Posted by: glenswatman | July 21, 2014

20140711-21 A tourist in London

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FRIDAY 11 JULY 2014 – It has rained in the night and is still pouring when we leave. It takes a couple of hours to get the National Trust site, just north of Ipswich. Friends Pete & Carol are having a long weekend in the area as Pete has always wanted to visit Sutton Hoo. Luckily the rain has stopped as this is mainly an outdoor site. The exhibition tells the story of Mrs Pretty whose spiritualist talents led her to believe something was buried nearby. Excavation revealed, amongst other things, a burial ship from around 1400 years ago complete with what is thought to a King and his treasures. A walk takes you out to the excavation area (now just grassy mounds) and Mrs Pretty’s lovely house. Further up the coast is the upmarket seaside town of Southwold. Attractively decorated beach houses abound and along the pier are interesting commemorative plaques and a quirky water clock. We amble around having a good chat, stop for a drink of the locally brewed Admans beer and a bite to eat. Arrive home at teatime and hear about the terrible rain they had yesterday that was so bad it closed the main road. Our plants have grown a lot and we now have quite few cherry tomatoes to be seen. Nip over to the bar in the evening to catch up on the latest gossip.

SATURDAY 12 JULY – I soon have the cases unpacked and 2 loads of washing out to dry. The day improves as it goes on and we take a walk and stop off at Frank and Sue’s for a drink and learn more about the sale of Merryhill. After a leisurely afternoon we spend the evening at neighbour Barry & Jill’s where they end up having a spontaneous gathering with 8 of us. Again most conversation revolves around the future of Merryhill. Holland plays Brazil in the 3rd/4th place play off and Holland wining increases our sweep payout to £25.

SUNDAY 13 JULY – We’re in London at the De Vere Devonport House in Greenwich by 10.30am. Too early for check in we are able to park then take a wander. The National Maritime Museum has a number of interesting exhibits and we love the figureheads and the section where you can virtually captain a ship from the bridge. We’re less impressed by the art in the Queens House. “Books about town” involves loads of benches being painted to reflect and author and one of their particular novels. I’ve printed the Greenwich trail and we combine this with our walk. At the Old Royal Naval College we get lucky in the chapel as they are having a cake sale in the room below and this makes a nice lunch. The chapel itself and painted hall opposite are absolutely amazing. These rooms and the buildings and courtyards have been used in numerous movies including “Four weddings and a funeral” , “Pirates of the Caribbean”, a few James Bond ones and more recently Thor. It’s a really lovely day and we stroll by the Thames and past the Cutty Sark before heading up the hill to the Royal Observatory, mostly famous for the zero line of longitude. There are fantastic views from the terrace. Our Hotel is by Greenwich Park and next to the Maritime Museum. Had to pay £59 for the first night as we could only get the £25 deal for tomorrow but our spacious airy twin room overlooking the courtyard is well worth it. A couple of hours later we’ve showered and changed and feel ready for another stroll. Goddard’s at Greenwich are famous for their homemade pies and the meal deal of a pie, double mash, liquor (thin parsley sauce) or gravy and drink for £4.80 is excellent value. They are so delicious that we can’t resist the fruit crumble. Served in its own glass dish then sat in a large bowl of custard it would almost be enough for the 2 of us and another great deal at £2.90. Who says London is expensive ? Greenwich Market has a different theme each day and today they are just packing up from numerous, mainly oriental, take away food stalls. Looking for more benches we stumble upon Alfege’s Church where a service (seemingly for Afro Caribbean’s) has just finished. The church is quite quirky with a massive chandelier in the middle. It’s the World Cup final with Germany and Argentina so we return for Steve to watch Germany deservedly win on penalties.
GREENWICH, DE VERE DEVONPORT HOUSE £59 + £5 overnight parking

MONDAY 14 JULY – We catch the train to Waterloo and at the connection point find ourselves stood directly below “The Shard”. The London Eye exceeds our expectations but we opt out of “The Dungeons” as it would be far too claustrophobic for Steve. We’ve planned to pick up tickets for a theatre matinee but my lack of research is apparent when we find they don’t do matinees on Monday. We’ve been out since 9am and are not keen to wait until 7.30pm for an evening performance so modify our planned walking route. After the TV documentary about “Liberty’s” store we are keen to take a look and it is really nice inside and out but everything is ridiculously expensive. Make good use of our vouchers to get a free cake and drink in John Lewis’s for lunch. Get side tracked as we pass the Music Academy and can’t resist a quick peek inside. Mum would have loved it but it’s of limited interest to us. Madame Tussauds is brilliant and again far better than expected. Not only do we get to wander around a number of floors with lifelike figures but there’s also a 4D show and London Taxi ride telling the history of London. We’ve walked well over 5 miles in the city and now feel whacked so catch the tube (which Steve is dreading due to the crowding) then DLR back to Greenwich. It’s a long journey as we have a 300m walk at Bow and an extra connection at Canary Wharf. Frustratingly my “Oyster” card doesn’t swipe correctly and takes too much money but a guard tells us we can sort it out on line later. We eat in Greenwich village at the popular noodle bar which is packed out and serves massive plates of food for around £5.

