the entire time that the EMTs were working on the woman -- probably 15+ minutes. She looked totally non-responsive as they carried her out.

Back to Victoria, picked up a split of wine, some fruit and chocolate digestives (emergency stash ) and walked back to the B&B

Next: Portobello Rd, Turner at the National, Singing in the Rain

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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 08:01 PM
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Actually . . . Next: Portobello Rd, Turner at the National, Shopping, the Wallace Collection, Singing in the Rain

Tough trying to recreate from my (shaky) memory . . .
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Saturday - Portobello Rd, Turner at the National, Shopping, the Wallace Collection, Singing in the Rain

OK -- Damn the weather! This morning is cold and drizzly-and the forecast for tomorrow/the River Pageant is rain. And the dress 'code' is Smart casual -which is fine. But my 'Smart Casual' options aren't 50F/pouring rain suitable. So I've added another task for today -shopping for something to wear tomorrow.

Good early breakfast and I'm out the door to Portobello Road. I'm still looking for a tantalus. Decide to start at the far/Westbourne end of the street and work my way back towards Notting Hill. I walk the entire length dashing in and out of every shop that looks promising and NONE have even one tantalus. Its about 9:45 and I'm running late (have 10:30 ticket for Turner at the National Gallery). At the very top of the market (the end I would normally have started) there is Barham Antiques - and he has at least 10! Most w/i my budget even. And I have no time to examine them/decide. But he has a web site and ships, So I can choose one from the comfort of home - or it gives me an excuse to go back this Fall

http://www.barhamantiques.co.uk/shop...ry&submitted=1

Made my way to Trafalgar Sq and the Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude show. It was really wonderful (and VERY crowded, unlike the V&A.). Many similar Claude and Turner works were juxtaposed and the connection is unmistakable. Besides oils, watercolors, and drawings/sketch books, there was a lot information about the Turner Bequest and its effect on the National Gallery.

On to Oxford Circus work my way down the street. Didn't have much joy -- did buy a couple of scarves that would work w/things I brought. (In the end it won't matter a teensy bit what I wore ) Had a very good Risotto and champagne lunch at Hix in Selfridges.

DAMN! It was cold an drizzly and I'm dressed warmly. But coming out of lunch . . The sun is out and it is actually hot. Crap Is it going to be 11C/pouring down tomorrow like they predict or 21C/sunny like it is now??

I walk over to the Wallace Collection. Their courtyard restaurant is full of folks enjoying the sunshine. I explore a couple of the galleries then stop for a Pimm's break in the courtyard before finishing the rest of the collection right at closing time.

OKAY - Question? I make a point of reading the blue plaques. What on Earth was Simon Bolivar doing living on Duke Street??

I know I had an early light dinner somewhere but can't for the life of me remember where -- it must have been somewhere in Covent Garden-ish (must not have been memorable )

Then to the Palace Theatre for Singing in the Rain where I ordered a drink for the interval. Singing in the Rain is one of my favorite movies ever. IMO just a perfect storm of cast, music, dancing (except for the ballet bit). So I was a bit leery - would this show live up to my expectations. . . IF you like big musicals see this production! It is wonderful. Very true to the movie and while they aren't Gene/Donald/Debbie . . . they are very VERY good. Just a joyous evening.

When I rang to book a few months ago I had my choice of front row of the Dress circle or 3rd row of the stalls Do note, in the front of the stalls one might get wet. so I chose the Dress Circle. Let me tell you . . . Ain't no "might" in it! The first 7 or 8 rows get wet in the title number at the end of act 1. And when they've toweled off and start to dry out, during the reprise at the end, the entire cast stomps around in the rain and everyone gets totally soaked! And when we leave the theatre --it is POURING down w/rain

Back to Ebury Street - humming most of the way

Next: Jubilee Thames Pageant -cold, wet and WONDERFUL

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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 04:29 PM
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Sunday: Jubilee Thames Pageant -cold, wet and WONDERFUL

Had to be up and out early so no b'fast this morning, I had borrowed an alarm clock and set it for 05:30. All correspondence stressed that "All passengers must be at Canary Wharf at 8:00 sharp and late comers will not be admitted." I thought the tube station opened at 7AM, but not so. So I decide take a cab to Waterloo to save a transfer and catch the first Jubilee train. Waterloo tube station opened at 7:25 and the first train arrived a little after 7:30 . . . And it was absolutely PACKED. I squeezed on but lots of folks stayed behind on the platform.

