The first of two weeks in a unit near King's Cross Station
29.11.2014 8 °C
After a week in the quiet countryside of Cornwall we are now ready for the delights and sights of London. Our train pulled into Paddington Station early and so we arrived at Kings Cross half an hour earlier than expected. We contacted Elaine who met us at the unit. We rented a very nice one bedroom flat just across the street from St Pancras Kings Cross Station. The entrance is between Mc Donald's and Crystal Kebab. The position is unsurpassed. However, the downside is that there are 43 steps up a narrow staircase to the front door.
Sunday morning was a late start with Skype calls to family then a Bacon, eggs and tomato breakfast before we bought our Oyster Cards and travelled to Lambeth North tube station (the scene of my accident on Friday, 13 January 2012) for a visit to the Imperial War Museum.
The Imperial War Museum
Displays like this Spitfire hang from the Atrium
Car wreck from Baghdad
Fifth floor displays - just one of 160 Victoria Cross winners displayed
Lord Ashcroft donated his very comprehensive collection of 160 VC winners.
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery's staff car from which he visited his soldiers in the front lines.
United Nations vehicle with the former dictator of Iraq in the background
We visited the very popular World War 1 exhibition along with hordes of other visitors.
WW1 British tank
Display from The Somme, Menin Gate
Leaving the Imperial War Museum at 4.30 pm in the afternoon
London bus with the destination of Oxford Circus
Monday saw us visit Windsor Castle then the Tower of London. Windsor Castle dates from William the Conqueror in 1066 and started life as a fortification around 20 miles from London.
Windsor Castle - home of the sovereign for more than 900 years.
The walls of Windsor Castle, the oldest castle in continuous use in the world.
Colleen chats to the constabulary.
Entrance road into Windsor Castle
The State Apartments
St Georges Hall in the State Apartments.
The Round Tower at Windsor Castle
The Moat and Round Tower
St George Chapel -the royal chapel has the burials of Henry V111 and King George V1 and the Queen Mother.
St George Chapel
Guardsman on duty
After lunch we took the national rail back to Paddington then the circle line to Tower Hill to visit the Tower of London.
A squirrel just outside the tube station.
The four towers of the White Tower
Changing of the guard. Notice the Beefeater on the left. They have been guarding the Royal Jewels for 500 years.
The rack in Bloody Tower
The Royal Jewels -no photography. Wow, what a collection!!
Tower Bridge is just a short walk away.
Some of the 888 246 ceramic poppies set up for Remembrance Day on 11 November - one for each of the British soldiers killed in WW1.
St Pancras Station at night....I mean at 5.00pm.
On Tuesday we went out to the National Motor Museum out near Heathrow Airport. While they have 240 cars on display, the majority are US vehicles. It is expensive at £30 per adult entry (2x$60 approx).
One of my favourites was the 1955 Mercedes Benz Gullwing
Colleen walks away from the 2010 Roller which had a price tag of $433 000
Mr Bean's Mini
After our visit, we caught the train back to Paddington to take the Circle Line to Baker Street.
The Beatle's Store in Baker Street
One of the most famous addresses that does not exist in reality is 221B Baker Street, home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
We walked from Baker Street to Lord's Cricket Ground, also known as the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Lord's Cricket Ground, generally known as Lord's, is a cricket venue in St John's Wood, London. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Lord's is widely referred to as the "home of cricket" and is home to the world's oldest sporting museum.
I didn't think I would enjoy this as much as I did. Colleen is the cricket tragic but the MCC Guide, Richard, was so entertaining and knowledgeable. In the Team Dressing Rooms, he recounted who sat where in the seating. Apparently, cricketers are way up there in superstitions as sportsmen and have favourite routines. Unknowingly, I sat in Shane Warne's favourite spot.
Colleen on the corner of the ground pointing to the Ashes. In the Museum, we saw the original ashes. It is surprisingly small. No photography was allowed.
The Pavilion built 1898.
Colleen on the top floor of the Tavern Stand. Here are the most expensive seats. A member can loan the club £12 000 repayable after 75 years if they want to sit in a particular seat. Tickets by ballot for next year's Test Match are held on 15 December this year. Last year they were sold out 5 times over in 24 hours.
View of Lord's Cricket Ground from the JP Morgan Media Centre
Wednesday, 26 November was a very late start for us as we are getting a little tired. We thought we would stay around close to the centre of London. We visited one of our favourites - Westminster Abbey.
The tube to Westminster takes us also to the Houses of Parliament. Here is Elizabeth Tower with the bell called Big Ben.
The Great North Door of Westminster Abbey
North Cloister of Westminster Abbey
East cloister of Westminster Abbey
View across the Cloister Garth to the North Tower
View from Poet's Corner to the Great North Door of Westminster Abbey
Great West Door of Westminster Abbey
After lunch we visited the Churchill War Rooms which were built under the Treasury Building in 1940.
The Treasury Building, 1 Horse Guards Street
The Cabinet Meeting Room
The secure hot phone that linked Churchill with the US President
Churchill's Dining Room
Meeting room for the General Staff
Churchill's kitchen in the War Rooms
Map showing Churchills's overseas travel including the battlefields during the war years - 104 462 miles by air, sea, train and are between 1940 and 1945 when he was aged 65 to 70.
