GREENWICH AND SOME SHAKESPEARE CULTURE/LONDON – THE END

Wednesday was our last full day in London so we tried to cram as much into it as possible (because –SARCASM ALERT– we really hadn’t done much over the previous three days!)

The cruise boat took us to Greenwich, home of the Prime Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory.  After departing from the boat, we strolled along some paths and through the grounds of Greenwich University (who had literally just finished their graduation ceremony) and out to the street to head to the Observatory.

As we passed through the gates of the grounds, we found ourselves walking up this large, road-sized path with open ground and trees on either side of us (sorry, no picture).  We were able to see the top of the observatory over the trees at one point.

The bright red Time Ball on top of Flamsteed House is one of the world’s earliest public time signals, distributing time to ships on the Thames and many Londoners. It was first used in 1833 and still operates today.  You can read more at Time Ball.

There was also the Astronomer Royals apartment house on the grounds that had this ship on on a pole at the top…I just thought it was interesting.

A wider view of Flamsteed House….

We had planned on getting pictures of us all standing astride the Meridian Line, but they’ve decided that they will charge everyone £7.00 so we settled on just getting pictures of the line through the gate.

The line runs right through this building above.

Me, in front of the GMT Clock

Greenwich University

The above was taken from the grounds of the observatory.   

We then left and headed back down the hill and walked through the town a bit.  I was getting hungry so bought an apple at a local market (the apple was grown in Kent!)  We all decided to head back towards the hotel so we could get an early dinner as we had an appointment at 7:30…at the Wyndhams Theatre to see Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare with David Tennant (Dr. Who & Harry Potter) and Catherine Tate (Little Britain).  We had only decided on Monday that we would go see this…we even had BOX SEATS! (thanks to my brother & sis-in-law!)

I felt like Vivian in Pretty Woman! This was my first ever time going to a proper theatre and the first time couldn’t have been any better.  We were shown to our box and we even had a private toilet that we could use.  P & I had our own box, and A & J had their own box below us.  I did manage to get a picture from our seats, even though the usher came over and told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.  I told her I just wanted to get a picture of the view across the way and I wasn’t planning on taking anymore.  She said that’s fine and that she wouldn’t make me erase it….whew!

The play was modernized and funny and thoroughly enjoyable.  My only regret is that I left the program in the box. 😦   I highly recommend it to anyone heading to London over the next couple of weeks as they are only taking bookings up until Sept. 1.  

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel bar for some after theatre drinks.  It was rather late by this time and we were all pretty tired, so we headed up to our rooms as we were leaving for home in the morning, however, A & J were heading to the Eurostar to take them over to Belgium to continue their holiday.

We had a wonderful time over the four days and as always, it’s good to see family especially when you don’t get to see them very often.

 Again, thank you to my brother and sis-in-law for a grand time!

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CRUISE ON THE RIVER THAMES/LONDON – PART 6

On Wednesday, we took a Thames River Cruise down to Greenwich.  Luckily, the weather cooperated and it didn’t rain while we were on the boat, however it was quite cloudy.  Below are some pictures of the London Eye from the pier and boat.

Shortly after leaving pier

I did manage to get pictures of many of the famous landmarks, so here’s a virtual tour.  There were lots of bridges, so not too sure which one this is; it may be Waterloo Bridge.

I took pictures of many of the buildings along the Thames mainly due to their architectural beauty, even though I have no idea what they are!

Millennium Bridge – The one that is ‘destroyed’ in Harry Potter
London Bridge Hospital
The HMS Belfast

Read about the HMS Belfast here

Parliament & Big Ben

I waited until we got almost past Tower Bridge because it would be a better picture.  They had just raised the bridge for a boat that was in front of us so the bridge was just closing as we went under it.

I will leave you with this as we headed to Greenwich to go see the Prime Meridian Line.  Until next time…..

