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Monday, July 06, 2009

THE LONDON DIARIES

TOWER OF LONDON: me, my niece, Debra and my sister, Jean
These London adventures started on May 25,2009 but because I didn't have time or internet access to post daily blogs, these 'diaries' are from notes written in my daily journal.

I've been to London many times, and so has my sister. But Debra had never been. So, with my friend MJ, who lives in London, acting as tour guide, we made sure Debra saw all the main sights. Of course, we made sure Debra took the Tower of London tour and saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.



TOWER BRIDGE AND DOLPHIN SCULPTURE
We walked our tootsies off those first two days in London. I even managed to see a few things I've missed on previous visits. That's what I like about London -- you'll never get bored because at every corner or tiny lane there is something to capture your interest.

I saw this lovely little sculpture when we were walking to St. Katherine's Dock and Dockside. St. Katherine's dock is right near the Tower of London. Some of the original buildings dating from the 1820's have been kept but most demolished to make way for restaurants. The dock basin is a marina where there were some interesting yachts and old ships docked. It's a pleasant area for wandering. We liked the look of the vine-covered Dickens Inn, a building which dates back to 1740, but instead of stopping for a pint there, we went for lunch by the dockside.

THEY'RE CHANGING GUARDS AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE
As many times as I've been in London, I always enjoy the spectacle of the changing of the guards. And each time I'm standing there watching, I remember that little ditty from Winnie the Pooh: "They're changing guards at Buckingham Palace. Christopher Robin went down with Alice..."

VIRGINIA WOOLF''S HOUSE IN FITZROVIA

As I did on my last trip to London, we stayed at the Indian YMCA in Fitzrovia, right by Fitzroy Square just a short walk from the Warren St. tube station and Tottenamcourt Road. I highly recommend this pleasant, reasonably priced hostel (breakfast and dinner included.) It's an interesting district, once the hangoug of the Bloomsbury Group. And right across the Square from the hotel is the former home of Virginia Woolf. Before she resided there, so did George Bernard Shaw (1887-1898). When Virginia moved in she started writers meetings and met a man named Leonard Woolf. She became famous as the writer/critic Virginia Woolf. She lived at this house from 1907-11. Here she wrote "The Voyage Out" and with her husband formed Hogarth Press and the Bloomsbury group.

Other famous writers an dpeople of historical note also lived in this area, including Chrales Dickens, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and the tempesuous poets Paul Verlain and Artheur Rimbaud. Elsa Lancaster ran two night clubs here in the 1920's whose members included HG Wells, Aldous Huxley and George B. Shaw. A poor, unknonw Welshman, Dylan Thomas, arrived in 1934 and would recite passage of "Under Milkwood" at the Wheatsheaf Pub. The FitzRoy pub just a few blocks down from the hotel is another place these literary characters hung out.
We went one evening but it was packed full of young Londoners -- obviously a popular hangout even now!

After two days of walking, enjoying pints and pub food and the pleasant company of my friend MJ, my travel companions and I decided to take a day out of London, so we went on a boat cruise down the Thames to the haunts of good old Henry VIII.


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