A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: RUMissingUsYet


A very slow start to the last couple of days.
Both mornings were spent just lazing around Greenwich.
I did my usual daily trip to P&B for coffee followed by a wander through Greenwich Market.
On Tuesday we caught the tube to Archway then the bus up Highgate Hill.
There is a marked difference between the bottom of Highgate Hill to the bottom.
Highgate is a rather affluent area in North London. Up until late Victorian times it was a village situated outside what was then London. It is very Georgian in style and has been/still is home to many famous residents (Michael faraday, George Eliot, Victoria Wood, Sting, Rod Stewart, Julian Barnes, Jude Law, Kate Moss, Samuel Taylor-Coleridge, J.B. Priestly, too many to list......)

We got off the bus just outside Waterlow Park and went for a walk. the park was gorgeous. The red autumnal leaves contrasting with the vivid, almost luminous green of the grass. It has been a public park since 1889 when is was given to the public by Sir Sydney Waterlow.


As we walked through the park we met a young couple who had just got engaged and asked us to take a photo of them. They seemed a bit of a mismatch, she was like Vivienne Leigh and he was more Charles Laughton than Laurence Olivier but I'm sure he's a lovely guy and she isn't as shallow as I am.

We came out of the other side of the park next to Highgate Cemetery.


We had a short walk around the eastern side of the cemetery where Karl Marx is buried before joining a guided tour of the west side. I also noticed Bruce Reynolds was buried here, he of the Great Train Robbery infamy.


Highgate cemetery is a Victorian cemetery, opened in 1839 and is now heritage listed. There have been many myths surrounding it over the years, ghosts, vampires etc even making it to newspaper reports. This grew with various reports of sightings culminating in a mass vampire hunt which was filmed by ITV. There were so many people wishing to join the hunt that despite the police attempting to keep them out, they climbed the walls and gates of the cemetery to get in - had too many drugs I'm thinking.


It had fallen into disrepair and a small group of local residents would go in on Sundays to try and keep it in some kind of order and stop it from becoming completely overgrown. They became The Friends of Highgate Cemetery and eventually bought the cemetery. The only way to visit the western Cemetery now is by guided tour, run by the Friends, who are all volunteers. This helps to raise the money to keep the cemetery and the restoration work they are carrying out.


The cemetery is certainly atmospheric. Both the Eastern and western sides are still working cemetery's and there are a couple of places where you are asked not to take photos's. One being the grave of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed by polonium poisoning in 2006. His family have requested no photos, which is fair enough. My particular favourite was the grave of Thomas Sayer, a bare knuckle fighter. They reckon the turnout for his funeral rivalled that of Nelson's and the line of mourners went from the cemetery down to .......... His grave had a stone effigy of his pet mastiff laying across it.


After the tour we made our way back to Greenwich and popped into Paul Rhodes bakery for a hot chocolate before heading back to the flat. I'm loving the late afternoons when it's dark and dizzily outside but you're a warm and snugly inside looking out the window. Lights on in the shop windows, the old style lamps lighting the wet pavements as people bustle by going about their daily business.

Another lazy morning on Wednesday, in fact a lazy day. All we did all day was go to the pictures to see Mr Turner. The cinematography was beautiful, they made the scenes look just like a Turner painting. I love Mike Leigh's films for their quirkiness and this was no exception. Turner was certainly not your average man in the street, but then I guess that's why he created such extraordinary paintings. Loved the film, love Mike Leigh, love JMW Turner.

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A very leisurely start to the day, I didn't wake up till almost 10am which is unheard of!
Did the usual and went over to Peyton and Byrnes for my coffee and breakie. This morning I was introduced to sisters Mimi and Scout who gleefully told me they were going to 'have coffee' with their friends, who's names I couldn't make out but turned out to be Tarquin, Theo and Sheridan, average age about three at a guess. Those three year olds know how to live!


Once Susan joined me we headed off into the city and got off the Tube at Westminster. We walked up Whitehall and stopped off at the Cenotaph to looked at the Wreath that had been laid the day before. There was still quite a crowd gathered.


As we continued up towards Trafalgar Square we stopped to see the Horseguards. When we were here three years ago one of the horses took a bit of a shine to Susan and nuzzled her neck. Seems she must have an infinity with horses 'cos this time one of them gave her a kiss!


There is a new installation at Trafalgar Square do of WWI soldier standing in a pile of poppies. Every couple of minutes a jet of air sends the poppies flying around the head and body of the soldier. It's extremely well done.


We've been really lucky with the weather so far. It hasn't been cold at all. In fact it's been quite warm. We had to turn the heating off in the flat as it was too hot and I was walking around in jeans and t-shirt today. If I'd have brought different shoes I would have worn shorts.


