manyra: (King Arthur)
[personal profile] manyra
It started much like any other morning before a trip; Coffee, breaky, cats, dog, watch, wallet, spectacles... We were on the road about the time expected and made it to Cowtown to drop off the dog with a few hours before the flight. The flight was at 6pm. Nine hours after that (10am GMT) we were in London. The weather was lovely and sunny and after a quick trip on the underground, we hit our first hotel to drop off the luggage.

We couldn’t check in yet but let me say a bit about this place, The EasyHotel in East Court. Now this chain of hotels was mentioned in the Formmer's guide as cheap at about ₤30 but small, which was ok. All we needed was a bed and bathroom, really. Still, it was amusing to see how tiny; Just enough room for a double bed and 2 ft of floor space. The entire bathroom was basically a shower with the toilet & sink in it. Everything got wet when we showered. But it was very clean and we could have done a hell of a lot worse for 3 nights in London

After dumping the luggage, we had a quick jaunt for our first pint & some lunch at the Courtfield. Then it was off to the Victoria & Albert Museum Tim missed the museum on his last trip thinking that it was full of all modern stuff. While that’s mostly correct, the Medieval And Renaissance gallery does have a lot to offer, although I do wish they’d create two separate galleries to focus better on each era. Perhaps with the ongoing renos that will happen.

After the V&A (and a brief stop for a rest at the Bunch of Grapes as my feet were killing me by then) we stopped at Harrods for some retail overload. Interesting experience, one, not surprisingly, where we didn't buy anything. Next it was over to Belgrave Mews (near Hyde park) for the Star Tavern. It was recommended as a good place for Cask Ales, although we didn't really have a problem finding any Cask Ales in the end. At the pub we chatted with some locals and then met up with some Finnish guys over for the Football games. They were great fun to hang out with. Too bad we were exhausted with jet lag and hopped a cab early to crash in the hotel, skipping our planned stroll through Hyde Park.

The next day, March 15th was my birthday.  We didn’t really have a plan but I noticed that somehow I missed seeing the mention of the Garden Museum on our London map. Oh. My… Joy!!!  And since it was my birthday, it didn’t take much begging to get Tim to agree to visit. Just a quick walk from the Vauxhall Station, the Museum is near Lambeth Palace (official London residence of Archbishop of Canterbury) and housed in the former St Mary-at-Lambeth Church, a lovely place that offered up some great surprises. In addition to the amazing setting of the church, all bright and open, the interior work space has been designed to fit perfectly. It houses a permanent display, a temporary display area, a gift shop, a café and a small area that runs a video about the history of the Lambeth area. The permanent display was full of interesting items, tools and manuals including a few from the time period I’m interested in plus (what really took my breath away) the writing desk of Gertrude Jekyll, a key garden designer from the late 19th C, one of my heroes.
Outside the museum is a beautiful garden recreated in the 17th C style with knot hedges and willow fencing. Beautiful. A few tombs are still housed there including (and here was a lovely surprise) William Bligh. How cool is that! I was a totally happy birthday girl.

In a effort to continue the happiness I managed to talk Tim in to a boat ride on the Thames. We hiked down to the London eye from Lambeth along the quays and hopped a boat there (after waiting for too long) to the Tower. Didn't go into the tower as starvation was about to set in.  Lunch was at another recommended pub - the Hoop and Grapes in Aldgate. Then we headed to the Museum of London.

This was another great surprise. It had been renovated since Tim was first there and the display & items were great. They had to force us out at closing time. But we only pouted a bit since it was time for dinner at the White Horse at Parsons Green. This one was mentioned in Notes From a Beer Mat by Nick Pashley, a very funny Toronto author & former bookseller at UofT. Something he found while playing the subway game...Anyways the place was packed, always a good sign and with the busyness service took a while but it being my birthday & after a long day of walking we were in no hurry. They kept us happy with a variety of beverages including a new Lambic I hadn't heard of. A lovely finish to a lovely birthday. are up at
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