Saturday, 30 October 2010

Lizzie’s Guide to London – Part Two

Thanks to Stacey and Heather for their suggestion to solve my Blogger editing problems – I am trying Windows Live Writer to produce this post.  Let’s see how I get on…

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Firstly, if you're looking for the post about the Celebrating Blog Friendships Blog Party on 6th November, see this post.

Also Jo has published an update post today, with a final checklist of those who said they'd like to join in.  Please check her post here, to make sure your name is on the list!

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So, the mini-holiday in London… (this post has a fair bit of writing and lots of pictures – you may wish to go now and get a cuppa & a biccie!)

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Lizzie's Guide to London -Part Two

Sunday 24th October

Day-Trip to Greenwich

(and a night-time adventure!)

We had a strange night.  The bathrooms were right across the hall from our room, which made it a bit noisy, as families got their children settled for the night. 
Also, the room was a bit warm, so we had to open the window – then there were the usual Saturday night noises to get used to, not to mention the striking of the St. Paul’s bells, on every quarter-hour and the big, “Great Tom” bell booming the time on each full hour.  That was nice, but took a bit of getting used to! 

Once everyone had settled down, it was about 10:30pm and I started to drift off…

At around 11pm, a group of students came in and started going into the bathrooms.  Doors creaking and banging, voices, sounds of teeth-cleaning (they left the doors open so they could chat!)… I thought it would settle down soon, but it went on, and on, and on.  The chatting became louder, then there were sounds of thumping, zips and velcro, more chatting… then a man’s voice. I thought it must be the dad from the family room next door, asking them to be quiet – it was after 11:30 by now – but it went on still. 

Eventually, after the Clock struck midnight, I went out to see what was going on – by now DS was also awake and I didn’t want him up all night. 

An interesting sight… Our room was by a fire door, which led to a sort-of cul-de-sac, with two bedrooms and a shower room.  There was a group of about ten or twelve students – mainly girls – sitting around the edges of the cul-de-sac, leaning on the open fire-door, all the way up to our bedroom door.  They were in their sleeping bags, with their rucsacs on the floor next to them.  They seemed to be camping (!?) and showed no sign of preparing to go to bed. 

So I had to ask them to please either go down to the lounge and chat there, or to go to bed and sleep.  I was nice, but pointed out there were family rooms next to them, that they had woken us and probably the family next to us and that there were children in these rooms, trying to sleep.  They did look sheepish and apologised, then I heard them all going into rooms, or downstairs – whatever.  Peace at last! But how weird…

So we were a bit sleepy in the morning, but at least we managed 7 hours or so (and DS went straight back to sleep, so he had about 9 hours).  Warm showers woke us up okay and we were hungry enough to forget about bed.

Breakfast photo from

We went and ate breakfast.  The breakfasts in the hostel were pretty okay. Lots of choice – cereals, yoghurt, ham, cheese, croissants and chocolatines, toast, fresh fruit, hot food – bacon, eggs, sausages, grilled tomato, baked beans, mushrooms… nicely cooked too, choice of fruit juices and also hot chocolate, tea and coffee. 
Some girls at our table arrived with trays piled high. I thought they must be good eaters… but they used the toast, cheese and ham to make sandwiches for their lunches!  They wrapped them in napkins and had an apple each too – definitely a clever money-saver for students travelling in London!

So, we were ready to go OUT on a sunny October Sunday morning…
St. Paul’s Cathedral, early morning.
From St. Peter’s Hill, up to St. Paul’s…
…from St. Peter’s Hill, down to the Millenium Bridge and the River Thames.
VIEWTY2 Walking across the Millenium Bridge in the early morning

Millenium Bridge views to St. Paul’s

We crossed the bridge to the South Bank, because we wanted to catch a river ferry from the pier at Bankside. VIEWTY2
The replica Globe Theatre on the South Bank.  We planned on going there on Tuesday, for a tour.
Our Thames Clipper ferry, arriving at Bankside Pier. We went down the Thames to Greenwich.
National Maritime Museum – We spent a couple of hours here, exploring lots of interesting Maritime history.  There was an exhibition of Toy Boats as well, which was fun.  Lunch in the cafe, then a stroll to Greenwich Park.
Greenwich: Old Royal Naval College (now part of Maritime Museum)
Colonnade between Old Royal Naval College and the Queens House
I can imaging ladies and gentlemen from long ago, strolling under the shelter of the colonnade, looking across Greenwich Park… VIEWTY2
… there’s certainly a great view from here!  View across Greenwich Park, to the Royal Observatory
From the Observatory hill, across Greenwich Park, to the Queen’s House and Maritime Museum.  In the background, Canary Wharf – see the tower with the pyramid roof – the Isle of Dogs and other buildings along the North bank of the Thames.
What a contrast, between the old and new!
The site of the Prime Meridian, Greenwich – designated as the point of 0 degrees Longitude and the home of Greenwich Mean Time (which, incidentally, Britain reverts to tonight as British Summertime ends for the winter).
The famous Meridian Line.  There was such a queue to stand on this and have your picture taken… we didn’t bother.
Instead, J stood on the Old Meridian Line, just below the courtyard of the Observatory… Standing in two Hemispheres at a time!  That stone above his head has an inscription describing the Meridian.
The Greenwich Royal Observatory.  This is the rather nice garden.  We went into the Camera Obscura, in a little house to the side, where we could see Greenwich Park and the Maritime Museum reflected in real-time, on a white curved table – little people and their dogs walking along, children running, pushchairs and skateboards…  All good fun.
From the Observatory, the views across the Park and up the Thames are even better.  The highest point for miles (which is why the Royal Observatory was sited here, of course!).

