Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Our three weeks in London were at a close. I've skipped a few days that might be blogged later, because we are near the end of our trip and I wanted to share some of our impressions of Cornwall where we are right now. 

We left from Paddington Station, and Paddington himself, that bear from Peru, was honoured with his own statue on track 12. 

It was a long train journey to Penzance (almost 6 hours) which meant we passed through several cities on the way. I confess I don't know which places these were, perhaps Plymouth, or Truro, or both. 

In Penzance we stayed at a lovely B & B run by June and Stewart. Stewart is a history buff and has also written a book on the SOE, Special Operations Executive and his mother (or grandmother's) part as a resistance fighter. His grandmother was betrayed and died at the hands of the Nazis. 

This lion guards a park along the Strand in Penzance. 

And there is a huge Jubilee Lido, restored to splendour, which encloses a very large swimming pool with salt water from the Atlantic. I was told the water is quite cold. I didn't check for myself. 

It was in use though. 

And these great large flags were flapping in the wind and sun. 

In the harbour was this pirate ship. Of course Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera The Pirates of Penzance has left its mark on the town. 

We ate at the Dolphin Pub our first night. 

It has a few tales to tell. 

I loved the light on this copper kettle hanging above our heads. 

And the mussels in cream sauce (bread to sop up all the delicious creamy broth. 

Geordie had fish with a lovely presentation - crispy prosciutto and a branch of roasted cherry tomatoes made a delicious garnish. 

We went to church. It's St. Mary's, an Anglican Church celebrating the Virgin. There was a mini-festival and we ended up sitting through a youth concert, from an 11 year old pianist, to a couple of 18 year old flautists, and a couple of young men who performed contemporary and well sung pieces from the rock repertory. It was better than you might think; and there was wine! The stuff you drink - not that you sip for communion. 

There were also some flower displays including this charming sheep. 

Here's St. Mary's steeple in evening light. 

The view out our bedroom window with clothes hung out to dry. 

On our full day in Penzance we took a trip to St. Michael Mount. It's connected to the mainland by causeway, but it's only exposed during low tide, so we had to boat over. 

The castle on the hill was once a Benedictine Abbey (it had its roots in the 5th century) - before the dissolution of the monasteries. It's now under the care of the National Trust, but the family who owned it live there on a 999 year lease. Lord Ledam's family, the St. Aubyn's have owned it for over 600 years. 

There are people living on the island, staff of the St. Aubyn's. One can wander the village at the foot of the Mount before tackling the steps. 

The view back to the town of Marazion. 

The Mount has also been a site of pilgrimage. Here a pilgrim takes a rest before heading further up. 

Along the way one is pointed to a heart-shaped stone, said to be that of the giant killed by Jack the Gisnt Killer. The Giant's bones now lie under a sealed well, apparently. 

A view of the castle walls. 

Inside several of the rooms have been prepared for display. This is the library with its wall of books. 

And this dining room was once the refectory of the monks of the Abbey. 

The Union Jack flies over the castle of course. The right wall with rose window is the end of the chapel where services are held on Sundays. We rode over with the priest carrying his robes. 

There is a beautiful sub-tropical garden, closed to the public on weekends, so we didn't get to tour it. 

A stone parapet. 

And stained glass in the church, collected by one of the Baron St. Aubyns. 

Including this Garden of Eden scene. 

This chair and table are pictured in the room with Queen Elizabeth II seated here, signing the guest book, with Prince Philip looking on. 

And these two chairs bear the monograms of Elizabeth and George V. 

Here is the Lady of the castle wearing a cabled sweater, working on a hexagonal pieced quilt. It was probably quite cold in the winter after all. 

I apologize for the poor lighting , but this is the piéce de resistance - a model of the Mount carved in 1930 by the butler who served the family for 49 years. It's made entirely from Champagne corks! And it's quite accurate. 

We had taken a taxi out, but discovered a much cheaper method of return, the public bus, where we managed to snag the front seat of the upper level thus gaining a superlative view of the landscape. 

Since it was Sunday, we had Sunday roast - better than the previous Sunday when the place we chose had already run out by 2:00 pm. The Yorkshire pudding was great. The meat was served with roasted parsnips and potatoes. 

As well as mashed turnip, broccoli and carrots on the side. 

I liked this little model sailboat displayed in a local window. 

The Pirates were around during the evening. 

A lovely light on the street with St. Mary's lit. 

And my parting shot. Earlier in the you saw the gate to Wuthering Heights. Here we have the door to Middlemarch. It's nowhere near George Eliot's fiction, set in the British Midlands. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Queen, Camden Locks, and Greenwich

We had planned to visit the art collection at the Queen's Gallery, so headed off across Green Park where we found this monument of importance to us from Newfoundland or Canada. 

It honours those lost in the two World Wars. 

However, at Buckingham Palace we were prevented from crossing to see the gallery by a little pomp and ceremony. The Queens Guards were out in force. 

As well as lots of bobbys. This guy spent more time rescuing lost umbrellas and cameras over the barricades than he ought. 

But it was worth the inconvenience. Turns out that the Queen had gotten dressed up in her finest, and called the best carriage because she had an appointment at Westminster to read the Speech from the Throne. 

She and Prince Philip are in the carriage pulled by her trusty greys, and flanked by her honour guard as they make their way down the Mall. 

In the park, there were a large group of horses with their riders.

And some small wheeled carts. They turned out to be the group that brought the guns to fire the traditional 41 gun salute which is done n this occasion every year. We were very close to the action and could see the smoke and feel the blasts. 

Since we could not see the Queen's little art collection we used our London Pass for another activity and took a diversion to Little Venice for a tour on the canal. 

