Sunday, June 28, 2009


Saturday, we headed out with our Chicago guests, Carol and Barry, to Greenwich for the day. It's a 3o minute boat ride from the Tower of London.
As we pulled up to the dock, we saw the Royal Naval College, built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1696. Formerly, Greenwich Palace stood here from 1422 to 1640. It was the birthplace of Henry VIII and considered to be one of his favorite palaces.

Our first stop was the National Maritime Museum where we saw many evidences of the heritage of Britain's seafaring past.
We even met Poseidon there,
and saw the beautiful Prince Frederick's barge which was built in 1732 and used for royal occasions on the Thames until 1846.
Once outside we saw the Queen's house which was first built in the early 1600's for Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, and later used as a summer villa for Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I.
We trekked up the hill to the Royal Observatory which was built for the purpose of finding longitude at sea.
From there, the view was spectacular with the Queen's house in the immediate foreground, right behind it the Royal Naval College, and in the distance the modern business section of London called the Canary Wharf and the Docklands.
At the top of the hill, we saw the Prime Meridian and the Millennium Clock which keeps perfect time, within a tenth of a second. Mike was pleased to find that his Blackberry was within 15 seconds of being perfect.
Like many others, we stood over the Prime Meridian straddling East and West.
Longitude 0 degrees 0'0".

We watched the Time Ball drop at precisely 1:00 P.M. as it does every day. It can be seen from the Thames River and through the years, sailors have used it to set their clocks before setting sail.
Part of the Royal Navy College, the Royal Chapel was designed by Christoper Wren.

Inside we found beautiful surprises
such as this painted ceiling.
The Painted Dining Hall was fascinating,
and we found one of the seamen from the Battle of Trafalgar sharing his story.
Continuing downstream, we made our way to the Trafalgar Tavern for lunch.
It was built in 1837 in the Regency style to attract Londoners. Indeed it did, as many famous people have dined there, including Dickens who used the setting in his book Our Mutual Friend.
Of course, nothing else would do after such a "sea-faring" day, but to have fish and chips. And since we've had our fair share since we've lived here, we can attest that they were some of the best we've had.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Borough Market

Thursday, I headed out with friends visiting from Chicago to the London Bridge area to the Borough Market. It's a great place to shop for trendy specialty and organic foods, as well as dinner supplies and treats. It's in this area that even 1000 years ago, farmers would bring fresh goods to the city gates.

The market is situated next to the Southwark Cathedral which dates back to 1207. It's a beautiful church known for many reasons, but I found it interesting that this is where Shakespeare and his family worshiped. His brother was the bell ringer and is buried there.
There's a little something for everyone. Perhaps appetizers are in order for dinner, so you might buy olives,

and cheese.
This cheese shop is Neal's Yard Dairy which specializes in British and Irish cheeses and is located just outside the market gates.
For dinner, you might need vegetables
seasoned with sea salt.

Even easier would be a prepared meal such as these meat pies,
or paella.
I always stop for roasted cashews at this vendor's booth.
My friend, Holly, introduced me to these creme caramels that you eat right on the spot.
But if you have a sweet tooth, you might try some Turkish Delight like my friend, Carol from Chicago,
or some chocolate like Carol and Barry purchased to carry home.

And what is dinner without beautiful flowers on the table? Good thing it's only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each week! That much daily temptation could make a body weak!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Antiquing in Sawbridgeworth

On Thursday morning, three friends and I headed to Sawbridgeworth about 30 minutes by train outside London to check out some antique shops. We were pleasantly impressed by the cluster of antiques shops near the train station and the cute village just up the road.
Never enough time to explore as much as you want, but we gave it our best shot.
So many cases of collectibles to enjoy. Jewelry, pottery, silver, boxes, crystal, even a Victorian skirt lifter.
Staffordshire dogs are popular collectibles in Britain. You can read more about them here.
Of course, I fell in love with a nineteenth century French gilt marble mantle clock. Isn't is lovely? I could have taken it home for $1100, but decided to pass on it this trip!
Time to move on quickly for a tour of the small town. We headed toward the High street, passing a river and houseboats along the way. Must be a leisurely way to live.
Every town has its pub, of course.
We had hoped to find some surprises at the French shop,La Provence, that we had heard so much about, but the surprise was on us. They were closed just for today. So much for the light lunch we heard that could be enjoyed on the back terrace of the shop.
We didn't take time to go inside, but we passed by a 15th century church and its graveyard
on our walk.

As the day drew to a close and our train approached, we made plans to return. Next trip, a visit to La Provence, a peek inside the church, an antique
shop we missed, and of course, there's always the clock.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Battersea Park

On my first day back in London, I was welcomed by beautiful skies and pleasant temperatures. Since it doesn't really turn dark these days until 10 P.M., Mike and I decided to make a picnic and walk over to Battersea Park for dinner. As I've mentioned before, our home in Chelsea is just a block north of the Thames River.
Battersea Park is a 200 acre park located on the south side of the Thames River opposite us. It's a popular spot for joggers and bikers who often run down our street on their way to the park.
We cross the Albert Bridge built in the late 1800's to get to the other side. It's painted pink for better visibility and is lit by 4000 light bulbs at night. Enchanting to see.
We decided to sit in front of the fountains for our picnic. Battersea fields was once a popular spot for dueling, but was opened as a park in 1858. In 1951, the park was transformed into the Festival Gardens as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. Water gardens, fountains and even a children's zoo can be found there today.
An old English garden is a recent renovation project.
Lavender scents the air.
A boating lake with paddle boats is another option for fun in the sun, and we hope to go back some day to take advantage of these.
The Peace Pagoda, built in 1985, can be seen from the river, and was built to encourage unity between all peoples and inspire them to world peace.
We enjoyed watching the dancers...
and the members of a boot camp group.
Always popular this time of the year is a cricket match.

Where there's cricket, there have to be batting cages.
All in all, we had a great evening, a long walk after dinner and found our way back across the Chelsea Bridge just a little ways upstream.