Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral, London

We had a bit of drama yesterday as the newly installed replacement window in our bedroom refused to close. We tried taping it with masking tape, but it couldn’t hold against the wind. We’ve contacted the relevant people and hope very much that something is done today. We secured the window as best we could using an ironing board and low cupboard and a chair.

However, it doesn’t work perfectly to prevent rain and wind coming in. Fortunately, we like having a bit of fresh air, but it’s worrying for the owner if woodwork, carpets and curtains are getting wet.

In the late afternoon we caught a train which took us near to St Paul’s. We enjoyed the evensong, though the reverberations were pretty strong, which means the sound is not as clear as it could be. Although we gave a donation it was still a cheaper way to see inside than paying an entrance fee during the day.

Afterwards we found a diner with inexpensive meals. It is the first time we have eaten non-British food since we have been here, but suited our appetites. It was a little early to be really hungry.

London: St Martins in the Field Cafe, the National Gallery and Extinction Rebellion

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An artist copying a painting in front of an audience at the National Gallery

Yesterday morning we were held up by workmen coming to replace a couple of windows in the apartment. I wanted to check on their work as we had problems previously. It was only two of the windows being replaced, rather pointlessly, to hang from the opposite side when in casement mode. One of the replaced windows seems slightly wonky, the handle doesn’t end up completely straight and the window doesn’t tilt as much as the others, but I may leave it for now. When Gary has other people staying here they may find problems and he can follow it up. Basically, things work.

They left in time for us to go out for lunch before visiting the National Gallery. We knew that Trafalgar Square in front of the Gallery is a place where protesters are sitting, but as there hasn’t been violence we thought it was safe enough to check things out.

Lunch first, at the underground cafe at St Martins. This is a cafeteria type cafe with good food, not too fancy, located in the crypt.

We wandered out into the square and observed the protesters from the edge closest to the gallery.

There are three cafes in the National Gallery and for afternoon tea we chose one which had subdued lighting and a view of Trafalgar Square. The seating was comfortable as well.

Afterwards, before heading back home, we took a walk amongst the protesters. We felt fairly safe with all of the police around and the overal general good feeling of a peaceful protest. We were intrigued by the people dressed as living statues in red costumes and I followed up today on Google.

Who are the Red Brigade who silently appear at Extinction Rebellion protests?

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Asking people to sit so they weren’t blocking the view of the Red Brigade.

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It was a very grey day, but there was surprisingly little rain when we were out.



London: British Library and ‘Little Venice’

The British Library is a relatively modern library (1973) incorporating the old British Museum Library as well as some other collections. Red bricks are used to blend in with the other buildings in the area such as St Pancras International Station, which is across the road. Inside, it is a very interesting place, with a collection of very old books and a copy of the Magna Carta, a shop, bookshop and what appeared to be cafes on every floor. There are seating areas everywhere with tables and plug in facilities and they were just about all occupied by young people with mostly Apple laptops.

On the left, St Pancras, on the right, the British Library

After we left, we realised that we didn’t actually see the reading rooms. It is not a lending library, but a place to do research like our WA State Library. Although the building is relatively stark on the outside, the interior has enough curves to make it feel a delightful place to be.

We caught the Thameslink train which takes us straight from East Croydon Station to St Pancras and had tickets that allowed us to catch buses as well. The bus to Little Venice took about 30 minutes. The area is a bit disappointing. We have been to canal areas in other cities and they are usually picturesque, but there was something a bit neglected about the area that mean that despite the willows, bird life and beautiful surrounding townhouses, it just missed being lovely. The houses mostly appear to have been converted into flats, as evidenced by TV aerial cords snaking up the outside of buildings. They are not even confined to back of the houses.

I had hoped to get a photo of these swans, which were a sort of motley colour in stead of pure white. But you can see that they made their escape before I could, and the camera wasn’t able to keep up with the action enough to get a non blurry photo.

Stephen had read about a historic pub in the area where we hoped to have afternoon tea, but we found it not very hospitable and found a tiny cafe nearby.

It was a grey day, as you can see from the photos, but we didn’t have any rain and the temperature was pleasant for walking, cool but not cold.

Our journey home on a different bus seemed very long, but there was interest in going through different residential areas of inner London, some more posh than others. Of course, it is all very expensive, but some areas seemed run down and others very vibrant, with interesting shops and cafes.

Our train tickets also allowed us to take the tram home for the same price. We enjoyed leftovers, followed by fruit and ice cream for tea.

Day 2 – Knebworth, England

Our 11 hr flight with Emerites was comfortable. There were lots of empty seats, Eversley had a row of four seats to herself, and I found a row at the front of our section. Unfortunately being next to the bulkhead I could only use two for my body as the arms didn’t lift up for the outside seats. Still, was able to get my feet up. Stephen was able to stretch out into two seats. And I wasn’t trying to get past him all the time. There seemed to be lots of toilets on the plane, and with fewer passengers we could always get access.

We had two meals, a lunch at around 4.30, I think, then a ‘light meal’ about two hours before we landed. We have a couple of hours here at Dubai, and are relying on Stephen’s watch to get us back to our gate.

I lost my handbag, left it on the little train as we came through, and only realised when we sat down. Stephen went in search and it had been handed in to the information desk. He had gone off, and I went searching too, and was directed to the police. I had about 15-20 minutes of anxiety before dropping by our seat to see Stephen and handbag. So went back to the police to let them know. Nothing was missing from the bag.

I feel like I am being given ‘chances’ – I get to be very silly, then am relieved to find nothing has happened.

We had extra seats on our flight from Dubai, and I actually slept full length, which Stephen did the ‘upright’ bit. We also enjoyed a couple of meals.


We did miles of trekking with our luggage to get to the underground, and had to change trains on the way to Kings Cross Station. They have done lots of work on it since we were there last, and we had a sort of breakfast on the mezzanine floor at a Giraffe café (the same café chain as the one in Dubai). I had a look around, and asked about, a place to buy mobile phone sims, but we were out of luck. When Eversley and Stephen bought the train tickets, they asked, and we found there was a Vodafone place across at St Pancras. We went there and got a basic one month plan for E and St, and a 2 gig plan for me so that I can use the ipad for navigation.

Despite being tired we enjoyed the train journey to Knebworth through little towns, including Potters Bar. There was a sort of blue mist about, and on the news later in the day it said that there was quite bad smog, which would hopefully lift later in the week with some rain coming.

At the train station we had stairs to exit, and a rather rough looking man offered to help me with my case. He then offered Stephen help as well. There is a little station house with a coffee bar, very civilized, especially as there are toilets on the train.

We dragged our stuff to the real estate office, then walked up London Road (no street signs so taking it on trust, and we did manage to find a local person to ask). London Road is quite busy and we had to keep the front windows shut because of the noise. The front of the house looks onto a housing estate, which is disappointing, although the aspect is softened by trees. But the side window in the main bedroom looks out over backyards and houses, and rear windows overlook the garden with everything coming into flower and lots of birds.

The house itself is really lovely, with space, lots of comfortable furniture which is a shabby, and a conservatory that gets really warm during the day.

Stephen and I have the main bedroom and Eversley has another room with a small ensuite. There are two other rooms on this level, one a study and one with bunks for the grandkids. There is also a ‘main’ bathroom with overhead shower.

Downstairs, there is another study which is used as a model train room, a big hall way in two parts, a lovely big ‘drawing room’ with comfortable chairs, a well designed kitchen with dining area.

We all feel immediately at home in this environment, partly because of all the books.

Stephen just before leaving our house. This was all of our luggage for the month.Image


At the Girafe, Kings Cross Station