Didn't need to rush (or take the cab, or miss breakfast for that matter). When I got to Canary Wharf along w/ about 150 others - about half of the event staff weren't there yet and the check in tables weren't even set up.

The company has 4 boats boarding this AM - a large one that will moor in the Pool of London and 3 others that will be moored a bit farther up river. The plan is we clear through security ( supposedly two forms of photo ID but they only asked for one), and board ferries that will shuttle up up river, where some of us will board yet another ferry to cross to the south side of the river. It was about 9:15 when 35 of us finally reach the sailing barge Cabby which was moored just up river from HMS Belfast. What a neat vessel. It was built in the 1920's and apparently was the last wooden sailing barge.

The large cabin is laid out w/ two dining tables and up on top, the back deck that is normally open had a sort of tarp/wind break/marque. We could all fit downstairs but it was a bit snug. But w/ a small table laid upstairs we all had plenty of room. The plan was morning pastries/coffee, Champagne lunch, finishing in time to watch the thousand boats sail down river, then afternoon tea and wine before ferrying back to Tower pier after the Pageant and back to Canary Wharf. There was a flat screen below deck where we could watch the BBC coverage of the early bits up by Battersea.

The food - especially lunch - was very good and there were some really wonderful/friendly folks (especially several from oop north) on board. There were about 6 or 8 'posh gits' (not my description) who hunkered down below decks and didn't mix or enjoy much of anything. They were too wet/cold/miserable!

Sitting out on the river we had a front row seat to this amazing armada. Every inch of both banks of the river plus every window/balcony/terrace w/i view were totally packed. When the masses of human powered craft went down, they filled the entire river and some passed w/i 30-ish feet of us.

Each segment of the pageant was accompanied by a music boat of some sort. The belfry boat w/ the Bells honestly gave me goosebumps. And when the the Spirit of Chartwell passed the thousands of folks behind us up on the bank started a roaring cheer. Had a great view of the Queen and most of the rest of the Royal Family.

For the first maybe 1/4 of the sections through our part of the river it was cool/cold but no rain. Then there was light rain for quite a while -- but then for the last half it really was wet. Most spectators on land stuck it out for a very long time, but by the end - it was pretty miserable and lots had given up. We managed to stay dry the whole time though.

The 'posh gits' mostly saw things on telly downstairs but everyone else basically stayed on deck toasting the participants and taking photos/video.

After the last boats and the philharmonic/chorus passed, the plan was we'd be ferried back across the river w/i maybe 45 mins or so. Uh -- nope. Because, almost as soon as the last boats passed and the Royal Family disembarked, many of the boats started dashing back up river. It was honestly pretty much another full pageant in reverse. HUNDREDS of boats filled the river and we were stuck. It was a steady stream for at least 90 minutes. The 'posh gits' were very unhappy. Apparently they had a 7PM dinner booking somewhere.

Another barge (no passengers on board) broke loose of its mooring and our crew 'saved him' and tied him up along side the Cabby while they worked to get him under power. It was fascinating watching the whole procedure. BUT -- one of the unhappy/grousing/posh gits peeked up top and saw a boat there and went running back down yelling that the ferry was finally here! All of them ran up and bum rushed the other boat all trying to climb on at once. The Cabby crew and the captain of the other barge had to physically restrain a couple of them. (anyone w/ half a brain would realize this wasn't a 'ferry' - it was a flat topped/fairly scruffy open barge. This whole spectacle was most amusing to the folks from oop North.

Finally at about 8:30 a ferry came to get us,then we sailed to a couple of different excursion boats - eventually I'm pretty sure we were close to double the allowed capacity. Can you say standing room only?

They were going to take some back to Canary Wharf but most folks got off at Tower Pier a little after 9:00PM

I had thought I'd look for someplace for a bite to eat after the Pageant, but this was about 2.5 hours later than the original schedule. So I just took the tube back . . . My amazing day that started w/ champagne and the Queen ended w/ me sitting on my bed eating a quarter pounder w/cheese from McDonalds at Victoria station

Next: Low Key day - Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and the Royal Academy summer exhibition

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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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Janisj: You are a woman of parts! And an intrepid traveler! Great trip report, and I look forward to more and more!
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 08:48 PM
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For once it sounds as though watching it on TV didn't guarantee the best view (especially given the feeble way the BBC chose to cover it). I'm impressed!
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 09:58 PM
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Monday - Low Key day - Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and the Royal Academy summer exhibition

Originally I had planned on going to Kew and/or a London Walk if the weather was decent (it ended up being quite decent)

But I slept in a bit and decided not to stick to any plans today. Maybe some shopping, maybe some galleries - maybe nothing much. I did want to go to Fortnum & Mason though.

