Archive for April, 2012

charles dickens, charles dickens museum, pickwick papers, the centre page pub st pauls, historical pubs of london, recommended pubs in london, where to eat in london

Charles Dickens lived here 1837-1839 - now the Dickens Museum

Last week Thursday; April 26th, I set off on a magical #walkabout through the streets of London to discover more about Charles Dickens (blog to follow shortly 🙂 ).  We started off from the Charles Dickens Museum and the route we followed took us through some amazing areas, areas full of history where we crossed paths with the ghosts of London.  After about 5.5 hours of walking (we took a lot of diversions and stopped at loads of places), my companion and I were famished, and since this was a Dickens walk we were doing, we decided to stop off at one of my favourite pubs in the City of London; especially as the tour ended nearby and the pub was mentioned in The Pickwick Papers: When Mr. Pickwick was visited in Fleet prison by his friends Winkle, Snodgrass and Tupman, they ordered “a bottle or two of very good wine, for which a messenger was dispatched to the Horn Coffee House “

charles dickens, the centre page, historical pubs in london

The Centre Page

Every time I visit St Paul’s Cathedral or go #walkabout in that area I always stop off at The Centre Page Pub for hot chips which I usually have as a take-away and then sit on the steps and enjoy the sunshine and hustle and bustle of folks walking by while I eat my treat.  Yesterday I decided to have the ‘Charles Dickens Posh Pie and Mash’ specifically the Steak Ale and horseradish, and we requested to eat in the Dickens Room downstairs. 🙂

charles dickens, the centre page, historical pubs in london

Charles Dickens Posh Pie & Buttery Mash - steak ale and horseradish

The last time we ate there I had the fish & chips which were just delicious and this meal was even better.  I do not normally eat beef, but I have to say that the meat was tender and juicy and just yummy.  So if your’e in the area and need something quality to eat in a historical setting, I can highly recommend this delightful pub; The Centre Page, 29-33 Knightrider Street,  just down the way from St Paul’s as if heading towards the Millenium Bridge and Tate Modern. Every photo in the slideshow has a link with Charles Dickens.

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History Note: The Centre Page began life as The Horn Tavern founded in 1660 after the restoration of King Charles II. The origins of the name may have come from the King’s celebrations or as there were several coaching inns around St Paul’s the sound of the coaching horn may also have given inspiration.

Nearest tube: St Paul’s on the Central line

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Things I saw

As mentioned in an earlier post I spent a few days in the marvellous Black & White historical village of Weobley (pronounced Webbly) in Herefordshire; a gorgeous little village to be sure.  There were many trappings of modern life that were missing, like internet reception, supermarkets, Starbucks, Costa Coffee and traffic lights, but there were many things I saw that I never see in London:

black and white villages of the uk, weobley in herefordshire

tractor and trailer laden with hay driving through the centre of town

black and white villages of the uk, weobley in herefordshire

green fields from my bedroom window

black and white villages of the uk, weobley in herefordshire

sheep in the fields

and a blanket of stars at night

There definitely are benefits to being in the country.  I am heading that way again in the near future and after last nights road-works right outside my window till after 2am in the morning…..I am looking forward to the peace and quiet of the country and a peaceful, traffic-free sleep. 🙂

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st georges day, leadenhall market st george, morris dancers

St George and the Dragon

One of the bonuses of coming to live in the UK was discovering that not only did I share a birthday with Shakespeare but my birthday falls on the same day as the Patron Saint of England; St Georges day…..all those years and who knew?? 🙂

In the past I have endeavoured to be in another country on my birthday but since I am London bound this year I decided to investigate ‘what’s on in the city’ and head out to participate.  To my delight I discovered that one of my favourite places in the City of London; Leadenhall Market was hosting a celebration of the day with Morris Men dancers and attempting to set a new World Record for the greatest number of people to toast St George…..how could I resist.

leadenhall market london, st george world attempt

Leadenhall Market decked out with the English flag for St George's day

I set off relatively early and made my way along streets, not paved with gold but splattered with rain…yes you guessed…it was the wettest and coldest 23rd April in something like 26 years….why!!!!!!! LOL  Ah well this is London after all 🙂  So I arrived at the venue and meandered about taking photos and then discovered that the 12noon dancing was in fact at 1.15 pm so I decided to visit the Bank of England instead.  Maybe get a loan from yer man….Melvyn! hahahaha.  Seriously though the Bank’s museum is a brilliant place and I managed to lift the gold bar…shame you don’t get to keep it if you pick up, but there you go, win some; lose some!

