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November 2012 - England

UK | England | London | Kensington Gardens | Italian Garden

November 30, 2012

Hi Everyone, Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. Friday Al and I took the tube to Kensington Station planning to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. When we came above ground to blue skies we couldn't resist just wandering about. Just when you think you've seen what London is all about you discover another new and interesting area:-) The Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, The Royal Albert Hall, gardens and beautiful Kensington Park greeted us as we explored the area. We had a picnic lunch along the Long Water and The Serpentine in the center of Kensington Gardens. The Italian Gardens and Diana's Memorial fountain were lovely. We visited a beautiful Roman Catholic church Brompton Oratory and Holy Trinity.

Last stop for the day was Harrods so we could tell our grand daughters we had been there. Each big street level display window was dedicated to one of the Disney princess'. Tangle, Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Jasmine... each beautifully done by world famous designers. They are worth googling ladies. Then we rode the escalator from bottom to top very reminiscent of the Old Chicago Marshall Fields.

Saturday we went to the Apollo Theater to see Richard the III with our sailing friends Ginger, Dick, Pam and Steve (visiting this week). The three hours flew by. We had seats right on the stage a special addition to the set to simulate theater in the round. Richard III was staged for the Shakespherian Globe Theatre which is an open air theater in the round but it closed for the seasons the end of October. We had dinner at an Indian Restaurant near St. Katharine's.

UK | England | London | Cutty Sark

Monday we went with Pam and Steve to Greenwich area. We wandered about the Cutty Sark (closed on MON), the Royal Naval Academy and the Observatory. We visited the Royal Observatory museum and had lunch at a local tavern. Ginger and Dick had us aboard Alchemy for dinner before going to Southwark Theatre to see Victor Victora. What a fun show. Very intimate theater with the actors playing within feet of us. Great singing, dancing and acting. Fun, fun evening!

Tuesday we went to an unusual clarinet, viola, piano concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The Alban Berg and Kurtag pieces were a bit bizarre...but I enjoyed the Hindemith and Max Bruch pieces. I suppose there isn't a lot out there for clarinet and viola:-) Later we had coctails at Pam and Steve's rental apartment and went to a pub for a good-bye as they headed back to the states today.

Yesterday we went to a lovely violin recital at St. Olave's Church. We've heard Fenella perform before in a quartet so we knew she would be great.

Today we joined the Historic Royal Palaces which allows a year free entrances to 5 palaces including the Tower of London. We held off buying our membership so that we could still go for free next winter when we're back in London. Sunny, dry but very chilly. We had frost on the docks this morning and still there at 1:00 in the shady areas. Happy Weekend Love and God bless Sally and Al

November 22, 2012

Hi Everyone, We had a tour of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which has been in business since 1570 on Saturday. Big Ben's bell (1858), the Liberty Bell (1732), and more recently the new bell for NY Trinity Church damaged in the 911 Terrorist attacks, were cast here. This is the only foundry still in existence in UK and one of two in Europe. The foundry is a small business with only 25 employees including office workers. They market large bells as well as handbell sets. It's only been in the last 100 years that the capability of harmonically tuning the bells has developed which provides an additional facete of their work at the foundry.

Sunday we walked the South Bank of London visiting Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market (closed on Sun) and then spent the afternoon exploring the Tate Modern Art Museum. My art education has now opened my eyes to works that I would have guessed were created in the last 50 years that in reality were done in the late 1800's early 1900's. I must admit I much preferred the few Matisse, Monet, Turner and Picasso's pieces housed here. Most other pieces I had difficulty understanding their artistic value. The wall plaques describe the pieces and the feelings the artist was trying to convey but it was often lost on me. The building itself was once a power station and is an interesting setting for the works displayed. The "Tanks" displayed interactive art where the visitor physically can become part of the art as you walk through the rooms projecting a variety of video's on walls and small screens. "Been there done that..." I'd encourage anyone to enjoy the experience but it's not one of the museums we will continue to visit and enjoy throughout our time spent in London.

Monday our UK friend David who we met in Britany cruising this Fall invited us to join him and friends at a special Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. Free tickets are offered with up to 3 month waiting list for the 7 minute ceremony. But our invite is not open to the general public. We began our evening with a 45 min. night tour of the grounds and chapel with one of the Yeoman Warders (Beefeater). Then we were invited into the Yeoman Warder's Pub for drinks and fish and chips. We had a tour of the pubs prized photo's and artifacts by David's friend Jerry who arranged our invite to this special evening at the Tower. Then as a group our Warder guided us to the Ceremony of the Keys. This ceremony has been done every night at 9:53 every day for the past 762 years and was only delayed one evening by 30 minutes when in WWII a bomb hit the Tower. After the ceremony we returned to the Yeoman Warder's Pub for another drink. Al is trying to figure out how he can get back into what he considers is probably the only pub in London where you can get a pint of beer for less than 2 GBP:-) We owe a special thanks to our friend David and his friend Jerry for this exceptional experience at the Tower of London.

