More Guests in London

Our last two weeks in London we are double booked at times which requires our houseguests to find alternative accommodations which they all accomplished quite well.

Since our guest room was pre-booked by other guests, the stalkers (aka Dick and Andrew) got their own AirBNB a mile away from ours, across the Thames in Lambeth. They were located near the Imperial War Museum which is the world’s leading museum of war and conflict. Founded while the First World War was still raging, it gives voice to the extraordinary experiences of ordinary people forced to live their lives in a world torn apart by conflict. We all really enjoyed the exhibits here. One could spend weeks reading all of the interesting information on the world wars.
London has a great selection of Indian Restaurants that we have eaten at but Veeraswamy, in our opinion, is the best. It is the oldest Indian Restaurant in London and also has one Michelin star. We highly recommend it if you go to London.
One day we took an Uber to Windsor to visit Frogmore House, not to be confused with Frogmore Cottage which was the official residence in the UK of Harry & Meghan. Frogmore House is a 17th century English country home and it is still actively used by the Royals and we were lucky to catch the rare day it was open to the public. It is the home that Queen Victoria grew up in before moving to Kensington Palace.
Not all the rooms were open for viewing but those that were seemed very dated and drab.
This shows the back of the house with a sunny atrium porch.
The house and beautiful gardens are about a half mile from Windsor Castle and has been a royal residence since 1792. The name derives from the the frogs which have always lived in this low lying marshy area.
Royal Mausoleum where Queen Victoria and Prince Consort Albert are buried along with three of their children and their husbands and some grandchildren. The building was structurally unsound due to the damp conditions of the land and has been closed to the public since 2007, however a restoration project began in 2018 to protect it from being lost. Harry and Meghan took their official engagement pictures on the steps here.
This is the other Royal Mausoleum located nearby where Queen Victoria’s mother and father are buried.
This is Frogmore cottage which was the home of Harry and Meghan before their move to California. Princess Eugenie ( Prince Andrew’s daughter) and her husband have been living here since 2020 but had to move out to accommodate the Sussexes return for the Queens Jubilee and then again later for her death.
Windsor Castle, the Royal residence in the English county of Berkshire is home to the British royals while in Windsor and embodies almost a millennium of architectural history.
Tom and Donna as well as Dick and Andrew met us at The Savoy for this very fun performance.
Everyone got up to sing and dance at the end of the performance.
Enjoy this short video of the song.
This is the front entrance to our Air BNB which did not have the number 27 on the building so we took this picture to send to our arriving guests.
Dick and Andrew joined us one afternoon for a visit to the Tate Britain Museum. This free museum concentrates on British art from Tudor times to the present day.
In 1958 North American artist Mark Rothko created these murals originally for the Seagram Building in NYC but as his ambitions for the works grew he no longer felt that a restaurant was an appropriate venue for his paintings so in 1970 he presented this group of paintings to the Tate Britain museum.
After our museum visit we decided to go over the Vauxhall bridge and walk along the Thames to check out the new U.S. Embassy building which as you can see is quite striking.
This swimming pool spanned across two private and exclusive condo buildings. The doorman said it was unusual that no one was swimming in it.
Rules restaurant was established in 1798 by Thomas Rule making it the oldest restaurant in London. It serves traditional British food, specializing in classic game. No visit to London is complete without dining here. It is definitely something to experience.
Cool bar
We began with cocktails upstairs in the atrium which we also highly recommend.
Jim and Tom started off with a Lagavulin 16 year old scotch.
The menu had a great selection of appetizers and entrees and our waitress who was from France gave us impeccable service.
Jim got partridge for his entree. Sorry no food photos.
Tom enjoyed his beer which was served in a chilled silver cup.
After Rules, we took Tom and Donna to see Covent Garden in London’s West End which is a vibrant, must see, destination that has boutique shops, restaurants , bars, theatre and street entertainers. Always a happening fun place day or night.
Before moving into our Air BNB Tom and Donna spent their first few days in London staying at the Royal Automobile Club which is a British private social club. They belong to the Harvard Club which has a reciprocity agreement with this club. The actor Keanu Reeves was also staying there as he was filming in London. They saw him in the lobby a couple of times and observed him to be very friendly and nice to the staff. He probably stays there on a regular basis. A celebrity sighting from day one was a highlight for them.