Terri’s Tasty London Tip…

Remember that in the UK, we drive on the left, so remember to look right before stepping off the curb, especially in London as you’re liable to be struck down by a London Taxi!

DINNER AT MURANO/LONDON – PART 5

A young woman sat down in a small diner and the waitress came over to take her order. “I’ll have a hamburger please.” “Burger!” the waitress yelled over her shoulder. Then the woman added. “Make that well done.” The waitress turned away again and yelled, “Torture it!”

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On Tuesday night we went out for my big birthday dinner to Murano which is run and owned by celebrity chef Angela Hartnett.

We were seated immediately in very comfortable, cream coloured, leather chairs at a round table covered in white linen.

Dining Room at Murano

Our waiter came over as soon as we were seated to see what beverages we wanted to start with.  Some of you may remember in one of my earlier posts,  the disaster that ensued when I attempted to order a martini at a restaurant.  Well as I’m a glutton for punishment, I thought I would try again, although I felt pretty safe that I would actually get a proper martini here.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it, but I must say that the bartender gets a 10 out of 10 for perfection!  The gin was smooth, the proportion of gin to vermouth, perfect, along with a twist of lemon and the martini glass was thin making the drinking of it even better.

The Bar at Murano w/part of the wine selection behind

The first item to be brought out was a wooden board of crusty bread and Parma ham with olive oil.  One of many items we devoured in a short span of time!
My first starter is on the home page when you click on ‘Murano’ above.  It was a scallop dish with broad bean puree, apple and Pata Negra. My second starter was San Marzano tomatoes with smoked ricotta and black olive powder.  Again, I forgot to get pictures and I do apologise.  So far, everything was delicious.

For the main entree, I had the Monkfish Meuniere (a sauce of butter, parsley and lemon) with razor clams, tomato, lardo and almond puree. (I finally remembered to take pictures!)

Monkfish

My brother A had the sea bass with anchovy toast, grapefruit cream, peas and baby gem, but I think some of the veggies were changed due to availability.

Sea Bass

P & J both had the pork dish of shoulder, fennel, langoustines (which were replaced with shrimp) and bitter orange.

Pork Medley

During the meal, I happened to spot Angela at one of the other tables talking to the patrons.  I thought that she may have been going around to the tables but that wasn’t the case as she went back into the kitchen after chatting to the people for a few minutes.  My brother asked one of the waiters if Angela could come out at some point and he said he would see what he could do.  The evening progressed and we were at desert and they brought out a slice of custard pie for me….

How cool was that?  Another item that was brought out was a three-tiered plate with small scoops of different flavoured sorbet. (yes, I forget to get a picture again!) Some were unusual flavours as one was basil which the waiter suggested we try last as the others were more sweet than savory.

After we had this, I needed to use the restroom.  When I came out, who was at our table but Angela!  She had just come out of the kitchen and to our table when I headed to the restroom.  She chatted with us a bit and I asked her if I could get a picture and so she obliged….

After that, the waiter came over with a cart full of different cheeses.  He explained what each one was (there had to be at least a dozen different cheeses!) and we picked about 7 or 8 of them which he then sliced off a piece of each one and placed them on a wooden board for all of us.  All I can say is…exquisite!

It was a great evening with great food and most important, spent with the people I love.  Thank you again, A & J…Love you!

NOTTING HILL/LONDON – PART 4

On Tuesday, we all went our separate ways and would meet up back at the hotel before going to dinner at Murano.

My brother was going to the London branch of his company to meet up with the people there and bring them some American goodies.  My sis-in-law was going to an afternoon show at the Shakespeare Globe theatre to see Much Ado About Nothing.  I wanted to go to a spice shop and a book store that were on the same street in Notting Hill…so onto the Tube we went! 

We found a little place called Mike’s Cafe to have some breakfast and sat at the table on the left that was located outside.

