Daily Wisdom

February 19, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jog

DOWNTOWN, NJ -- Hey everybody. Back from London Town and a terrific trip with my wonderful wife, Jean. There's too much to tell all in one post, so I'll summarize here best I can, and follow-up with more details later. As you already know, the Northeast Snowstorm resulted in our being grounded on Saturday night. The same flight on Sunday night was totally booked, which meant we didn't get off until Monday night. Oh well...
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his
-- Proverbs 16:9, New International Version

Tuesday, Feb 14th
Landed at Heathrow on Tuesday morning about 9 AM. Went to our 4-star hotel in the Kensington area. Spoke with our travel club rep about vouchers and arrangements. Went to the bank and exchanged some dollars for pounds... we used our ATM card at an ATM machine and it was a snap. Then we spent the afternoon at the Science Museum only a few blocks away in the Knightsbridge area... if you love gadgets & gizmos & mechanisms & vehicles, then this is the place for you. Then we used our first voucher for a free meal at the Hereford Arms Pub. Went back to the room, watched some BBC News and then crashed having been up for almost 30 hours straight. (I don't sleep well on airplanes, so I watched a 3-hour movie during the 5.5 hour flight. The rest of the flight was occupied with take-off, eating, a bit of dozing, more eating, and preparation for landing.)

Wednesday, Feb 15th
First, a full English breakfast at the hotel. Then, took the "Tube" or "Underground" to Leicester Square where we used vouchers to get some tickets for a show on Thursday evening. We also got tickets for a show that evening at the discount booth. Back on the Tube to Westminster and on to the House of Commons. Unfortunately, we got there too late for Tony Blair's question and answer period. In fact, we had to wait almost an hour 'til Blair left before we could go in... Drats! But while waiting, we had a good chat with an elderly couple on holiday from the country. Finally got in and listened to a debate about Amendment 5 to the Terrorism Bill concerning "glorification" of terrorism, which was rejected by the House of Lords as "too vague". To read a transcript of what we heard "live", you can go Here and keep clicking on "Next Section" at the lower left of the page until you get to "Column 1457" or thereabouts.

Then we went to the Cabinet War Rooms where Churchill spent much of his time conducting World War II. After the war, the lights were switched off, and the area remained virtually unchanged until today. The tour highlights those areas which are exactly as they were left in 1945. (Very cool)

Then on to a dinner of fish and chips at The Red Lion Pub near Parliment Square before heading off to see our first show, "Once In A Lifetime" at the Olivier-Royal National Theatre. It was an exceptional comedy about (of all things) American vaudevillians off to Hollywood in the 1920's. Good fun! Got there early and enjoyed a Courvoisier overlooking the Thames from a balcony before showtime.

Thursday, Feb 16th
Again, breakfast at the hotel (it was included in the price of our trip). Then off to the Tower Bridge. There's an exhibit right in the bridge itself. You can go up to the top and walk across the two spans, which are now enclosed in glass. A lot of history about the bridge itself as well as World War II. Great vistas. Took some pictures which I hope will come out OK. A fast-moving shower moved through the area and St. Paul's Cathedral was momentarily lit up by the sun with these black clouds behind it. What an awesome sight... followed shortly by a shower and hail storm. Then down to the engine room to see the steam engines that were originally used to raise and lower the bridge.

After a stop for liquid refreshment at the Anchor Tap Pub, it was a leisurely walk along the south side of the Thames past the HMS Belfast (which we inspected up close in 2002), and then on to the Tube at London Bridge. From there we went to Harrod's to look for a simple pair of men's gloves... can anyone say "price gouging"! Yikes! A selection of maybe 12 different pairs of gloves (most which were too small anyway) ranging in price from £79 and upwards. At $1.75 U.S. per £-Pound Sterling, that's like $138.25 for the cheapest thing on the rack! We left Harrod's about 30 seconds later and went back to the Tube for our hotel in Kensington. On the way, we stopped and bought a bottle of wine.

For dinner, we went back to Leicester Square and started exploring. We veered off the main streets a bit and somehow ended up in the Chinatown area. So naturally, we did Chinese for dinner... my Chopstick skills are excellent.

Then off to the Cambridge Theatre for "Dancing In The Streets", a musical review of Motown hits from the 60s and 70s. My sense of direction wasn't too good and we were soon way off course. Had to run about 8-10 blocks to make the show with about 3 minutes to spare. Whew! I'm gettin' too old for that sprinting stuff. There's nothing like the originals, but the Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye impersonators in this show were pretty darned good.

Friday, Feb 17th
After breakfast, it was on to the Tube once more, this time headed for Embankment and the Royal Courts of Justice. On our last trip we visited the Old Bailey (the criminal court), and this time we wanted to see the civil court. The public is free to observe, so we watched a couple of appeals cases. Love the powdered wigs... even on the court stenographer!