We visited the National Gallery whilst in Trafalgar Square. I've been here many times but could never tire of it. If you've never seen Van Gough's Daffodils in real life you just can't grasp how good it is. Before I saw it for the first time I always screwed my face up at it. It's an image yo use all over the place but no print can do it justice. The vibrancy and texture of the real thing is totally lost in the reproductions. Everytime I see it I am amazed, even though I know what to expect now.


The Da Vinci cartoon always amazes me too. It's the detail that goes into making a sketch of what will become a painting.


Most of the Turners are at the Tate Britain but there are a few here, so that made me happy. Not that I particularly like Turner, I mean I only named my cat after him!


It's hard work looking at art, so we took a well deserved rest at Langham's Hotel for afternoon tea, with a couple of glasses of champagne Schweety Darling. We were entertained by a pianist on a baby grand playing everything from Rogers and Hammerstein and Cole Porter to Elton John as we were served a roasted capsicum amuse bouch, a selection of delicious sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a selection of cakes. All served on Wedgwood China. We know how to slum it with the best of the yobbos.


After Langham's we decided to just wander through London. With no particular aim we walked up Regent St, along Piccadilly,cut through some side streets and then down Shaftesbury Ave then through Soho and back up Charring Cross Rd finishing up at Tottenham Court Rd tube station, so jumped on the tube back to Greenwich and a quick drink at the Gypsy Moth before home.


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Forever Blowing Bubbles

I've got into the habit of getting up and walking down the road to Peyton & Byrne where I have my morning coffee and either catch up on the blog or just sit and watch the world go by as I wait for Susan to get ready. It's particularly interesting on weekday mornings as people make their way to work and I know I have no particular place to be at no particular time. Once the early morning rush is over you start to see the mums pushing their prams dropping kids off to school before coming in for their soy chai lattes and baby chinos for their trendily dressed toddlers (think baggy corduroy pants, knitted jumpers, tweed jackets with leather patches at the elbows, leather collars and bright coloured wellies) I have seen a few dads doing the same, they look like arty types with groovy leather satchels and flat caps.

Anyway that's where I was this morning waiting for Susan. After she joined me for a cup of tea we took a quick walk around Greenwich Market. The market was established in 1700 and is currently having renovations done but is still open whilst the building work goes on. There is a market there everyday except Mondays but the stalls change.

After the market we got the tube into the city. Danny is joining us for the weekend and Ted put him on the train at Peterborough, we just had to pick him up from Kings Cross.


Once we safety met Danny we headed to Stratford to meet Teddy. A quick shop for shoes and jacket for Danny and jacket for Teddy and the boys and I headed to Upton Park to watch West Ham v Aston Villa whilst Susan, who has no interest in football went back to Greenwich. Much to my deep sorrow Teddy has surrendered his allegiance to Manchester Untied and become a West Ham fan. He even has a West Ham top and club membership. I understand that as he is now living in the area it is much easier to see them play than Man Utd but I just can't grasp how you can support a team all your life then at 20 change allegiance. I guess I should just be grateful it wasn't one of the other London teams like Arsehole, I mean Arsenal or Chelsea. We do have a connection to West Ham as that's where my parents lived and my dad supported West Ham, but even so I just kept shaking my head at him. At least Danny and I are still Man Utd supporters. The game ended 0-0 but was entertaining none the less. As it was remembrance weekend the game started with a bugler playing the Last Post and two minutes silence followed by applause before the home crowd burst in a rousing chorus of I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'.


We'd arranged to meet Susan at Piccadilly Circus after the game. It took us ages to get back onto the Tube so Susan amused herself by finding a bar - she is very resourceful! We thought we'd go to the Trocadero so the boys could play some games but they had moved and although we did eventually find it they only had about an hour to play before Teddy had to head back home to catch up on his Uni work before Monday.
Susan, Danny and I went to get some dinner but the first few places we tried had either an hour or more wait for a table. We eventually ended up in a Pizza Express, which was fine.

When we got home Danny and I tried to see if we could spot ourselves in the crowd on Match of the Day.

We got up late the next morning, too late for breakfast so the three of us headed to the Mitre, one of the local pubs for a Sunday roast lunch. The Mitre is a lovely pub. It's next door to St Alfege's and was an old 18th century coaching inn.


We caught one of the slower river boats to Westminster and walked up Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square, stopping at the Cenotaph to view the wreaths laid earlier in the day.
In Trafalgar Square there was some street entertainment going on and for the life of me I couldn't work out how these guys were staying in the air. They must have had one of Marty McFly's hover boards from Back to the Future.
Danny wanted to go to M&M World (who'd have thought you could have a whole world based on a choc!)


M&Ms bought it was time to head back to Kings Cross and Danny and I caught the train back to Peterborough. Ted and Summer met us at the station and we had a quick coffee before I caught the next train back to London. By 10pm I was back in our Greenwich flat, pjs on and gin in hand.

