Kiss me Kate and dinner in China Town, London

The Coliseum theatre where we had an enjoyable time seeing this old musical.

Outside the theatre.

On our way, we went to nearby Chinatown for a meal. The food was Hong Kong style and very good.

Today we took the very slow bus to a hotel near Heathrow Airport. Our flight is at 9:30 am tomorrow and we have a car booked to take us to Terminal 2 in the morning. It is the same cost as the Airport Shuttle, but faster.

We had a day of packing and finishing cleaning at the apartment, before catching the bus. It took us about 3.5 hours to get here, with wait times and Stephen going to the library to return some books.

This hotel is more of a hostel, we have a tiny room with tiny ensuite and a kettle in a nearby outdoor area if we want to make our own cups of tea. I have a cup and some teabags and plastic cutlery. There were other possibilities for an evening meal, such as pizza delivery or a nice pub on the corner, but I brought some leftover food and we had picnic tea outside, before walking down to a local shop to get money, water and ice creams.

Our last few days in England

On Tuesday afternoon we went to the Science Museum in London. The highlight was going to the iMax theatre to see the 3D movie about the Hubble Telescope. Stephen looked at other exhibits afterwards whilst I enjoyed reading about the Hubble. Being close to Earth it was possible for teams to do repairs and upgrades and it is still operating after being launched in 2009. A replacement is planned which will be much further out and not able to be reached by astronaughts.

We caught a bus through to Hyde Park and spent a pleasant time in the warm late afternoon on the Serpentine. Our goal was to see an exhibit, very large and very silly, floating on the water. We were able to enjoy the warm weather just sitting. The lack of airconditioning means travelling by public trans;port can be quite uncomfortable. Our train journey home was comfortable as it was cooler.

When the weather warmed up here, we were finding the house very warm and stuffy, and it was difficult to sleep even though we had the sliding door in the bedroom open. We could only open the windows very slightly. However, Stephen emailed G and found out how to open the windows properly. It means going through a very stiff part, then the windows open. For the last couple of days the house has been much cooler, especially since we are waking up to mist insteading bright sunlight. The mist clears by late morning, allowing the sun to really warm things up. During the ‘heat wave’ our house was already very hot by 7.00 a.m. when the sun had been on the glass for about two hours.

Yesterday Stephen wasn’t feeling very well with renewed cough and cold. I did some shopping and we went out later in the day to enjoy a cup of tea at the M&S cafe. We both bought some underwear, not cheap, but good quality.

Today (Thursday) is our designated cleaning day. We have done the big jobs, with some more to do tomorrow. We are spending our last night in a hotel near the airport, but checkin is not until 3.00 p.m. and we plan to do our packing in the morning and travel via the very slow bus to Heathrow. From there it is a short journey on another bus to the hotel. I thought I might do packing today, but can’t get motivated.

We are both feeling a bit anxious about leaving as we have been in one place long enough to feel quite settled and it is unsettling us to feel we have to move on. Also, I don’t think anyone these days looks forward to long flights, especially when travelling economy. At least arriving home means we can relax at the end.

Tonight we have an outing to the theatre to see ‘Kiss me Kate’ at the Colloseum in London. We plan to have dinner somewhere first. We felt we needed a reward after cleaning the house. Plus, it is a lovely way to spend our second last evening here.

 

South Bank and Covent Garden

We arrived home feeling tired last night to a broken lift and nine flights of stairs, 10 if you count going up to the upper level of our apartment. We are staying home for the morning and hope that by the time we go out this afternoon the lift will have been repaired.

Stephen’s research found that there are plays at the National Theatre for fifteen pounds a seat, relatively cheap. We went to see a play called ‘Translations’ yesterday afternoon. It was interesting to wander around the South Bank on a fine, partly cloudy day. We found the play well acted and the story line at times obscure – fortunately I had paid four pounds for the comprehensive program. The play was set in Ireland slightly before the potato famine when an attempt was being made to update Irish placenames. There were a couple of actors we have seen on TV or in films which was also interesting for us, although all of the cast were good.

Interior of National Theatre - 1

We had a hot drink afterwards, then took a bus to Covent Garden.

