Thursday, June 18, 2015

London Day 3 – In Which We Meet Anne Boleyn, Cruise the Thames, and Ride the Eye.

We started the day with Breakfast in the Great Hall, where Zoe made my day by telling that I was definitely Ravenclaw and not Gryffindor after all. I also noted that the Queen has been here five times just for a visit. Apparently, it might even be 6, as there was some suggestion that there was another plaque that I had missed (I try to take this criticism lightly…)



It is a lovely spot – full of international students who live her while studying in London. Known as Goodenough College, its founder was the Chairman of Barclay’s Bank and it was originally created as a place where students studying in London could have a residential college experience similar to that found at Oxford or Cambridge. There are no programs of study here, but if you are a student at any of the many universities in London, you can apply to live here in residence during the year. In the summer, rooms and flats are available to rent for visitors. One of the bonuses, apart from the great price and location, is the feeling of being in the middle of campus life. It’s a great experience for Zoe and Terra to see the opportunities for study that exist outside of Victoria as this is truly an international residence in an international city.

We wasted no time in getting down to Trafalgar Square on the tube, where we hopped back on our Hop-on-Hop-off bus and headed east along the Strand toward the Tower of London.

Along the way we were regaled with tales of how this city has been beaten down more than once only to literally rise from the ashes of the Plague, which killed 100 000 residents, and the Great Fire, which raged for four days in September of 1666.

I was happy to finally lay eyes on this building, Ye Olde Cock Tavern, a famous drinking hole that, back in the day, was frequented by the likes of Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys.



Mixed in with the old is a great amount of new construction. Londoners are fond of attaching nicknames to their buildings and below you can see the Electric Razor and the Cheese Grater and below that, the latest addition to the London Skyline, The Shard. It’s the Tallest Building in Western Europe and has an observation deck at the top. Not going up there, but thanks anyway for the suggestion.




These two look be discussing where the best place for a quick kip (nap) would be.


We also passed St. Paul’s Cathedral but since they started charging an arm and a leg to get in, I am less inclined to visit. But it is spectacular.

We finally arrived at the Tower which Terra declared to be a ‘childhood dream’ to visit. It as fantastic as always although the entire population of Western Europe was all here at the same time making it a bit hard to get around…



I mean seriously could you all just get out of the way.


We retreated to have a look at the crown jewels which are so over the top as to be ridiculous. I had a hard time believing they were actually real, and so I found them a bit dull. The best part of the whole thing was seeing the safe doors that are on either end of the rooms. They weigh 2000 kgs each!
This was followed by much-needed ice cream and refreshments. I have come to the conclusion that the entire service industry of London has been taken over by young eastern European women with names like Simka and Vanush who have limited their vocabulary to ‘Yes, Darleen?’

Laska: Yes Darleen?

Me: I’ll have two bottles of water

Laska (blank stare):

Me: (blank stare back)

Laska: Yes, Darleen you want?

Me (miming ‘two’ and ‘bottles of water’): TWO. BOTTLES. WATER. ME.

Laska: You want water?

Me: Yes.

Laska: Ok Darleen. steel or sperkleen?

Me: Pardon

Laska (looking impatient like this while thing is my fault): Steel or sperkleen?

Woman beside me: D’ya want bubbles or no bubbles, Darleen?

Me: Really, my name is not Darleen. Sperkleen, please.

Laska (practically throwing the water at me): Here. 10 pound pleese.

Me: What?? That’s outrageous!

Laska: Next, Darleen.

Me (practically throwing the money at her): And it’s Jane, not Darleen.


We spent the next couple of hours wandering through the grounds of the Tower, and watching a very enjoyable piece of live interactive theatre featuring Lord Rotchford (Brother to Anne Boleyn), Anne Boleyn (on the eve of her Coronation), and Oliver Cromwell, secretary to the King. They did such a good job that I actually believed I was a Lady in the Court of King Henry the VIII. I think I probably was,in a former life.


She still has her head here, but that didn’t last long for her, poor thing, She was dead within a couple of years – beheaded at the Tower, and they say her ghost still walks the ramparts, with her head under her arm….Good stuff.


One of the nice things about the Tower is that people actually live there. It was intriguing to see washing hanging out to dry, and plantar boxes and bikes outside painted doors.


Terra declared that she now had a ‘new career path – to live at the Tower of London’. Hopefully not as a prisoner.


I did make the girls pose with a Yeoman Warder or Beefeater as they are also known, much to their dismay (the girls, not the Yeoman Warder – he was fine with both the name and the girls).

We were all starting to glaze over at this point so we beat a hasty retreat to the dock and enjoyed a cruise up the Thames. I had big plans to take everyone on a walking tour of the Southbank but instead, my mum treated us all to a ride on the London Eye, Thanks, Mum!





I was pretty good for most of it, height wise, but got a little shaky when we crested the top and then came down the other side.


At this point we were starting to wane, so we wandered the Embankment for a while, crossed  back over the Thames, then battled the crowds on the underground back to our place. We had our dinner in the Great Hall (delicious!) and then it was lights out for me. I heard a lot of giggling as I was passing out. For all I know the girls got all done up and hit the bars for the night. Just kidding, Cheryl. They wouldn’t have gone to the bars, just the clubs.

More tomorrow! Thanks for coming along.



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