The main purpose of this trip was to go to a family reunion down in Sussex. We came five days early so we could explore London. Originally, my mother in-law, Jean, was going to meet us here on the 13th. Because of 9/11 that isn’t happening! I got an email from her saying that she won’t be able to get here until the 17th and that things are very bad in America.
Since we now have a few extra days in London, Marcie and I decide to see some of the sights. We take the train in and walk across Tower Bridge. It is so much bigger than it seems in pictures or movies! With beautiful ornate carvings, it was started in 1886 and took 8 years to complete. It opens for tall ships, originally the tall masted ships. I’ve never taken the tour here, but plan to in the future.
Marcie and I were both surprised that the safety wall is only about waste high. We are from San Diego. There is a bridge there called “Suicide Bridge”, because so many people have chosen to end their lives by jumping into the freeway traffic below. Long ago a metal screen was put up to stop this from happening. It’s still called Suicide Bridge, in fact, I’m not sure I ever heard the proper name of it!
I really enjoyed the tour of the tower. The men in traditional uniforms telling interesting stories through the history here. It was amusing and informative. We had a nice lunch and wandered through different rooms and cells, saw graffiti from the 1200s, also saw where Ann Boleyn and many others were executed. Most of us know how it is when you are in an intense relationship and it starts to go sour. Imagine trying to hang on and then you have to die at the end because you couldn’t make it work! Ghastly!
I enjoyed the history of the place, the crows, the ghost stories and then seeing the crown jewels at the end. They are beyond what a simple girl from California could imagine. So beautiful, so much history. A few years ago I came across an 8 part documentary called, appropriately, “The Tower”.
If you’re interested and want to know more in depth, I highly recommend this. I enjoyed that it not only tells the extensive history, but it shows you the day to day life here. I never really thought about it, but the guards actually live here in apartments with their families. I also appreciated the tradition and pageantry.
Afterward we took the train to Kensington Palace. It has a stunning sunken garden. Queen Victoria was born here and Princess Diana had an apartment here. We were lucky enough to see a display of Queen Victoria’s clothes and personal items as well as Diana’s. The Queen was so tiny! I’ve heard it before, but when you actually see a dress that she wore, you can see that she was the size of a middle school girl!
We could recognize many of the dresses that Diana wore for public events because she was always in the news. It was interesting to see the designers sketches and swatches of cloth and then a photograph of her wearing that outfit. We wanted to eat something at the Orangery restaurant, but it was closed, so we walked in the rain to a pub across from the park and had fish & chips before heading “home” to the B&B.
The next morning we slept in, had a nice breakfast and a chat with Sue and then headed to Richmond and Kew Gardens. Gorgeous, breathtaking, amazing! What a beautiful place. A luscious vegetable garden, the Palm House with an aquarium, a walk through the tranquil Japanese garden. We had a delicious lunch in the pavilion and were disappointed that the greenhouse with the giant lily pads are grown is closed. We visited the secret garden and both oohed and ahhed over the herbaceous garden. We covered many acres and walked back through the town to the train, stopping to get a gift of a plant for Sue and Tim. We were invited to dine with their family tonight where there is always great food, great conversation and lots of flowing wine! A definite highlight of our trip.