UK | England | London | Thames River Quay southside | The Mayflower Pub

We are celebrating Thanksgiving at the Mayflower Pub along the Thames River. This tavern is where the Mayflower left from to head for Plymouth before crossing the ocean founding Plymouth Mass. We have about 20 people coming for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner complete with cranberries and pumpkin pie. In the morning there's a Thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Cathedral with the American Church choir singing, US Marine colour guard and Embassador Susman speaking afterwards. Hope everyone has a safe happy Thanksgiving. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

November 16, 2012

Hi Everyone, We feel so fortunate to be able to attend excellent free(donations requested) lunchtime concerts. We went to a piano and Violin recital Beethoven and Strauss sonata's last Friday at St. Martin-in-the-Field. Yesterday we went to another excellent piano and violin recital at St. Olave's church. (Bach and Schubert) Then today we had a delightful Mozart-Clarinet Quintet and Haydn-string quartet op64 No5 "The Lark" again at St. Martin-in-the-Field. We have several recitals to choose from each week at different churches and all are excellent.

UK | England |London | Lord Mayor's Day| The Gloriana below Tower Bridge

Last Saturday was The Lord Mayor's Show. First we stood below the Tower Bridge to watch The Lord Mayor arrive aboard Gloriana (the Queens rowboat) Then We had prime spots in front of the Mansion House at the end of the 3 mile procession. Lots of bands, floats and of course The Lord Mayor riding in his beautiful State Coach. Unfortunately the wheel broke on the coach and he ended the parade in a jeep. OH well we've seen the coach and we've seen the Mayor just not together in the procession:-) We visited the London Bridge Exhibit (2 for 1 that day) and St. Paul's Cathedral was free entry. So we had a fun full day.

Sunday we visited the British Museum. It's fun to be able to do just a few hours at a time at these free museums knowing we can come back again another day. The Egyptian rooms and the Greek/Roman rooms were our focus for the day.

We had friends, s/y "Harriette" from Kemer, Turkey come to visit Alchemy and Artemis on Tuesday. Jo and Mike live outside of London and came to town for the day. We had fun catching up on news and travels over a nice lunch at the Ramsgate Pub.

Wednesday was a sunny gorgeous day. We took a picnic lunch and sat along the Thames near the Tower of London. We had a great spot for the 62 gun salute ceremony celebrating Prince Charles birthday. We joined the Cruising Association and had another inspiring talk/slide show Wednesday night. Howard Steen shared his Cruising Arctic Norway experiences along with gorgeous photograpy, and many of his sketches and paintings. We're excited about all the possibilities we have to look forward to cruising in the Baltic.

Today window shopped a bit around Piccadilly Circus. Things are already looking festive for the holidays. We had lunch at The Crypt in St. Martin-in-the-Field before the lunchtime concert. Then we spent a couple more hours visiting the National Art Gallery.

Happy Weekend! Love and God Bless Sally and Al

November 6, 2012

Hi Everyone, Al's been sick with a cold most of this week and no he did not get the flu from the flu shot:-) We did venture out on Friday and visited The Guildhall Art Museum/coliseum and the Clock Museum. But that proved too much for Al and he stayed in bed the next three days. Finally yesterday I was going stir crazy. It was a beautiful sunny blue sky day so I walked to the Olympic grounds. Nothing special from what I could see but a nice walk anyhow. The Arcelor Mittal Orbit or the Hubble Bubble Pipe is a strange 114m red spiral structure with a viewing platform and the Stadium were all that I could see. Found a trail in Mile End Park along a Regent's canal that looks like a place to go walking someday. Since I had walked all that way I did take time to visit the Westfield Shopping Center in Stratford. (London's first Mall) I didn't read about "The Village" portion of the mall until I got home or I might have gone for a gawking session... One aisle of the mall was put aside for top designers from Louis Vuitton to Jimmy Choo, Prada and Tiffany & Co. It was getting late so I took the tube back. Got a little lost so it was dark by the time I got back to Artemis at 5PM. Hate that it's dark so early already.

I went out again later with Dick and Ginger to see Guy Fawkes fireworks. (Londoners celebrate the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 The plan was to kill King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the thrown. Fawkes was guarding the gunpowder under the House of Lords in Westminster when they captured him and the plot was foiled. Fireworks displays have been going on all weekend. Guess we missed the "best" fireworks but it was a beautiful clear night and the lights of the city and the Tower Bridge were magical.

Today Al ventured off the boat and we visited the Imperial War Museum with Dick and Ginger. Unfortunately much of the museum is closed but we had an interesting study of the British Secret Service. We had a cup of soup and then went to a free lunchtime Piano Trio concert at St. Bride's Church. The Lawson Trio, piano, violin, and cello were excellent. They played Brahms Trio in C major, op. 87. Very enjoyable to both hear and watch. (so attuned to the music and each other). Al is now back in bed so hopefully this outing won't set him back on his recovery. My calendar is filling up with things to do in the next weeks. London is a fun vibrant city. Glad to be here. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

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