Posted by: glenswatman | July 15, 2009

200906-2-Russia England

TUESDAY 16 JUNE – We get up early and are ready to
leave at 6.15am.  Mubins car is an old
right hand drive Toyota with the bonnet tied down with string and a couple of
dubious rear
tyres but it is bigger and more
comfortable than Lucia’s.  Once we have
got around Moscow we make good time.  We
are amazed by just how much forest there is in Russia as outside the villages
this is all we see.  It is over 700km to
St Petersburg but by 11.30am haven’t stopped so we suggest a short break.  Early afternoon we take a 40 minute lunch
stop then pick up the ring road around St Petersburg to get to our hosts
apartment around 5pm.  Liuba has been
living and working in Southend but due to visa renewal problems is back in
Russia for a short time.  Her English is
excellent and we have lots to chat about. 
She can accommodate Steve & me on a sofa bed in the spare room
whilst Mubin has a host lined up elsewhere. 
Liuba suggests taking the metro into the city and doing a boat trip to
get our bearings.  The metro is very
straightforward and much smaller than Moscow. 
It is the deepest in the world as it has to go under the river so the
escalator seems to go down forever. 
Fares are R20 (40p) and again there are some impressive stations.  In all it takes about 30 minutes to get to
Nevsky Prospect in the city centre.  We
are instantly impressed by the architecture. 
Almost every building on the main street is impressive.  Nothing prepares us for our first glimpse of
The Hermitage in Palace Square, approached through an archway.  It is huge and very nicely painted.  Liuba shows us a few more nice buildings and
statues before we board the boat, R400 (8.00). 
The trip is longer and more interesting than the Moscow one and we learn
that there are over 700 bridges in the city and many canals, a bit like
Amsterdam.  To finish off the evening
she leads us to a restaurant that serves the Russian version of fast food, it
is interesting to be there as the place is nicely decorated but the food has
been cooked before, left to go cold and then microwaved.  St Petersburg is in the north of Russia and
at this time of year enjoys "white nights" as it never goes
dark.  Exiting the restaurant we meet
Liuba’s daughter Aliona who hands over the car keys as she is out for the
night.  We take the metro to pick up the
car and change at an unusual station, instead of an open platform all you see
is a corridor with lots of lift type doors that open when the train has
arrived.   Mubin heads to his host and
we get back to settle down at around 12.30pm.



WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE – Sleeping in the lounge it is very
light as there are only decorative curtains that don’t block out the
light.  I end up putting my tube bra
over my eyes with a black sock inside. 
I may look stupid but manage to sleep until 8.30am.  Liuba has been on the phone to Mubin and
arranged for us to meet later in the city. 
She takes us out to a cemetery where thousands of people were buried
during the 900 day siege of St Petersburg that began in 1941 and caused most of
the population to starve to death.  Next
we take a metro into the city and meet Mubin. 
It is pouring with rain and Mubin has already been in the Russian museum
and negotiated for us to have Russian pensioners rate, a huge saving at R30
(60p) instead of R350 (7.00) – we just have to remember not to speak English as
we enter each sections and show our tickets. 
He has also chatted up the lady who hands out the audio guides and is
going to stay with her for his last 2 nights in St Petersburg – he sure is a
sweet talker.  There are many exhibits
but mostly Russian art and not that impressive to us however part of the museum
is within Mikhailovsky Palace and this has some lovely rooms with fantastic
ceilings.  We are in there for around
3-hours and once we leave go to a cafe that Mubin has checked out.  For R149 we get "borsch" soup,
bread, fish and pasta or buckwheat, a small slice of swiss roll and a tiny dish
of angel delight.  Not great food but
very reasonably priced.  There are many
more things we would like to do but the churches are all closed on Wednesday
and we don’t feel like walking in the rain. 
Entering the metro station we find the doors are closed with a throng of
people.  Inside the station we can see
soldiers and sniffer dogs.  No idea what
the problem is but we walk to another station instead.  We all go back to the flat where Aliana is
there to greet us, Liuba has had a car accident, a car has run into the back of
her, and must wait for the Police.  It
takes over 2-hours for them to come and take statements – even the most minor
accident here involves the Police. She is still quite upset when she gets back
but perks up once her friend Sveta arrives to join us for a meal.  Sveta is an English teacher of small
children and tells us of the methods they use including English television
programmes.  We
also spend a lot of time exchanging English and Russian jokes and setting out
logic problems.  Think our English team
come out ahead on that one!