Covent Garden - 1 (1)

We were in time for an opera singer busking near one of the restaurants.

We accidentally caught a slow train home. It seemed to wander quite far away before eventually getting to East Croydon. We are used to getting an express with East Croydon as the first stop. Stephen read the paper and I read my book to pass the time.

When we arrived at the station we split up, with me going directly home by tram to put our dinner on and Stephen heading to the local Sainsbury for bread and wine. After enjoying a tiny bottle of Mateuse Rose the other evening we have been looking forward to another glass with our meal. He wasn’t able to get the Mateuse and we settled for a fruit rose – a bit sweeter and a bit less alcoholic. We only have about a half a small glass each.

It was when we arrived home that we discovered that the lift wasn’t working and we had to climb the stairs. We had 7 flights when we were in China, so this is further to climb.

Visiting ‘The Limes’ and Tate Britain

We went and did some shopping on Thursday afternoon. We needed a plastic holder for our parking permit for when we bring the hire car here overnight, plus some other stuff. I bought a couple of cheap jumpers and a a pair of track pants from Primark as I have been finding I need more slightly warm ‘around the house’ clothes.

Yesterday we did quite a trek by tram, bus and train. Stephen wanted to visit Richmond-on-Thames, where there is a house painted by Turner. He lived nearby for about six months (that was his ignomonious time of being booted out of his girlfriend’s room and down into the cellar). He didn’t recognise the house he lived in, but it was on Ashleigh Road.

Ashleigh Road, Richmond-upon-Thames - 1
He wasn’t booted out for bad behaviour, it was because she was in love with someone else who had been away and was returning to stay with her. We can imagine how humiliated Stephen felt as he had had no idea until she asked him to move out of her room. Stephen moved out of the house after six months.

Stephen has a print of one of the two paintings of The Limes which we have hanging at the end of our passage. I’ve been able to download this thumbnail. We will need to check when we get home to see if it is the same as his print.

A11264.jpg

As you can see, it is more a sunrise on the river scene, but you can just glimpse the house in the far left of the picture.

We found a refuge after a long tram ride, followed by a long bus ride, about two hours of travelling, at Ye White Hart, a beautiful old pub with a balcony overlooking the Thames. We ordered hot drinks and discretely ate our home made cheese and lettuce rolls.

Ye White Hart - 1

It was quite difficult to work out where the actual house was located. The staff member that Stephen asked had no idea. Stephen thought it might be a white house we could see in the distance. I took a zoomed photo on my trusty 18-135mm lens and we zoomed in on the house. Clearly, it wasn’t it.

Eventually Stephen was able to locate the actual house, which we had walked past without noticing. It is now surrounded by buildings and doesn’t have quite the feel of the area in the painting. We were able to look at it from the river side and the street side. 123 The Terrace. It has been called The Limes for a long time, perhaps even by the original owner.

123 The Limes (1 of 1)

The Limes - rear view (1 of 1)
on the river side of the house
The Limes - rear view2 (1 of 1)
The house is heritage listed and fortunately the newer building are not too jarring
The Limes - front view (1 of 1)
The front of the house
Balcony of Ye White Hart (1 of 1)
our nice little spot on the balcony of Ye White Hart

The featured image shows a zoomed in view of the bridge we could see from the balcony.

rowing on the Thames (1 of 1)
rowers

Our plan was to go to Tate Britain, partly to see the Turner exhibition there. The actual paintings of the house are not held by Tate, so we wouldn’t be able to see them ‘live’.

It took a good 2 hours to traverse London traffic in red buses. Fortunately Friday has late opening hours, which meant we had time to have a hot drink at the cafe before going around the galleries. We gave up at about 6.00 p.m. We caught a bus to Victoria Station and zoomed home.

afternoon at Tate Britain (1 of 1)
We weren’t having another cuppa, just resting at a table with someone else’s stuff still on it. There was a band setting up in the cafe and we were trying to get away from the noise.
late opening at Tate Britain music in the cafe (1 of 1)
They were setting up the cafe as a music club as we left.

