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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old Jun 26th, 2015, 06:46 PM
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Hi again WTB,

"Over the years I've been trying to find a "voice" on my blog which is harder than it looks when you've been trained to write as an academic!"

Trust me, you have found your "voice." So many Fodorites will benefit by your experiences and suggestions. I hope to return to London next year and will review this trip report while planning.
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Old Jun 27th, 2015, 03:06 PM
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MmePerdu, isn't it incredible when they "improve" a place only to strip it of the idiosyncrasies that give it character!

Thanks for the encouragement lateday.

CAMDEN AND ST PANCRAS
Today we did more walking, this time from a walk in one of the Hidden London walking guides. There are a series of three of them that we've been using - though I think overall the TimeOut guides remain my favorite. Anyway we took the walk from Euston, up through Camden (neighborhood, market, lock etc) and then along the canal again, towards Kings Cross, passing St Pancras Church and ending up at St Pancras station where you really must go in to check out the wonderful St Pancras Hotel.

Janisj mentioned staying here on her last trip (lucky thing) and it is an incredible place. There are so many lovely public spaces including a champagne bar and the wonderfully atmospheric Gilbert Scott bar, next to the restaurant of the same name. Gilbert Scott was of course the architect of St Pancras - one of the great Victorian rail stations of the age. It's really a palace to the technology of the time. The hotel is fantastical on the inside as if an Englishman went to Cordoba and thought, we'll have some of that in London! It's well worth going in for a drink, this entire area has been completely transformed and is well worth a look.

The walk along the canal was very attractive though I'm not a fan of the market in Camden, there are too many people for me, but along the canal we stopped at a lovely pub called The Constitution. There's a gorgeous raised garden overlooking the canal which was quite charming, particularly on a hot day which we enjoyed today.

After the canal we cut south through the Old St Pancras churchyard which is a rather fascinating place. Here is the tomb Sir John Soane built for his wife (which apparently inspired Gilbert Scott's iconic telephone box design) and there is a monument to Mary Wollstonecraft who was buried here with her husband William Godwin - though they were later interred in Bournemouth. It was here in the churchyard that her daughter Mary planned to run away with Percy Shelley. Of course all of this predates her writing Frankenstien!

However the literary connections don't end there as Thomas Hardy once worked at the churchyard trying to restore it following the horrendous upheavals it experienced as the whole district was cut apart by the construction of the railway lines and yards which transformed the neighborhood. It was probably worse than the Cross Rail chaos we are currently living through!

Anyway, I love all the intersections that keep popping up. The longer we spend here in London the stronger my sense of the city and its history becomes.

Tomorrow we are heading out on a Karl Marx walk.
http://www.marxwalks.com

I met some people on London Walks walk through Clerkenwell and they highly recommended the this walk which looks interesting, I'll let you all know how it goes. If we have the energy we may go up to Highgate to see Marx's grave, which I have seem before, interestingly Marx is buried across from the Social Darwinist Herbert Spencer.
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Old Jun 27th, 2015, 04:18 PM
  #263  
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Boveney
Just to say in addition to loving Rochelle's we very much enjoyed watching
the Arnold Circus segment of 'The Secret History of Our Streets', what a fantastic show.
It was a real reminder of the ways in which squatters contributed to the revitalization of thess neighborhoods. Incidentally the same was true in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Anyway thanks very much for all your recommendations they were much appreciated.
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 01:08 AM
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OK so on to a few more places -----


KARL MARX WALKING TOUR
We made it to this tour yesterday and I enjoyed it very much. The tour takes you through Soho and covers the major moments in Marx's life, his association with Engels and his political work. The group was quite large (I suppose that's the summer for you) but we were very glad we went and it was good to get a new perspective as always.

It was a bit rainy and so we decided to skip the trek up to Highgate cemetery to see Marx's grave. I'd seen it years ago anyway and we stayed in the British Museum where the tour ended. I headed to Roome 93 which houses the PERCIVAL DAVID COLLECTION of Chinese ceramic. When this collection was housed on Gordon Square I always intended to visit it and when investigating it for this trip I read that the collection closed in 2007 and was later incorporated into the British Museum. However, what is nice is that it is still displayed as a single collection.

I know almost nothing about Chinese porcelain but it's beautifully displayed and gives you a sense for the aesthetic diversity of Chinese ceramic work. They have so many beautiful pieces there.

After the ceramics I didn't fancy anything else at the BM and opted to head over to the FREUD MUSEUM in Finchley. Again another place I've been meaning to go for years.

http://www.freud.org.uk/visit/

This is my kind of museum, another wonderful house museum. Although Freud lived here for only one year, after he fled from Austria in 1938, his family was already established in England as his son Ernst had moved there in the early 1930s.

