United Kingdom
Green Park

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  • Day108

    Another day, another parade

    November 14 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Amazingly varied day today. We went to the Remembrance Day Parade, which is held on the Sunday closest to November 11, and is often the day after the Lord Mayor’s Show which we saw yesterday, which was fun but frivolous by comparison. Today was totally different - this was a serious ceremonial, with prayers and a hymn at the cenotaph in Whitehall, all the pomp and circumstance of bands and perfect marching, followed by the march of the veterans which lasted for almost 2 hours. We had to go through 2 security checks, and there was a large (and friendly) police presence. It was very moving, especially the 2 minutes silence after Big Ben struck 11 (Big Ben is covered with scaffolding and is not normally striking at all at the moment, but obviously was made to work for this occasion)..the total silence of the enormous crowd was quite overwhelming. The queen was to have been present but at the last minute had a back strain and was not, and Prince Charles laid a wreath. From where we were we did not see him, or Camilla and Kate on the balcony, but we were front row further up Whitehall. While we waited for the 11 o’clock gong, the band played wonderful things - British folk songs that I knew from childhood - the Minstrel Boy, Men of Harlech, as well as Rule Britannia and Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations…wonderful stuff. After a couple of hours of standing we were pretty cold and stiff!! Very glad to have gone and experienced it all. Like our Anzac Day ceremonies on steroids.

    All around Westminster was blocked off for hours so we took the tube to Sloane Square to find a warm place to have some lunch…all busy Sunday morning, and we walked in towards Knightsbridge and found a pizza place which was just right…shared a pizza and a salad and felt revived. Then Amr and I went on to the Victoria and Albert museum, Omnia went back for downtime. We had tickets for a special exhibit on bags in the V and A, and we all met up at 4 which was the allotted time. Quite fun, but I’m not a bags person really - not fancy bags, just practical bags, especially for travelling! So that was good, and afterwards we walked from there to Marble Arch and to find a good Lebanese restaurant on Edgware Road. Had a great meal, a delicious feast, but forgot to take a photo.
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    Ira Kowalski

    You must h ave a glass of mulled wine and a ginger bread man to toast in Christmas. It looks Christmasy.

    Ira Kowalski

    Loved the V&A, with its surprises and oddities and great treasures. The great bed of Ware. I think it is about 3 metres across. Th Raphael cartoons for tapestry which are at the Vatican. Rodin's bust of Balzac as a young man looking most dapper. Just loved it.

    Cathy Sertori

    Lovely photo! Love the Christmas feeling! 🎄

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  • Day105

    Another day, another concert

    November 11 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    A good day again. We started out going to the Tate Britain, the original one on the river bank near Vauxhall bridge. That was good, and amazingly uncrowded, as is the whole city. You can walk down Oxford street without being permanently on a collision course with people. We actually walked to the Tate which is a fair way from Earl’s Court…we had been going to get a tube to Victoria but decided to walk and it was longer than we had anticipated.

    After a sandwich at the gallery cafe, Amr and I both took the underground - he to do some of his special things - the TinTin shop, Jermyn street for shaving things, and I went back to the hotel for some downtime. I find I am finally getting to the end of sightseeing and doing interesting things!! And it was good to just read and relax for a little while. Then we met up again at 3.30 and made our way to the Barbican as we had a concert there tonight and we wanted to find our way as it is out of our usual London area…we have been there before, but ages ago. So we found it - such an ugly area of huge concrete buildings built in about the 50s or 60s and the concert hall part is not user friendly either so it was good to find where we needed to be. We also found a nice Italian restaurant in the building too where we booked to eat before the concert, and that turned out to be excellent.

    Having sorted it all out we went to a pub on the corner - the Jugged Hare - such a typical pub, until it suddenly became totally crowded with rather spivvy financial types all having after work drinks (?at 4.30!)… Anyway, we met Omnia and had the good dinner, and a fabulous concert! The London Symphony Orchestra this time, and another great programme - Saint Saëns piano concerto No 2 (a special favourite) and Beethoven Eroica!!! What could be better…and even the shorter starting work was 18th century music by an unknown (to me) composer and not some modern discordant stuff. So very happy - I think they are putting on programmes that they know people love after the drought of concerts during covid! And it looked like a full house and it was excellent to see lots of young people, not just old fogeys, so there are some young generation lovers of classical music…refreshing to see…they seemed enthusiastic and happy. Not many photos…
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    Ira Kowalski

    What a marvellously joyful day!

