Thursday, April 7, 2016

A catch up on the last few days (yeah I know...lame title!)

Well I'm sitting here with a cup of tea at my side and half watching TV.  Time for a catch up.  I guess my last update was Chiswick Gardens and that was Saturday.  Oops...

Okay here's a catch up and a few pictures...

Saturday evening.  I went out to the nearby Railway pub with my host Claudia and her other guest Gabriele who was from northern Italy.  Had a great steak and ale pie with chips (no photos...sorry) and ahem...three bottles of London ice tea.  Alcoholic ice tea...it had vodka in it and was delicious. 

Sunday....I had a lazy morning of catching up with my travel journal, doing the blog post on Chiswick Gardens....I heated up a lamb roast dinner I had bought at M and S for my "Sunday roast".  It was rather complicated with having to heat things at different times but it all came together and was fairly good.  Next time I want a Sunday roast I will go out and get the "real thing" though.  Then I decided to leave early for the musical I was seeing.."The Jersey Boys".  It was lucky I left early as there was engineering work on the train line and we could only go as far as Clapham Junction.  I was planning to get to Balham and get on the underground but couldn't even get on the train.  It was packed and there were people hanging on the outside...hello...it's not India...the doors won't close and then the train won't go!  I left the station in a bit of a snit and waited for(ever) for a bus. I ended up taking a 159 bus all the way into the west end which took about an hour.   I located the theatre (the Piccadilly) which is one I'd never been to before and it was on a side street I wanted to ensure I found it before it was time for the show.  I found a quiet cafe that had gourmet tea and nice cakes...it was obviously a brand new place and I had some lovely tea.  I just may go back and buy some before I head home in May...I mean I only have enough tea at home to have my own shop...why not more?   It was soon time for the show...as per usual I cheaped out and bought a seat on the upper level (grand circle...they make it sound so posh don't they?).  I had seen it in 2008 in Toronto with my niece and had enjoyed it so decided it was time to see it again.  The first half hour was boring with dialogue but once the music started it was absolutely wonderful.  I do love the Four Seasons music.  I still think it was better in Toronto however....the trip back here was much easier...

I am currently staying in Streatham in South London which is served by Network rail...same price as the tube (underground).  The train takes me into Victoria station or I can take the train to the next stop (Balham) and hop the northern line on the underground. 

Monday....this morning I headed out to Green Park and then over to St James Park for one last look at the daffodils...





Buckingham Palace


Tiptoeing through the daffies!  I wanted a picture of myself with the daffodils and was attempting a selfie...let's just say I am not too good at that.  I normally ask someone to take my picture but everyone was walking quickly past.  A young woman was waiting for her husband to finish a phone call and offered to take my picture (yes I am that bad at selfies!) so I took her up on that and gave her my camera which takes a much better picture than the iphone.  I am pleased with the results.  She was from Jakarta, Indonesia.   I love encounters like that rather than "selfies".


Just after noon I met my friend Marie from New Jersey and her friend at St John's Wood tube station.  We had a nice lunch then headed over to check out a few Beatles sites (all three of us are fans) including Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded most of their music.  Bonus: there is now a shop at Abbey Road studios..I picked up a couple of small things but I will be back before I go home. Oh yes I will!  It was a great afternoon and we had a lot to talk about - catching up on our current lives and talking about some great times/encounters with a certain someone we've had in the past!   Fantastic! 


The Abbey Road shop


Outside Abbey Road


 And a late afternoon cream tea - first of the trip but I have a feeling not the last...:).

Tuesday....Tuesday was kind of a bum around day.  I had intentions of jumping on and off buses but I was in a bit of pain with my knee so it didn't last long...  I ended up coming back here early. 


I managed to get as close as I've ever been to this sculpture on Park Lane - I first noticed it last year passing on a bus and have been wanting a closer look.,  It is called Dunamis and means "miraculous power". 

Further along Park Lane is the beautiful War Memorial for Animals - dedicated to animals killed in war during the 20th century.  As an animal lover I was deeply moved by this....it's true "they had no choice"...




Then onto Marble Arch where pigeons were freaking out.  There is a new sculpture called "Still Water" which depicts a horse drinking water...okay!



Then I took a bus down Oxford St that took forever with only one lane of traffic due to the Cross rail construction (a rail line that runs right across London and will make travel across the city much faster) - headed to Russell Square but we got dumped off at Tottenham Court Road.  Humph!!we all muttered as we got off the bus but in that "mustn't grumble" British way.  I walked down Charing Cross Road and paid a visit to Foyles book shop - four floors of book heaven. 




