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TR: Solo in LONDON for ten days on unfinished business ...

TR: Solo in LONDON for ten days on unfinished business ...

Old Jul 9th, 2014, 02:19 AM
  #121  
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<< There's a bit (basically High Holborn) that's decided to call itself "Midtown">> It's all in the packaging, I guess.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 02:35 AM
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"Midtown"? "Northbank"?

double ick.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 03:35 AM
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PATRICKLONDON and ANNHIG,

Here is the Financial Times take on NORTHBANK:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/98bd9...44feabdc0.html

Wow, those housing prices are astronomical!
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 05:25 AM
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Any city could have Midtown. Only London gets to have High Holborn.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 06:03 AM
  #125  
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Hi STOKE,

"Any city could have Midtown. Only London gets to have High Holborn."

Touche - love the name HIGH HOLBURN!
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 02:30 PM
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So who could afford to live in those flats with prices between £1M to £14M?
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 04:33 PM
  #127  
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Hi again EUROPEANNOVICE,

"So who could afford to live in those flats with prices between £1M to £14M?"

I guess mostly "City Boys" and foreign investors. But you see these projects EVERYWHERE in London.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 05:15 PM
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What a wonderful trip report. Even with the mishap on Hampstead Heath, I would love to do all the same things! I loved wandering around Hampstead years ago. The Downton Abbey tour day sounded lovely, even without Highclere. When I DO go back to London, I'm using your report as a guide.

Thanks to all for the answers about tube stairs, etc. I can manage most, but some escalators are a help.
However, I will definitely use more buses than I have in the past. And maybe TRY to do a little less walking, as tough as that may be.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 05:33 PM
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Someone must be buying them if they keep building them like that.

Sue4--I suggest you go to the tfl website and use their journey planner. Put in as many combinations as you think you might explore in the days you have and print them out. When asked for preferred mode, choose the bus and the journey planner will tell you the best bus to get you from point A to point B. Definitely less stairs to worry about than the tube.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 06:34 PM
  #130  
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Hi SUE4,

Thanks for your kinds words. Yes, the Downton Abbey day was great. I know that it is very difficult to access Highclere Castle itself. I think that our guide Debbie really made the day with her enthusiasm and knowledge of the Cotswolds.
Do you have any plans to return to London soon? So much to see and do!


EUROPEANNOVICE, thanks for sharing info about buses. Thinking back, I should have used them more. But I had studied the Tube map to chart my destinations. I found the "subway" passages more daunting than the stairs.
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Old Jul 10th, 2014, 04:25 AM
  #131  
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************************************************** *************
SATURDAY, JUNE 23 - a day trip to LEEDS CASTLE, DOVER, CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL, GREENWICH, THAMES CRUISE
************************************************** *************

http://www.goldentours.com/leeds-cas...o-course-lunch

Cost $148.05

I chose this tour because it covered KENT, an area of Britain that I had not seen. The trip included a hotel pickup for me at 8:05. A jaunty driver met me at the concierge desk at the Strand and led me across the road to a good sized bus, almost filled, with folks going on a variety of tours. He chatted all the way, pointing out various sites before we arrived at VICTORIA STATION BUS TERMINAL - a hectic scene. There were ten lines for different bus tours, but I finally found my way.

Our group was sizable - about 35. We soon passed through the CANARY WHARF section of East London, second only to THE CITY, as a main financial center employing over 100,000 people. The site was formerly the teeming West India Docks closed by the British government in the 1980s.

On to LEEDS CASTLE, described by many as the "loveliest castle in the world."

http://www.leeds-castle.com/home

And as we approached through the gorgeous lawns and gardens, I could not disagree. Again, the great weather made traipsing over these grounds a pleasure. We were greeted by a guide who offered us a thimble size taste of mead, ancient liqueur made from honey which reminded me of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry. The castle has existed since Saxon times with many iterations. Later Henry VIII used it to accommodate his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

By the 20th century, the castle was in disrepair until it caught the eye of the American heiress (to the Whitney fortune) LADY OLIVE BAILLIE, wife of an English aristocrat (her third marriage but who's counting?) During the late 1920s Olive engaged the best architects and decorators to restore the castle to its former glory while adorning each room with elegant modern furnishings and appointments. She came down from London on weekends to entertain the cream of British society including the Duke of Windsor, prime ministers, the "smart set." A gorgeous portrait of Olive and her beautiful daughters hangs in one of the galleries. If you scroll down on this link, you should see the portrait plus many shots of the interior of the castle - smashing.