After looking round the Observatory a bit, we headed for the Planetarium.  This building has replaced the old London Planetarium, which now belongs to Madame Tussauds and has shows about a different sort of “star”!
Photo from waymarking,com

We had tickets for one of their shows and spent half an hour drifting around the Galaxy, learning about other planets in our Solar System.  It’s quite exciting actually and they have a brilliant system, which projects amazing images of the sky, photographs of the planets, star maps etc, all onto their curved ceiling, which you view from a comfy seat that is conveniently tipped back slightly, so you don’t have to crane your kneck (v. good for me, who can’t tip my head back!)

We headed back to Greenwich Pier about 5pm and caught another Thames Clipper back to Bankside. 

Dinner at Pizza Express, just across the road from St. Paul’s Cathedral.  We’re spoilt rotten! 

We slept like babies!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Lizzie's Guide to London - Part One

Well, this looks as if it might be successful! I think I have been a teeny bit clever - though I haven't tried to do the writing and publishing bit of this post yet! (Those who are reading this with no idea what I'm talking about - see the previous post, from earlier today, in which I complained bitterly about ongoing issues with the Blogger Editor and loading photos to posts).

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Also, if you're interested in reading my post about our Celebrating Blog Friendships Blog Party, which will take the form of a blog-hop on 6th November, please see this post here.
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Lizzie's Guide to London -Part One

Saturday 23rd October
St. Pauls' and Surrounding Area

Last weekend we took a four-day trip to London. We went up by train and spend three nights in a YHA hostel, at St. Paul's in the City.

I thought you all might enjoy a few posts about the trip (though feel free to do that "oh no, I hate looking at people's holiday photos" thing and go elsewhere for your entertainment!

I think the best way to do this is to just annotate the photos with little stories of our adventures. Hope you like the stories I tell!
By train to London... yes, DS does need a haircut... but it's kind of fuzzy, which is cute!

This is my DH and DS, heading up St. Andrews Hill, on the way to the youth hostel.

Carter Lane, St. Pauls. The building on the left side of the road is the youth hostel.

It used to be the Choir School for St. Paul's Cathedral, but they now have a lovely modern building near Paternoster Square, which is no doubt much easier to cope with and more convenient for early mornings and late evenings, when the staff have to shepherd a couple of dozen boys to and from a sung eucharist or concert.

I ought to have taken a photo of the front of this building - it has some wonderful painting all over it - this is sadly beginning to wear away, with the effects of the elements, but it is still visible and is really impressive - I think it was probably done in the C19th.
There are lots of little nooks and crannies around the St. Pauls area. This is a view into a little corner just off St. Andrews Hill.
An old pub, with its coach-lights and panelling. It was carefully re-painted in old-fashioned style and looked great. There was a sign by the front door, which said "Persons with soiled clothing or dirty boots will not be served". I thought that was great!
Corner of St. Andrews Hill and Carter Lane. If you look at the top of the pale-coloured building - the youth hostel - you will see a long dormer window, which was our room.
St. Pauls area - shops and offices. All rather quaint and old-fashioned. Lovely to stroll about in. However, very strangely, the shops were all closed, even though it was a Saturday lunchtime. We went out to look for something we'd forgotten and couldn't find any shops that were open in the whole area. Even some of the cafes and restaurants were closed. Everything was open on Monday though, so I presume that everyone thinks it's too quiet in the City at weekends to bother with opening. There were cafes open in the tourist areas, but no-where else. Strange, but true!!
Rooftop view, from our window, high above Carter's Lane.