When they fled Austria, a friend paid a ransom to the authorities to enable Freud to send most of his books and furniture on to London. Consequently the house was set up to be a familiar as possible. Here is the famous couch, the small figurines cluttering his desk, the beautiful rugs, furniture and objet d'art. It's all beautifully preserved as his daughter Anna remained in the house until the 1990s. After her death it was converted into a Museum.

The whole place is very atmospheric with family films narrated by Anna shown in one of the upstairs bedrooms. there's also an excellent audio guide which I highly recommend.

By this time I was flagging but having looked at the map I realized I wasn't far from the Modernist TWO WILLOW ROAD a property I'd passed and intended to visit several times, previously I'd run out of time or it was closed.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/2-willow-road/

City Mapper told me it was only 17 minutes away and I was off! The walk took me through Hampstead on a series of small pathways that cut through the back of the houses. It is a lovely place but after the Marx walk I couldn't help thinking about how our wealth disparities just keep getting bigger and bigger. Frankly Hampstead almost feels unreal, so pretty and fresh and unattainable.

I made it to the house just before closing and took a quick look. It's a lovely home from the inside and while it looks like so many places that were built in the 60's and 70's you have to remember this property was designed in the 1930s. I loved the layout and the bright light from both sides. There is some interesting art including a painting by Max Ernst. They alsohad a very illuminating film on ERNO GOLDFINGER which covered his influences, personality and later work which I enjoyed.

After this I was ready to collapse. my husband had stayed at the BM so I met up with him in Hoxton Sq and we headed over to a Korean Street Food place ON THE BAP for a quick meal. Later in the evening the place always has a line out front but though it was busy we saw and empty table and grabbed it. It's a casual place and rather fun.
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 01:19 AM
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I can barely believe our three months are almost over and it's almost time to leave for Helsinki and Berlin. I've seen lots but still have lots of places I didn't make it to and will have to save for another trip.

Places that looked grimy and slightly dodgy when we arrived now look familiar - time changes the landscape around you in your own head. We've certainly got a better sense for the city from the perspective of the East End and without doubt this is hipster central. It's a completely different scene over in Camden which is only a few miles away.

Overall we saw a lot and I've enjoyed it though it's a little bit like looking down a rabbit hole. After 25 years in California this s the life one could have lived. I'm astonished how little time we've spent west of the parks and I've enjoyed getting to know an entirely new area of the city.

I thought I had so much time and would see and look up so many people, but somehow didn't. My husband LOVES the place and I think he would move here tomorrow if I wasn't whining on about the weather, though it's finally gorgeous in time for us to leave.

If we get to come again we'd love to stay at the Barbican if I could find an exchange or informal rental. It could be pie-in-the-sky but last year coming to London for three months seemed inconceivable and somehow we found an affordable place to rent and someone to rent out home in California for three rather random months!

I'll probably try to write a summary of the whole trip when I get home with lots of links to the relevant blog pages, many of which haven't been written yet!

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/search/label/London

I'm hoping to see the Sonia Delaunay show at the Tate Modern today or tomorrow, but it all depends on the packing and cleaning schedule and I doubt I'll have time for a review.

It's been fun to have you all following along and hopefully it has been useful or interesting too.
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 02:56 AM
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I like the possibly apocryphal story about the visitor who went to the British Museum Reading Room and asked an elderly attendant to point out the seat where Karl Marx sat. "Oh, the old Jewish gentleman. He sat in that seat regular as clockwork, then he stopped coming and we heard nothing more about him".

The East End is changing. My daughter had a flat on the corner of Brick Lane above a leather shop. Pret-a-Manger have now opened there. A friend of hers lived near a pub where several of the clients wore tracking devices on their ankles. It's now a trendy gastropub
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 03:04 AM
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Oh, I feel a bit sad that you are preparing to move on.

But thank you so much for sharing this experience with us.
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 10:04 AM
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Tomorrow we are heading out on a Karl Marx walk>>

lol, while you were doing that, we were getting a different view of him, ℅ the friends with whom we were staying who live in what was East Germany:

http://www.ottmarhoerl.de/sites/engl...ink=62&pro=gal

they have one of these in there living room, where he provides quite a talking point as I'm sure you can imagine.

LCB - I'm so pleased that you enjoyed your lunch in Middle Temple and exploring its environs, and I'm sorry about the lighting in Temple Church, about which they did not consult me, strangely enough!

wtb - I feel a little like LCB's friend who though living in London, knew nothing about the Temple. You have shown me so many places that I never knew existed let alone visited, so thank you!
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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So nice to get your responses thanks LCN, I hope you and the Meadettes, no Meadaholics had a great time

Annhig I love the red Karl Marx figures Annhig!

Miss Prism - you are right the East End has changed enormously and is changing as we speak. the first chain store has opened on Broadway Market and a very upmarket one it is - Aesop's. The other day I saw some 2 bed flats on Hackney Rd advertised for £725,000. But then again I've been reading a history of Bethnal Green and the area changed radically in the mid to late 20th century, with an out migration to Essex (white cockneys)and north London (Jewish immigrants) and an in- migration of Bengali families.