The Theatre Museum was next, as it was very close to the Royal Courts of Justice. Our daughter has been involved in the theater for most of her life (until recently) and we thought it would be interesting.

After another quick stop for liquid refreshments at The Marquess of Anglesey Pub, it was off to the Handel House Museum, the home of George Friedrich Handel at 25 Brook Street where in 1741 he wrote "The Messiah" in just 3 weeks. A classical quartet was playing violin, recorder, cello and harpsichord in the first floor front room of the house, which according to tradition is where many of Handel's new works were first rehearsed. The museum also acquired the house next door (23 Brook Street) where Jimi Hendrix lived round about 1967. Quite a mixture of old and new music. In fact, the house where Hendrix lived was more original in many respects than the house of Handel, and was used as a guide for refurbishing Handel's house (both were built at the same time by a "spec-developer".

We ended with dinner at The Prince Regent Pub on Gloucester Road. We shared an interesting bottle of wine from Spain - a Rosé - of which, unfortunately, I do not remember any further information. It was a delightful last evening in London. The next day we were on our way home.


At 2/19/2006 8:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hawk, Glad you were finally given clearance (ClarencE....Rodger, Roger....Over Unger and Out...Ha)But serously, Sounds like you had a fab and grooovy time. Do any pubbing,Yea Baby? OOps sorry bout that, My mind seems to be filled with cheesy comedy movies.
Glad you are back, we spent last week in sunny Fla. Not even in your league. Stay in touch. Little Bro in Ga.

At 2/20/2006 1:15 AM , Blogger camojack said...

It seems to me (and this is just me, mind you) that if you go that far you should stay at least a week. But you probably know what the conventional wisdom regarding opinions is.

Anyway, did you enjoy yourself?

At 2/20/2006 9:01 AM , Blogger MargeinMI said...

No Accidental Tourist are you! What an itinerary. Sounds like you saw some interesting stuff.

Did they pour baked beans all over your breakfast? Was the Chinese food the best thing you ate there?

At 2/20/2006 11:07 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Little Bro,
Thanks for the laugh. I love those movies too. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Fla. Me-thinks you no doubt spent some time near Sebastion. Is hurricane damage still evident? Take care good buddy.

At 2/20/2006 11:13 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Well, I did take a week off from work... and the trip was supposed to be from Saturday to Saturday, but you basically lose a day on each end travelling... and then the snowstorm... Sheesh!

Anyway, YES! We had a great time. Too short, but great! I hope to post more observations about our trip soon.

At 2/20/2006 11:21 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Nope. No accidental tourists here. We usually try to pick out some interesting things to see... things we haven't done before... and more things than we can probably do in the time we have. Then we just go from place to place, and do as much as we can.

Interesting thing about the beans... our hotel had a breakfast buffet, so we could pick and choose what we wanted. I had beans every day... love 'em! Rarely if ever have 'em at home, so it was a treat!

At 2/20/2006 3:55 PM , Blogger PCD said...

What! No bangers and mash? What is breaky in Jolly ole England without Bangers and Mash?

At 2/20/2006 4:46 PM , Blogger onlineanalyst said...

Cool trip description. Lots of variety in your experiences. No art museums though? Hmph!

One of the points that I like about foreign travel is noodling around in the food markets to get a feel of how the natives shop for the daily necessities and to try out some of their diet not influenced by tourist expectations.

Glad that you're back safely.

At 2/21/2006 3:53 AM , Blogger camojack said...

Well...any time on vacation is better than none. Glad to have you back safe...

At 2/21/2006 1:18 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

So what exactly ARE bangers and mash?

At 2/21/2006 1:20 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

OLA & Camo,
Thanks. It's fun to travel, but it's always good to come home.

At 2/21/2006 2:04 PM , Blogger Maggie said...

Welcome back "old Chap".I went to England in 1988 and spent a few days in London.What great time I had,and the tube is so convenient to everything.I also didn't shop in Herrods for very long,but did tour the magnificnt displays.There is a bakery a city block long(or so it seemed)They had ice sculptures in the seafood area and many other displays of fruit and veges that were pieces of art.
Hope you can show pictures later on.

At 2/21/2006 3:35 PM , Blogger RAM said...

Did you happen to see Malcomb Merriweather while you were there? I heard he went back there after Earnest T. Bass threatened to "whup-up on him"!

He makes the best bubbles and squeek!

At 2/22/2006 11:51 PM , Blogger radar said...

Glad you made it back. Man, maybe I should go just in the hope a little Winston Churchill would rub off on me, the guy was awesome!

Bangers and mash? How about fish and finger pie?

At 2/23/2006 6:46 PM , Blogger Kajun said...

How about smothered deer steak and sweet tater pie?

I smell the deer meat cookin...don't know about the sweet tater pie.

Maybe lack of such things in England, is why my ancestors left there 400 years ago.


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