Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let's Go To London!

In the spirit of the 2012 Olympic Games, I'm introducing a new Olympic event.  It's called the Touring/Sightseeing/Eating/Shopping-in-London event.  I'm not very athletic, but I think this is one "sporting event" that I could medal in!  I've been training for quite a while now, and I'm ready to compete.  :)

Okay, actually, I'm ready in spirit, but the economy and the value of the dollar just aren't cooperating.  So, in addition to watching the games on the telly, I've pulled out my pictures from our trip to England in 1999 and I'm re-living the experience (as best I can remember it, that is).  It's amazing how much you forget after 13 years.  This is Part One of my travel series on England.  You can click on the links to see Part Two and Part Three.

A lot of things have changed since 1999, to be sure.  A new princess, the Chunnel, and a new skyscraper in London (the tallest in Europe standing 1,016 feet high).  But it's still fun to look back at our time there.  We were in England for a week, but we only spent one day in London.  My husband was there on a project for work, so we stayed in a small village near his company facility.  I still feel so fortunate that I was able to tag along with him and see the sights.

It's hard to believe now, but we actually had a direct flight from Raleigh, North Carolina, to London, England.  That's probably unheard of now.  We departed Raleigh at 8.00 p.m. and arrived in Gatwick Airport around 6:00 a.m.  I finally fell asleep sometime after midnight, and I woke up the next morning over the English countryside.  When we descended through the clouds, the first thing I saw were the hedgerows.  I was so excited; it was just the way I had pictured it!

The weather that day was pretty typical for March, I believe.  It was mostly cloudy, with some rain and the occasional glimpse of blue sky and sunshine.

By the way, all these pictures were taken with a film camera, a Canon 35mm point and shoot.  It took good pictures for that time, but we didn't have a zoom lens, which would have been nice for pics like the one above.  Most of these faraway shots were taken from the double decker bus.

This is, of course, Tower Bridge.

It's looked like this for the past few weeks...


You can see the entrance to the bridge up ahead in this picture.

This dragon guards the south side of London Bridge.

The Tower of London, from which Tower Bridge takes its name.

You can definitely tell the next photo is taken from the double decker bus.  I happened to spot the Twinings Tea Shop and was able to snap a picture of it.  In this section of five buildings on the left, Twinings is the shortest one; it's between Woolwich on the right and the brown building to the left (217 Strand).  Isn't it cute?  You should be able to enlarge any of these photos by clicking on the photo.

At the time we made this trip, we were living in Greensboro, and there was a small Twinings plant there; I was so excited to see the store in London.  I still like to drink Twinings tea.  However, I discovered Fortnum & Mason's "Royal Blend" while we were in London, and that spoiled my taste buds for any other brand for a while.  We brought some boxes home, and I enjoyed it for several months.  I don't know why, but for some reason I didn't take any pictures of Fortnum & Mason's -- don't know what I was thinking.  Here are some images from the net; it's such a beautiful department store.


A close-up of the gorgeous clock...


...and in the evening at Christmas time.


 Surprisingly, we didn't get to Harrods on that trip.  I know it's a big shopping destination for tourists, but folks, it is really hard to see London in just one day.  You need at least a week to see it properly.

Here I am in front of Westminster Abbey.  I really wanted to tour Westminster Abbey, but for some reason, they were closed to tourists that Saturday.

I took the next picture looking up at St. Paul's Cathedral.  The sun had made an appearance and we saw a bit of blue sky.

We were able to go inside St. Paul's that day.  I was excited to be able to do that because I had watched Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles in St. Paul's Cathedral on television many years ago.  We were only allowed to walk around in the nave, but it was very impressive.  I was just looking at St. Paul's website online, and their daily schedule shows the latest time of day to buy admission tickets is 4:00 p.m.  I'm thinking we must have been there in the late afternoon, because the choir was warming up for Evensong.  It looked something like this.  Lovely!


This dragon statue sits atop the Temple Bar monument and marks the boundary between the City and Westminster; another photo taken from the bus.

 We took a "Hop-On Hop-Off" bus tour of London, which was an easy way to see the highlights of London in a short period of time.  The buses stopped at the main tourist sights, where you could choose to get off and stroll around or stay on the bus.  If you got off to see the sights, you just went to a designated bus stop and caught the next bus that came round for the tour.  We did the same kind of tour when we were in Dublin, Ireland.