Where we had another little reminder of home. 

People live on the canal as our tour guide does in fact. 

Here anther brightly painted home on the water. 

We went through several tunnels under bridges across the canal. By the way, before engines were installed, these boats were actually towed along the canals by horses walking the tow path along side. When they reached a tunnel the horses were led over and the boatmen walked the boats through the tunnels by lying on the side using their feet to walk along the tunnel wall. According to the tour guide this was the origin of the phrase "giving someone a leg up". 

Along the path there are now very expensive houses -millions of pounds worth. 

The zoo is also along the canal. Did you, like me, feel disappointed when you realized the sign doesn't say "No mooning"? It says "No mooring or loading". 

Yes, there's even a floating Chinese restaurant along the canal. 

The tour ended at the Camden Locks which allow boats to get from one level to another. We got to watch as this green boat was floated up to the level of the next lock so it could continue on. 

Camden Town market was also at the end of our tour. Lots of shops including this one selling hand knitted clothing. 

And lots and lots of food. We were enticed by the mac and cheese shop. 

And got a great tub full, prepared on the spot, with lots of cheese and truffled bread crumbs. 

In Camden Town itself we walked past these amazing three-D store fronts. Lots of shoes and boots for sale. 

Another day, another tour. This time we took the train out to Windsor Castle. The Queen was still at Buckingham so we didn't get an invite to tea. 

But we did see the old steam train that used to bring the monarch into London. 

The castle is very large. 

There is a moat, but it's always been a dry moat. 

So it is extensively landscaped. 

Told you it was big. 

We arrived in time for the Changing of the Guard. They aren't carrying wimpy little rifles anymore. 

Here the arriving guards face those they are about to replace. 

The Sargeant-at-arms did that shouting thing they do - with unintelligible phrases, to us not trained to understand. 

And the bandmaster, a young woman, led the band in a rousing rendition of a Beatle's tune. 

Which the band members played with gusto. 

Again this is a no-photo zone, but we did get to take some pictures in a gallery outside the castle itself. 

The Queen with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 

And out in the town there was a shop selling lovely garden party hats for those who are invited to tea. 

And a sculpture celebrating the Diamond Jubilee. 

Which served to take a selfie. 

I'm packing in lots here. On the way home I took another spin through the National Portrait Gallery where I came across an electrolytic copy of a sculpture of Edward, The Black Prince. 

And this is not intended to be connected with the last picture. I found this small display in the gallery of a group of photographs of early connections with black people. This man's photo was one of several on display showing a number of choristers from South Africa who had performed in London in the 19th century. 

This boy is also in the next picture. He was "given" to Lord Stanley, when he was in Africa looking for Livngstone. He received an English education. 

But before that he was Stanley's helper.  The picture below is from a set of stereoscope pictures that would have been sold for viewing. 

We are also enjoying life at home. Geordie has made a fast friend of the resident cat, Treacle, who will often curl up next to Geordie and fall to sleep. 

Anther day, another tour. This time it was a morning cruise on the River Thames on a boat like this one. 

We boarded across from the London Eye. Note this is not a black and white photo. 

Westminster, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. 

And the large modern domed building on the right is Charing Cross Station. 

St. Paul's Cathedral. Note the building in front is not part of St. Paul's. You can only  see the dome at this vantage point. 

The Shard again. It's the tallest building in London. And in front is the Museum ship HMS Belfast which you've already seen. 

Tower Bridge at a great angle of view. 

And the White Tower in the Tower of London. The opening at centre bottom is the Traitor's Gate. According to the tour guide, traitors were brought here to be drowned in the river. 

Our destination was Greenwich this time. There we saw several fine examples of the architecture of Sir Christopher Wren. He's buried in St. Paul's which he also designed. This is Royal Navy property. 

With allegorical murals painted on the walls of one building. 

And a chapel, first designed for injured and elderly sailors. It was decided that it was actually too nice for them so they were moved on. 

The chapel interior has an interesting ceiling and a very fine organ. 

With some lovely details on the pulpit here. 

And a monument to the ill-fated Frankln expedition lost in the Canadian Arctic. 

The town of Greenwich has a market with again lots of food stalls, but also shops and stalls selling bric-a-brac. 

And at a bar, a good pint of ale. 

Above Greenwich Park is the National Observatory. Halley of comet fame was once the National Astronomer. 

The museum has many displays on time and space. 

And of course, the Prime Meridian - here I am straddling the East and West hemispheres of the world. I've now stood on the east, west, north and south hemispheres -since I struck a similar pose on the equator in Ecuador some years ago. 

From the observatory we made our way to the Cutty Sark which in her time was the fastest tea clipper in the world. She is suspended in time here having been saved by a local man of means. 

This is one of the Chinese tea chests in which the tea was shipped across the world. 

Although later she became a carrier of sheeps wool from Australia. 

Lovely details - the boat is very well maintained. 

And has some wonderful carvings. 

Yes, Cutty Sark the boat, inspired Cutt Sark the whiskey. 

These are a few of the figure heads from other ships collected and on display with the Cutty Sark. 

She is suspended not only in time, but also in space. There is room to walk under the keel, and there is a coffee shop on the level below the boat. When the display was inaugurated, Prince Philip hosted a dinner with the tables set directly below the keel. 

And we make our way to the end of this rather long, multi-day blog post. We decided that we would walk back to the other side of the Thames by walking under it. There is a tunnel that goes from one bank to the other. It's a good walk. 

With evidence off stalactites forming. 

And this is the entry way - one on either side of the wide river. 

And yes, there's more to come.