bank of england, old lady of threadneedle street, london history

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street - The Bank of England

It’s really interesting to read about the beginnings of the banking system in the UK and how bonnie Prince Charlie bankrupted some banks by not paying back his loans… tut, tut. Thankfully our present Monarch has more bucks in the bank and seems to be quite comfortably well off.  ‘what! what!’  Now it’s the Politicians who seem intent on bankrupting the country, never mind the banks.  But I digress…..

So after the museum visit I set off once again through the streets of London back to Leadenhall Market and along the way I visited the Heart of the City, the Royal Exchange, St Mary Woolnoth Church (The church’s site has been used for worship for at least 2,000 years), Pope’s head Alley, the site of Lloyd’s Coffee House 1691-1785, Mitsubishi trust House (has the most amazing sculptures above the entrance), the Crosse Keys Pub (A plaque on the front of this pub recalls that a famous coaching inn, called the Crosse Keys, stood near this site) and thence to Leadenhall Market and behold the Morris Dancers!

Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.
Claims that English records, dating back to 1448, mention the morris dance are open to dispute. There is no mention of “morris” dancing earlier than the late 15th century, although early records such as Bishops’ “Visitation Articles” mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities as well as mumming plays.

Most entertaining and I was delighted to finally get to see a performance. Then it was time for the World Record! A toast to St George

“I see you stand like
greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.

The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit,
and upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry,
England and St George!”

Shakespeare, Henry V, Act III, scene 1.

And I believe that a new World Record was set 🙂 hee hee and I was a part of it!  Loud cheers followed this lusty outburst.

Just before I left I decided to buy a red rosebeing sold by some chaps in fancy dress……one of whom was St George.  When I mentioned that it was my birthday, he said ‘go on! give us a kiss’, and so the Dragon kissed St George 🙂

St George circa 2012

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Ok so it’s not me doing the warbling…that honour goes to the birds; literally 🙂

best black & white village

At time of writing, here I am in a little village called Weobley (pronounced Webbley) in the middle of the country in the county of Herefordshire. And I am working as a Carer….never say never eh!!!   So you may ask: ‘what are you doing working as a carer again?’….and well you might ask! What am I doing working as a Carer again?   Last year in August when I quit the job it was with the intention of not working as a carer again!!  I wanted to work in an office and bring my skills up to date.   I managed to find a job fairly easily (hmmm…perhaps too easily) but because I knew of the company through someone else I felt fairly confident that it would be a great position. And so it turned out to be except for one very important aspect…..the boss!!! He was of the mind that it was not only acceptable but traditional to shout at the employee (me)….. really?

Well as you can imagine I did not take very kindly to that and within 3 months I resigned. Anyhow he (the boss) and I had a meeting and he asked why I had resigned so I told him…I don’t like the way you speak to me. Simples!!! So things settled for a bit and they asked me to stay on till after Xmas (this being November) and in a moment of insanity I agreed. Yeah, yeah, yeah take my temperature why don’t you!! The shouting settled for a bit until one day after a particularly stressful day I told him that he was a bit bullish (subtle terminology for ‘you are a bully’) and we ended up having a spat….. anyhow he took it on the chin, and away we went. The the shouting escalated again and when I challenged him on it (and challenge him I did), he was of the mind that he was stressed and blah blah blah and that if I could not handle it then I should resign….so I did. Resignation #2! Again after a couple of weeks of looking for a suitable person and not finding anyone they asked me to stay on and again I did (ok this time a phychologist would be in order). However it did not last long and I finally resigned for the 3rd and final time when I found myself listening to him berate me for a totally arbitrary issue, and I found myself picturing what it would be like to smash his head in with the mug I was holding in my hand. They found someone else to take the crap and I left on 3rd April…just short of 7 months at the job.

