[OT from cottage renovations]
(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)
after an overnight flight from Dulles to Heathrow we found our way to Cousin Gillian's flat in Kew.
after tea, chat, freshening up and more tea we headed off to do the tourist thing.
Gill and family friend Claire were indefatigable tour guides as we traipsed from Picadilly to Trafalgar Square, through much of the National Gallery, down to Westminster, across London Bridge and back, through St James' Park to Buckingham Palace, then back to Picadilly and into Fortnum & Mason with just enough time for Taunton to pick up some tea.
Claire, Ben, Taunton
Gill and Taunton
St James Park
lots of walking through the brisk afternoon and evening made for hearty appetites all around so after taking the Tube back to Gill's flat we were more than ready for dinner to be brought in from Cafe Masala in nearby Richmond.
Claire, Gill, Taunton
Taunton and I took the tube to Waterloo Station for a day trip to Portsmouth to visit the historic dockyard, the HMS Victory and the restoration-in-progress of the Mary Rose.
a day at the British Musuem is, like the rest of the trip, just enough to make one realise how much else is there.
we settled for the Rosetta Stone, Assyrian carvings, the Elgin Marbles, the Enlightenment Gallery, artefacts from the Sutton Hoo burial and a carved stone statue from Rapa Nui, instantly recognisable of course.
the rest will have to wait.
we then took the Tube to Tower Hill and walked round the Tower and down the river to Tower Bridge.
as luck would have it while we were there it opened for river traffic in the form of a Norwegian cruise ship which was towed through stern first and moored to the HMS Belfast.
while watching this I was thinking how in previous years delegations of visiting Norsemen were considerably less welcome as they came upriver to London, but this lot seemed less intent on raiding for loot and slaves -- after all there is an E.C. these days.
as we were starting to walk across it opened again to allow the tug to go back downriver.
we then walked over to Southwark and along the S bank, crossing back on the Millenium Footbridge to St. Paul's and the tube back to Gill's flat, with an excellent Italian dinner on the way back.
Cousin Amanda was able to come in for the day from East Anglia and join us for more touristic activities.
Amanda and Taunton
on the Tube
- tour in double decker bus: good.
tour guide: awful.
- river cruise to Greenwich: good.
fellow passengers on said cruise: awful.
so we baled at the Bankside pier to escape the cacophonic French schoolchildren and cruised through the weekly Borough Market
, treating it as a walk-through buffet.
there wasn't a tea stall to be found but Southwark Cathedral was having a book sale in the diocesan hall; it would be inconceivable for such an event to lack tea so we had some there.
Gill headed back to prepare for a social obligation that evening and the rest of us went to fulfill another of Taunton's wishes: a visit to the Virgin Records megastore.
we then headed back for a bit more of the British Museum and then saw Amanda onto her Norwich train at Liverpool Street Station, remembering moments after her departure that we were supposed to have gotten the spare key for Gill's flat from her.
after riding the tube back to Kew I was able to buy Taunton a pint or two of Guinness at The Railway pub and we had time for a walk around the neighbourhood before Gill came back.
all good things must come to an end, so in the morning we went back to Heathrow and flew home.
uneventfully, and with regret.
it was an excellent beginning, though, and one thing is for sure: we'll be back.