West Highgate Cemetery Tour

December 12, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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London’s Highgate Cemetery is split into West and East sides. The Western side has a dedicated group of volunteers organising and running tours. A tour is basically the only way for most people to access the western side whereas maps and general (paid) access is available for the eastern half.

West Highgate Cemetery (4) West Highgate Cemetery (31)

It’s advisable to pre-book. They advise that you get there 10-15 minutes beforehand and at least when I visited they were quite prompt and if people hadn’t turned up they offered their spaces to whoever was waiting.

The tour takes about an hour and you and the group wander around with the guide who’ll point out some notable graves and cemetery design elements such as the Egyptian themed area.

The cemetery is in organised disrepair because individual graves’ ownership does not revert to the public for decades. It provides a stark contrast to Brompton cemetery’s clean cut look.

West Highgate Cemetery Brompton Cemetery (27)

The tour is £7 and provides an opportunity to look around one of London’s magnificent cemeteries. The guide was enthusiastic and answered everyone’s questions.

West Highgate Cemetery (14) West Highgate Cemetery (19)

If you’re interested in the development of burial practices, 19th century design and slightly different tourist attraction then this is the place for you.

More Highgate cemetery photos at Flickr.

More Brompton cemetery photos at Flickr.

Banqueting House

December 12, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Opposite the Horse Guards on Whitehall you’ll see a rather unassuming building but one with a rather long history – the Banqueting House.

Banqueting House Banqueting House (20)

Via the audio tour you’ll hear about the history of the building, it’s architecture and the Ruben’s ceiling.

Banqueting House (8)

The most notable event to have occurred at the house was that the execution of King Charles I took place on a scaffolding outside and Charles walked through the house on his way to his death.

Architecturally it’s the only surviving part of the Palace of Whitehall that was destroyed by fire in 1619 and has had a number of uses in the intervening years before settling into its current role of, well banqueting venue for those groups willing to pay for the privilege of using this Grade 1 listed building.

The stories are all very interesting but a touch long, especially when the hall is rather bare. Luckily there is seating available.

Banqueting House (24)

My criticism of the audio tour is that it’s a hand held device so invariably you get a neck strain if you opt for hands free or it can be a bit tiring to hold it in the same position for half an hour or more. Well it does if you’re weak like me.

Banqueting House (16) Banqueting House (3)

It costs £4.80 and it’s an ok venue but it’s certainly not a must do. If you’ve got the time to listen to the guide then it might be something to consider.

More photos at Flickr.

Household Cavalry Museum

December 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The Household Cavalry Museum tells funnily enough the story of the Household Cavalry.

Household Cavalry Museum (13) Household Cavalry Museum (11)

Their story covers the protection of the monarch throughout England’s tumultuous history, ceremonial duties and modern deployments overseas in war zones and peacekeeping missions.

The museum covers all of these elements and items are well displayed in their glass cases with short but clear descriptions. For those with less time or less attention there are larger overview pieces as well.

After the brief overview you enter into a horse stable and it’s no simple mock up but a sealed off part of the actual Horse Guard stables, there’s a glass wall between the two sections and you may get the chance to see some of the Horse Guards at work.

Household Cavalry Museum (4)

This same section also offers the chance to try on some of the uniform and use some interactive displays to learn more about different elements and history of the Cavalry.

The final section gives a more in depth history of the Household Cavalry from their establishment to today.

It was all quite informative and interesting in a well designed museum. I’d certainly recommend it for a quick 30 -40 minute wander.

Household Cavalry Museum (16)

The Household Cavalry Museum is located within the impressive Horse Guards building on Whitehall/St James’s Park and costs £6.

Household Cavalry Museum Household Cavalry Museum (7)

More photos at Flickr.

The Britain at War Experience

December 12, 2009 at 11:55 am | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The Britain at War Experience near London Bridge station is a depiction of home life in the only recent war almost everyone agrees was necessary. That’s World War II.

After taking a lift (or a lift simulation?) downstairs you enter an ‘air raid shelter’ with bunks on either side and various period items to provide a sense of local historic colour. In the shelter you’ll have the opportunity to sit down and watch a video giving an overview of different people’s experiences of the war and the blitz.

The next few sections of the experience cover different elements of civilian life from family, entertainment, rationing, backyard shelters and the methods people use to maximise their resources or get around the restrictions.

The last part of the experience is a large scale section of street that’s presented post bombing, with audio track of London banter, smoke and ‘fire’ (ie red lighting). Kind of a random way to end but also kind of novel.

Overall it’s informative and interesting to see a civilian perspective. Personally I found it difficult to justify the £11.45 entry price because after months of unemployment I managed to see quite a few World War II documentaries on Discovery so it wasn’t providing anything particularly new. However, it was presented altogether, which is quite useful and it is beneficial to see actual items and stories.

Kensington Palace and Orangery

December 12, 2009 at 11:30 am | Posted in Food, General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Several months ago I visited Kensington Palace and it’s a fine palace with a fine representation of medieval royalty. Do you see a trend here?

Kensington Palace (2) Kensington Palace (3)

Yes it’s fine but that’s about it. Perhaps I’m the wrong market?

Kensington Palace appeals to the  fashionistas amongst you and those with limited exposure to historic palaces.

Let’s tackle the former. The palace has a number of exhibits covering royal dress, debutantes and Princess Diana. While I can appreciate the artistry it doesn’t particularly appeal but on my visit there were others who held different opinions.

Kensington Palace (27)

Now the latter, if you’re only in London briefly and don’t have time to visit Buckingham Palace or Hampton Court then Kensington Palace will provide a reasonable overview of the look and feel of an English Royal Palace. If you’ve been to other palaces then there’s not anything substantially new here. Or am I just jaded?

Kensington Palace (18)

I had lunch with my family at the Orangery, it’s located in the Palace grounds and you don’t need to buy a ticket to enter. On a summer’s day it is a wonderful venue, with its long bright hall and some delicious meals. It’s a little bit pricey for the volume of food but it’s such a pleasant spot that it’s worth it.

Orangery (4) Orangery (6)

Kensington Palace can be found oddly enough in Kensington and costs £12.50 (adult) and you get a ‘complimentary’ audio tour with your ticket.

More photos at Flickr.

An explanation

December 12, 2009 at 10:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Well it’s been a while hasn’t it?

Apologies to everyone for not updating more regularly, basically a new job (just a contract – nothing to be too excited by) and undertaking a surprisingly time consuming university course have sapped a great deal of time.

I’m aiming to catch up on all the overdue entries (though perhaps they’ll be a touch brief) before the end of next week. Then I’ll be off on holiday for a few weeks and hopefully there’ll be a few entries that’ll come from that!

Stay tuned.

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