I then wandered around Soho a bit...this is a famous coffee shop so stopped here for a cappucino but sat inside...it was okay but I have tried better.  Ah well, another thing ticked off on "the list". 


 
By now I was tired and got on the 159 bus back to Streatham - photo of Trafalgar Square taken from the top of a double decker bus. 
 
Wednesday....I wasn't sure what I was doing today but I headed into town and decided I'd try for Russsell Square again as I wanted to visit the Foundling Museum.  This was a museum on the site of the Foundling hospital founded by philanthropist Thomas Coram in 1739.  He was touched and saddened by the amount of babies and young children  abandoned in London.   The parent of the foundling was asked to leave a "token" with their baby for future identification.  Tokens were anything from a brooch to a coin to a piece of paper.  The babies that were taken in were sent to wet nurses in the country and brought back at around four or five years of age.   It was fascinating to learn more.  It was a high profile hospital and George Fredric Handel even held concerts to raise funds for the hospital.  The museum had some wonderful art work as well as original paintings and first edition books of famous "foundlings or orphans" such as Dickens' "Oliver Twist",  JM Barrie's "Peter Pan" and even Harry Potter.  I really enjoyed my visit.
 


A whimsical sculpture on the fence nearby...I saw this on a postcard and enquired where it was otherwise I would have missed it.

 
J M Barrie lived nearby - how cool is that?
 
 I then got on the underground to Barons Court which I had read was the nicest of all the Underground stations.  It was pretty impressive even if the surrounding area isn't.  The station was built in 1905 and still retains some original features inside.
 

 

Then back on the tube and a bus to St Paul's for a quick peek.  I had seen a picture on Instagram with the blossoms in front of St Paul's so I had to have my own copy...because I'm like that!


Then it was off to Samuel Johnson's house - he penned the famous quote "When a Man is tired of London he is tired of life for there is in London all that life can afford".  He also wrote Johnson's dictionary - the first of its kind in the English language and it was used for about one hundred years.  It took him nine years to complete it.  He was also a feminist and was anti-slavery...okay I think I am in love!  Too bad he would be about 300 years old now if he was still around.  Visiting his home was fascinating and well worth the money.  He had a cat named Hodge...(a cat lover...hmmm...oh well..I guess he's allowed one fault!) who has a statue in Geough Square where the house is located.  



And then it was time to head back....I had a ready meal from M and S which was really good and then movie night.  Except the movie left a bit to be desired...for the grown ups anyway... so I came up here and relaxed.

Thursday....today!  I started by going to the launderette as I needed a whole lot of clothes washed and dried - jeans, fleece jacket that just could not hang dry and be ready to pack tonight.   After they were washed, brought back and hung up I headed to the station to top up my Oyster card (used for public transit here) and to pick up my tickets to Gatwick.  They actually had a fellow at the ticket wicket which was a shock but he could not top up my Oyster card as now it all has to be done by machine. (insert big eye roll)  Yep, no more ticket agents in most underground stations....He did however get me my reserved train tickets to Gatwick airport.  I grumbled about the loss of jobs and found out I had encountered a kindred spirit.  We both had a good old moan about all the technology and not liking to have to check our own groceries ( he said he refused to use them).  We then got on this darn younger generation and their damn smart phones and how they are looking at them all the time.  I said it's like the walking dead watching them saunter down the street staring at them and bumping in to you.  He said ominously "just wait until the IT fails and then they will be sorry".  He then joked that in three generations the kids will be born with a chip in their hip and will be programmed.  He then said it will be the "hippy shake, the hippy hippy shake" and with that we both broke into song and started boogying.  Well you had to be there.  How come there are no cool guys like that where I live?  It was a fun encounter and maybe I will have to go pick up another ticket there someday. :).  Once in Balham I did my errands and went to the library to check in for my flight and print my boarding pass.  Well dozy here forgot my passport and couldn't remember the number so I couldn't check in. I did it back here and will have to print it at the airport.  Luckily I am flying Air Malta so no charge for that!  I did come away with a Wandsworth Public library card and even borrowed a book!  I am such a book geek...I left that library with a big grin.  A library card in London!  Back here I spent the afternoon sitting in bed with frozen peas icing my knee while reading my book!  Life in the fast lane!

So tomorrow at noon it's off to Malta for ten days...I am paying for a "soft landing" and the fellow who runs the bed and breakfast on Gozo is picking me up for a fee.  With my knee the way it is and having to take one or two buses, a ferry and then another bus it just seemed the sensible thing to do.  I will be on Gozo for four nights then the rest of the time on the main island.   I hope to blog every day and do more instagramming...I am really failing on that end...

Stay tuned - it's going to be fun! 

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