http://theesotericcuriosa.blogspot.c...and-leeds.html

On her death, in 1974, Lady Baillie bequeathed Leeds Castle to the nation in perpetuity under the charitable trust of the Leeds Castle Foundation. The property features many attractions for family fun including an elaborate hedge maze about which our guide Lou warned us - "Don't go in because you will never get out!" As we were leaving, I was talking to a local gal who was visiting with a house guest. She was quite upset about the current price of admission - £24 for adults and £16 for children 4-16. Leeds Castle remains a popular destination especially for folks coming or going to cruise ships at South Hampton.


On our way to DOVER, Lou gave an interesting overview about the Allied air bases that were located in this area during WWII. Shells, casings, unexploded ordinance, and parts of planes are still found in the vicinity. We made brief stop in Dover where we viewed the WHITE CLIFFS and spied the enormous DOVER CASTLE in the distance. Lou did not say anything about the latter which I saw as an oversight. We could see France on the horizon. An older fellow on our tour really wanted to see the White Cliffs his wife said. Not sure if he served in WWII, but he was quite moved by the sight.


We continued to Canterbury where we had lunch - not bad, fish 'n chips in a local restaurant. Then we walked some distance down a pedestrian street to CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL, completed in the late 11th century and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the symbolic leader of the Anglican Church. I must say this church is exquisite, certainly in the league with Chartres and Notre Dame in my book.

During the Middle Ages it was the destination of pilgrims to honor THOMAS a BECKET. It's a long story, but basically Thomas and King Edward II had been great friends until they had some ecclesiastical differences in 1170. One day in a fit of pique, the King exclaimed, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" Four knights then set out for Canterbury and murdered Thomas in a place now called THE MARTYDOM. T.S. Eliot memorialized the event in his great verse drama MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL.


I was thrilled to visit Canterbury Cathedral because that is the destination of Chaucer's pilgrims in THE CANTERBURY TALES, a literary masterpiece that our guide Lou had dismissed with a casual, "Remember The Canterbury Tales? I hated it in school." But I was gratified having visited SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL on the SOUTHBANK few days before - the starting point for the Canterbury pilgrims. Lou talked about Henry II and Becket, but never mentioned the aspect of pilgrimage so deeply interwoven in the history of Canterbury.

By then I was in conversation with a woman from the States named Gretchen who was somewhat disenchanted with Lou because he downplayed her concern about finding her way back to the bus after we left the Cathedral. Another solo traveler, she walked along with me.


After regrouping, we had a long ride back to London, stopping off for a photo op at GREENWICH which boasts a group of world class museums incorporating the National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark and the Queen's House, situated at the heart of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Lou had given us an overview of Britain contributions to naval science including the work of the ROYAL OBSERVATORY, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian. He said that there used to be a line painted across the main road, down from the Observatory, where tourists could stand with a foot in each hemisphere at Longitude 0°0' 0”. That proved dangerous in traffic and was soon removed.

I marveled at the OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE on the banks of the Thames, designed by Christopher Wren, a "twin domed riverside masterpiece on a site steeped in royal and maritime heritage." While this stop was just a "walk through," it gave us some sense of what Greenwich offers. We then boarded Thames River Services excursion boat for our return to Embankment Pier. Meanwhile, I enjoyed chatting with Gretchen (about my vintage and a former teacher - we're everywhere) who was on a ROAD SCHOLAR trip with a friend centered around Wimbleton. Gretchen was not interested in tennis, so she occupied herself with different outings during her stay. Another farewell.


