Jim has three brothers all of whom have been featured in this blog from time to time. The youngest brother Philip and his wife Phyllis last visited us in
Seville. They were scheduled to visit us again in Madrid this spring but were unable make the trip due to Covid issues. Given that we missed them in Madrid we are now thrilled to welcome them to London as neither of them has ever been to the UK.
Arriving early morning from North Carolina with just carry ons.
First sight Westminster Abbey. Later the same day we came back for Evensong.
On Westminster Bridge with Parliament in background.
National Covid Memorial Wall along the Banks of the Thames. Every heart has the name of someone who died of Covid.
First Pub experience on London Bridge.
Stroll along the Southbank with Tower Bridge in background.
Glass floor of Tower Bridge.
Selfie, there is a mirror on the ceiling.
Evensong at Westminster Cathedral after traveling all night and walking all day. It was torture for Philip, trying to stay awake. Phyllis had to keep poking him to prevent him from falling into the person sitting next to him.
Buckingham Palace on day 2.
They took the Buckingham Palace Package Tour which included the Palace, Queen’s Gallery and Royal Mews.
Looks like Buckingham Palace was exempt from the hose pipe aka water hose ban during the drought.
Sandy and Philip in St James Park. The severe drought caused many trees to shed their leaves making it look like a Fall day.
St James Palace, former home of Henry VIII is used by Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter as her official London residence when she is in the city for engagements.
Grosvenor Square Garden Plaque in memory of the 67 UK citizens who lost their lives on 9/11.
Philip and Phylis watched an interesting documentary about Harry Selfridge who started this spacious department store which opened March 15, 1909 when 90,000 people lined up to go in. They were excited to see it in person.
We took them on a self guided tour of Kensington Palace. Philip played dress up.
This statue of Diana in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace was unveiled by her sons July,2021 on the anniversary of what would have been her 60th Birthday.
Personally we are not fans of this sculpture as we don’t find it flatters her. Many others feel the same way.
She is surrounded by three children (not her own) who are meant to represent the universality and generational impact of the Princess’s work and her love of children. She was a kindergarten teacher’s assistant before meeting Charles.
Changing of the Horse Guards at Horse Guards Parade. We feel this is much more fun to watch than changing of the Palace Guards which goes on way too long.
St Martin in the Field Church where many musical concerts are performed and recorded. We will return to see a performance.
Magnificent Pipe Organ built by Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. of BOSTON!.
Royal Albert Hall where we bought box seats for the Aretha Franklin Concert.
We were so excited to see Aretha Franklin perform.
Full disclosure: After we bought the tickets we found out Aretha had died four years ago.
This very talented singer named Shelea gave an electrifying performance of the “Queen of Soul” songs. Aretha’s well known tune “Respect” became an anthem of the American Civil Rights Movement.
We are now calling this mistaken adventure; The Aretha Franklin Resurrection Tour😲
The concert was utterly amazing.
This is the “mushroom” ceiling which acts as acoustic diffusers in the music hall.
This is Shelea the singer of the Aretha Franklin songs who was applauded to come out for several encores. The sold out crowd loved her and we could not help but wonder how many other people like us in the audience thought they were going to see the real deal Aretha Franklin in a live performance.☹️
The London Eye view from the North bank side of the Thames. They opted out of doing this which is very expensive and entails waiting in very long lines.
The scars on the base of the sphinx were caused by fragments of a bomb dropped by the German airplanes in 1917 during WWI.
The Sphinx flank a time capsule Egyptian Obelisk named Cleopatra’s Needle which is one of the oldest man made structures in London (12 BC) presented to the United Kingdom by Egypt in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in 1801.
St Pauls Cathedral.
We took a great free guided 15 minute highlight tour of St Pauls and learned some interesting info about the Cathedral. We did not have time to visit the crypt where Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington and Christopher Wren were buried.
The original medieval St Paul’s Cathedral burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. This Statue of John Donne (English poet of “No Man is an Island”) is the only statue to survive the inferno. It fell through the floor and was covered in rubble, but remained intact.
We climbed all 528 winding stairs for these views.
It was a dizzying climb but well worth it for the view from the top as you can see from the photos below.
Looking out at the roof and church towers.
Sky scrapers of London. The one on the far right is nick named the walkie talkie building because of its shape.
This tall one is called “the Shard” as it resembles a shard of glass.
Millennium Bridge is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the Thames, linking Bankside with the city of London.The flying buttress like projections were added to stabilize it after they discovered that the originally designed bridge would sway as people crossed it. Londoners aptly nicknamed it “Wobbly Bridge”.
A neat alley view of St Pauls
Our UK friends Sigi and Paul invited us to their home in Richmond for Brunch and a tour of Kew Gardens.
Strolling the quaint charming and historic village of Richmond which meanders along the Thames.
This is where The Rolling Stones performed and first met the Beatles.