THURSDAY 18 JUNE – We leave everyone in bed when we
set out at 8.30.  We have no problem
getting the right platform for the tube but the doors shut when Steve is on it
and I am stuck on the platform.  With
frantic gestures I make him understand to get off at the next platform and this
works well – we seem to have been jinxed with travel traumas since it started
with the London underground strike!  As
in Moscow the women here love to wear very high heels with either extremely
short skirts or skin tight jeans so plenty for Steve to look at!  In the centre of St Petersburg we meet Mubin
and head to The Hermitage to join the queue for the 10.30am opening.  It is not raining but bitterly cold.  When we get inside it becomes a free for all
but we manage to get to the ticket booth and Mubin gets us all tickets so today
we are Russian citizens paying R100 (2.00) versus R350 (7.00) for
tourists.  It is a magnificent museum with
3 connected buildings housing exhibitions of all kinds.  The famous artists have many works on
display but we are far more impressed with the building itself, originally a
Winter Palace.  It takes us 4-hours just
to whizz through but I am sure many people could spend a week going round.  Next we walk to the "Church of the
Resurrection of Christ" a fantastic building with lots
coloured onion dome towers.  As with most things in Russia there is an
entry charge and we are not prepared to pay R300 (£6.00) for a peek
inside.  There are some nice gardens
next door and we make our way through these to the "Summer Gardens",
closed for restoration.  Over the bridge
we enter the Peter & Paul’s fortress. 
At almost all the famous places there are brides having their photos
taken and this is no exception and they all travel in stretch limousines.  The church here is where many of the Tsars
are buried so when Mubin gets us R90 (1.80) Russian price we take a look
around.  Unfortunately the nearby metro
is closed so we have a long walk to the next station.  We are back in time to shower and change before a night out with
Liuba and Sergey.  They drive us to an
Irish Pub and it is just like one in Ireland or England, except the drinks seem
even more expensive with Guinness at R230 (£4.60) 1/2
litre.  We snack on 4 deep fried
cheese balls for R250 (£5.00) whilst Sergey and Liuba have tiny salads at the
same price.  Can’t understand how
Russians manage to visit places like this. 
It seems to us that vodka, petrol, cigarettes and caviar are about the
only cheap things here so not much use to us. 
Anyway we have a nice evening chatting and learning more about Russian
life during the communist days.



FRIDAY 19 JUNE – Meet up with Mubin then catch a bus, R50 (1.00)
out to Petergof.  This is an estate
built by Peter the Great with magnificent gardens.  Without
realising it we get in without paying (the
ticket person is elsewhere).  The
gardens are fantastic with over 140 interesting fountains and canals.  The Grand Cascade is superb with the palace
above and the lake below.  It keeps
trying to rain but we make it round the main features and really enjoy it
all.  Nearby is an impressive church and
for once there is no admission.  Most of
the churches here have frescoes covering all the walls so are interesting
inside and out.  Return to the city to a
vegetarian buffet for lunch, R250 (£5.00). 
Afterwards we head to Nevsky Monastery more to visit the adjoining
Tikhvin Cemetery.  The ticket attendant
will only sell him 1 Russian ticket so Mubin stops some lads and asks them to
get 3.  They do so but are sold R40
(80p) student tickets and surprisingly they let us in with them – so we have
been pensioners, Russians and now students. 
The cemetery is very interesting with many famous people buried there
including Tchaikovsky and Rimsky Korsekof and lots of impressive memorial
sculptures and unusual tombs.  Mustn’t
forget to mention a funny incident with Mubin. 
He is keen to learn new English phrases but being an English teacher is
slow in spitting them out as he wants to be sure his English is correct.  This caused a problem for Steve when he
called out “Steve” but stalled before saying “mind your head” causing Steve to
bump his head as he was looking at Mubin instead of watching where he was
going!  Tonight Mubin is staying with
Regina (the attendant from the Russian Museum) but can’t go back until
8pm.  We return to Liuba’s and Svetla
comes round and another friend Nona. 
Svetla has brought lots of games along so we play "Old Maid",
"Go Fish" and Uno and thus learn some Russian numbers and



SATURDAY 20 JUNE – Having meet up with Mubin we take
the bus, R32 (64p) out to Pushkin (Catherine Palace).  P90 (45p) admission to the gardens for Russians (of course you
now realise we are honorary Russians!). 
The Palace looks lovely from the outside but the queue to go round is
way too long.  I have a book to guide us
round the gardens and am amazed to reach the Marble Bridge and read that it was
modelled on the Palladian bridge in Wilton (the town
where I lived as a child).  Also in the
area is Pavlovsk, where the Great Palace is surrounded by gardens, R60
(1.20).  Maybe we are getting a bit
palaced and gardened out but this is the least interesting one for us, made
worse when the heavens open up.  Bus it
back to Moscow then agree that although it is only mid afternoon we all have
tired feet and have done enough.  Liuba
and family are going away for the weekend but have left us a key so we are very
happy to get back and have a bit of time alone.  In fact we are so weary that we go to bed around 8pm.