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Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Left to our own devices today we caught the Tube to Oxford Circus and did a bit of shopping.
I'd forgotten to pack a neck strap for my camera and was sure we'd find a camera shop down Oxford St - we didn't.
However, we did find a Uniqlo and bought a few things in there.
Heading down Bond St we were accosted by a very charming young Frenchman handing out free samples of hand cream.
Before we knew it we were inside the shop being manicured and facialed (I know that's not a word) and walked out with a bag full of anti-wrinkle creams, shiny nails, younger faces and lighter wallets!
All that hard work left us feeling slightly peckish, so we headed to Burger and Lobster for a late lunch. As the name suggests they sell burgers and lobster and ONLY that. They don't have a food menu. It's very simple, you can have a burger, with/without cheese and/or bacon or you can have a lobster sandwich or a whole lobster either steamed or grilled. Whatever you choose the price is the same $20.
Considering I am allergic to seafood I had the burger and Susan had the lobster sandwich. The burger was great and by the look of ecstasy on Susan's face I assumed the lobster was not too shabby either. Although they don't have a food menu they do have quite an extensive drinks menu. We both opted for a cocktail called Bitter Rose, which was vodka, grapefruit sherbet and rosewater. Highly recommend it. Apparently people queue for up to two hours to get a table here, but as we came in between lunch and dinner times we could get straight in, it was still busy though.


After lunch we walked around Mayfair for a while and looked in the window of G.F. Trumper, a 'Gentleman's Barber' established in the late 19thC. I'm sure it gets a mention in the Poirot books as the place Hercule gets his mustache waxed and mustache waxing is on their price list. As we looked through the window one of the aforementioned gentlemen came out and the smell as the door opened was amazing. If I was rich, straight and married my husband would def be going there to get a shave!


Just across the road was the entrance to Shepherd Market. A lovely set of lanes and mews with some interesting pubs, shops and restaurants.
Created in the 1730's for the London elite it has seen it's fair share of scandal in more recent times. Mama Cass and Keith Moon both died here in the 70's and it's also where Jeffrey Archer picked up the hooker that would eventually lead to his imprisonment. In literary fiction it is where P.G. Wodehouse's Wooster and Jeeves lived.


We walked our way back to Oxford St, Regent St and on to Carnaby St via Berkeley Square. I listened but didn't hear a nightingale sing.....


Saw loads of clothes I'd buy in Carnaby St if I was rich and skinny. It's a good job I'm not either of those things or I'd be too hot to be let out of the house!!

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Old Naval College

Teddy stayed back at his Uni flat last night so the rest of us took a quick walk up Greenwich High St to get some breakfast.
On the way we went past St Alfege so we popped in briefly so Ted could have a look around.


After Breakfast we decided to walk around the Old Naval College. There used to be a Tudor Palace on this site and it's where Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I were born. The Palace was damaged during the civil war and was demolished in the late 1600's to make way for a hospital for injured sailors. It became a Naval College in the late 1800's and for the past 15 or so years has been used by Greenwich University and Trinity College of Music. The buildings are wonderful and especially the painted Gallery is well worth a visit. I didn't have a wide angle lens on me when we went so didn't get a great shot of the ceiling, but I'm sure we'll go back sometime in the three weeks we have left to get another one. Entrance is free and it's only a couple of minutes walk from our flat.


We continued our walk along the Thames Path, where Susan and I had been a couple of days earlier.
This time we stopped off for a quick drink in one of the pubs, the Cutty Sark. It was a lovely old pub, full of old wood, a huge upstairs bay window overlooking the Thames and a big roaring log fire. There was even a big basket of blankets near the door for customers dogs to lay on to keep warm. As we walked back to Greenwich, Teddy finally joined us and we went for some lunch.
Being born and bred in East London we were brought up on typical Cockney food - pie n' mash.
As a family we have an affinity with Manze's, which is a pie and mash shop on Tower Bridge Rd. Every Saturday was dinner from Manze's. My mum even worked there before the war. Manze's has been in the same shop and run by the same family since 1902. However, there is also a family run pie and mash shop in Greenwich called Goddard's and Ted wanted to try it so we had some lunch here instead. It worked out well for Susan. Last time we were here I took her to Manze's and she hated it. They only do the traditional pie and mash, which is a mince pie, lumpy mash (not creamed) with liquor (a runny parsley sauce) Whereas Goddard's did different flavour pies and you could choose gravy instead of liquor - sacrilege!!
Ted for his sins preferred Goddard's too, much to my disgust! I give them points for the nice view from the window and the excellent homemade rhubarb crumble with custard, But you can't be getting all posh and offering various different pies with gravy! They even had a no spitting sign - that's how posh they are. Not a real East End Pie'n'mash shop!. Give me Manze's any day.


Completely stuffed after our lunch we walked it off with another walk back to the Cutty Sark for a swift drink then back along the Thames path back to the flat and both Ted and Teddy headed off to their respective homes. We had a lovely two days celebrating their birthdays with them.


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