FANTASTIC VIEW
This afternoon I stopped at One New Change the new mall next to St Paul's as I had to return something at Cos (one of my Paris favorites). As I was there I decided to head up to the roof which jamikins mentioned at the GTG. Wow what a view! It's quite fabulous and while they have a bar up there they also have public space currently kitted out with deck chairs and bean bags facing a huge screen showing Wimbledon. I sat down to watch Sharapova play a few games, astonishingly with the dome of St Paul's in the background. It's very much worth checking out.

Afterwards I headed over the Millennium Bridge which is always nice (and was fantastic in the hot weather) to the SONIA DELAUNAY exhibit at THE TATE MODERN. I can't recommend it highly enough. I loved seeing her work at the Pompidou when we were in paris and I'm a fan of her fabric designs. This is the summer of big shows for women with the new Barbara Hepworth show at the Tate Britain. However I was sorry to see that the Delaunay show isn't drawing crowds and it was very quiet. It's a wonderful retrospective covering her career from before the first world war into the 1970's covering her commercial or, fabric designs, painting and fashion pieces. Highly recommended.

After the museum I headed up to Shoreditch for dinner at Andina a hip Peruvian place with small plates. Some of it was excellent and some just ok. We loved an aubergine dish and the grilled octopus which were fabulous. I wish I'd checked out their weekday lunch for £9 and their brunch options but all that will have to wait till next time.
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 12:30 PM
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This may be the thread that never ends because I have so many blog posts stacked up from all we've seen. Here's my latest post on 18 STAFFORD TERRACE, this was one of my favorite places in London a real find IMHO. Lots of photos and details on the blog....

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...sambourne.html
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Old Jun 29th, 2015, 04:37 PM
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I'm sorry to see an end to your London adventure. I would absolutely love to spend several weeks or months there and have enjoyed visiting along with you.
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 12:52 AM
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Thanks Carolyn, I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

We leave for Helsinki tomorrow and we will be packing up and cleaning the flat today - despite the fact that we are in the middle of a heat wave and I'd love to go to Kew instead!
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 04:17 AM
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Heat wave? Hope it's well over before I get to England in August/September! Nowhere I'm staying has AC. Good luck with the weather in Helsinki - it rained a lot while I was there.

Have very much enjoyed your TR, and will be reading it again with care when I plan my London visit.
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 04:55 AM
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It's really hot in London right now, summer has arrived and will probably last about a week or two! I've heard it's getting hotter too. It's in the mid 80's today and heading for the mid 90s tomorrow! Finally I'm getting to wear the lighter clothes that have been sitting at the bottom of my suitcase.

It looks like it's going to be in the 70s in Helsinki, currently no rain on the forecast but now that I've written that it's sure to change!

Thursday - Feel free to email me on the blog if you have any questions for your upcoming trip.
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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yes, anyone headed for the UK should leave all their thermals at home and pack cotton and linen - we're in for what the redtops sometimes call a "scorcher".

All except Cornwall where it is likely to remain between 20C-25C, thank goodness.
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 05:49 AM
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We'll be in London in a couple of weeks. Tell me that absolutely nobody is wearing shorts!!!
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 06:16 AM
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I bet there will be loads of shorts, Dukey, plus t-shirts, capris, sandals with socks, and many other fashion faux pas.
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 06:47 AM
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It's been great following along and so nice to see someone covering some of the less well known sights and sites. Get yourselves over to Viet Grill for the fish curry and one of sharing cocktails before you go if you possibly can........if not, next time
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 07:37 AM
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Catching up after more than a week (the US Senior Open golf tournament was here in town Mon-Sun and I was there every day)

I can't believe the 3 months is over already - back at the GTG it seemed like such a long time.

You have reminded me of several places I want to visit. But next trip I'll only be in London 4 days so they will probably have to wait til Dec or next Spring.

I once stayed right around the corner from 18 Stafford Terrace but didn't learn about it til a few weeks after getting home. I had forgotten about it and your mention put it back on my radar.

And Willow Rd . . . just too much to see/do (even in three months)

90F!! -- that is about 15 degrees too high for London. Today its 106F here - but that is easier than 90F in London. A/C is the bomb!

Have a safe trip to Helsinki . . .
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Old Jun 30th, 2015, 09:14 AM
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Hi again WTB,

Really enjoying your June 27 post about Camden and St. Pancras. Interesting about St. Pancras Hotel - must try that Gilbert Scott bar.

We are on the same page with literary figures for sure. In recent years, I have read bios of Mary Wollstonecraft (really sad life) and Thomas Hardy - I had forgotten that he did restoration work before writing his great novels. Hardy is one of my favorites - I would love to see his homestead sometime which I believe is in Dorset.

The associations just go on and on - will finish reading later...
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