SUNDAY 21 JUNE – The longest day of the year but it really
doesn’t make much difference here as it never goes dark anyway.  Mubin arrives at 9.30am and we head off in
the direction of Moscow.  On the
outskirts of Velikey Novgorad the Police pull us over for a random check but
only speak to Mubin and give him the chance to ask directions (we’ve noticed
that this is one thing he loves to do and will often ask directions every 20
feet when we are trying to find something in the city).  Novgorad is a very old city and this weekend
there is a festival with a row of cabins where
countries promote themselves.  These
stands also offer some food and drink samples and one of them is even selling
“Yorkshire beer”.  Also there are bands
and some are playing really good music. 
Over the bridge there is a small sandy beach with a volley ball
tournament taking place.  In the Kremlin
we visit the oldest church in Russia. 
It is mid afternoon once we have finished and we are lucky to have
parked on a street just beyond where a parade is taking place.  Pressing on we notice lots of
"samovars" set up at the roadside serving tea.  Mubin gets pulled by the Police again, this
time we believe it is for speeding but he escapes as their speed camera is
playing up.  In Valday we check out a
couple of hotels.  A fairly regular one
on the lakeside charges R4800 (96.00) for a room whilst on the edge of town a
room with no bathroom costs R1400 (28.00). 
We are debating this when the receptionist comes out and suggests we
might like to try another one in town. 
There we get a double en-suite room (Mubin has his own) for R700 (14.00)
per person.  It is not the best of
hotels and certainly well past its best before date but the rooms are clean and
we have a lake view.  Mubin says we
should head straight to the monastery. 
A pretty set up on an island in the middle of the lake.  The buildings are very attractive as is the
setting.  Back at the hotel I have an
early night whilst Steve and Mubin drink beer and eat sausages.



MONDAY 22 JUNE – Mubin gets up
early for a swim down at the lake.  He ends up having to go round to the
monastery to get in so is late returning at 9.30am.  Continuing our
journey is much the same, forest, small villages, bad driving, bad roads.
 We make a lunch stop at Tver, previously known as Lenin, and picnic on
the banks of the Volga River.  Afterwards we walk around the town to check
out the Palace used by Tsars en route from St Petersburg to Moscow.  It is
a huge affair but almost completely derelict and waiting to be torn down.
 Returning to the car there are lots of Police around.  It seems they
have stopped a couple of cars coming over the bridge but Mubin is now
worried he is parked illegally.  We have to "hide" until the
Police have finished their paperwork and left.  On the outskirts of Moscow
we see a huge memorial with lots of wreaths.  Today marks the anniversary of
the 1941 entry of the Germans to Russia.  We arrive back in Klazma around
5pm to an empty house.  Last night Lucia has a call from her mother to say
she must come immediately (she suspects her father has died).  So she
boarded a train just before midnight last night and will be on it until 10pm
tonight to get to her family home.  There’s plenty of food in the house so
I cook up a variation of the chilli pasta and we enjoy our first proper meal
for ages.  