Fancy lobby and entrance to dinning hall. The club had a seriously strict dress code that they required guests adhere to.
Tom liked the Royal Mail truck that was parked in front of our AirBNB.
Some people wonder if this is a Coco Channel logo on all the Westminster lamp posts because the Duke of Westminster was infatuated with Coco and repeatedly asked her to marry him, however according to a google search this is pure myth and the entwined C shapes stand for City Council.
Located on the North bank of the Thames is the Palace of Westminster which serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom are informally known as the Houses of Parliament. Westminster Hall, where Queen Elizabeth II lied in state for several days after her death is part of this building. Big Ben has been covered with scaffolding for five years but is now uncovered. Did you know Big Ben is the bell and not the clock.
This plaque is located on the Westminster Bridge in memory of those who lost their lives there during a 2017 terrorist attack.
We met Dick and Andrew for lunch at the Grenadier Pub in Belgravia, London. Originally built in 1720 as the officers mess for the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. The Grenadiers would drink and play cards in the cellar. Legend has it that a soldier named Cedric was caught cheating at cards and punished by being beaten to death. He haunts the Pub during September which is the month he was killed and tradition has it that visitors to the pub leave behind money to help pay off Cedric’s debt. There is foreign money all over the ceiling as shown in the photo above.
Typical overflow of pub patrons. The Brits love to take their drinks out in front of the Pubs.
Behind the pub is the Grosvenor private mews with amazing flower boxes.
This is Westminster Cathedral. It is the largest Catholic Church in the UK and the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster. We did not go to this relic viewing as we saw Bernadette several years ago in France where she is buried. This Cathedral was very close to where we stayed in Westminster off Victoria Street.
Tom and Donna went to the NoMad Hotel restaurant. It is located in Covent Garden in a beautiful building that was formerly a Court House and Police Station. They gave us a gift Certificate to go there after they left us and it was exceptionally good. Thank you.
When we were in Madrid we met Frances (sitting on Sandy’s right) on a train to go see the Madrid open tennis. She lives in Devon England. We have kept in touch and reconnected for dinner at the Riverside Cafe in Hammersmith. Seated next to her is her son Jack who is a lawyer and lives in London and was able to get us much sought after reservations at this prime Michelin Star restaurant on the banks of the Thames. We refer to Frances as our “friend from the train” and we hope to see her again when we go to England next spring.
For Tom and Donna’s last full day in London we took the train to Cambridge to have a tour of the colleges and punt on the Cam. We had our grandson Jack punt for us on the Cam in 2018 and took the same tour of Cambridge on another trip.
We booked an 11:30 am 90 minute tour of Cambridge University given by an alumnae of the University.
This is the Corpus Chronophage (time eater) Clock aka the Grasshopper Clock at Corpus Christi College. It was conceived by a member of the college and unveiled in 2008 by Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking. The workings to read the time are very complicated and too long to explain here. The face of the clock is plated in 24 carat gold. It has no hands or numerals , but displays the time by the movement of the grasshopper whose mouth opens at 30 seconds past each minute snapping shut when the minute is over thus appearing to be “eating up time”. It is only accurate every five minutes.
Corpus Christi College commonly known as St Benet’s College is notable as the only one founded by Cambridge townspeople in 1352 in the wake of the Black Death. It has traditionally been one of the more academically successful and one of the wealthiest colleges in the University of Cambridge.They only accept 95 students a year. The Parker Library of the college is one of the finest in the world and includes the oldest book in England and the first picture of an elephant ever drawn.
This is Pembroke College, one of only a few that can be visited by non students. There are grass rules in Cambridge, for example It is forbidden to walk on the lawn unless you are a Fellow, you are talking to a Fellow or you are a duck. Jim being neither got sternly reprimanded on a past visit.
Pembroke College is the third oldest, founded in 1347 and one of the largest colleges of the University with over 700 students. The chef at Pembroke is a former Michelin starred restauranteur.
The 1665 chapel of the college includes some medieval glass. It was designed by Christopher Wren.
The Eagle Pub is owned by the Corpus Christi college and is where Watson and Crick are said to have refreshed themselves while studying the structure of DNA in the nearby Cavendish Library. Upon making the discovery in 1952 they are said to have walked into the pub and declared “We have found the secret of Life”.
