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(15 August to 6 September 2017)

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  London | Salisbury | Whitstable | Oxford | Hereford 
  Stratford-upon-Avon | Winchester | Hastings | Broadstairs | Deal / Sandwich | The Wedding 

London was awash with flowers.  Everywhere you looked you would see a hanging basket of colorful blooms, a flourishing window box or gardens with dahlias or roses on display.  I think a rainy summer helped as grassy fields were rich shades of green as were the many trees.  I had the good fortune to be able to base myself in Barnes with my best friend, Bronwen.  What a treat it was to spend time with her!  And get to know Barnes Village a bit better.  Fresh off the plane and none the worse for wear, Bronwen whisked me off to see her mother and to have a fish and chips supper with her!  Oh boy, what a lovely visit that was!  My photos are not reflective of your typical London sights, but rather my personal observations of a city I know well.

Although there is so much to see in London, I preferred to spend more time taking day trips out of the city rather than traipsing around London and seeing things I have seen before.  However, the newer buildings took my breath away and some stand out like sore thumbs.  I'm not used to such modern buildings in such an ancient city!  So, on the five days I did devote to seeing London, I managed to walk an incredible amount (should have had a pedometer!) and take a kazillion photos.  My first full day was the 16th of August, and as Bronwen was at work all day, I decided to work my way over to the East End by bus and scout around there.  En route I passed through High Street Kensington, Piccadilly, the Strand and Aldwych where I changed for a no. 15 bus to Gracechurch/Monument.  I had hoped to see the Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street) building but I couldn't see it because I didn't know that you had to make an online reserveration to visit the Sky Garden, for free!  So, I walked around and wound my way to Leadenhall which was fun.
London, England sightseeing    


Then it was farther up Bishopsgate to Old Spitalfields Market, another lovely place to walk around.  I enjoyed the City of London and all the old buildings but I made my way to Brick Lane in search of lunch!  I had been dying for salt beef on a bagel, and after walking almost the length of Brick Lane, I found the Beigel Shop.  £4.60 ($6) for delicious salt beef piled high on a bagel was worth it!  Brick Lane is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural area with any number of restaurants to chose from.  There was also an incredible amount of graffiti art to enjoy.  The talent astounded me as I sought out more and more to photograph.

I made my way along Bethnal Green and took the no. 8 bus to Gray's Inn Road (my old stomping ground in the 80s) and walked up to see the Dickens Museum.  I didn't go in as I thought £9 ($12) a bit steep for a wander around an old house.  (I got to see his study in Bleak House in Broadstairs instead!)  Then I made my way to the British Museum which I had not seen in decades and I thoroughly loved my visit.  (It's free!)  I saw the Rosetta Stone (difficult to photograph behind glass and so well lit!), loads of beautiful statues, Egyptian hieroglyphics, African exhibits and so much more.  I highly recommend you spend almost a full day there as you don't want to miss a thing!  After all my walking I just wanted to get back home and put my feet up, so I walked through Covent Garden and back to the Strand where I took a no. 9 bus back to Hammersmith and a 209 to Barnes.  What a day!

August 17th, my second full day in London, was my 60th birthday and I woke up to a boat load of gifts from Bronwen, her sister and her mother!  Lucky me!  One of my gifts was a ticket to visit the London Wetlands Centre, where I had planned to spend my birthday, and which is just a fifteen minute walk from Bronwen's house   However, it was a cloudy and drizzly day and I so wanted to take photos of the ducks and wildlife.  I didn't want to spend the day cold and damp and not being able to get nice photos, so I went in search of 70s pop idol Marc Bolan's memorial.  I found it and it was quite moving although I rather expected it to be different.  It's along a nasty bend along a skinny road, but walking, you can take a little slip road and get off the busy road.  That evening Bronwen and I made our way to the Hawksmoor Seven Dials Steakhouse in Covent Garden and met up with my family for a 60th birthday dinner!  It was lovely to see my nieces and my nephew again after so long and to meet my niece's future husband.  My sister and brother-in-law treated us all to a scrumptuous meal!

My third London day was spent at the London Wetlands Centre as it started off a nice and sunny day!  Off I went and spent about four hours walking around taking photos and soaking in the beauty of this oasis in the middle of bustling London.