TUESDAY 23 JUNE – We are all
exhausted from the travelling so a day off is in order.  Mubin hears that Lucia’s Dad has not died
but has had a heart attack; she and her sisters will stay with him for some
time.  Steve and I take a walk through
the village to the shops but get lost en route.  We’ve learnt that most young people speak a little English and
find a young man to ask the way to the station as we know the shops are
nearby.  He directs us but soon after
pulls up in his car to give us a lift right to the station.  We are a little embarrassed that we actually
don’t want the station so pretend to go down the underpass until he has driven
off.  Inside the village shops it is
rather like lots of independent counters selling different products and you
have to queue up to buy from each one so it takes a long time.  Walking back we get lost again (sounds
stupid but most of the tracks are through the forest, don’t go straight and are
unnamed).  This time we find a man who
speaks German and ask directions to the church as this is the nearest landmark
to Mubin’s.  We are on the right track
but just lost confidence.  I spend the
afternoon helping Mubin do things on his computer.  It is a lovely hot day so Steve sits out on the patio – a far cry
from St Petersburg where we were wearing fleeces and coats and still feeling
cold.  In the evening we have been
invited for a meal at Dima’s house.  We
meet his father Karen, mother, Svetlana and grandparents Tatiana and Vladimir
who all live together.  Dima gives us a
guided tour of the garden and uses his English crib sheet to tell us the
English names of the vegetables and plants. 
Their house is huge and has a really grand dining room with a long table
laden with food.  Vladimir produces
Johnny Walker Black label whiskey and Vodka then spends the entire evening
filling up our glasses when they are empty. 
He proposes numerous toasts each of which means we must drink a little
more.  By the end of the evening we can
add “na zdorovje” to our new Russian phrases.  
The family surprise us with some presents, a tray, glasses and matching
bottle holder, a bottle of special vodka and a traditional shawl for me.  Their hospitality is overwhelming and we
appreciate the opportunity to try different types of Russian food and learn
more about their way of life.  Vladimir
is a good friend of the artist C…… and he produces a gold covered book with
the artist’s works whilst pointing out the ones he has on the walls.  We reach one picture and realise it is a
portrait of Vladimir then look up to see it hanging in the room.  We arrived at 6pm and by the time we leave
at midnight both Steve & Mubin are extremely merry whilst I am doing well
after 2 glasses of vodka and one of Baileys. 
Surprisingly neither of us sleep and both have a very restless night. 



WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE – Before we left
last night we realised some arrangements were being made for us today and were
happy to "go with the flow". 
Mubin says we must be ready at 8am and when we leave the garden Vladimir
is waiting for us with his car and driver. 
He wants to take us into Moscow on a sightseeing trip.  The traffic is really bad and after 1 hour
we are still stuck in traffic on the outskirts.  With the heat in the car Steve is feeling really ill so we pull over
to get him something to drink.  It turns
out we have stopped at cash & carry yard where dozens of containers are
opened up to create shops selling drinks by the case load. Whilst Steve would
like water or tonic Vladimir returns with a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of
vodka and 4 glasses.  Steve is feeling
so ill he refuses Vladimir’s insistence to try the "hair of the dog"
leaving Mubin and Vladimir to share the whiskey, must mention it is only
9am.  Manage to get Steve some water and
set off.  Shortly after Steve feels much
worse, thank goodness they bought the whiskey and vodka as the plastic carrier
bag comes in handy when Steve starts throwing up.  Manage to pull over at a garage so he can sort himself out but it
is not easy with Vladimir standing around trying to get him to drink alcohol!  He means well but Steve really just wants to
be left alone quietly.  Anyway we make
it through the centre to a hill on the south side of the city near the
university with fine views.  Driving
through the city we pass many of the famous and attractive Stalin skyscrapers
but the MGU university building is one of the most impressive in wedding cake
style.  We are on Sparrow Hills and
there is a ski lift in the area and a church but the main attraction is the
view.  Unbeknown to us Vladimir has sent
his driver off to get some food and he appears with a huge tray covered with a
white table cloth.  He unveils plates
full of sandwiches, caviar, salami, cheese and raw bacon and garlic and a
bottle of vodka and another of whiskey. 
Next Vladimir has us taken to Victory Park area with a Russian war
vehicle museum.  The public are not
supposed to enter by road but once our driver greases the palms of the Police
security guard we are able to drive through. 
Adjoining the museum is a huge memorial to the Russian soldiers, it a
142m memorial obelisk with the archangel near the top but from a distance it
looks more like a beetle.  We leave
Steve resting in the car whilst we walk through the park and on to the
Triumphal Arch.  Vladimir phones his
driver and has him pick us up to save us walking back.  We sure are doing things in style
today.  After a scenic ride through the
city centre we double back beyond Klazma and out into the country.  Vladimir’s friend has a special factory out
here.  It is the only one in the world
that makes everything needed for inside the church except the carpet.   Dima and Tatiana join us in their chauffeur
driven car and we are admitted to the factory to do a special tour.  Steve remains along in the car to try and
rest.  We begin in the museum with some
amazing crosses with real precious stones, lots of crowns and other religious
artefacts.  Next we go to see the icons
being made for sale.  Each one is
painstakingly painted individually using an egg mixture to prevent it from
fading.  They also do restoration work
on ancient icons and we go into a special temperature and humidity controlled
room to see it being done.  Computer
controlled machinery now does much of the embroidery and a piece that  is now completed in 4 days would have taken
2 years by hand.  The factory employs
around 3000 people and is spread over a vast area.  Within the gardens are greenhouses where they grow fresh produce
to be used in meals for the staff.  We
end up in the sales area where there are rows of each type of item with
prices.  This company has showrooms in
countries such as Finland and Germany and also sells over the Internet.  It is really bizarre to look at the choices
of altars, chandeliers and such like. 
We return to collect Steve and only just in time as a guard has found
him asleep in the car and is challenging him in Russian.  Moving into the restaurant area a table has
been laid out for a meal for us.  Whilst
we only number 8 there are already 23 plates of salads to begin with.  A lady brings round jacket potatoes and
Vladimir opens the 2nd bottle of whiskey of the day.  Steve is very frustrated that he is not feeling well enough to do
the caviar, salmon and other delicious dishes justice.  Next we are served beetroot soup with boiled
eggs and sour cream and this is followed by cooked potatoes a bit like chips
and steak with something on top.  We had
no idea there was going to be so much food and having made a brave attempt on
what turns out to have been the first course Steve can eat no more.  Coffee, tea and cakes rounds off a fantastic
meal by which time Vladimir and Mubin are onto the 3rd bottle of Scotch.  It is hard to believe just how much the
Russians eat and drink and their hospitality amazes us.  Both Steve and Mubin are very happy to get
home around 6pm and settle down for a sleep. 
I sit down to write up my diary of this most unexpected and amazing