Displays in the Churchill War Rooms
The Map Room
Horse Guards Parade
We had a short visit to Leicster Square to visit the M& M World shop. It had the atmosphere of an Apple store with the glitz, religiosity and showmanship. You could even personalise your messages on the M&Ms.
The M&M World Store
Thursday 27 November started off very overcast but turned out to be a sunny/cloudy day with no showers. So we decided to take the District Line out to Hampton Court approximately 30 miles away.
Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, in the historic county of Middlesex. It was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514; in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the palace was passed to the King Henry V111, who enlarged it.
The following century, King William III's massive rebuilding and expansion project intended to rival Versailles was begun. Work halted in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque. While the palace's styles are an accident of fate, a unity exists due to the use of pink bricks and a symmetrical, if vague, balancing of successive low wings.
The main entrance to Hampton Court Castle
History of the castle
The Base Court of the castle. there was a large party of school children on the tour so we elected to do our own tour.
Henry V111 kitchens. Meat for an average year was 1000 head of oxen, 500 yearlings, 1000 deer, 8500 head of sheep and 50 wild boar.
Just one of many rooms of King Henry V111's kitchens.
The Clock Court
The Great Fountain Garden
Staircase up into William 111's Apartments
The Home Park
King William 111s Bedroom
King Henry V111s Great Hall
King Henry V111s Private Dining Room
The Hampton Court Maze. No, we decided not to do it as we wanted to get to Wimbledon for a 2 o'clock tour.
We had to change trains twice and then a brisk walk to get to Wimbledon for our 2 o'clock guided tour. We had done this tour before in 2011 but it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience once again.
2013 Gentlemans and Ladies Singles Champions.
No 1 Court - only used for Championships and Davis Court when needed
The Hill properly named Aorangi Hill as the land was owned by the Kiwi Expatriate Football Club before the All England Tennis Club.
The roofed area of Centre Court as seen from the Hill.
Court No 18 scene of the longest tennis match ever - 11 hours and 5 minutes over 3 days
The longest tennis match ever. The previous record was 5 hours and 5 minutes.
The Media Room - Tennis Nut Colleen being interviewed by a very minor media official.
The Holy Grail - Centre Court, Wimbledon
Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer.
Friday, 28 November was supposed to be a fine sunny day. The weather bureau was partly right, it didn't rain. Our first visit for the day was to Kensington Palace. Here are a few photos from there.
The Gold Gates which lead to the private quarters of the Palace where Charles and Diana lived. This was the gate where floral tributes swamped the area as people expressed their sorrow at the death of Princess Diana.
The main entrance to Kensington Palace
View from the King's Apartments over Kensington Park.
Queen Victoria grew up in Kensington Palace. This is her childhood doll's house.
Exhibition of dresses. This belonged to Queen Elizabeth in the early 60s.
We caught the tube to Victoria to the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace and the Royal Gallery.
The. Courtyard of the Mews is pretty ordinary and is used as a car park by palace workers.
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach was built in Australia.
The Mews houses the Queen's five official vehicles. This 1950 Rolls Royce Phantom IV was ordered by the Princess Elizabeth before her marriage to Prince Philip. The Queen has five official vehicles and they are numbered 1 to 5 as they do not have registration or number plates.
The Gold State Coach was built 252 years ago and is used for coronations.
We had a short visit to the Royal Gallery. there was a magnificent exhibition by the Prince of Wales photographer of his visit to Greece, the Ottoman Empire and Egypt some 160 years ago. The black and white photographs really show a different world.
There was an exhibition called 'Gold' as well. The photo below shows an 8.5 kg solid plate.
Buckingham Palace always attracts crowds at any time of the day.
Colleen and I walked from Buckingham Palace down to the Wellington Arch. we were rather surprised to find it has small galleries inside accessible by lift. There was quite a view also from the top. Like many other victory arches, it has a Quadriga on top (the four horse chariot).
The Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner.
Part of the display inside showed Field Marshall Earl Haig, British Commander in WW1.
The Australian War Memorial commemorating both World Wars was opened by PM John Howard in 2003. This is where Australia commemorates Anzac Day in London.
Late afternoon, we decided to fit in a visit to the London Transport Museum before finding a nice restaurant around Covent Garden or Leicester Square.
Horse drawn bus from London circa 1900. Each coach required 6 changes of horses per day (total 12) making about 50 000 horses needed in London.
Underground steam train used in the early years of the London Underground in the 1860s.
London bus used to transport troops in France. Convoys of around 80 buses were used to ferry troops to and from the front line. At one time there were around 1 000 London buses in France.
This is 'Ole Bill' one of the many buses sent to France early in the war. In 1920, it was repainted to its original colours and pressed back into service as a London bus.
As this London part of the blog is getting a bit lengthy, I have decided to publish it now and do a separate one for the next week we have here in London. We leave in Friday 5 December for Dubai where we will gave a three night stopover. We will arrive back in Brisbane in Tuesday 9 December.