Posts Tagged ‘Big Ben’

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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I went into town (London) yesterday for a meet up with my daughter for a business ‘Power Hour’. I am having a bit of difficulty with the business plan for 3 Days in London, so went along to get things in order.  She is a genius at unravelling stuff and by the end of the session I felt like finally we had a workable direction….

After the meeting I decided to take a walk along the SouthBank to see the German Market and check out the ice-rink at the London Eye.  First though I walked across the Thames via Hungerford Bridge….the view is so fabulous that I can seldom resist if I am in the area.

view of St Paul's from Hungerford Bridge

Then at a quick trot along the embankment…..it was freezing, I whizzed past the stalls absorbing the heavenly smells that whafted through the air.  The stalls looked cosy and gay; decorated with lights and tinsel and baubles. There are a number of stalls giving you an array of choices that tempt your tastebuds: crepes, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, fudge and chocolate.

german market southbank london

fancy a Crepe (pancake)? go wild and have one with nutella and cream 🙂

There is a gaily painted carousel, the horses dizzily whirling by; a blur of colour and light and sound, the snow a fitting background.

carousel on south bank

gaily painted horses whirling by at a dizzy pace

From there I walked up to the ice-rink in front of the London Eye and watched the skaters whizzing around; thrills and spills! Looked like great fun.

london eye ice rink

thrills and spills on the London Eye ice-rink

By this stage my camera didn’t want to work, it was so cold it felt like I had lost life in my hands; I had no feeling and my face felt like it was going to fall off!

snow in london 2010

view of Big Ben from South bank

The lamp-posts, walls and sculptures were all covered with snow and looked incredibly pretty.  As the light waned it got colder and colder, so at a quickening pace I walked along to Westminster Bridge and back over the river to Big Ben, Westminster Palace

christmas tree at big ben london

Big Ben at 4pm. the Christmas tree in the forecourt is very pretty

and Westminster Abbey.  The Christmas Tree in front of the Parliamentary buildings looks gorgeous and I watched the clock strike 4pm. Then a quick walk over the the Abbey for a photo or two.

westminster abbey london

Westminster Abbey looking ethereal in the diming light

Then it was back onto the tube and home.  It was a delight to step into the house that although cold at the best of times, is a whole heck of a lot warmer than outdoors.   It took me about 10 minutes to defrost and a lovely cup of tea helped warm me up 🙂

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UPDATE: 17.10.2012 – the Olympics are over so now all areas are once again accessible :). Hope you enjoy the walk.

UPDATE: 18.04.2011 – this post was written for a friend last year.  However, feel free to use the information herein.   I have a blog on London where you can find out a lot more about fun and interesting things to do and places to go while you are here – go to http://3daysinlondon.info/  Wishing you a fab time in the city.

So assuming your free time is the whole 6 hours I would suggest that you go to Green Park and visit Buckingham Palace to see the fabulous flowers (seasonal) and then take a walk to Big Ben & Houses of Parliament; so here goes:

Buy a one-day travel card for zones 1-6 at Heathrow Underground Tube station, off-peak Zone 1-6 £8.50 this will allow you unlimited travel from Heathrow to and in and around Central London and back again. If you travel before 09:30 the cost will be substantially higher. For further fare info click here which will take you to TravelforLondon website showing fares/zones.

Hop on the Piccadilly Line which runs from all Heathrow terminals. Allow an hour for the journey and go to Green Park (it’s direct).

Get off at Green Park and take the exit straight into Green Park.  Stroll through the park till you reach The Mall and on the right you will see Buckingham Palace = approx 10-15 minutes stroll allows you time to look around and enjoy the many features.

Buckingham Palace

At Buckingham Palace spend some time looking at the Victoria Memorial Gardens and the Queen Victoria Memorial fountains.

Victoria Memorial Gardens

then take a walk along The Mall towards Trafalgar Square.   On your way take a stroll through the park = St James’s Park.

tulips at St Jamess park

It is beautiful this time of year (April) and the tulips are magnificent = 30-45minutes or so. If you walk through the park, head to the Blue Bridge and cross over towards Birdcage Walk and stroll along towards Big Ben and Parliament Square.

Then at Trafalgar Square, spend 15 minutes or so if you wish to look around

fountain at Trafalgar Square with National Gallery in the background

While at Trafalgar Square why not pop in to The National Gallery, it’s free (they do appreciate donations) and the entrance is beautiful.  Although the Olympic Clock is now gone, I have left a photo in just because 🙂

london 2012 olympic games, olympic games london

The London 2012 Olympic Clock at Trafalgar Square

and then head along Whitehall (main road) towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (Westminster Palace) = 15 minutes or so.  A pointer for direction is that Lord Nelson on his perch (column) faces towards Big Ben and Houses of Parliament along Whitehall (name of the road),

you will also pass Horse-Guards Parade (4pm to see the 4 o’clock parade; much lower key than say changing the guard but impressive and free. If you get there at any other time then all it is is a big square. Having said that there is a memorial to those killed in the South African campaign over 100 years ago which is both impressive and moving – thanks to Paul for the inserted contribution) as well as No 10 Downing Street on the right hand side of the road and the Cenotaph; a memorial to those killed in the 1st & 2nd WW situated in the middle of Whitehall.