THURSDAY 25 JUNE – Unsurprisingly
Mubin is not feeling well whilst Steve is a little better. It is a cold day and
it also begins raining so we are happy to stay at home.  I spend time giving Mubin travel sites on
the computer.  In the evening I cook us
fish & chips with cauliflower and broccoli.  Mubin is surprised that I have managed to make chips that are not
swimming in grease as is the Russian style and he really enjoys them.  I also cook him up some meals to tide him
through until Lucia comes back.



FRIDAY 26 JUNE – It is difficult
packing up as the presents we have been given take up almost all of one bag and
we still need to pick up some cheap cigarettes.  Mubin wants to see us off so joins us on the train to Moscow and
then onto the metro.  With time to spare
we alight at a number of stations to appreciate the architecture.  We are sharing a bottle of water when a lady
moves over to our side and presents us with a book opened to a page in
English.  She’s a Jehovah’s Witness and
disapproves of us using the same bottle and presents Mubin with a leaflet with
certain sentences underlined!  Our final
leg to the airport is the mini bus getting us there in plenty of time.  We’ve done on line check in but en route
realised we needed to check in at least 1 bag as one of the presents was a
bottle of vodka.  Repack and check in 2
bags before saying farewell to Mubin. 
Security check in involves you standing in a round glass cabin, raising
your arms whilst something sweeps around to do a body scan, very high
tech.  We’ve had an excellent time in
Russia, really enjoyed all the tourist highlights but it has been people that
have been the icing on the cake.  Our 2
week trip has cost us around £900, (£360 whilst we were there and the rest on
flights and visa’s etc).  In AUSTRIA we
connect to our Heathrow flight and settle down for the 2 1/2 hour journey.  After about 1 1/2 hours we notice the screen
showing our plane turning around. The flight attendant tells us the captain
will soon be making an announcement and 10 minutes later we learn that the
plane has a crack in the windscreen (it has 10 layers so no real problem) and
he has been instructed to return to Vienna. 
To reduce pressure on the screen we will fly back slowly and at a low
altitude.  Landing back in Vienna there
are no more flights out to England.  It
is such a shame that we must stay in the luxury airport hotel overnight and
force ourselves to eat the buffet evening meal and breakfast – yippee.



SATURDAY 27 JUNE – After a leisurely
pig out over breakfast we check in for our 11.45 BA flight to Heathrow, London
ENGLAND.  We arrive in the middle of a
heat wave and have to lug our bags, fleeces and raincoats whilst sweating
profusely.  Today the Heathrow
Piccadilly tube isn’t running so we have to revise our plan.  (At the moment it seems we have a hiccup
with every public transport journey we take). Catch the bus (£1 fare using the
Oyster card instead of £2) to Fenchurch Station and then a train, £3.40 to
Clapham Junction.  A short walks gets us
to our Couchsurfing host Bernard who lives in a flat nearby.  We need to buy some foot so Bernard takes us
for a walk to Clapham Junction town which is very close by.  Jamie Oliver has opened a shop here where
people buy a package of ingredients for a meal and then stand at the work
station preparing it with supervision. 
We are also near to Lavender Hill and this brings up memories of the film
"The Lavender Hill Mob" that we watch last winter with Kevin and
Ruth.  Stock up on groceries at Lidl and
return to cook some pizzas.  Bernard
used to live in Zimbabwe and has had many Couchsurfers so we chat the evening



