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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Staying in London

We stopped on the Paddington Arm for three nights and during that time we met up with my cousin's daughter who was very heavily pregnant, and enjoyed playing with her young son as well as having supper with them at their home near Little Venice. Her husband is a heart surgeon at the St Mary's Hospital in Paddington and he walked past Lily on his way to work.

Wednesday 13th May
We moved on through Regents Park Zoo and on through Camden Locks. Be warned, make sure the shore crew have their BW key with them. I had to call Carol back to the top lock to rescue me as it is now enclosed in railings. It was a cool and blustery day. I noticed our fuel level is lowish so was pleased to see a fuel pump at St Pancras Cruising Club just past Kings Cross Station. Sadly it is only manned at infrequent times, and our moorings at Battlebridge Basin have mains supply so we will not need to run the engine to charge things.

Wildlife in Battlebridge, the Heron stayed on Lily for ages. There are 6 terrapins in the basin, two large pike and the largest carp Carol has ever seen loitering around Lily.

We arrived in early afternoon and Carol shuffled us into our berth, we said our hellos, paid our dues and tied up. It really is a wonderful spot, very secure and with shower, bath, toilet waste and Elsan disposal and a water point by our mooring point. There is a Tesco store abot 10 yards away and we catch a bus to The Angel in Islington to get to a largish Sainsburys. I have also been able to get mail sent to us here, useful in getting my mother's estate wound up. After a couple of days moored bows on we decided it would be better stern on, but that is the extent of our movements from 13th May till today, 7th June.

Just by the gate there is a bus stop that will take us along Oxford Street or to Waterloo, and a walk of a hundred yards or so gets us to Kings Cross Station with buses and tubes everywhere. We wanted to get a good mooring because over the weekend of 16/17 June we went to Brussels by Eurostar from neighbouring St Pancras as the fist part of our Ruby Wedding celebrations. The following Sunday we had both girls & families join us for a "flight" on the Eye, a meal and a cruise on the Thames (not on Lily!!) Weather in Brussels was so-so, the following weekend it was fabulous for our flight and we had superb views.

During our stay we have in addition so far met Victoria's baby the day after her birth, had supper with my cousin & friend, our niece, visited an old friend we haven't seen for 8 years, had our grandson stay for 4 days.

Things we have done, all but one of them for the first time in our lives, have included 2 visits to the British Library (well worth a visit) 3 visits to the British Museum (an absolute must) The Science Museum (incredible), The Grenwich Observatory (wonderful to see Harrison's Chronometers and other things)
The Old Imperial Standards at Grenwich

The view from by the Grenwich Observatory

We have also visited the Tower of London, The Imperial War Museum (not Carol, how appropriate to house it in the original Bedlam mental hospital) St Pauls (amazing, but sadly the golden gallery was closed) Westminster Abbey (nowhere near as good as St Pauls in our opinion) plus we have so far seen "Grease" and "Hairspray" (at vastly reduced prices) a fabulous concert in the Royal Albert Hall and The Beating of the Retreat in Horseguards Parade and so far we have pulled in 2 films on Wednesday where we got in at 2 for 1. On our way to the Retreat we saw half an hour of live screened ballet on a giant screen in Trafalgar Square direct from Covent Garden (ballet leaves me cold & it was cold that night too!).

Admiralty Arch, gate open, Buckingham Palace behind.

This last bit came about as a lucky chance. On Saturday 31st Sam was with us & it was a superb day again & we were intending to walk down Whitehall from Piccadilly to visit Westminster Abbey. The evening before as we were at Piccadilly Carol had told Sam that the centre gate of the Admiralty Arch is only ever used by the Queen, and is therefore the gates are shut. On the Saturday he noticed they were open, and as we walked across to investigate it was obvious that the Police had shut off the Mall. We asked why & were told it was for a rehearsal of Trooping the Colour for June 13th. Needless to say we walked along to get a vantage point and were able to see bits of what was happening on the Parade. The great thing was when the troops marched and rode off they came right past us with trumpets and drums playing. It was an incredible sight, very moving.

We wandered down the back roads to Westminster Abbey from here, only to find that last entry to view the Abbey on a Saturday is at 13.30 and we got there at 14.00. Anyway we meandered around saw other bits and bought tickets for Beating the Retreat in Horseguards on our return up Whitehall.

There are so many other things to see and do, tomorrow we are off to Queens Tennis Club to hopefully see some tennis. We still have some Theatre Vouchers to use up that we were given as anniversary presents. We certainly don't intend to pay full price. Yesterday afternoon we set off on a bus towards Leicester Square to see if we could find anything. Part way there we passed the theatre where "Hairspray" is performed, hopped off the bus and asked about tickets. We were offered cheap tickets for that afternoon's matinee. We sat in the middle of the circle, next to people who had paid £60 a head, we paid £25!! The show started about 15 minutes after we arrived! Great. I would never have thought a musical comedy could have been written about racial prejudice in the USA in 1962, but they have and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

We have just extended our booking here till 22nd June so we can go to see the youngest grandchildren again. Then we have to set off up the Lee and Stort, and hopefully will get our new alternator drive pulleys fitted as the belts get thrown off as soon as we rev up unless I tighten them incredibly hard. Carol's cousin from Australia is going to visit us on 7th/8th July so we have to get to a suitable meeting point, then on the 10th we are off to Hampton Court Flower Show. We tried for tickets to Chelsea but the only ones were at over £100 a pop!!!

Right, I'm going to publish this lot, then I'm going to sort out some pics and add them later. Sorry for the delay, you only got this lot because my brother moaned!

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