Hmmm, now what to do? I am of the mind that if what he says is true, and shouting and being bullied is the norm in the office environment in the UK….then I want nothing of it. Back to the caring then!

weobley, herefordshireAnd here I am…as I write I am in a little village called Weobley that has a fantastic history dating back to mediaeval times with some fabulous houses built in 1422 and 1561 and so on. Right up my alley so to speak. This position has reminded me of all the things I loved about being a carer and all the things I disliked about being a carer. Fortunately the lady is a delight and despite my misgivings about the dog (he is actually very sweet and has taken a shine to me – follows me around the house). I am enjoying this particlar job. Fortunately it is only a 5 day position and not 2weeks which seriously kills me, especially if the client is full of doodah!!

I love the adventure of going to new places in the UK and I get to see amazing little villages I would not otherwise, and get paid for being there. I love the discoveries I make and if the job is pleasant I love what I do. The thing I dislike about the caring is being stuck indoors for 22 hours a day unless the client likes going out. I chaff at the bit of being unable to go out for walks, of being unable to go to bed when I am tired and the assumption by the client that it is ok to ‘demand’ without a ‘please’ in front. It’s not the easiest of jobs, but the one thing I do appreciate is that they are mostly short-term and if you land up with a client that is rude you can request to be withdrawn. Benefit!! What I dislike… is being away from home, of not sleeping in my own bed and having my things around me. The benefit this time though is that I have a home to go back to. 🙂 and I have my delightful daughter there too.

So Weobley, established in the 7th century, has a fascinating history as well as the archaeological remains of what was a castle, probably built by one ‘de lacy….he of many castles in Ireland as well. I have had a fab time meandering the streets of the village and photographing the numerous houses that still exist from the dark ages ( 😉 ) and walking the dog. Unlike at home where there is a constant stream and cacophony of traffic, I hardly ever heard a car, slept like a log and in the mornings when I woke, it was to the sound of sheep baaing and birds warbling.waking to the sound of sheep baaing

I am of course now back home. There was no internet reception in the area which I found unsurprising and totally annoying. However, it has given me a chance to catch up on stuff and now that I am home again, I can get back online and do what I need to do. Of course the plan is to build my business to the point where I not longer have to go away as a carer, but can go away on holiday….to explore and discover new villages and places at my own pace.

I took hundreds of photos as you can imagine (you know I do!) and have made a video for your enjoyment. Weobley

Here is a wee bit of history of the village:

Weobley is a picture postcard village surrounded by glorious countryside, in the county of Herefordshire, renowned for its stunning black and white timber framed houses, and buildings some of which date back to the 1400’s. The village has an interesting history with Saxon origins, an ancient 12th Century church with an impressive 14th Century Tower, and spire that graces the skyline. At the southern end of the village stands a link with Medieval times at Weobley Castle.
Weobley is one of the best-preserved Tudor villages in the country, with many beautiful timber framed buildings.

When Wibba created a clearing in the woods (a ley) here in the 6th Century, little did he think that his name would still be attached to the village 1500 years later. His father, Cridda, was King of Mercia and held a hill fort not far away at Credenhill (Cridda’s hill).

In Weobley many aspects of 1500 years of British history are represented. From its Saxon origins, through the Norman Conquest to the medieval period, the Civil War, and the agricultural revolution.  Here you will discover the remains of an 11th Century castle, a 12th Century Church and many houses from the14th Century onwards.

In 2008 Weobley appeared in the top fifty of the Times Newspaper’s best places to live in England.

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I may have mentioned before (or not) that we live very near to the river Thames in Richmond.  This is a constant source of enjoyment and pleasure to me and I try to plan a walk alongside or over the river at least once a day…if not more 🙂

Walking over the bridge was the highlight of my journey to work in the mornings and the view of the river as the train whizzed across the railway bridge near Gunnersbury was a constant source of amazement…..the view is wonderful.   The river holds a fascination for me that I have never experienced before and I get a lot of enjoyment from it.  There is nothing more enjoyable than a stroll along the banks past the Old Deer Park with my daughter.  In fact I would say that most of my happiest memories are tied up in those walks.

Sunsets from the top of the bridge are breathtaking and misty days no less so.  The changing of the seasons are easily visible along the banks and the view of the snow from the bridge painted a very pretty picture.  There are a number of houseboats tied up along the banks near Twickenham Bridge and these are a real pleasure to look at.