SUNDAY 28 JUNE – Bernard walks
with us to the nearby bus station, he boards first and before we can step
aboard the doors close.  We hammer on
the door but the drive is oblivious and sets off.  Catch the next bus and Bernard joins us a few steps later.  We get off in South Kensington and set out
to explore Hyde Park, very impressed with the Albert Memorial, check out the
Princess Diana pool and wander along the Serpentine.  It is a really hot day and people are sprawled out on the lawns.
Harrods is closed so we can’t spend out money there.  Bernard leaves us when we head into the free Victoria &
Albert museum.  The building is amazing
and in the central courtyard kids are paddling in the pool whilst others lie
around sunbathing.  We spend about
2-hours enjoying the building and the many varied displays – it actually
compares well to the Hermitage as it is so varied.  Next stop the nearby Science Museum but this holds less appeal
for us.  Finally the National History
Museums is wonderful will a massive hall holding replicas of famous monuments.
columns and church facades.  So other
than the bus journey in and out at a total of £2 each we have had a fantastic
day and spent nothing.  In the evening
we want to take Bernard out for a meal and he suggests Little Bay where they
have cheap meals before 7am.  It looks
nothing from outside but the interior is decked out in Far East style with lots
of billowing material on the ceiling and small niches to sit in.  The food is also excellent and reasonable at
£2.25 for starters, £5.95 mains and £2.25 desserts.  A classic case of local knowledge being a winner.



MONDAY 29 JUNE – Today’s travel
hiccup is that the bus we are on to Waterloo has a last minute change of
direction and terminates at St Thomas’s hospital.  No matter as with Bernard’s help we find our way to the south
bank of the river.  There is a lovely
walk along here past the London Eye and theatres and with fine views over the
city.  The Tate Modern gallery is a bit
of a laugh for us as we cannot believe some of the things they consider art – at
one stage I drop my handbag on the floor and almost expect someone to
photograph it as an exhibit.  Next door
The Globe looks interesting from the outside (high admission fee) so we then
walk over the famous Millennium Bridge and find it no longer wobbles.  Bernard peels off at this point and leaves
us to continue to St Pauls cathedral (£11 admission) so we give a miss in
favour of the free Museum of London. 
The fire of London part is quite interesting but much of it is closed
for renovation.  It is now early
afternoon and very hot so we crash out in "The Postman’s" park for an
hour.  This is an interesting pocket
park within the city with a wall of remembrance for heroes, ordinary people who
have gone out of their way to try to save someone else and lost their own lives
in doing so.  Hop on the bus to the
British Museum and we are immediately enthralled.  The central court is the largest covered square in Europe and the
galleries are huge.  I am fascinated by
a display about the amount of drugs we take in a lifetime.  A male and female are followed from birth to
death with a net containing all the pills they would have taken sectioned off
to the different decades of their lives. 
The Parthenon marbles are even more impressive after watching a video
about them and the Rosetta Stone is another highlight.  It is probably our favourite museum so
far.  In fact we are in there until
closing time.  Amble along through Soho,
China town and Piccadilly Square until we reach The Mall.  Opposite St James Palace we notice the
Policeman dropping the chain.  He won’t
tell me who is due to arrive but says it is worth hanging around.  Half an hour later Prince Charles arrives
home and sweeps past in the back seat of the car not 2 feet from us.  He must have recognised us as he gives a
friendly wave!  Pick up the bus in
Victoria to arrive back after a most interesting, but exhausting 12- hour day.


TUESDAY 30 JUNE – We return to
Victoria station to make our way to Hitchin. 
It is promoted by National Express but their ticket office says it is
run by Green Line, just across the street, and leaves at 1020am.  We are very early so I wander round the
nearby shopping centre, return at 10 past 10 to find Steve fuming as the bus
left at 10am and there isn’t another until 11am.  £7.50 gets us to Stevenage where our friend Margaret picks us up
in the car.  We settle into the spare
bedroom and have a most enjoyable afternoon enjoying the heat wave by sitting
under a shady tree in the garden chatting. 
Husband Peter has recently had an ankle operation so is probably glad of
the company.








  1. I really enjoyed reading about your trip in Russia! It makes it so much of a richer experience to meet the locals. I loved how you "passed" as Russians to get reduced admission.

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