Here am I, again, standing on Westminster Bridge, with the House of Commons at Westminster Palace and the Thames River behind me.  That green coat has certainly done some traveling in its time.  It keeps turning up in all my pictures.  :)  The Westminster Bridge is mostly green, while Lambeth Bridge, below, is red.

Below are pictures of the Houses of Parliament.  I remember I specially wanted to get a picture of this lamp post with its gold and scarlet crown.  Isn't it beautiful?

The House of Lords and a statue of Richard Coeur de Lion, aka Richard the Lionheart. :)

Another view of Parliament.

Above is the secured entrance to Downing Street, where the Prime Minister resides at Number 10.

A statue of Winston Churchill.  As you can see, tulips were in bloom all over the city.  They were gorgeous!

This is St. James's Park, which borders Buckingham Palace.

The spot below was featured prominently in the coverage of last year's royal wedding.  The crowds lined the street on both sides waiting for Kate and Prince William to arrive at the palace after the wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Now we move on to Buckingham Palace.  More lamp posts with gold crowns. 

The green coat makes another appearance.  :)

That's what I call a big gate!

One of the Queen's Guards.

The entrance to the Royal Mews.

The Victoria Monument with Buckingham Palace in the background.  Doesn't the sky look dramatic in these pictures?

These last pictures are of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Thames.

I just realized that our time is up for today, and we didn't finish this "event" because we didn't get to eat or shop.  Well, actually, I did -- lots of eating but not much shopping.  We bought tea, some post cards, and a key chain for our son, and that was about all.  I did most of my shopping in the small town where we stayed in England, as well as Dublin, Ireland.

Thanks so much for visiting me and I hope you enjoyed the tour of London.  Sorry about the picture overload.  I'm going to write about our England trip in about four separate posts, because there's a lot to cover -- too much for one post.  What's the most exciting place you've ever visited?  Have you ever been to the Olympic Games?

As always, I do appreciate your visits and each and every one of your comments.  I try to reply to everyone, but I know I don't always succeed.  I am trying to get round to everyone eventually.  Have a great weekend!!



  1. Hi,
    I loved your comment and it was a no reply~I found your blog on the internet and wanted to say thank you for your wonderful comments. Yes, I did love England. I have a page with the posts from my trip to England and Scotland. I did buy some tea at Twinings. I traveled with three ladies and we had a great time. We attended Evensong every evening for 21 days. We did have a non-stop plane from San Francisco to Heathrow airport and after 4 days in London, we traveled to Scotland. Thanks again for visiting My Cozy Corner.

  2. Wow, you saw a lot in one day! I have to say, it takes over two years to see London - I still have a list of 'must do' in London that I haven't gotten to yet. I will continue to chip away at it this new school year :) I am so glad you got out of London to see some of England - for it is so special too! Great post, Denise :)

  3. Thanks for the tour of London, Denise!! Maybe one day I'll get there. I checked your tour of Hendersonville, too. Hubby and I are going to Asheville. We have our tickets booked to the Biltmore. Any other things you recommend ?

  4. Looking at your wonderful pictures and remembering other posts like the Old Salem ones and Ireland ones, I have decided that you could have a career as a travel blogger or something. You have the eye for the shot, and you know the kind of things that people really want to see.

    My sister recently returned from London, and she had a marvelous time. I'm positive that I would love to have the money and courage to travel there.

  5. Hi Denise, I love this post so much. It is so interesting and I am leaving you a quick comment because I have to go now but I will be back for an in depth look. I have something to look forward to when I get back.

  6. I'm back Denise, I loved seeing pictures of you and your husband. It was great to view your pictures and read the things you wrote. I learned several things. We missed the statue of Richard the Lionhearted! I am realizing now that we didn't get to the Houses of Parliament. No wonder I missed the golden crowns on the lampposts! Thanks for teaching me these things.

    I think I would say I believe it would take longer than a week to see everything. We were there twice and stayed four days each time and we didn't see everything.

    London has been busy lately with the Royal Wedding, The Queen's Jublilee and now the Olympics!

    I love travel posts because I enjoy learning about new places and love seeing those I have seen through other's eyes. You write a great travel log.

  7. I loved your pictures of England, for they bring back my own fond memories of the two tours of England I made with groups of college students--English majors. Our tours were called The Literary Geography of England where we traveled to the places where England's writers lived and worked from Shakespeare to Wordsworth to the Brontes of Jane Austin. I love England and loved your photos.

  8. If you click on London under labels on right hand side of my blog you will be able to see a lot more of London than you were able to see on your one day there Denise.



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