Despite the fact that the scene remains the same everyday….yet every day is different.  Just little things like a new boat tied up, or swans sailing by, a police craft patrolling, geese landing, river cruisers going by, the tide out or the tide in, sunny days and rainy days all create an ever changing pattern.  I am always surprised when people tell me they never noticed…….how could you not!  Some days the river is completely empty (well almost) and other days it is filled to overflowing!

So here is a collage of photos to give you a glimpse of my very own version of heaven on earth.

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So wow!! most exciting news this morning. My 2nd kindle ‘book’ has been approved!!!  whoo hoo &lt:-P party my 1st itinerary is up and online!!!!!!

2 years ago I started a journey that has seen me delve into the streets and lanes of London discovering her history, beautiful buildings and relics of the past and along the way I have uncovered her secrets; a Roman amphitheatre 20 feet below street level, the site where Samuel Pepys was born, the site where Dick Whittington (of nursery rhyme fame) and 4 times Mayor of London had his house and the church that he founded,

dick whittington mayor of london, hidden london, things to do and see in london

Whittington House on the site where Dick Whittington had his house in 1423 and the church that he founded in the background

the crow’s nest of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s boat Quest in an ancient crypt,

all hallows by the tower church, shackletons crows nest, crypts of london, 3 days in london, what to see in london

the crow's nest from Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship Quest

and spent a very happy time in one of London’s oldest remaining churches, parts of which remain from 1123!!!   I mean seriously….how could I not get passionate about this city.  I have spent up to 8 hours at a stretch wandering the streets, lanes and roads of the City of London, the City of Westminster and many more besides, never mind the parks and gardens in the suburbs, not all at one go of course!! 🙂

3 days in london, guildhall london, things to do and see in london

Guildhall in the City of London

The 3 Days in London journey all began when I was chatting to a twitter friend on my @notjustagranny profile a couple of years ago.  She mentioned that she and her hubby would have a 6 hour layover at Heathrow and were keen to pop into London for that time and could I suggest something for them to do.  So I set about creating an itinerary called 6 hours in London and sent it on.  As it turned out they didn’t make the trip into London but an idea was born.

From there, and with the encouragement of my daughter I set up a business called 3 Days in London and started blogging.    It made perfect sense since London had become a passion of mine and it was very easy to blog and talk about all the marvellous places and things to see and do in this city.

I have since taken folks on bespoke guided tours and have now created 3 itineraries for 3 Days in London that will take you on a step by step guide through 3 different areas of London, that incorporates all the top attractions 3 days in london, st pauls cathedral, things to do and see in london,

St Paul’s Cathedral; a marvel of architecture

as well as many other places folks miss out on altogether….the hidden treasures of London.  I have also seen numerous visitors with maps in their hands looking not only puzzled but lost as they try to figure out how to get from here to there.  It’s not easy getting around a foreign city by map and I am sure many precious hours are lost, by being lost! Not that I believe you can ever get lost……you just get to a place that you do not recognise.   But being a visitor it must be quite disconcerting not having a clue of where you are and how to get to where you wish to go.  I know, I’ve had that experience in the foreign cities I have visited.

However, that aside I have also been stopped by a great number of foreign visitors desperately trying to find out how to get to ‘wherever’ and without a clue of which direction to go in.  Fortunately for me I almost know the city like the palm of my hand and can walk many routes in my sleep. 🙂 almost!!

So the itineraries have been in the pipeline for some time and although they kinda stalled due to lack of confidence, last week I set off with a friend I met via facebook to walk the 3rd itinerary in the series to test if the directions were good and how long it would take from start to finish.   I designated him as tour guide, no point me being the guide as I know the route by heart, and off we went.  What a great day we had (a different blog to follow about that) and although we made various detours along the way (we are both incredibly curious and nosy…..) he proclaimed the itinerary good to go…..eg we didn’t get lost and the directions were good.  He also got to see parts of London, that despite being a born Londoner, he had never seen before! Excellent, just what they were designed to do.

And so with my heart in my mouth I gave the go-ahead for the first itinerary to go online! and here it is, duly approved by Amazon and now my 2nd upload to kindle: West End itinerary

In case you were not aware, the 1st upload was the book I wrote about a little girl named Fanny Elizabeth Stokes who died in 1893 aged 7.