  • Day103

    Lots of walking round London

    November 9 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Today we set off at about 9, and had breakfast at the Caffe Nero up the street. We had planned to have it at the hotel, but as a covid change breakfast now consists of a pickup bag of goodness knows what from reception, we took up their offer to cancel and got a refund of about £90! So Amr got bananas and mandarines from the shop which we had in the room, and then pastry and coffee at Nero…perfect.

    It being a cloudless and glorious morning we set off walking, this time up Kensington High Street and into Kensington gardens. Went through into Hyde Park, and up to Marble Arch where they have built an artificial “mound”…Amr climbed the many stairs up to the top but I stayed below on a bench, when I noticed huge clouds gathering…but nothing dramatic happened, it just became a cloudy day, no rain. At that point it seemed a good time to venture into shops, and we went to M and S and Selfridges, and I bought some boots (low and black) so that I don’t have to wear my walking shoes all the time, even when trying to be dressed up!

    Then we wended through Mayfair, loving all the buildings, then as it was still a lovely went again into parks - Green Park, and then after passing by Buckingham Palace to St James Park…so lovely at this time of year with the autumn leaves. Can’t remember the exact route, but we walked along the Strand and on to Covent Garden and sat and had a drink. Thus fortified, we decided to walk back, along Piccadilly, Knightsbridge, and Old Brompton Road…so it was quite a walking day all told…about 21 kms my Apple Watch tells me.

    Omnia arrived by train from Birmingham where she had been with friends, and got to the hotel around 7. So we all went down to the Indian restaurant down the road which we have been to quite a few times in the past and had a delicious meal….flavours we haven’t had for quite a while.

    Tomorrow evening we have a concert in the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank…I think we are all going to shop and do our own thing till we meet up in the afternoon….will be good.
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  • Day102

    London calling

    November 8 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Today we got the train to London…lovely to be in this favourite city. Checked into the hotel, and went off walking through the familiar streets. We had for once booked breakfast at the hotel, but found that due to covid breakfast consisted of a pick up bag at reception, to eat in the breakfast room or in your own room…we had the option of cancelling and getting a refund which we took up…much preferable to go to a patisserie nearby…otherwise all good…no mask mandates, and we had a wonderful walk along Cromwell road to Knightsbridge, along Piccadilly, up Bond street, along Oxford street and down Regent street!

    After a sojourn in UniQlo we met Isabella, Louise’s daughter, who has been here during the whole covid experience having arrived in London in January 2020…so we were the first people from Oz she has seen since then, and we had a wonderful catch up and dinner. First Isabella led us to a very cool bar, Opium, which needed to be booked, had a bouncer and which we reached by climbing many flights of stairs!!…and then we went to Nopi, an Ottolenghi restaurant that we love. Fabulous to bond with Isabella, and food as always yum. We will have another dinner together in 2 weeks before returning to Liverpool.
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    Denise Allen

    I’m sure Isabella was pleased to see you. What a great night out so envious of dinner at Ottolenghi

  • Day107

    Saturday - a parade and a Syrian dinner

    November 13 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Not drizzly today. Omnia was visiting friends, so Amr and I did our walk into the city centre after breakfast at Caffe Nero, our regular. Walked up Edgeware Road looking at Lebanese restaurants where we will probably eat tomorrow night. Lots of middle eastern eateries there. Then we walked down Oxford street, I had another small binge in UniQlo and then on to Amr’s coffee place where we wanted a bite to eat, but they only had cake today (which we ate)..then we got the underground to Blackfriars as we decided to watch the Lord Mayor’s Show - a huge parade, an annual event held on the 2nd Saturday in November, for the inauguration of a new mayor. We hadn’t heard of it before, but a woman in a pub told us it was a fun thing to do. They parade through the City, and there was quite a crowd…we looked it up and chose a time and place that they said was less chaotic, as the parade was returning back..Quite cold waiting, but it was good…sort of traditional, with bands, guards and soldiers in uniform, cartoony crazy groups, chandlers, wheelwrights, everything you could think of ending with a very tutti frutti ancient carriage with the Lord Mayor himself!

    Then I returned back to the hotel, Amr went to Harrods with some errand regarding watch straps (the eternal quest!) and we all met at 5.15 in Piccadilly as we had a restaurant booking for 6 pm. It was the only time we could book (Saturday night, even a couple of weeks ago) and it was a Syrian restaurant that had a great review. It was in Kingly place, off Carnaby street, and at 5.30 the whole area was totally chaotic with masses of people. Kingly place is a sort of courtyard with three levels of restaurants, and just finding the place, which was on the top level, was a feat in itself. But it was worth it. There were 4 of us, as Omnia had asked a friend to join us, a delightful man, Edward, who is English (though has spent much of his life living in other places) and now lives in Sweden with his Swedish wife of 40 years. So there we were, from different countries, in a Syrian restaurant in London, with an Italian waiter, drinking Spanish wine! The food was amazing, we did get a photo, but by that time we had demolished most of the food! Anyway, a great night, and early also, which was good as Edward gets a morning flight back to Sweden tomorrow. The crowds going back not as bad as earlier (though many many people out and about) as they are all still out and not going home for ages yet!
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    Olivia Sertori

    Looks like a fun parade

    Carolyn Anderson

    That carriage!!!!!!

