New Year’s Day Parade 2012(?)

December 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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As 2013 draws to a close it’s time to remember the new year’s day parade from 1 Jan 2012 (at least I think that’s the one). Yes it’s been a while.

So was getting up and heading into central London on a public holiday worth it to see the parade (and limiting the new year’s eve frivolity)? No.

For starters it rained. Which is not the parade’s fault but didn’t help matters. The parade was a combination of small London floats (or people on bikes/walking etc) and American marching bands. The latter were great and even with the rain and dwindling crowds kept their energy up.

Sadly the London one’s just didn’t have anything to keep the attention but the biggest problem was the timing. There were large portions where the group in front of us had finished and gone past and the next one was no where in sight. Not really a parade in my humble opinion.

Thanks to the random who let me shelter under his umbrella too.

As I didn’t go last year it may have improved and 2014 might be super so if you’re free give it a go and let me know but I doubt I’ll be back any time soon.

Sadly it seems a change of phone and a bit of a delay in writing this has meant I can’t find the photos. Guess I shouldn’t procrastinate so much…

Eltham Palace

April 14, 2012 at 11:40 am | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Want gardens, medieval history and art deco glamour? Then Eltham Palace is the place for you.
Eltham Palace (69)

It’s not exactly a palace though. It used to be but much of it was destroyed though there is still the impressive medieval hall with its high ceiling to look at.
Eltham Palace (65) Eltham Palace (64)

The more interesting element is the 1930s mansion that was built next to the medieval hall with its art deco opulence. Seeing these two sit side by side and imagining the lifestyle (assuming you don’t currently live in gold plated luxury) is the main reason to visit Eltham Palace.
Eltham Palace (59) Eltham Palace (53)

Although the rooms showcasing the army dorms, which the building was used for after the family left are a touch less stylish.

Do remember to pick up the audio guide!

Surrounding the mansion and hall are some extensive gardens. Having a wander through them is quite relaxing.
Eltham Palace (48) Eltham Palace (44)

If you can make it to Eltham in south east London then I would recommend going to the palace.
Eltham Palace (36) Eltham Palace (62)

Photos at Flickr! (Note: no photos can be taken inside)

Google maps.

Thames Barrier

April 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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With their distinctive outline the Thames Barrier is one of the most iconic buildings on the river (or in it).
Thames Barrier (8)

So if you’re out that way (south east London, with an emphasis on the east) you should consider visiting the information centre (£3.50).
Thames Barrier (10)

It’s a small venue so if there are a lot of people then the conflicting audio from the different videos can be a little off putting.
Thames Barrier (14)

That aside, it’s not bad, you learn about the river and the flood defences for London.
Thames Barrier (16)

If the centre is shut walk on a little to a cafe in the learning centre where you can get admission.
Thames Barrier (2)

So do you make the trip out for the centre? No, but if you’re wandering along the river on a nice day then stop by and check it out.

Photos on Flickr!

Google maps.

Mile End Walk

September 22, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 4 Comments
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A few months ago I heard about a guided walk around Mile End and jumped at the chance to have a wander along Mile End Road.

Mile End Walk (31) Mile End Walk (2)

At Stepney Green tube I met our guide Derek, a group of retirees and my ozzie blogger mate who’d suggested the walk in the first place.

For the next hour or so we looped around the road and some of the surrounding streets, hearing about the history of the merchants, mariners and some of the buildings that still exist along the road as well as a few notable ones that had long gone, such as Captain’s Cook former home.

Mile End Walk (33) Mile End Walk (6)

Eventually we made our way back to the tube station and said our farwells. For those who want to, you’re invited to lunch and then to walk around the first Jewish Cemetery in England and Queen Mary College.

I’m sure those would be interesting sites but the downside with the tour was it did drag on for a while, my only other criticism is that Mile End Road is heavily trafficked and as  result it could be difficult to hear Derek.

Mile End Walk (10) Mile End Walk (25)

Overall it was a worthwhile walk, providing an opportunity to see a part of London I wouldn’t have gone to or previously thought much about. For £2 it’s a great deal and Derek has clearly done a lot of research and is passionate about the subject. To find out when the next walk is (they’re infrequent) contact Derek on: derek AT terrahun DOT demon DOT co DO uk (stopping spam spider bots is horrible!).

