A Travellerspoint blog

England

Rubbing Shoulders with Royalty

semi-overcast 12 °C

No matter how many times we've been to London, the city always manages to delight and surprise us.
We only had one free day this time so hadn't made any plans, but there is always plenty to do - and most of it is free.
All the major museums and galleries are free and the city's ancient streets and iconic buildings are in themselves a wonderful outdoor museum dating from 79AD onward. It's all there - two thousand years of architecture: Roman, Saxon, Norman, Tudor, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian, as well as fantastic modern buildings like the Shard. So, after a little window shopping in our favourite store, Harrods, we joined the tourists at Covent Garden Market...
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Begun in 1654, Covent Garden was the main fruit and vegetable market of London until the 1970s. But now the rowdy costermongers have been replaced by a more genteel bunch of vendors flogging all manner of bric-a-brac to the tourists. It is a bustling place, though nothing like the crazy markets of S.E.Asia, and the streets entertainers are a riot. This guy caused a stir just by hanging around in mid-air...
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After lunch we signed up for a free guided tour of Somerset House - the home of the Admiralty when Lord Nelson planned his defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. This enormous 18th century rock pile on the banks of the Thames replaced a Tudor palace...
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Remembrance day is fast approaching, the poppies are coming out, and we were lucky to get the last couple of seats at a concert given by the Royal British Legion's Central Band. Even luckier - we took our seats and found ourselves sitting next to the Duke of Gloucester,(the Queen's first cousin), and his wife. The Duke and his missus (Dickie and Birgitte to us) had a rollicking good time. The music was splendid and you can get a taste on youtube. Go to http://youtu.be/6oNbTc5hVuA or Google the Central Band of the Royal British Legion.

That's it for our day. The rain is coming so we're off to sunny Spain.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends back home.

Posted by Hawkson 04:10 Archived in England Comments (3)

We're Off On The Road to Morocco

Blog entry number 300

semi-overcast 12 °C

It has been a summer full of sunshine and visitors on the west coast of British Columbia and we have been exploring our own backyard – the mountains and lakes of the Rockies. This is Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies...
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While this is the world renowned Lake Louise...
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Surrounded as we are by all this beauty you might wonder why we travel to far off places. Saint Augustine had the answer when he said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page".
Since we began blogging five years ago we've sat down at the computer three hundred times to bring you images of places and people from other worlds and other times in history. Yet, although we have explored more than two dozen countries in that time, we've barely scratched the surface of the Globe.
Unbelievably, our blogs have been read more than a third of a million times and we have been asked countless times to write a book about our travels. Well, we've finally done it – and we may even do it again, (gluttons for punishment that we are).
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‘Slow Train to China’ chronicles our recent Trans-Siberian journey from St.Petersburg to Hong Kong; a ten week journey of some 10,000 kms. This is planned to be the first in a series of inspirational travel guides for people like us – independent second-lifers. So if you, (or someone you know), need a bit of a shove to get out of the Lazy-Boy, then order a copy and let us persuade you that world travel is neither difficult nor dangerous. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the by the ones you did.”

Summer is nearing an end on our Canadian isle and as the sun sinks lower in the sky there are storm clouds on the horizon. It’s time for us to clear the decks and set sail on another Blissful Adventure. This fall we’re taking Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s advice. We’re off on the Road to Morocco. We’ll have a few stops in England, Spain and Portugal en-route, and after the Kasbahs of Marrakesh and Fez we will be heading south of the Sahara for a safari in the National Parks of Ghana. Please come along for the ride, (and let us know if you, or a friend, would like a copy of our latest book for Christmas).