We returned after the tour to eat here but it was very crowded, the menu was very carniverous and there were no servers to be found so we left.
Queens’ College of Cambridge University founded in 1448 takes its name from two queens who were arch rivals in the War of the Roses. Margaret of Anjou (wife of Henry VI) and Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV). Alumni include heads of government and politicians from various countries, royalties, religious leaders, astronauts and Oscar nominees.
Our Guide, Tommy, who recently got his Masters at Cambridge and will go on to Oxford for his Doctorate. His father is British and his Mom is Chinese and his girlfriend is Japanese. He looks like he may have skipped a few grades in the process of getting to Cambridge.
The grounds of King’s College have cows which makes the land an active farm and thereby frees the college from paying taxes and saves the cost of mowing the lawn. It is reported that as many as 10 cows a year get through a break in the fence and tumble down into the river that winds through town. Retrieval can require a crane and harness.
This is referred to as the Mathematical Bridge on the banks of Queen’s College. A popular fable is that it was built by Sir Issac Newton without the use of nuts and bolts. Various stories relate that it was taken apart by students but they were unable to put it back together without using bolts and nuts. Newton could not have been involved since he died 22 years before the bridge was constructed and the bridge has always had nuts and bolts. Our guide shared with us that some of the alumnae guides have contests to see who can get away with telling the most preposterous untrue story to tourists. Smarty pants that they are!
Kings College is one of the 31 constituent colleges that make up the University of Cambridge. It was founded by King Henry VI in 1441 and is considered one of the finest examples of late English Gothic architecture. It was among the first to admit women.
The King’s College Chapel is magnificent. The building was begun in 1446 and finished in 1544 during the reign of Henry VIII.
The stain glass Windows and wooden chancel screen are considered some of the finest from their era.
It has the world’s largest fan vault ceiling.
There are many side chapels with sarcophagi holding the remains of prestigious people or clergy.
King’s Chapel was built over a period of 100 years (1446-1531).
Exquisitely carved wood choir stalls.
The screen of the choir is actually studded with ornate carvings symbolizing the celebrated union of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
The Chapel is actively used as a place of worship and also for some concerts and college events.
More of the beautiful buildings of King’s College.
KIng’s College Chapel facing onto King’s Parade and the Gibbs’ Building which is the earliest existing building on the College site besides the chapel.
We wrapped up our tour of the day with a punt on the Cam which gave us lovely views of the University buildings from “the backs”, backside of the college.
It was a beautiful day to enjoy a punt and maybe hear more lies from the tour guides.
In the background is the covered Bridge of Sighs at St John’s College which is named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. The Punt boat operator said it was called that as students have to cross it to go to their exam rooms. In Venice it is the bridge that prisoners must cross before their execution.
Donna was experimenting with her phone camera and took this black and white photo of Sandy in which all the background in the photo was whited out.
This was the last building on our tour which was a laboratory where many famous experiments and discoveries occurred.
Our last meal in London together was at The Ivy Victoria. The Ivy is a restaurant chain in the UK which has consistently good food at a moderate price.
Deb Camara arrived around 8:30 that night. Deb was our daughter in law Catarina’s childhood friend and an avid runner. We have become quite close and consider her to be one of our adopted daughters.
Deb overlapped just one evening with Donna and Tom who were leaving early the next morning.
A 5am departure as the Uber driver that brought us home from Cambridge advised Tom and Donna to leave for the airport the next morning 5 hours ahead of their flight departure time saying that it could take them as long as two hours just to get to the airport on a Monday morning commute. As it turned out It only took them 30 minutes to get to the airport making for a long wait at Heathrow. Guess even the London Uber drivers tell tales to tourists also!
Always a pleasure to host this special couple and it was such a treat for us to experienceTom’s first time to London with them.

3 responses to “More Guests in London”

  1. As you can tell, I’m catching up on my reading. Love your adventures and so glad you are having fun! XO

  2. I am so jealous! London is definitely my favorite city. Looks like you had a lot of fun!

    1. We definitely missed you.

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