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Archive for January 1st, 2011

I very sensibly put in for a few days of leave over New Year determined not to work again….for the first time in years.  Leaving Highgate on Thursday I made my way over to Twickenham, looking forward to spending a few days with my girl.  The evening was very therapeutic for both of us; we covered some tricky issues and managed to discuss some painful subjects and without realising it, I made a comment that suddenly gave her a completely different perspective on her current situation and opened a new door, completely inspiring her!

Friday I decided to make the most of my London Pass;

my London Pass

 the intention was to visit places I had on my list and try to see as many as possible…. a quick pop in and pop out visit and gather material for the 3 Days in London blog.  I managed to persuade her to come into town with me and we stopped off at Waterloo station for Starbucks (of course) and a chat. We then parted ways….she to Tottenham Court Road to do some shopping (part of her Xmas present I promised was a DVD player), and me to one of my favourite places in the world…. Westminster.  I had a list of 4/5 places to visit.

I walked past Big Ben

Big Ben - 11 hours and 17 minutes till 2011

 stopping only to take a few photos and then made my way to the Jewel Tower opposite the Sovereign’s Gate at Westminster Palace. I had been passed the tower but never yet visited…and it is great. The remains of what was part of the wall of the Westminster Palace complex.  It’s a really interesting place to visit and there are some great items on display, amongst which were remains of original 14th Century wooden foundations, removed when the building was underpinned in 1955.

14th century wooden foundations

There is a fab view of the Sovereign’s Gate from the 1st & 2nd levels.

view of the Sovereign's Gate

The stairs, ceilings and walls are original; it’s really weird to walk on stairs where Kings and Queens once trod.

the Kings Privy Tower

From there I walked towards St James’s park via the grounds of Westminster Abbey. I had intended visiting but the queues were too long and I did not have time to waste, so made my to the Churchill War Museum; a place I had so wanted to visit in the past but never had the time.  It was awesome. I was allowed to take photos inside and made a few videos too.  The bunkers are set out exactly they way they were during WW2 and are quite simply awesome!!

The War Cabinet Room has been laid to show exactly how it would have looked on Tuesday 15th October 1940 at 5pm, shortly before the meeting of the War Cabinet

There is a recording of Churchill’s speeches as well as others and on one you can hear an air-raid siren.  Brilliant.

Then I went back to Westminster Abbey and finally the queues were short enough to join. I am so glad I went!  I have visited the Abbey before, a few years ago and had quite forgotten how incredible it is inside.  The Abbey is so beautifully designed and filled with the most amazing memorials and tombs, and intricate carvings that defy belief.  I was totally entranced and enjoyed a very happy 2 hours wandering about, visiting the various tombs, the Shrine of Edward the Confessor, Henry VII’s Lady Chapel, Poet’s Corner, Chapter House, Pyx Chamber

Pyx Chamber

and the Cloisters.  The High altar is magnificent and the ceiling in the Lady Chapel is breath takingly beautiful. The Coronation Chair is currently being restored and situated in a glass room near the Great West Door.

Great West Door

Afterwards I made my way back to the river via Big Ben and walked along Victoria Embankment, intending to find a suitable spot to stand and wait for the London Eye fireworks

31.12.2010 - London Eye at 4.30pm

….except that I suddenly didn’t feel like standing for what would at that stage be 8 hours!!! So instead I went up Charing Cross to the South African shop to buy some eats, then along to Trafalgar Square to see the Norwegian tree that they send over each year at Christmas

the Norwegian Spruce Tree at Trafalgar Square - sent over each year at Christmas as a gift from the Norwegians

 and then back to Embankment and onto the tube to Richmond and home.

We sat on the couch listening to music, chatting to my sister & her hubbie in SA via skype and then saw in the New Year and watched the fireworks on TV! Exactly what I had said I did not want to do…..see the fireworks on TV, but I was with the most important person in the world to me and we had a fab evening.  A few hours later we finally crawled into bed, eyes heavy and ready to sleep, already well into 2011!

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