At Big Ben, be sure to cross over to Westminster Abbey (looking towards the right & closed at 3.30 most days), the whole area is looking gorgeous.

royal wedding, westminster abbey,  things to do in london

Westminster Abbey the venue for the Royal Wedding on April 29th 2011

After that return to Big Ben

Big Ben

and walk up onto the right-hand side of the bridge (Westminster Bridge)  where you can view the whole palace alongside the river.

Houses of Parliament aka Westminster Palace

At that point you would be able to see the London Eye and the Aquarium.  Cross over to the opposite side for a better view.

the London Eye with the Aquarium in the background

be sure to stop and have a look at the statue of Boudicca on her chariot (Queen of the Iceni who ravaged the Romans).  There is an ice-cream stand on the corner there where you can buy a double cone soft vanilla ice-cream with flake for £? the prices changes regularly but it’s in the region of £2.00-£2.50) 🙂  If you take a walk along the Victoria Embankment, be sure to have a look at the Battle of Britain memorial…it’s stunning.

If you want to and have the time, take a walk along the Victoria Embankment (with the river on your right hand side), towards the next bridge (Hungerford & Golden Jubilee Bridges), where you can see the RAF (Royal Air Force) monuments alongside the embankment as well as all our gorgeous trees that are just about in their full greenery (assuming you are here in spring/summer). = 45 minutes.

At Embankment Station there are a number of coffee shops where you could stop off and have a cuppa = 30minutes or so. If not and its a hot day, then have an ice-cream instead 🙂  If you have time climb the stairs onto the bridge, for a magnificent view upstream of the river towards the London Eye etc.  From here you can take the District or Circle tube line to Earl’s Court and change for the Piccadilly line for Heathrow.

Heathrow to Green Park = 60-70 minutes give or take

Green Park station stroll to Buckingham Palace 15 minutes

Buckingham Palace through St James’s park to Trafalgar Square 60 minutes

Trafalgar Square 15 minutes

Walk to Big Ben and Houses of Parliament 15 minutes

Time at Big Ben and perhaps Westminster Abbey 60 minutes

walk along the Embankment (the London Eye will be on your right hand side) to Embankment station 15-20 minutes

stop for coffee (or not). There is a lovely park just behind the station; Victoria Embankment Park, a lovely environment to stop and rest for a while.  You will find a memorial to the poet Robert Burns in the park as well as many other statues and and interesting memorials = 30 minutes

Back to Heathrow from Embankment approx 60-70 minutes.

These are all estimated times and depend on how long you stay at each place or how slow/quickly you walk.  I have allowed extra time for each leg of the excursion, so you may find it takes a bit less for each. It’s up to you how long you want to take at each place. Good luck and have a fabulous time.   Let me know if this works for you. 🙂

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One of the things I love most about being away from London, is coming back.   I never get tired of the view of the Thames as the train crosses the bridge!   My heart always gives a little leap of joy, and no matter what the weather, be it grey or raining or sunny, it always looks just beautiful.

Coming back to London means a lot of things to me.

It means seeing my daughter again, getting a warm hug, enjoying time with her catching up on news.   We get to enjoy a visit to our favourite coffee shops a) Starbucks for coffee and b) Costas for hot chocolate. yummy 🙂

Also, if I am in town long enough, I get to spend an hour or so with one or two of my friends, which is never enough and the time flies by too quickly.

Being in London means visiting my storage unit to offload stuff I acquired from the last trip and recycling my clothes.  I get awfully bored wearing the same stuff for 2-4 weeks in a row.  Visiting my storgae unit, is like going shopping at a 2nd-hand charity shop, except I don’t have to pay for the stuff coz I already own it.

I get to go see a movie again, if there is time.  I get to see Buckingham Palace or the London Eye or the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.  I always, if I am leaving from Charing Cross on my next trip, make a stop at Trafalgar Square and say hello to Nelson.

I love to watch the changing seasons with a fresh eye and to my delight, on this return – I got to see a light dusting of snow everywhere.   That also means it is bleedin cold and I nearly froze between the station and home last night.

My daughter and son-in-law treated me to a great, late Xmas dinner and my daughter (bless her) went all out with a marvellous spread for her (95%) vegetarian Mom (not that I am a veggie myself 😉 ).  We had a lovely cassis that went straight to my head and I got all silly and giggly as I do when imbibing.

They had loads of pressies for me and it was lots of fun ripping the paper off to reveal the contents, one of which was a pair of wellies!!!    I have so wanted a pair of wellies since Feb 09 when we had all that snow.   My daughter is a very thoughtful gift buyer!!!   My son-in-law attempted to teach me how to play the new game they got for Xmas from a friend, which is a Playstation Dance UK set.  But, since I have 2 left feet and no hand/foot eye co-ordination whatsoever (I would be a real challenge for the Strictly Come Dancing lot), we were in hysterics at my attempts to put my feet where they were meant to be.  I scored a very hopeless tally.   A fun evening had by all.

This morning it is up and about to catch up on appointments, meet my chica for lunch and in the evening catch up on new developments and training with WorldVentures.   Apparently there is new information and I am looking forward to meeting up with other members.

Then it’s off again tomorrow!

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