After breakfast I thought about Liberty. Just as I buy myself an enamel box each trip to London, I would bring my Mom a Liberty Scarf from every trip. So I decided keep up the tradition and get one for myself. I got a heavy silk square - though I wasn't carrying my passport or ID so I'll have to go back tomorrow if I want to claim the VAT.

From there over to F&M. Last time I was there,they had two tantalus (tantali ?) so thought it might be worth a shot. Nope -none . . . had to explain to the sales woman what a tantalus is. But I did find a lovely crystal tankard etched w/ rose/thistle/Daffodil/shamrock/crown from the Coronation in '53

I had it shipped (that takes the VAT off the top which pays for most of the shipping). Then I went to the top floor Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in what used to be the St James's Restaurant.

http://www.fortnumandmason.com/c-54-...ea-london.aspx

Hadn't booked but thought I'd give it a try. It was just before 1:00 and the hostess could fit me in as long as I vacated the table by 2:30. Yay! So an early afternoon tea will be my lunch. Had a glass of Champagne and a full afternoon tea. Their tea list is as long as some restaurant wine lists. There were several intriguing options, but figured What the heck. This is a Jubilee-centric visit, I'll have the special Jubilee blend

The whole meal was lovely and they gave me a parting gift of the Jubilee blend and some chocolates.

Then down to the food halls for a few things including some teas, preserves . . . and chocolate dipped digestives in a decorative/musical tin that plays (I'm not kidding ) God Save the Queen!

But none of these will easily fit in my little suitcase, so I figure - Just ship it. Wrong, minimum shipping charge is 30 (and my little purchases barely cost 40). So on a hunch I take them upstairs and ask if they can be included in my earlier purchase. The department manager made some frantic phone calls and we made it by a whisker. Another 20 minutes and my tankard would have been on its way. He retrieved it and now the teas/etc will be packed w/ the tankard . . . And it doesn't cost an extra cent

So after successful shopping and a lovely tea/lunch I mull over what to do next. Yes -- the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I used to go every year when I lived here but haven't been in years and years. Anyone who has never been should really try attend at least once. Room after room of every sort of art . . . more then 1200 works and 99% of it for sale. The catalog is massive, everything from 90 prints to a Tracey Emin for the cost of a large/posh London house. I spent nearly 2.5 hours there and seriously considered buying three different pieces. (closer to the 90 end than the million Emin )

In the end only one of the three was realistically w/i my budget and I decided I only loved it . . . Didn't LOVE it so I passed

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhib...hibition-2012/

I thought briefly about heading to the Mall for the Jubilee concert but figured the crowds would be just MASSIVE (which they were) I wandered over towards Covent Garden, stopped in a pub for a 1/2 pint and then decide to head back to Ebury Street and watch some of the concert on telly.

The most amazing bit was the laser show on the front of Buckingham Palace! It was sort of weird/timeshifting during the post-concert fireworks. My room looked out on Ebury and in the general direction of the Palace. So I would glimpse the highest bursts and hear them, then a couple of seconds later see/hear the same burst on TV. The big finale was so loud/percussive that it set off all the car alarms in the street

Fruit/cheese/digestives/wine while sitting on the bed watching Sir Cliff, Sir Elton, Sir Paul, Will/Kate, the Queen, and fireworks -that was dinner.

Next: Joan Collins, 39 Steps

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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 10:07 PM
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Didn't see your posts . . . Not totally intrepid

Patrick: the view/vibe was just unbelievable - I was semi-giddy.

A friend here at home recorded the entire day's BBC coverage (off BBC America) and I couldn't bear watching the talking heads in front of the Palace or the commentators always trying to make it about them.

Whenever I saw a talking head I fast forwarded . . . and it cut the program length in 1/2
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 05:23 AM
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My! My! My! Your view from the boat had to be amazing!! What a trip you had.
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 06:15 AM
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Hi Janis,
Thanks for your report...loved it. Since you are a Channel Islands aficionado, I thought you might enjoy reading 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer with Annie Barrows. If you haven't read it already, it is the story of how the islanders worked around the Nazi occupation of their homes during WW11 (I recently read it as a download on my Kindle; )eISBN 978-0-440-33797-3
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