And now a different story has begun. Wish me bon voyage 🙂

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well now. this was meant to be kept private!!!!!! but since it has been splashed across youtube & facebook and so many people have now seen it…… I may as well share it with you too! my mortification is complete especially as this was only loaded on Saturday night and by the time we went to bed it had 48 views…..it now has over 2,000 and not only have friends and possibly family seen this…but so have 2,000 other people!!!! hysterical.


oh and p.s. Cemanthe has been sleeping in a tent in the backyard ever since!!!
p.s.s. the background to this is Britain’s Got Talent and a contestant that appeared on Saturday night. if your’e on twitter check out the hashtags #wheresmephone #wheresmekeys this will explain more 🙂

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if youve ever thought of cycling the world….this blog is a must read http://cyclingthe6.blogspot.co.uk/ by @cyclingthe6

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faberge big egg hunt london, guiness book of records

the big egg hunt; north, south, east and west

Aiming to break a Guiness World Record – The Faberge Big Egg Hunt in London made great strides!!! And kept us entertained.
With tantalising titles like ‘Scramble for giant eggs is set to begin’ & ‘Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall’ or ‘Egg beats crime’, you could not fail to be curious when opening your newspaper of an evening in London in February.

The first of these titles had a fab photo that showed a group of girls sitting on an open-topped bus, amongst a group of over-sized decorated eggs with Houses of Parliament in the background…..how could you not be curious.
Then a group of beautifully decorated eggs in Potters Field with Tower Bridge behind and the by-line: Ready for the great London egg hunt! & the hunt is on. Sponsored by Fabergé and organised Mark Shand, a number of artists have designed and created 210 wonderful 2.5ft fibre-glass eggs to raise funds for Elephant Family organisation and Action for Children.

Amongst the delightful collection are characters like Humpty Dumpty, who does indeed sit on a wall at Clarence House; commissioned and signed by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, there is also a Busby, a red letter-box a Union Flag and many, many other delightful and beautifully decorated eggs.

It was hoped that 10,000 or more Londoners and visitors would join in the hunt with an aim to break the Guiness World Record for the biggest egg hunt. 30 of the eggs have since been auctioned off to raise funds and you can bid online for the others; with a starting price of £300 the value of these eggs have climbed considerably.

Along the way a couple of the eggs have been stolen and retrieved and returned to their rightful place, and between the 3rd and 9th April they will all come together at Covent Garden to amuse and amaze us.

The eggs were scattered about London, mostly in zone 1 & 2 and the hunt has taken us from Canary Wharf in the east to South Bank in City of Westminster, the City of London, St James’s Park and Green Park, through Mayfair and Covent Gardens, Trafalgar Square, Berkley Square, Grosvenor Square, & Sloane Square to Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard and Seven Dials, Carnaby Street and St Christopher’s, along side streets, into buildings and shops and fancy pants stores (think Fortnum & Mason’s and Liberty’s) and along the way some of the eggs were very cleverly hung up high and unless you are observant, you could walk right on by……I did; a number of times 🙂 This usually entailed a return to the area!!!

The best fun ever, this egg hunt has taken me to places I have never visited before, into buildings I usually walk by and back to places I love…again and again. In my quest to find them all, I confess I have returned to some places a number of times! And others I have walked around till my feet fell off determined to find them all in one go!! You would be amazed at how easy it is to miss a 2.5ft egg that is displayed on a big black box that is at least 2ft high and 2ft wide…..just walk right on by!

faberge big egg hunt

how easy to miss this! 🙂

I have been amazed and amused by the number of people who have joined the hunt, some folks found all 209 within a week, and others are still discovering them. I have met folks from all over the world and it is amazing how many are going at this with guns blazing….the prize; a Fabergé Egg with £100,000. One lass did a 24 hour marathon to raise funds for Action for Children and found 207 of the eggs (2 were not at their posts); very impressive. I have done the hunt in stages and finding 48 on one day nearly killed me! My legs and feet were decidedly unimpressed! I managed to find 187!!! Will I find them all? Not likely!

However they will all be together in Covent Garden starting from today and then I shall get to see them all. 🙂 for your pleasure and delight I have made a video of some of the eggs

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