A day out: London from a different perspective

We have paid 30 GBP for a two for one pass covering the rest of our stay in England. This means that we can have transport options, such as a day trav el pass in London a bit more cheaply. Stephen found that we could take advantage of the pass to access river cruises up and down the Thames all day, getting on and off as we wished. It still wasn’t cheap – travel expenses for the whole day came to about $70.

Riding the river ‘buses’ gave us quite a different perspective on London. It was a mostly grey day, with sunshine later in the day. I took lots of photos of the different places we saw, both on land and from the boat, but none of them stand out as special. However, it is good to have a visual record of what we did.

Because of the long days we came home in daylight even though it was about 7.00 p.m. by the time we got back. The featured photo shows the light in the sky when I was getting ready for bed. It was great having the hot meal waiting for us and with just a small amount of preparation dinner was ready.

We bought sandwiches and had muesli bars, bananas and other snacks on hand during the day. We also had a flapjack and cheese twist with our afternoon tea in Greenwich. Not exactly going hungry during the day.

Bakery, Greenwich - 1

Walking around the University of Greenwich was one of the highlights of the day. Not just because the buildings are graceful, but because it is a living building. As we walked around we could hear students practising music. The nearby Cutty Sark exhibition was interesting as well. We didn’t actually go in, just looked at the outside and read the information.

University of Greenwich - 1

Cutty Sark (1 of 1)
View of the Cutty Sark from the river. We walked around it when we landed.

The boats we travelled on were catamarangs able to reach quite a good speed once we were on a part of the river where speed was allowed. Our last journey on board was to Battersea. We walked over the bridge, caught a couple of buses, one to Sloan Square, then from there a bus to Victoria Station. Although we didn’t feel that we had walked a great deal, we did 10, 753 steps, about 8 kms. Good exercise for the day.

I’d had back pain for the last few days for which I blame the uncomfortable lounge chairs here in the flat. We spent a good deal of time sitting around in the first few days when we were recovering from colds and jet lag. It’s one of those modular settings that provide a good deal of seating space, but don’t provide any sort of back support. I may have initially injured my back when we were getting here with our cases and bags, doing some heavy lifting at times, especially in the last stages of arriving here at Turnpike Link. Panadol works, though I’d prefer not to be taking four to six tablets a day.

travelling under one of the many bridges (1 of 1)
Going under one of the many bridges. The smudges are on the window of the boat. There was a small rear deck, but the views inside were quite good.

 

Rain and Thunder on Tuesday

We are missing the banquets from our time in China. When we were preparing vegetables for our crock pot this morning we had something of the feeling of being in China with colourful food – celery, onion, capsicum, potatos and sweet potatos. I put a touch of hot chilli powder in as well. One of the things about this house is that former guests leave behind all their herbs and spices. It appears that some good cooking goes on here.

Yesterday we planned to do some washing and shopping. The washing part was easy although three loads took some time. Getting out to do the shopping was another matter due to thunder, lightening and rain, and we ended up heading out at about 4.00 p.m., taking the tram, just to our small, local Sainsburys near the station. We didn’t get wet and were able to cover all of our shopping needs, worth remembering if we think we need a bigger supermarket for groceries.

This morning we have done some thinking and planning. We want to visit Ron and the family, and Melanie suggested that we come this Sunday and stay as long as we want to. We think this means two or three nights, by the way, not weeks and weeks. They are going away in mid June.

Some of the exploring we would like to do in that area can be done in day trips. Our tentative idea of hiring a car for a few days has transformed into an actual booking for 7 days. We will pick up the car late on Saturday and drive to Gloucester on Sunday. Melanie is planning a family dinner outing for the evening. We can then spend a few days exploring.

We haven’t made any AirBNB bookings as we can make more concrete plans once we get there. At the moment we are thinking of exploring close to Gloucester on Monday, then going further afield on Tuesday and doing something of a circut before heading back here to East Croydon. Hopefully, we can do our AirBNB bookings a day ahead. Having the car means we don’t have to try to get places in the middle of towns.

There are no photos from yesterday, hence using a banquet photo from our China tour for the featured image. We are going out soon for the rest of the day, with a lovely hot crock pot meal to come home to.

Sunday Roasts and a Visit to Chartwell on the Monday ‘bank holiday’

Imagine if this was what you saw from your house? The country home of Churchill and his family includes this view. Continuing our Churchill immersion experience, we caught a couple of buses to visit this old house and gardens.