    Ira Kowalski

    Fairytale magnificent state coach.

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  • Day104

    Another London day

    November 10 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    Just back from a fabulous concert…the London Philharmonic and Schumann’s piano concerto plus Sibelius symphony No 2…both familiar and special favourites! So my brain is whirling with delicious music.

    We started out this morning, doing separate errands…Amr wanted to do some shopping, and to call in on Spiked where Brendan O’Neil is the editor…and I had a small amount of shopping…I find that I only enjoy shopping if I have something I am looking to buy, not just wandering through shops without purpose, so it was a bit frustrating as it was a misty moisty day and not good for sitting on a park bench to read which I would have enjoyed…but it wasn’t actually raining most of the time so just walking the streets in the lovely cool air was better than inside!

    Amr and I met up at 1 o’clock and had a little sushi lunch in Selfridges (weird because of covid it wasn’t a train, you had to order online and your food came round on the train and stopped at your place!!)…and then we went to the Wallace Collection which is an amazing collection of paintings and other artworks in a big private house in Manchester Square (which inspired Frick to make his collection similarly). That was excellent, then we went to Piccadilly Circus to meet Omnia who had been also doing her thing, and we walked down to Embankment and found a place - Italian this time - to have dinner before the concert. Had a pizza for the first time for months! A good day.
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    Carolyn Anderson

    Love the Wallace Collection

    Ira Kowalski

    Another perfect day.

    Cathy Sertori

    How wonderful and haven’t heard of the Wallace collection!

  • Day117

    Last whole day in London

    November 23 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 3 °C

    Yet another cloudless day…God is smiling! It was so beautiful that we first had another park walking morning…through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, just magic…then had a coffee, and then a sushi lunch on Piccadilly before going to the National Gallery again for a revisit to our favourite paintings….spent a pleasant couple of hours there, and then walked up Regent street, visited Hamley’s, and walked round in the disappearing light and the increasing cold.

    Had an early dinner at a restaurant we had seen that had a freezer full of beef in the window, and who had a pre show special menu. It was great (though I ended up not having beef..) and then we went to a chamber music concert in St Martin in the Fields church in Trafalgar Square…Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart and Telemann…what could go wrong! Now back, had our complimentary glass of wine (Australian!) on our return to warm up in the foyer…tomorrow afternoon we take the train back to Liverpool, and rejoin Omnia.
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    Denise Allen

    Looks wonderful

    Cathy Sertori

    Great pic and you’ve got a swan 🦢 friend!

    Cathy Sertori

    What a beautiful spot for a perfect concert!

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  • Day107

    A drizzly London day

    November 13 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    Today was a bit rainy but it didn’t matter as we planned to spend it in the National Gallery. We walked there, via Green Park, still looking gorgeous, with leaves just dropping down all the time as you watched. Past Buckingham Palace where they were about to change the guard and there was quite a crowd, and on to Trafalgar Square. You had to book in with a QR code - this was to control the numbers in the gallery, but in fact there wasn’t a crowd and you could have walked in, except they had set this up in case so you had to log in and do all the palaver! Anyway, we got in and we and Omnia went separate ways as it is impossible to all stay together…Amr and I for the first time almost feel we went through in proper order and not getting lost or straying into a completely new era of paintings! We had fun and took our time, and had a break in the middle. Very good, and at one stage we heard what sounded like pouring rain, and it probably was, as when we finally emerged there were lots of puddles, but by then it was almost sunny…it was lovely seeing old favourites…one is the Tax Collectors, which we always rudely send to Peter. And to quietly find some Caravaggios that we almost walked past…and to look at things in more detail.

    After that we walked to Regent street, in an alley where Amr has found a favourite coffee shop, and then we wandered back to Leicester square and Covent Garden as we were going to a play at the Gielgud Theatre, and before that an early dinner at Dishoon - a fantastic Indian restaurant. Amr had researched that and found that they only take bookings before 6, so we had a reservation for 5.15, and were so thankful for that….when we arrived (and met Omnia there) there was a line right down the block waiting…we got in almost right away, and could see why there was such a queue…fantastic food, Indian as we haven’t had before, and it deserves its reputation. By the time we left the line was even longer.