The weather was pleasant and it was on a quiet street…perfect!  The food was great, the portions huge and the price was cheap…what more could you want?  I ordered a Spanish omelette with chips/fries.  My other choice was to get a salad with it but since it was breakfast, I chose the chips.  However, our friendly waiter informed me that the omelette had potatoes in it and asked if I would prefer to have the salad…so, I had the salad.

You can see how huge this platter was…and I had eaten some already!  The other nice thing is that when you order coffee, they ask if you want milk and if so, you get a latte as you can see in the upper right corner. This happened in most of the eateries we were in.  How cool is that?

After breakfast, we strolled around to the two shops; the first one being The Spice Shop.  As we already have what seems like hundreds of spices, I only made a small purchase of some Sweet Spanish Paprika.  We then went across the street to Books for Cooks.  Of course, I just HAD to buy another book on preserves as I don’t have enough! (I only had nine so why not make it an even 10!) I chose….

I haven’t made anything from it yet, but give me time!

Terri’s Tasty London Tip…

Your favorite beer or ale is always just around the corner in London as there are over 7000 pubs in the city to choose from!

LONDON CALLING – PART 3

Big Ben is actually the name of the bell in the Palace of Westminster which has a height of 316 feet.  If you want to reach Big Ben, you’ll need to climb the 334 limestone steps as there is no elevator!

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I took this picture from the steps of the National Gallery which is right at Trafalgar Square…you can see part of Nelson’s Column on the right.  We saw priceless works of art including Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Raphael, Michelangelo, Degas and Van Gogh…just to name a few!

Outside the Gallery, there are ‘street people’…entertainers, magicians, etc. who are just trying to earn a few £££.   The one that amused me the most was one of the living statues.

This young woman was dressed in Victorian garb and she was completely silver!  As you can see, even her hands and face were painted silver.  She reminded me of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz!  When we first arrived she had been standing very still on her box which, as you can see, is also painted silver.  She had a little silver box in front of her where you could throw money into.

Our second night in London, we went to a small Italian restaurant.  We had a waiter who was absolutely fabulous and was a bit of a comedian as well.  I think when a waiter or waitress has that type of personality it makes the visit that much better for the patrons.  I truly thought that he was Italian due to how he spoke but it turned out he was from Liverpool!

WW Pasta w/spinach & chicken in a Gorgonzola cream sauce

This was my meal.  I was so glad they had whole wheat pasta!

P also had a pasta dish and J had….um, I don’t remember what she had and I can’t tell what it is but I do remember it had some grilled veggies with it as you can see.  Take note of the typical Chianti bottle candle holder on the bottom left.

My brother A, had a veggie dish, I think this was cannollini.  We did finish off with a bit of desert.  My brother had some ice cream which I shared with him.

We left the restaurant and walked back to the hotel.  On the way, we passed this sign in the window of a shop….

I found this quite amusing…do they really have to tell people that it’s a window?  It appears so as the window had no signage on it (other than this one) so it was quite clear and obvious that people would possibly walk into it.

Terri’s Tasty London Tip…

London weather is unpredictable…ALWAYS have your brolly (umbrella) with you!

LONDON TRIP – PART 2

Tower Bridge

40,000 vehicles cross over Tower Bridge every day!

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And here we are on Day 2 of our London journey.  After arising, showering and getting at least one cuppa before breakfast, we all met in the hotel lobby.  I must point out something first, only because my brother mentioned it and we all had a bit of a chuckle.

We stayed at the Kensington Forum Holiday Inn and it had a valet.  Nothing unusual considering we were in London.  The valet was of the Asian persuasion and wore glasses.  He was dressed in a black suit/black jacket with a black top hat…again, nothing very unusual there either.  (He was a very pleasant gentlemen, by the way) However, those of you who are familiar with the Pink Panther movies, in particular, Revenge of the Pink Panther, may remember Inspector Clouseau’s sidekick, Cato.  There is a lengthy scene where Cato is dressed in black, wearing glasses (which he could barely see out of!) and a black hat.  I don’t think I need to explain that we thought our valet reminded us of Cato; the only exception being a different hat.*

So we left the hotel and walked around the corner to Garfunkel’s again to have some breakfast.  They had a deal; 2 for £10, so we took them up on it.  We all pretty much had the Full English Breakfast (except my brother, the veggie).  A Full English usually consists of eggs, bacon, ham, sausage,grilled tomato, mushroom, baked beans and toast.  We had slightly different items due to our preferences.