Yesterday we had a lively Facetime session with Matt. He demonstrated his great reversing switch. Placed under his shoulder on the right hand side, he can operate it with his right arm bent or straight. He was apparently feeling well last night because he ate a full meal and had a big drink of coffee afterwards. The session took place at about 11.45 a.m. our time, but after dinner for him.

We then went out in search of a roast for our lunch. We changed our minds after finding the closest pub closed, and went to the new to us food hall near the station. It was very busy, with most of the food stalls open and some craft stalls on one side. We chose a Thai meal and it was lovely to have spicy food again.

crowded - 1

Thai lunch - 1

Matthew's Yard - 1
After lunch we walked down to Croydon Minster. Our plan was to zoom home on the tram, but I had changed bags and didn’t have my Oyster card, so we walked back. Here we are going through Matthews Yard, where there is a small pub.
The Spreadeagle - 1
Here is the Spreadeagle, with a board advertising roast meals. On another Sunday we will take advantage.

Yesterday was our first long walk, and today we walked even more, trekking around Chartwell. We had to catch two buses, and realised at the change that I didn’t necessarily have enough on my oyster card to get home. We followed directions to a little shop, where we were able to put some money on the cards. Later in the day, we realised that we can use a credit card on the payment point on buses. We still had to wait about 45 minutes for the next bus to Chartwell and had a coffee and withdrew some more cash whilst waiting.

The Chartwell bus runs on weekends and public holidays only. We were worried that it would be very crowded, and it was, but not so much that we couldn’t enjoy the lovely gardens and weather. As you can see, it was sunny and about 25 degrees. Very hot, as far as the English were concerned. We were the only people using umbrellas as sunshades, in fact, a passing child thought it was a very odd sight.

Chartwell is a very nice country house, not too ostentatious (they weren’t wealthy, though quite well off), with wonderful gardens and surrounds. Entry was timed so that there weren’t too many people in the house at a time. We had quite a long wait for our time of 1.40 p.m. We noticed other people having picnics, so went back to the cafe at the entrance and  bought some sandwiches. We sat under one of the large trees to eat and rest.

It was a lovely day in near perfect weather. Yesterday and today there was a storm warning for southern England current, which has probably contributed to the warm weather, but Friday’s dramatic thunderstorms have not returned, in our corner of England anyway.

Chartwell - 1
Chartwell Pastorale
Chartwell back of the house (1 of 1)
rear of the house
Chartwell black swans (1 of 1)
We found this sign quite funny. Where did the black swans come from? Why are they particularly to be avoided?
Chartwell i'm off now (1 of 1)
‘More geese than swans now live’, here at Chartwell anyway.
Chartwell front of the house (1 of 1)
I needed a polarising filter today, the sun was very  bright and a little mistiness made the glare a problem for photos. Plus this front view of the house meant I was shooting into the sun.
Chartwell afternoon tea - 1
We had afternoon tea at the cafe
Chartwell living room (1 of 1)
a living room
Chartwell dining (1 of 1)
the dining room
Chartwell horse's head - 1
There was lots of produce and plants on sale – a way of helping to fund this National Trust site. This snap could have been better, but I couldn’t see the screen of my phone.
Chartwell studio (1 of 1)
This is the studio where Churchill painted. It appears to have been used as a guest cottage and place for the older children to stay when they had holidays from boarding school. The main house isn’t that big. 

 

Chartwell leaving (1 of 1)
We were able to go in and out of this gate once we had paid our fees and had our little sticky national trust badges. This was our last exit before having afternoon tea and catching the bus home.

I took some photos of the glorious flowers in the gardens.

Chartwell flower (1 of 1)

Chartwell wall flowers (1 of 1)

Stephen at Chartwell (1 of 1)
Another photo with Stephen
Chartwell flag (1 of 1)
the Chartwell Churchill flag
Chartwell flower and buds (1 of 1)
The Churchills loved yellow flowers.

Was it the McVitie’s?

The featured image is a view from our balcony on Tuesday evening when it was fine and sunny.

