Our European stalkers, Henry and Andrew moved into our London flat a few short hours after Helen and Sue left on July 16. No time for us to get lonely, just enough time to refresh the guest room for more good friends that we love to have visit us.
Andrew Buzzi and Henry Richard Maniace, Jr. have been our upstairs neighbors in Boston for many years. They moved to Berlin in March of 2016, bought an apartment there and are now selling their longtime Boston residence planning on staying in Europe indefinitely. First thing on the agenda is The Tate Modern which we saved to do with them. We are not aficionado’s of Modern Art, unlike many of our friends. This museum again brought up the question “if you put it in a museum, does that make it art”? So after we felt a respectable amount of time had passed, about 10 minutes, we ventured outside to explore the neighborhood and came across some very interesting apartments surrounding the museum. Talk about living in glass houses, with a good pair of binoculars you could be entertained easily as a peeping Tom. In the evening we were treated by Henry and Andrew to a performance of the Tina Turner Musical at the beautiful Aldwych Theatre. We had box seats overlooking the left part of the stage. It was, to sum it up in Tina’s own words “simply the best”. The audience was dancing and singing in the aisles. We tried to have a post theatre dinner at Rules, a very traditional old British restaurant but we were turned away because Andrew was wearing shorts. Instead we ended up at The Ivy around the corner which is another iconic London restaurant. The following day we rented a car and Jim got to experience left hand driving and shifting while motoring us to Northhamptonshire to visit Althorp which is the family ancestral estate of Lady Diana.
It is now owned and occupied by her brother Charles Edward Maurice Spencer. This estate is also claimed to be the final resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales. She is reported to have been buried on an island there on September 6, 1997 in the middle of a lake.
There is a theory however that there was a burial switch and her body was really taken to the Spencer family crypt at St. Mary’s Church near Althorp to be buried with her father, a wish she had previously voiced. The Diana burial theory continues to grip the tiny village the church sits in more than 20 years after her death. You be the judge. We walked around the beautiful grounds and toured the house. We happened to be there on a day her brother was signing books in the gift shop. Sandy purchased and had him sign the book of his tribute to his sister at her memorial service in Westminster Abbey. Henry declined to buy anything after hearing that her brother refused her request to live at Althorp after her divorce from Charles. He thought her presence there would be too disruptive to his family. The drama with royals continues to this day with Meghan and her family.
We grabbed a very small lunch at a lovely Inn and then headed to Richmond for dinner with Sigi and Paul. This was our third visit to their lovely home during our three month stay in the UK. As usual, they were the penultimate hosts and they really enjoyed meeting Henry and Andrew. The following day Jim again drove, taking us to Blenheim palace, home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill. This is also where he proposed to his wife. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and a monumental country house in Oxfordshire. It is the only non-royal, non-Episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It is named in memory of the 1700 battle of Blenheim.
We enjoyed a self guided audio tour after which we had a picnic lunch on the grounds before heading to Oxford to see the University town and have dinner before returning to London.
The following day we went to The Courtauld Gallery which has an extensive collection of mainly French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
We had lunch at Rules Restaurant in Covent Gardens which was established in 1798 making it the oldest restaurant in London. It serves traditional British food and has a strict dress code of smart casual, meaning no shorts which refused Andrew entrance after the theatre a few nights earlier. Today we were prepared with the appropriate attire.
For Henry and Andrew’s last day we had a leisurely breakfast and hung out at our flat before they departed, flying home to Berlin. We look forward to seeing them in Sweden early next month.