Posted by Hawkson 14:31 Archived in England Comments (13)

The Pride of London

sunny 14 °C

We arrived in England nearly a week ago and discovered that we were not alone in thinking London is the best city in the world - the old gal was just heaving. But as we jostled our way through the gilded halls of Harrods, (with our wallets firmly in our pockets), and fought our way past the emporiums of Oxford Street, we realized that most of the shoppers were foreigners taking advantage of the bargain-basement pound.
But who needs money in London? New York may boast that the Staten Island Ferry offers the best free show in the world, but the sights of Manhattan pale in comparison to the delights of Greater London. Here’s a snapshot…
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Big Ben’s iconic tower is just one of hundreds of instantly recognizable landmarks liberally scattered across this ancient city that turns any walk into a fascinating journey through history. Who would not recognize Buckingham Palace, the infamous Tower of London, the soaring span of Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Albert Hall, and Sir Christopher Wren’s gothic masterpiece of St.Paul’s Cathedral…
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But there are thousands of lesser known architectural wonders lining the wide boulevards and riversides of London and you can stroll for days along its famously named thoroughfares staring in awe at the grandeur created in times past: see sections of the 2,000 year old Roman wall, the medieval castle that is the Tower, the Tudor palaces and houses, the great Georgian terraces and the magnificent Victorian railway stations, or gape in wonder at the myriad of modern wonders like London Eye…
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London can be expensive whatever the state of sterling but beyond the cost of food and lodging it can be the cheapest place to visit on earth. London, with its wealth of public buildings and parks, is in itself a great free museum, but it is also home to some of the greatest museums, libraries and art galleries in the world - and they are all absolutely free to visitors. And then there are the parades…
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There is always some ceremonial event taking place in London, even if it’s only the daily ritual of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and we struck gold. We arrived in time to see the Lord Mayor’s Show…
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This is the new Lord Mayor’s gilded coach led by a procession of bands and floats totaling more than 6,000 people…
Sheila particularly liked the beautifully groomed horses…
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The Lord Mayor’s Show is an annual event to celebrate the anointing of the new incumbent and it is followed by a magnificent firework display on the river – and it’s all free. The following day was Remembrance Sunday with another great parade at the Cenotaph – and that was free as well.
Enough of this free stuff – we’re off to the countryside to visit friends and relatives for a few weeks before we return to Canada. Cheerio for now, but look for a special blog entry when we get back to our island home in mid-December.

Posted by Hawkson 01:44 Archived in England Comments (6)

Butlins for Crumblies

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We’re now on our way to Delhi and spent our last night in England in this enormous Tudor mansion just west of London.
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But we were not the only guests this time. You don’t need a gilt-edged invitation from the Lord of the Manor to get in here; just a pension and a fat wallet. This great house, where King Henry VIII wooed Jane Seymour in 1536, has been converted into an up-market holiday camp for crumblies, (Britspeak for seniors). It’s just like a Butlin’s holiday camp of the 1950s, without the redcoats, the camp beds and the crappy food. How things have changed! The grey-haired oldies staying here today are probably the same people who stayed at Butlin’s, but now they have four-poster beds, haute cuisine and ballroom dancing. We would have stayed longer but worried that we might get used to it. Anyway, India awaits – please meet us in Delhi in a few days.
In the meantime, here’s one of the great oaks in the grounds – quintessentially England.
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If you would like to see some lovely photos of Britain, check out this web-site:
www.britainfromtheair.com

Posted by Hawkson 02:50 Archived in England Comments (3)

Ship Shape in Bristol

sunny 14 °C

Last week’s maiden voyage of the luxurious Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth, marked a milestone in Britain’s naval heritage and follows in the wake of such historic vessels as: The Mayflower, Beagle, Victory, and Cutty Sark. Yet this is actually one of the world’s greatest maritime marvels and we bet you’ve never heard of her.
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She’s the SS. Great Britain and was the largest ship in the world when she began regular service to Australia in 1845, but she wasn’t carrying shackled convicts - no gruel and hardtack here. The food was said to be as fine as any served in London’s greatest restaurants. Here’s the first class dining room…
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The Great Britain was an incredible leap forward in maritime innovation at a time when wooden sailing ships had changed little for thousands of years. Not only was the Great Britain made entirely of iron plate, but she was powered by the biggest steam engine in the world. Here’s the propeller…
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She had many incarnations in her lifetime and was finally abandoned in the Falklands in 1937. After many ignominious years as a coal hulk she was refloated in 1970 and returned to the dock in Bristol which had been built specifically for her construction. Now, restored to her former glory, she is a wondrous reminder of Britain’s maritime history.

Posted by Hawkson 02:48 Archived in England Comments (0)

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