I started out feeling really ill yesterday, likely a combination of jet lag and the cold. Stephen still has a cold, yet started about five days before me, so I’m feeling it is likely to continue. After lunch I had a sleep, setting the alarm for about an hour to avoid sleeping for too long and upsetting the adaptation to the new time zone.

Stephen had a ‘flu jab just before we left for China and I didn’t. It didn’t make any difference to getting what we think is probably just a bad cold.

In the afternoon we had a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit (McVitie’s) and watched ‘Churchill’, the 2017 movie, which I downloaded by mistake, thinking it was the latest one ‘Darkest Hour’. We enjoyed the movie regardless. I’m worried about the tendency to make Churchill a hero, since he was also quite bloodthirsty and advocated the saturation bombing of civilian targets such as Dresden.

By then I was feeling much better and we went out for a walk. Needing to buy milk was an incentive. We rugged up, and found we were initially cold, then too hot by the time we returned. The temperature was on the border of being cold, but the breeze could make it chilly. Once we were in more sheltered areas of the town we were warmer.

When we were here last time there was a construction taking place next to the train station. It is now finished, with an atrium food hall as the centre. The food shops are tiny, with a good deal of variety. It wasn’t very busy when we walked through.

food hall

It is rainy today and we don’t have any plans. Maybe another movie this afternoon?

I listened to the instructions on our flight about turning off electronic equipment when coming into land and realised that there were different instructions regarding mobile phones. They had to be switched to flight mode, but were otherwise allowed to be switched on. Which means you can take photos and videos when coming into land. Which is how I was able to film this:

As we were flying Air China, the instructions were in Mandarin and English!

From next week when we are hopefully feeling a lot better, we are thinking of renting cars for a couple of days at a time in order to explore places that we can’t readily access via public transport. It is likely to be only a little more expensive than buses and trains as we don’t get any special discounts here.

Visit to a Chonqing park with Tony and Della

I’ve made a little slideshow of some of the photos from our outing on Sunday.

This morning we woke up fairly early. We have some leftover food from other people who have stayed here, but none recent enough to leave us some milk. We went out for breakfast and had to wait until 8.00 a.m. for a cafe to open. We had rather stale looking buns, which we enjoyed because we were hungry. Stephen had the cafe’s ‘Times’ newspaper to read.

We stayed there until about 9.00 when the shops would be open. We went to a little Vodafone shop and bought local SIMs for our phones. It was much more expensive than China, with less data, but enough for our needs whilst we are here. We have unlimited wireless internet at the apartment.

We went to a chemist where Stephen bought Vitamin D with calcium and I was able to get some special soap (I come out in a rash using normal soap and although it is temporary it can feel quite uncomfortable). We then did some grocery shopping. We caught the tram both ways today, Stephen hates that every time we use the Oyster cards it costs the same amount, whether we go a long distance or a short distance. But, having jet lag and being unwell was our excuse. The apartment has a shopping trolly which is very convenient.

I’ve really been feeling the effects of the cold this afternoon. Nevertheless, we found out how to play youtube videos on the TV using the little hub that Gary has attached to his TV. Unfortunately, it only works for youtube, I will have to link my ipad with cables to play movies. I’ve processed some photos and set up an account for Stephen on my laptop. Last time we were here Stephen had access to an iMac, but that has gone.

Stephen cooked spaghetti bolognese for tea, plus made up a small salad. He is feeling a bit better than I am, but still has a cough. It’s 7.23 p.m. and still quite light outside, which feels odd to us. The day has been cool, but the apartment attracts heat. There is a system for circulating air, which we put on last night to help us sleep and today I have been opening windows and sliding doors to let in more air.

Of course, a couple of loads of washing have happened. I made a patchwork cushion to take with me to use in hotel rooms. It has worked very well and the stuffing became flatter and flatter as I used it. Today I put it in the washing machine. There are a couple of clothes airers upstairs and with the landing sliding door open all of the washing has become almost completely dry over the afternoon.

We are trying to get ourselves into a normal routine and will try to stay awake as long as possible this evening, even though or us it is really 2.00 a.m. in the morning. We are on daylight savings, which means there is only a 7 hour time difference instead of 8 hours.