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Open House 2009

September 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Every year many of London’s buildings that are normally closed to the public are opened up for a rare chance to see some classic gems as part of Open House. This year I went to:

St Stephens: A historic church located near Bank. It could have been interesting but sadly it didn’t seem open when we came by at 9:15 (opening hours started at 9). Perhaps we missed the entrance?

St Stephens - Open House (3) St Stephens - Open House (2)

Lloyd’s:The iconic modern industrial high-rise in the City, home to Lloyds and numerous other traders. Normally when you visit you have to be smartly dressed and for men wearing a tie but not on this Saturday (Sunday it’s closed). The high atrium, external lifts and views of the city make this a worthwhile visit but it’s better to get here early as the queues can take a while. Probably no more than 30 minutes once you get in.

Lloyds Building - Open House (14) Lloyds Building - Open House (30) Lloyds Building - Open House (7) Lloyds Building - Open House (62)

Japanese Festival: Nothing to do with Open House but this special one off event at Spitalfields Market was on the same day so I opted to detour off the itinerary to check it out. There were plenty of stalls serving food and other Japanese related products. Taiko drummers were performing energetically when I arrived and provided a soundtrack for my wander around. It looked like a pleasant day out with a number of families perusing the various activities and shops.

Japanese Festival (18) Japanese Festival (23)

Chartered Accountants’ Hall: The Accountants’ Hall is, oddly enough, the home of the Institute of Chartered Accountants with a historic Victorian exterior, library and reception room blending with modern banqueting hall, restaurant  and council chambers. A 15 minute tour provides an overview of the building and its history.

Chartered Accountants Hall - Open House (12) Chartered Accountants Hall - Open House (6)

Pipers’ City of London: Located near Guildhall is the City’s marketing office and its scale model of London. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes to look at but it is quite cool to see the city in miniature with all of the proposed buildings on display. You can also choose specific buildings or categories and they’ll be illuminated.

Piper's City of London - Open House (19) Piper's City of London - Open House (11)

St Mary’s – Bow Church: Another historic London church and this one was open. There were tours of the crypt and guides on tour to answer your questions. I took the opportunity to let the ambience soak in. However I only stayed for 15 minutes.

St Mary-le-Bow - Open House (10) St Mary-le-Bow - Open House (5)

Salvation Army: The International Headquarters of the Salvation Army, located near Saint Pauls, had tours of their building every half hour. We missed the latest one so opted to have a wander around the basement cafe and small exhibit space instead. Obviously we didn’t get the most out of this building and I’d be interested to hear if anyone went on the tour.

Salvation Army - Open House (2) Salvation Army - Open House

120 Fleet Street: Formerly the Daily Express building (during the heyday of the newspaper industry on Fleet Street) is notable for its art deco foyer. You may have to wait in line for 5 minutes or so but with the 1920s style mouldings and design it’s worth it. Probably takes 5 – 10 minutes once inside.

120 Fleet Street - Open House (8) 120 Fleet Street - Open House (3)

Honourable Company of Master Mariners: Down near Temple tube station and moored in the Thames is the HQS Wellington, home to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. A 40 minute guided tour of the vessel offers a background to the company, its tussels with the City of London and a history of the Wellington (named for the New Zealand City not the Admiral) and other ships. Interesting but a touch long.

HQS Wellington - Open House (9) HQS Wellington - Open House (14)

Society of Antiquaries: Located inside Burlington House, the Society of Antiquaries while relatively small is home to an impressive library and imbues a sense of history and the preservation of knowledge onto this casual observer. Definitely one to look in on.  10 minutes.

Society of Antiquaries - Open House (10) Society of Antiquaries - Open House (6)

Linnean Society: Also located within Burlington House, the Linnean Society does for biology what the Antiquaries does for museums and history. Again it has an interesting library although you can’t wander as extensively nor can you pick up random books to browse through. 10 minutes.

Linnean Society - Open House (3) Linnean Society - Open House (2)

Open House is a great weekend but it’s important to have a plan to make sure you can see as many sites as possible during the weekend and try and avoid those that are normally open – unless they have a special tour or event on.

More photos at Flickr and a Google map.

Plus unrelated to Open House but still cool giant chess set in Trafalgar Square!

Trafalgar Square Chess Set (2) Trafalgar Square Chess Set

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