Back up to Charing Cross and the Strand Palace. I did enjoy the trip, especially the Kent countryside, Leeds Castle, and Canterbury Cathedral. However, it could not compare to the Downton Abbey tour a few days before. Only a few days left now in London...
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Old Jul 10th, 2014, 08:03 AM
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With you in spirit. DH and I never got to Leeds (or Wimbledon)--more reasons to return, eh?
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Old Jul 10th, 2014, 11:04 AM
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By the 20th century, the castle was in disrepair until it caught the eye of the American heiress (to the Whitney fortune) LADY OLIVE BAILLIE, wife of an English aristocrat (her third marriage but who's counting?) >>

lol, lateday, is it fanciful to think that we had the same guide around Leeds Castle?

ours went on and on about Lady Bailey too, though this was probably about 30 years ago when DH and I went to Leeds Castle for a wine tasting evening and we got entry and a tour for free! we were living about 30 miles away from the castle then so this was a very pleasant summer evening's outing. and it was in June when the roses were in full bloom - it was, as you say, magical.

There is some fantastic scenery round there; i still miss the view over the Kentish Weald that i used to have as I drove home every evening from the station. Happy days! Thank you for reminding me of them.
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Old Jul 10th, 2014, 11:55 AM
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Hi -- would love to get your take on the issue of joining a tour after you've seen quite a bit in an area. Would you be willing to chat by email or phone, since there's no mechanism on the forum for sending a private message?
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Old Jul 10th, 2014, 02:33 PM
  #135  
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Hi TDUDETTE,

" more reasons to return, eh?" Sounds as if you might be planning another trip? Hope so.

Thanks for following along...

ANNHIG

"lol, lateday, is it fanciful to think that we had the same guide around Leeds Castle?" Do you think that her part in refurbishing to Castle is overblown? Obviously she poured tons of money into it.

I think the rooms are lovely and livable.
You and your DH must have really enjoyed that summer evening at Leeds. The grounds are spectacular.

M34AGGIE,

"would love to get your take on the issue of joining a tour after you've seen quite a bit in an area." It's worked for me in the past, but this time I did 10 days solo. The two day trips described really broke it up.

Email me at [email protected] No problem....
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Old Jul 10th, 2014, 06:07 PM
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Hi Lateday--it might not be a good idea to have your personal email listed on this forum as it is open for the world to see.

There has to be a better way to communicate via private email or a personal message? I am not familiar with how but someone else might be.

Did you find the bus trip to Dover, Leeds, Canterbury and Greenwich to be a bit too much for one day? A lot of what you covered can each take a day by themselves--Dover, Canterbury, Greenwich. I guess you got a glimpse of each which is better than not seeing them but I bet you would prefer to see each more in depth if you had the time?
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Old Jul 11th, 2014, 02:40 AM
  #137  
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Hi again EUROPEANNOVICE,

"Did you find the bus trip to Dover, Leeds, Canterbury and Greenwich to be a bit too much for one day?"

Yes and no. At this point I would not be interested in going on public transportation on my own to any one of these places. Although I have been to Greenwich before which is so easy to access on the Riverbus (or whatever it is called.)

All and all I am glad I went though. Disembarking at Embankment Tube made it super easy to go back to the hotel.
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Old Jul 11th, 2014, 03:13 PM
  #138  
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************************************************** **************
TUESDAY, JUNE 24 - the SUPREME COURT in Parliament Square, ST. JAMES'S PARK, the NATIONAL GALLERY, and a London play
************************************************** **************

Another beautiful day. I decided to stroll down WHITEHALL, that .6 mile boulevard of government buildings and statuary, to PARLIAMENT SQUARE. My destination was the SUPREME COURT that was given rave reviews on Tripadvisor. I had read about it in the London Times and now noticed that it is featured in today's Daily Mail.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/ar...e-reviews.html

The Supreme Court came into being in 2009 after it assumed the judicial functions formerly carried out by the various committees in the House of Lords. The new court would have twelve judges, presently one woman and eleven men. Problem: where to house this august body?

Solution: the magnificent MIDDLESEX GUILDHALL in Parliament Square, an architectural gem built in 1913, immediately before the "Great War." The structure had served many civic functions and was home to several Middlesex Regiments over the years, thus the military art and insignias throughout the building. The Guildhall was meticulously restored/redesigned in preparation for its new role.

Historical preservationists objected to the renovation which necessitated removing many original fixtures in order to accommodate the court room logistics. But this neo-gothic treasure with its stained glass windows, wood carvings, weighty chandeliers, and restored art work is stunning. And the public is made welcome.