TUESDAY 15 JULY – We ought to make the most of the parking and go back into the city but I can tell Steve is not keen to face the journey again. Opt to visit the Olympic Stadium on our drive out but end up going round in circles and can’t find parking. Near Bury St Edmunds we visit the National Trust property of Ickworth. It’s a rather grand mansion based on a rotunda with two curved wings either side. The gardens are lovely and we particularly like the “stumpery” area comprising of old tree stumps laid on their sides. There are two amazing friezes around the rotunda depicting the ancient Olympics and scenes from Homer. Inside the technology was way ahead of its time as they created their own electricity, pumped up water and filtered it 3 times before circulating it around the house, had their own central heating from a log burning fire and pretty much grew or raised all their food. There’s an interesting collection of treasures brought back from the owners many trips abroad. Back home we summon up the energy to go over to the clubhouse in the evening. It’s really busy with a number of holiday visitors joining in games of pool and table tennis. The canopies are up in readiness for the “summer ball” and lots of tidying up and maintenance is going on around the site. Talk is mainly about the sale of Merryhill but there are so many conflicting tales it’s not worth getting worried at this stage.

WEDNESDAY 16 JULY – We’re woken early by the sound of Alan mowing in the woodland. Get the impression he is tidying it up to make it look more appealing to prospective purchasers. At Norfolk and Norwich hospital Steve heads off for his regular check up whilst I go for my CT scan. Having drunk a couple of pints of water at lunch time I am just about bursting after the 1 litre I have to drink before the scan. They are very efficient and the scan done in about 20 minutes, just have to wait about 10 days for the results. Am I pleased to see a toilet nearby? I rendezvous with Steve in the “Big C” centre. His consultation went well, all blood counts good and they are really pleased with his progress. The results of his MRI scan show no underlying problems with his shoulder (there were concerns about the bone marrow) but he may need an operation on it at a later date. We’d planned to detour to a different shopping area but it’s almost 5pm so settle on a quick dash round Sainsbury’s. Almost manage a totally healthy shop until Steve spots marked down freshly made pizza and reduced nan bread.

THURSDAY 17 JULY – I set about painting our bedroom walls but there are so many fiddly areas I only manage one section before it gets too hot. I cook a curry for lunch to go with the nan bread – it grows out of all proportion so we invite Jill & Barry to join us. Unfortunately Jill doesn’t like curry or even the smell so Barry enjoys a curry and Jill joins us afterwards. We both do a few lengths in the pool late afternoon then sit out enjoying a balmy evening. 2 more lots of neighbours have returned so our trips to the clubhouse take longer as we stop to chat en route. Steve says there are even more people over for the pool night and there’s a better atmosphere.

FRIDAY 18 JULY – After sitting out having breakfast I put the washing in just before it starts to rain. Luckily after a dramatic downpour things brighten up and it gets hotter and hotter and hotter. People end up wallowing in the pool just to cool off – feels like we are in Australia. Early evening it is cool enough for me to have a proper swim. The balmy evening continues leading to a spectacular thunder and lightning storms and downpour.

SATURDAY 19 JULY – I’ve had a headache the last few afternoons and am not sure whether it is from sitting out too much (even in the shade) or painting. I do more painting and mainly stay indoors and don’t have a headache. Like yesterday we have a late swim, a balmy evening then a storm – can handle this nicely thank you, who needs to go abroad?

SUNDAY 20 JULY – We make the most of the cloudy but warm muggy morning to have a knock about on the mini ten court then a couple of games of petanque. The planned swim doesn’t happen as we get another storm with loads of thunder preceding the main event.



  1. Sounds a good trip to London..and as you say there are bargains to be had if you know where to look. We spent 5 days there earlier in the year- staying with daughter in Streatham- and we did the same trip as you to Greenwich and along the Thames.For another time- Borough Market is a great place by the Shard.- lots of free tasters and cheap street food!
    We noticed that the GLOBE Theatre does cheap matinee performances- but not on Mondays- much cheaper to watch a play than to have a tour of the Globe itself!
    We found a pub opposite the City Hall building which did 2 for 1 meals on a Monday too.
    The Oyster card is a great way to travel isn’t it…and on any mode of transport!
    Keep the information coming!!

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