Brother’s Breakfast and hubby’s

My Breakfast

After breakfast we hopped on the Gloucester Road Tube and went to Covent Garden which has shops and markets and live entertainment.

The Square at Covent Garden where you can see street entertainers

One of the covered/indoor markets

 They have some unusual shops and one of my favorites was this ice cream shop called ‘The Icecreamists’…they weren’t open when we were there, but I really loved their sign…

You can’t see it in this picture, but there are words above the spoons that say ‘Boutique Ice Cream’ and under the spoons and above ‘CREAM’ it says ‘Liberating the World One Lick at a Time’.  At the very bottom, ‘Agents of Cool’…Great sign!

After walking around CG for a bit, we decided to head back towards the hotel and hop into a pub for a pint before going to dinner that night.  I don’t remember the name of the pub (there’s over 7,000 pubs in London…I’m entitled to forget one!) but they had on offer, a Honey Dew lager which I tried and was quite good, considering I’m a Guinness girl.

We then headed up to the hotel to refresh for dinner.

to be continued..

*Please let it be known that I meant no disrespect to Asian people.

Terri’s Tasty London Tip….

Attention to all who ride the Tube…You’ve all heard of practicing safe sex..well please practice personal hygiene.  Please bathe and use deodorant before you subject your fellow riders to your bodily smells…you know who you are.

Thank You!

OUR LONDON TRIP!

Good day, dear reader!

We have been to London, had a great time and have (obviously) returned safely.  I didn’t think we could cram so much into such a short time.  The worst part of a holiday is that it takes so long to plan everything, and then before you know it, it’s all over and you’re back home. 😦

Regardless, it was great to see my brother and sis-in-law as the last time I saw them was two years ago when I went back home to the States for their 25th Anniversary Party.

We ate, drank, walked (in the rain – thank goodness we brought our brolly!), rode in taxis, hopped on and off the Tube, went to museums, saw priceless works of art, shopped, went to the Theatre and had a lot of laughs…I’m exhausted!

After we got there on Sunday and checked in, we went for some food at a place called Garfunkel’s.  Once we stuffed our faces with some grubb, we decided to do the museum circuit.  Me, hubby (P) and brother (A) went to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum but sis-in-law (J) wanted to go to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Natural History Museum

At the Science Museum, there was an exhibit with several models of ships, from early times up to the present.  Being a former resident of a suburb of Philadelphia, I felt compelled to take a picture of this…

S.S. Philadelphia

This is the SS Philadelphia, built in 1888.  It was the first ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in less than 6 days.

There was also a section of calculators and counting machines, etc.  Does anyone remember this?…

This is a number and letter board (the letters are on the other side) and I remember this from when I was quite young.  I don’t remember though, if we had one (my brother didn’t remember it and he’s older than me) or someone we knew had it or perhaps I know it from school.  Regardless, I remember it from somewhere!

After all that walking through the museums, we were all getting hungry…and quite thirsty!  So what better way to quench a thirst but to go to a pub!  For those of you who have never been over to the UK, the pubs here have, rather unusual names, or so you might think.  This first one we went to was called The Hoop & Toy.  We had a nice pub dinner there and a few beers then headed back to the hotel.  We were all pretty tired by then, so we adjourned to our respective rooms for a good night’s sleep.

to be continued….

Terri’s Tasty London Tip…

Always assume the taxi ride will cost more than you think….lots more!

Cheers!