I sat in on one court proceeding where a savvy younger lawyer was arguing a case before five members (including the one woman) of the Supreme Court. The discussion seemed almost cordial while the barrister (?) addressed them as "my lords, my lady." The case had to do with the Rent Act of 1965, the meaning of "let as a dwelling," eviction methods and the like. The members of the court were in business dress and did not wear wigs during the session.

In the basement area was a very interesting display about the history of the MIDDLESEX GUILDHALL and the formation of the SUPREME COURT. The building had been used during WWII to house the "governments in exile" of Poland, Norway, Belgium, and Greece. Predominant throughout the Court was its new symbol- a graceful circular design incorporating: ENGLAND's five petaled wild rose, SCOTLAND'S purple thistle, WALES'S leaves of leek, and NORTHERN IRELAND'S five petaled flax flower. Very effective.

Also on that lower level is an inviting cafe for a light lunch or snack and toilet facilities - both super clean. The staff is quite friendly too. Public access to this gem is widely encouraged as noted in this Tripadvisor review.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...n_England.html

Leaving the Court, I walked across the street to renew my Oyster Card at the Westminster Tube Station - my original seven days were up. The line was quite lengthy while the one attendant patiently answered questions of folks, many of whom had just arrived in London.

I took the Tube for one stop to St. James, with the vague idea of doing another Londonwalks, LONDON & THE FIRST WORLD WAR, a subject that interests me greatly. The brochure quotes Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey looking over St. James's Park on August 3, 1914 "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." Interesting, but the tour would not begin for another hour, so I decided to stroll through the Park, enjoying the flowers and bird life along the way.

I had done a great deal of walking on this trip in my black Ecco walking sandals (yes, I had a pedi before leaving home.) I then noticed one gal in a business suit coming along the gavel path in bare feet, holding her spike heels in hand. I could feel the pain.

Soon I was crossing Horse Guards Road approaching Clive Steps where a long queue was forming to buy tickets for the CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS. Then I was back at Whitehall so I caught a bus back to Trafalgar Square and stopped at the NATIONAL GALLERY to revisit my favorite paintings including VanGogh's SUNFLOWERS which was on loan when I was in London the previous summer. Also saw Cezanne's THE BATHERS which had been in Boston a year or so ago - boy, these paintings get around. Moved on to the striking Gustav Klimt's PORTRAIT OF HERMINE GALLIA:

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/pa...hermine-gallia

After visiting a few old favorites, I sunk into one of those deep, leather tufted couches and admired George Stubbs's WHISTLEJACKET "a paradigm of the flawless beauty of an Arabian thoroughbred."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistlejacket

Then on to Pret a Manger on the Strand for a fruit salad before stretching out at the hotel. That evening I went to the nearby Vaudeville Theater to see HANDBAGGED that was recommended by TDudette in her recent trip report. The play dramatized the thorny, amusing relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over their decade plus association.

Two women played each character - the younger and older versions of themselves. While the younger Queen and PM re-enacted their conversations of thirty years ago, the older versions circled around the stage making witty remarks and asides with humorous interactions . It was very clever - so British. There were also two male characters who took bit parts from Thatcher's husband Denis to Ronald Reagan ("Don't go wobbly on me, Ronnie.") The one who played the older Elizabeth and the one who played to younger PM were particularly convincing!

So now when friends at home say, "Didn't you go to the theater?" I can answer in the affirmative. While I am not interested in those West End musical extravaganzas, HANBAGGED was more my "cup of tea" in a manner of speaking.
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Old Jul 12th, 2014, 04:08 AM
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The members of the court were in business dress and did not wear wigs during the session.>>

there's a story told of a member of the public who went to observe the House of lords [as the Supreme Court used to be] and when asked what he thought, said that the barristers in their wigs were all very impressive, but why did the old blokes in their suits keep interrupting them?

Thank you anyway for your description of the new Supreme Court - I used appear in the old Middlesex Sessions in my youth but probably haven't been there for 25 years or so. I'm glad that they have done it up nicely.
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Old Jul 12th, 2014, 05:13 AM
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Hi ANNHIG

"... the barristers in their wigs were all very impressive, but why did the old blokes in their suits keep interrupting them?" LOL

Judges and lawyers do wear wigs in the criminal courts, right?

In any case, the building is a jewel - really not that old. Its restoration and refurbishment most successful. Hope you can visit when next in London - it's an oasis of calm in Parliament Square.
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