    Then we went on to the theatre and saw The Mirror and the Light…the stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s books about Thomas Cromwell…excellent and I enjoyed it immensely…not sure how it would be if you weren’t familiar with the history etc…but we loved it..although maybe not as good for Omnia as she hadn’t had those history classes or read the Mantel books.

    No more cultural bookings now. We do have a Syrian restaurant booked for tomorrow though which should be great. We had found the museums delightfully not crowded, but Friday night, walking round Leicester Square and Covent Garden, even on a cold wet November day, there were lots of people, and when we went through Piccadilly Circus to get the tube home it was very packed. Already Christmas decorations are being put up, Christmas markets being set up, and all festive.
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  • Day109

    A day of mooching around

    November 15 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Today we had no plans, except for dinner. After breakfast Omnia left for Euston to get a train back to Liverpool. We set off walking…just love walking the streets, looking at the buildings and walking through the parks. We went up to Kensington High street, and then on up through Holland Park…a new route for us. So beautiful…Holland Park is much more dense in undergrowth and trees, and there were many squirrels frolicking around. We came across a perfect Japanese garden…then walked to Notting Hill Gate…I’m always interested to see it as that was where I stayed when I very first came to London in 1964…and it is quite ordinary…along the main road, which becomes Bayswater Road it is not very beautiful or special…but we kept walking along past Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and got to Marble Arch and Oxford Street. Sat and had light lunch and went down Bond St to Fortnum and Mason’s, then down to Whitehall to see the cenotaph now that the barriers are down. Stopped and had mulled wine in a pub, passed the Horse Guards as they were changing guard (2 horses in and 2 horses out!), and went back up to Piccadilly. I went back to the hotel for a short break, and Amr stayed on to window shop and look at things…

    We met at 6.30 and went to a fab restaurant that Amr had heard about and booked..a special occasion for our 34th wedding anniversary on 13th (when we also had a lovely dinner with Omnia and Edward at the Syrian restaurant)…it is called Noble Rot, sounds weird, but is quite excellent. Up one of the narrow streets in Soho, it is a house, quite small with many levels. Buzzing and totally full so they are doing something right. Tables filled again as soon as people leave. We shared an entrée - poached trout with spinach noodles and creamy sauce…just divine..then I had a pork chop with pumpkin and Amr had hake. Both spectacular. And a ricotta panna cotta with roasted quince and nuts and chocolate flakes for dessert. And a Rioja red.

    London (UK altogether) is expensive we find. Not like when our dollar was worth 34pence, but still eating out is huge compared to Oz, and that is not cheap either. To have bread and butter tonight cost £4.50!! That is about $8 ….mind you it was fabulous bread. The French would be horrified…bread is supplied free with any meal, as much as is needed…and French bread is matchless. This is just a comment..we are not agonising about costs..we are so lucky to be here, and are enjoying every bit.
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    Ira Kowalski

    A hearty meal. Looks delicious!

    Ira Kowalski

    34th Anniversary. Goodness! and Congratulations!

    Ira Kowalski

    In honour of your 34th anniversary.

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  • Day116

    Back to London, another beautiful day

    November 22 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    We can’t believe this weather…it was cloudless and gorgeous today, though cold. But it can’t be so terribly cold (it is in single figures) but I realise that we don’t need gloves (though hands usually in pockets), and our ears are not freezing off…no hats needed. We got the train from Bristol at 10 am and were back at the hotel near Earl’s Court before 1. Left the bags there as too early to check in, and we walked to Knightsbridge, fulfilling several missions of Amr’s…

    Then I turned back, such a pleasant walk, as I wanted to change and settle in before we went out to dinner tonight. We have another great room…I think we are now honoured Ibis members (!!), and maybe that is why we seem to have good rooms, or just luck, and we always get a voucher for complimentary drinks.

    We arranged to meet at Marble Arch at 4.45, as we had a reservation at 5.45 to have dinner with Isabella again at a restaurant in Notting Hill Gate. Isabella had heard of it and booked. The days are so short now…even by 3 the sun is low, and by 4 it is getting dark, so by 4.45 it was quite dark, and cold. (I love it). We walked along Bayswater Road and Notting Hill which took a while, but pleasant walk, and found the place in Portobello Road - Gold Notting Hill. And it was fabulous, and popular. A great vibe, and exceptional food. Small share plates and a delicious variety. And we finished quite early, having had an early reservation, so back and snug in our room.
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    Olivia Sertori

    Haha great photo!

    Denise Allen

    London looking fabulous


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Green Park