The fourth day I spent in London was a busy one and I walked myself sill again.  I caught the bus from Hammersmith all the way to Camden Lock (no. 27) and went through some gorgeous parts of London.  I also hopped off in Church Street to take a photo of the Churchill pub.  I walked around Camden, which is always fun, but as it started raining and I changed my mind about going to Primrose Hill for a stunning view of London, I turned and walked all the way back to Euston Road!  Then I weaved my way in and out of streets and soaked up all the beautiful architecture and blue plaques I could find!  I walked around Fitzrovia, Mayfair, New Bond Street, Old Bond Street, Piccadilly, Jermyn Street, Belgravia, Sloane Square and along the King's Road in Chelsea.  What a day!  But it wasn't home time yet as I still had to see the Saatchi Gallery, an amazing place showcasing up-and-coming and unknown artists.  Rather like a digital art gallery.  After that it was a quick walk down the King's Road and on the bus again and home, totally exhausted.  Something that struck me was the proliferation of food stalls around the city.  You almost don't have to travel to taste foreign dishes!  Another thing was that I kept running into Charles Dickens mentions!

My three-week trip to England had come to an end and I spent my last day rounding things off in and around Hammersmith.  Bronwen and I bought some fish cakes and made a salad and enjoyed our last night together.  I woke up at 4.30am and took a taxi (which I ordered) at 5am to the airport and made my way through the tight security and waited for my flight.  My AA flight was in a beautiful plane and as there were very few passengers, many of us could spread out over three seats and sleep, which I did.  It was a wonderful trip and I am so glad that I made the effort to see my parents and family and my best friend.  The travel bug has definitely bitten me and I will have to save diligently to go again, soon.

I really didn't spend that much as I was so spoilt by everyone, that I probably just bought Oyster card top ups, loads of sandwiches usually for breakfast for lunch on the go, and a couple of bits and bobs here and there.

  London | Salisbury | Whitstable | Oxford | Hereford 
  Stratford-upon-Avon | Winchester | Hastings | Broadstairs | Deal / Sandwich | The Wedding 

International Rail
The less expensive of the four official BritRail Pass merchants.  (Currency conversions correct at the time.)

The Train Line
Excellent website for looking up times and duration of potential trips.  I found this an invaluable tool when planning where and when to go by train.

Oyster Card
Web: www.tfl.gov.uk/
Web: www.oyster.tfl.gov.uk
Don't lose this card as you can re-use it when you revisit London!  It costs £5 ($6.60)

Underground (Subway) Information
It cost me £5.90 ($7.80) to get from Heathrow into Hammersmith on the Piccadilly Line upon arrival in England, and I didn't have an Oyster card yet.  There is a cap on the number of trips you take on buses and on the subway, so make the most of your card and do as much each day as you can.  Please check out the fares on the respective websites to make your decision easier when contemplating the London Transport System.  Buses cap at £4.50 ($6) a day with single trips about £1.50 ($2).  The Underground caps at £6.60 ($8.70) with single trips around £2.20 ($2.95) depending on the zones you go in and out of.  It's cheaper to go by bus if you're not in a hurry and you get to see more.  Make sure you understand peak and off-peak hours (if necessary) when purchasing your travel option.
London Bus Information

London Bus MAP
Web: Download the pdf map.
I used this find bus numbers on routes I might want to take.  It is really helpful and you can download it to your phone.  I only have wi-fi on my phone so having a map downloaded really helps.  Unfortunately I can't remember where I found this map so just do a search for London bus route maps and look for a pdf file to download.
Beigel Shop - 155 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB
Web: Can't find a website for them.

British Museum - Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Tel: +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Web: www.britishmuseum.org/
Email: info@britishmuseum.org

Hawksmoor Seven Dials Covent Garden - 11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG
Tel: 020 7420 9390
Web: thehawksmoor.com/

Blue Plaques (English Heritage)

London Wetlands Centre - Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT
Tel: 020 8409 4400
Web: www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/
Email: info.london@wwt.org.uk
Visit their website for up-to-date info.

Saatchi Gallery - Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London SW3 4RY
Web: www.saatchigallery.com/
"The Saatchi Gallery aims to provide an innovative forum for contemporary art, presenting work by largely unseen young artists or by international artists whose work has been rarely or never exhibited in the UK." (from their website)

Tel: 1-800-940-9345 (Toll-free in USA) or (201) 942-1029
Email: support@justairticket.com
Web: www.justairticket.com
I got a fantastic airfare from justairticket.com and flew from Denver to London on British Airways and returned on American Airways from London to Chicago to Denver for just $815!!!  I chose to fly from Pueblo, CO to Denver and not from Colorado Springs, CO as the fare was less than half and I could leave my car at the Pueblo Airport for three weeks for free.  It's easier and less stressful than driving to Denver or getting someone to take you or taking the bus.   I flew on a little Great Lakes plane for $122 return from Pueblo to Denver!  Beat that if you can.

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or pettprojects@yahoo.com

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