Rooftop view in the other direction! (well, I liked it). See the fab little roof-garden above that cafe on the corner? They even have a tiny conservatory!
And of course, St. Paul's Cathedral itself. We didn't go in on Saturday. There were a zillion tourists about and we thought it would be so busy. Decided to go on Tuesday morning (only we never got there, but that's another story).
So, we went walkabout, to explore. Past St. Paul's and up the road, we got to Fleet Street - famous residence of many national newspapers and magazines (although many have now moved on to newer - and presumably cheaper - locations). ..
... also the home of The Bar and The Courts. The seat of the British Justice System!
View down from Fleet Street, to the gateway into Temple Gardens. The "Temple" in the name refers to "Temple Bar", the central offices of "The Bar", where British Barristers are based. If you qualify as a Barrister, you are "Called to the Bar", which I think means that you go to the law offices and they register you and license you to work as a senior lawyer. A friend of DS' dad is a barrister and goes up to London every day. I guess he must work near here... (the British Justice System is somewhat complicated and confuses me. I really ought to research it a bit more... but not now eh?)
The High Court of Justice. You may have seen this building in various news reports on tv, whenever they report on any high-profile case that has been taken up to the High Court (there are several layers of courts and judiciary centres in Britain, starting with the local Magistrates Courts, then the Crown Courts, then on to the High Court. Only certain cases go up to High Court - they have to be pretty important and serious!)
Here's one I took for Amy! This is Australia House.
Sorry about the white van just passing.. I had a good shot all lined up... duh...
And on to Victoria Embankment, just down the hill from the Courts. We walked back past Temple Gardens, on the pretty side! This is a popular place to take a walk; it extends for quite a way, up into the Town. It's a Victorian innovation, with wide pavement, fancy street lamps and benches, also various war memorials and memorials to famous people. We walked back towards the City though, not into Town.
View from Victoria Embankment, up to Westminster. You can see the London Eye and Houses of Parliament, among other places. The towers are the Parliament buildings - the one on the left is the famous St. Stephen's Clock Tower, home of the very famous Big Ben bell.
View the other way, along the Embankment. The buildings are more modern and all about offices, work etc. Lots of financial offices and head offices of big companies etc. The tall, brownish chimney-thing by the river is the Tate Modern.

The bridge you can see is Blackfriars Bridge, a great Victorian iron bridge. This is the road bridge and behind it is the rail bridge - which is currently undergoing refurbishment. We came into Blackfriars Station on our train (though next month they will close the station for a few weeks, while they complete their work).
A good old-fashioned British Telephone Box! Lots of these in Central London and the City. Elsewhere in Britain they've been virtually eradicated. Some towns and villages actually had to fight to keep theirs - many people like them as they are landmarks and quite attractive (in a box-like, heavy iron, with doors that you can't open kind of way). They are a bit of a rarity therefore. I like to look at them, but I hate having to use the phone inside one of these - I can not open the door, as it's so heavy!
So, we crossed over Blackfriars Bridge, to the South Bank of the Thames.
It really was a lovely afternoon. A bit breezy, but the sun was quite warm and bright. Lovely views from the bridge!
This is what our family calls a "Flakey Stop"! Me and DS both need to eat snacks mid-morning and afternoon, or we become what DH calls "flakey" - ie. weary, grumpy, tired, sad, exhausted, unable to function properly... you get the idea - a nuisance really. We're all so used to it now, that we factor these into our plans. Still, we had considerable trouble finding a cafe that was actually Open!! We could've gone into a pub (!), but DS isn't allowed in the Bar, so we'd have had to sit outside - brrr... Besides, we needed coffee/hot choccy and stuff, not beer...

This was a great little cafe, called Fratelli's. I think there is a chain of them in London - not seen them anywhere else though. There were two great Italian guys there, working hard at cleaning and tidying up; they were charming and helpful, made fab coffee and told us where to look for a big shop that might sell what we needed (remember I said we - I actually - forgot to pack something?)
On the way back across Blackfriars Bridge... St. Paul's in the Sunshine! Lovely picture (the bit at the bottom is the scaffolding / roofing at Blackfriars Rail Bridge/ Station).
Back to our room at the hostel. We had a 4-bed room, all to ourselves. Very clean, recently refurbished and really nice. Obviously, it being a hostel, we had to share the showers and loos, but we had a washbasin in our room and there was plenty of hot water in the showers etc. No complaints really.

A good room in a great location - and jolly cheap! Breakfasts were okay too - plenty of it and a good variety of stuff. Coffee was pretty decent as well, which is important to me first thing in the morning!
Okay... so these are my feet. I was a bit worn out after a busy day with a lot of walking. Needed to put my feet up for a couple of hours, before tackling the nearby posh burger bar, for our dinner!
We had a good day though, with plenty to look forward to on Sunday....

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Amazing... this post appears to have worked okay. After all the stress of the last couple of days, I have managed to sort it out!

Solution? Number my photos in the order I wanted them, then load them in groups of five, starting with the Last photo First! Blogger's old editor slots each photo in above the one it has just loaded... doing it backwards has saved all the stress of trying to pull them around in the editor, to get them where I want them to be.

Hopefully, this will publish okay. I may even try to edit the photo sizes in the new editor, to make them bigger!

Okay, so I tried to make the photos bigger, but it won't let me.  Still, the new editor has allowed me to tidy up the post a bit and remove extra line-spaces from between the text blocks.  It looks more tidy now.

So, possible interim solution to my irritating problem. Still not ideal, but it did work! :-))


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