Exploring the beautiful Kew Gardens. We saw so many beautiful trees that are dying and will be lost from the severe recent summer drought and heat.
Lush giant Water lilies.
South American Monkey Puzzle tree.
After our visit in Kew Gardens we had tea at Newens Pub famous for a tart favored by Henry VIII which he named “Maids of Honor” after he met Anne Boleyn and other “maids of honor” while eating them from a silver tray.
The famous and secret recipe tart is to the right of the pie wedge. HenryVIII liked the mouth watering tart so much that he confiscated the recipe and demanded it be kept secret in a locked iron box at his palace in order to protect the secret recipe, the unfortunate Maid who invented it was imprisoned within Henry’s palace to produce them solely for the King.
As mentioned in an earlier photo we returned to St Martin in the Field Church for a concert.
The performance for string quartet featured Vivaldi’s Spring and Summer as well as Handel, Rutter and Bach symphony pieces.
Ethiopian Restaurant. It is a tradition to seek out Ethiopian food everywhere we go since Jim and Philip were both born there. This one in Islington was very authentic and the food was delicious and very aromatic. This is a picture of Ethiopian coffee served with popcorn at the end of our meal.
On our walk we came across this beautiful large red terracotta Victorian building known as Holborn Bars in Camden aka the Prudential Assurance Building. Charles Dickens lived here at one time.
We took them to St Martin’s Theatre in the West End which has staged the production of “The Mousetrap” since March 1952 making it the longest continuous run of any show in the world. The whodunnit Agatha Christie mystery was extremely entertaining and as requested by the cast we pledged along with the entire audience to keep secret the identity of the killer so don’t ask as we won’t tell🤫.
One of our favorite house museums in London (and there are many) is John Soane’s Museum. He was one of the greatest English architects who built and lived in this incredible and eclectic house which has amazing artifacts that he collected from his extensive world travels including a sarcophagus of the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I.
Here they are at the start of the tour.
We came across this upside down Globe of the world where Philip pointed out his home state of North Carolina.
No visit to London is complete without a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Almost all of the museums in London have free admission which affords both locals and tourists many enjoyable hours of viewing famous art. Also free are museum highlight tours by volunteer guides.
Philip is an amazing and extremely talented craftsman who has built a few log homes from recycled wood. He rarely uses power tools. He also has a forge and is very knowledgeable and loves ironwork.
We loved this performance of “Home from Away” and treated them to tickets. It is an amazing play based on a true story when 6,500 passengers were diverted to the small Newfoundland town of Gondor on 9/11. This profound performance based on true life facts is a must see and will leave you in tears.
Dick and Andrew arrived during Philip and Phylis’s visit so we all went to see Hampton Court which was Henry the 8th’s Palace.
This Tudor Palace was originally owned by Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor in the 16th century.
Wolsey invested huge sums of money and created a palace fit for a King. He was so successful that Henry took Hampton Court for himself and brought all his six wives here. Queen Victoria opened the palace to the public in 1838. It has remained a magnet for millions of visitors who are drawn to the grandeur, the ghosts and the fabulous art collection.
In the Palace kitchen a staff in period dress rotates a real side of beef on a spit. It takes 4 hours to cook the meat like this as they did many years ago for the king. I asked the girl what they do with it when it is done and she said the staff working in the palace eat it.
The King’s dining hall
Beautiful stained glass windows shoeing various Coats of Arms.
King Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. He was best known for his six marriages and for his efforts to have his first marriage annulled.
Most interesting was the photos of his wives with descriptions of how they met their fate: #1 Catherine of Aragon (DIVORCED after 24 years of marriage for not bearing him a surviving son) #2 Anne Boleyn (BEHEADED for alleged treason and incest) #3 Jane Seymour (DIED from complications of childbirth after giving birth to a son, Edward VI future king. She was his most beloved wife and they are buried together in St George Chapel Windsor) #4 Anne of Cleaves ( DIVORCED as their marriage went unconsummated as Henry did not like her looks and had their marriage annulled just 6 months later) #5 Catherine Howard (BEHEADED for alleged high treason and infidelity) #6 Catherine Parr (SURVIVED as she went on to out live Henry by a year) . The six wives are best remembered in a musical rhyme form: DIVORCED, BEHEADED, DIED, DIVORCED, BEHEADED, SURVIVED.
Sandy’s King on the King’s staircase of Hampton Court Palace.
View of the Hampton Court Gardens from a window in the Palace.
Fish and Chips for Phyllis at the Mute Swan Pub across the street from Hampton Court where we had lunch. Our third meal at this pub.
Andrew and Philip enjoying a post lunch pipe smoke.
Phyllis on the Bridge crossing the Ember River in Molesey after lunch.
Early Morning departure from London to North Carolina. What a memorable visit. Thank you for sharing and embracing with us our favorite city in the world.