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Royal Kensington and Chelsea

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    • Day 12

      Southbank today

      May 3 in England ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Trip into Westminster to walk to Southbank

      Today I took the train to Southbank as per Colin's suggestion. Teaming with folk coming in all directions across the bridge from Westminster station, there was a lot to see including the lowlander playing the bagpipes in his full regalia. When I learn how to crop a video I will post. I got him to play his favourite tune and then Highland Cathedral. ( guess who I was thinking about there?)

      The other photos of course are of the Lion, a wonderful statue on top of a window in the old council buildings, the London eye..oh dear no way was I going to get on that monstrosity, Westminster Palace and big ben, which chimed just as I was videoing the piper!! The place seems to become more and more like Blackpool. There was sea world, london dungeon themed experience, and Shrek all next door to each other along with a merry go round, various food carts, restaurants galore along the way.

      It was a slow walk down the southbank pier into the centre a lot of which is closed off and walked down a narrow roadway which used to be the council buildings I believe to see the wee garden below with the crown atop it, and the sentry standing very still.

      I found a wee shop and bought a few wee coronation things and took the photo of the mini inside the shop...bless! Watched the tourist boats going up and down the Thames before walking across the next bridge to Charing Cross station to be on my way home again. A beautiful sunny sunny day, the weather is changing! Woohoo!!

      Today I have also been in touch with our cousin, Jean, after finding out she lives next door to Portsmouth where we just were at the weekend. We have organised to meet when I return from Spain. I am so excited to meet our kith and kin for the first time on Dad's closest family members.
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      Traveler  Yay... so glad Big Ben has had it's scaffolding removed.. it took about 4 years to clean her up but she is looking gorgeous these days. The actual tower is now called the Elizabeth Tower to honour Her late Majesty's Diamond Jubilee.. it was changed in 2012.. a fitting tribute.

      Traveler  Gosh, didn't know that hen, I will remember now Ben is now Elizabeth hehe! 🤣💞

      Traveler  cute! Probably something in recognition of an upcoming ceremony?

      Traveler  D'you think it's something to do with a crown? Hehe!! 🤴

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    • Day 116

      Back to London, another beautiful day

      November 22, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 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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      Traveler  Haha great photo!


      Traveler  London looking fabulous

    • Day 108

      Another day, another parade

      November 14, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 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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      Traveler  You must h ave a glass of mulled wine and a ginger bread man to toast in Christmas. It looks Christmasy.


      Traveler  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.


      Traveler  Lovely photo! Love the Christmas feeling! 🎄

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    • Day 107

      Saturday - a parade and a Syrian dinner

      November 13, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 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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      Traveler  Looks like a fun parade


      Traveler  That carriage!!!!!!


      Traveler  Fairytale magnificent state coach.

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    • Day 109

      A day of mooching around

      November 15, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 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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      Traveler  A hearty meal. Looks delicious!


      Traveler  34th Anniversary. Goodness! and Congratulations!


      Traveler  In honour of your 34th anniversary.

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    • Day 117

      Last whole day in London

      November 23, 2021 in England ⋅ 🌙 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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      Traveler  Looks wonderful


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


      Traveler  What a beautiful spot for a perfect concert!

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    • Day 104

      Another London day

      November 10, 2021 in England ⋅ ☁️ 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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      Traveler  Love the Wallace Collection


      Traveler  Another perfect day.


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

    • Day 105

      Another day, another concert

      November 11, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 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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      Traveler  What a marvellously joyful day!

    • Day 103

      Lots of walking round London

      November 9, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 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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      Traveler  Hilarious


      Traveler  So pretty


      Traveler  Lovely London parks

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    • Day 7

      “All roads lead to . . . Harrods”

      May 3 in England ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

      Today started with visiting 2 famous roads and finished at you-know-where.

      We were out the door just before 8am to catch buses (rather than the Underground) to our first destination - Abbey Road. Loss was VERY keen for this as she is a Beatles fan from way back😉 - so I went along for the ride to humour her.

      We found it without any trouble and I did the obligatory pedestrian crossing at this famous location that featured on the album cover of the same name. We sent a message home to the kids to have a look at the live Webcam that has been installed at the site (which they duly did) and they did in fact see us (and captured some screenshots of us holding up the traffic unnecessarily) to ‘relive’ this moment from 1969. It was all a bit of fun - but it was very bleak this morning so we took a brisk walk then bus ride(s) to our second famous road - Portobello road, Notting Hill.

      I have created a separate footprint for the kids for this one. (Adults, if you have no interest in Paddington bear and his love for Portobello road then don’t bother with that footprint).

      We had a bit of a look around the district, noting the variety of pastel painted houses which are a well known feature of this area.

      It was now time to return to the British museum again as we had ‘unfinished business’.
      A brisk walk to the Tube station (partly in order to stay warm) saw us arriving at the Museum around 10.30am. There was no queue and we quickly picked up where we had left off yesterday. About 2.5 hours of solid work and photography got us to the point in the book where we finally read the words ‘You have now completed your tour of the Museum’. The only disappointment was that 2 rooms that we wished to inspect were closed due to staffing shortages. We tried to convince / coax/ bribe one of the staff members to allow us in - but alas we will have to get someone else to inspect and take the photos in these rooms for us another time.

      We had a 20 minute lunch break in The Great Court area before heading to our next activity - a trip down one of London’s canals in a canal ‘narrowboat’. The boat departed Little Venice at 2.30pm and we were cutting it fine. Another brisk 15 minute walk, followed by an unseemly sprint at the finish to catch the required bus - then another jog after we got off the bus - saw us arriving with minutes to spare at the dock at Little Venice.
      We probably would never normally have thought to book this trip, but it was an inclusion on the London Pass we had been using to gain ‘free’ access to all the things we had done so far (bar the Churchill museum and the London Eye).
      The 45 minute trip up this London canal was surprisingly enjoyable and the expert commentary was very informative. The history and importance of the extensive network of canals through England was relatively unknown to us both.

      Well, there was no delaying it any longer - it was time to man-up and head to Harrods. As we exited Knightsbridge underground I could barely keep up with Loss as she fairly sprinted in the direction the signs were leading her.

      There were 3 areas she was particularly interested in inspecting - the food hall, the children’s toys and clothing section, and the shoe department. All of these filled me with fear and dread.

      We eventually emerged from Harrods’ clutches with the final damage not as bad as I had feared. Some grandchildren’s gifts were purchased, but fortunately I was eventually successful in convincing her that the Louis Vuitton shoes that she had homed in on didn’t look that good on her . . .🤫

      A tube ride back to Russell Square had us walking through the door just after 6pm - our last day of exploring London. It has been really enjoyable and busy and the weather was very kind to us overall.

      Tomorrow we plan to pick up a a rental car to use for touring the rest of the UK during the coming weeks.
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      Traveler  So pleased Mark that you appreciated how versatile the pink shoes were, after all they only cost $5,000 dollars, just as well you didn’t get them, I didn’t even like them, not suitable for the meeting anyway!!!

      Traveler  We walked in to the Louis Vuitton store and I asked him to show us the most expensive pair of shoes he had - and those were the ones. Vinyl - not just ordinary vinyl though - ‘specially UV stabilised so they could withstand the harsh Australian sunlight’.

      Traveler  🤣😂🤣so versatile…!

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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Royal Kensington and Chelsea, Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, KEC, KEN

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