Our 2011 Travel Tales – London

Here at last

After a few promising but false starts, I hope we are more successful this time – my apologies to you who have been interested in and asked about our travel this year.  Helen and I hope the wait was worthwhile.

Helen checks her escape route while waiting at Adelaide Airport - you never know.

The almost 3 months since our homecoming have been a bit crazy: restoring our home after getting the flooring replaced in our main living areas, Helen having ear surgery (it seems to have been successful, thank You Lord and Dr Schembri); catching up with our work at home (the garden looks great again!), the old folk (several special services at this time of the year and many new folk to meet), the Christian school where Helen does quite some supportive volunteering), and the church (several of our folk have valued some of our time), my regular medical blogs, and closing off my ecumenical work for the denomination and opening up a new area of service there… The list could go on but won’t – we are now ready for take-off!

Flying over Australia for 3-4 hours is always a reality check when we travel overseas (except to the east).  We never cease to be amazed at our country’s vastness and emptiness, but also at the rippled landscape and watercourses everywhere.

Just as amazing I found the trip across the top of the world. We flew from Adelaide to Hong Kong and took off for London at midnight. I dozed for a couple of hours and then found it was dawning outside: it stayed this way for most of the 12 hour flight to our destination where we landed at 5:30 am with the sun still almost above the eastern horizon. It was light enough to identify everything in London we had planned to see – St Paul’s, the Wheel, the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park.

London, here we come!

Three hours later and having found our hotel, we were walking off our post-cattle-class cramp in London’s Hyde Park, taking in the unbelievably Victorian Prince Albert Monument, and waiting to join the first tour of the Royal Albert Hall (sorry, no photos allowed inside).

Making our way towards the City of London, here was a sight you could probably get only in London!

The closer we got to Buckingham Palace the busier it became – we haven’t bothered to find out whether it was a special event or just the Changing of the Guards.

We walked along the Thames to the London Eye (or eyesore), had lunch on the lake in Hyde Park and met one of Helen’s nieces near Speaker’s Corner, where everyone was at their Sunday best.  We enjoyed a great Mexican meal near our accommodation and enjoyed having daylight not fade away until about 9:30 pm.  A very, very long day – but too interesting and exciting to worry about feeling tired.

During the later evenings at the hotel we caught up our fabulous family via the internet – that first evening in London we found that our 8th grandchild had been born while we were winging our way west over the Arctic Circle.  We realised we’d have to keep on eye on Grace Amy if we didn’t want to be outwitted again.

What else did we do in London?

We visited the Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of where William Shakespearean would have seen his dramas performed in London.  It is well-worth a visit, both to see the theatre, hear how London’s rich and poor went to the theatre, and for the wonderful modern museum displays next to the Globe.  It enhanced our appreciation of Shakespeare’s role in enriching the English we speak.

We visited Westminster Abbey and saw the Chapter House photo display of the recent wedding of Prince William and his bride Catherine (again, no photos allowed, support the shop!). And enjoyed the 19th century Houses of the British Parliament – and the tent embassies around the small patch of grass between Church and Parliament.

Ah, our wonderful Christian and democratic freedoms.  All the while the Middle East was in turmoil over its people who are fed up with tyrannical rulers and their mercenary armies, secret police and suppression of so many freedoms.

We attended Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral – it was good to be in a worship service again even though our worship time at St Paul’s last time (in 1976) was more enthralling with the organ and choir supporting.  On Mondays the service is simply spoken, read and recited. We nevertheless think it is special that so many churches and people meet for 30 minutes of worship, Bible reading, prayer (and often song) every day of the week and all over our planet.

Also well worth a visit is London’s Science and Technology Museum in Kensington (again near Hyde Park). The building is a vast complex and just one of several major museums, and a visit was recommended – one we are keen to pass on.

The Ground Floor is devoted to machinery great and small

The displays are also mind-boggling, as one might expect in a country with the history of Great Britain. I was personally interested in the shipping and medical sections, each of which was very comprehensive,  as I enjoyed the superb models of some of the pride of the British merchant and naval fleets of the last 200 years.

so much choice, so much to see, so little time

Helen was intrigued by the colourful and creative polyhedrons (multi-sided shapes), and together we learnt about treatment of polio in the early 1900s and what could be done for the injured and dying in the two World Wars.

But these were just some of an unimaginable list of areas of technology and science including adding machines and computers, veterinary science, steam turbines, physics and geology, space, harbours and nuclear technology. Click to enlarge the photo of the floor guide by the staircases and it will give you some idea of the treasures which you can visit – explore – learn – enjoy.

We stayed until 5 pm when the Museum closed – such a shame, so early.

But early the following morning our 16 day tour of Great Britain and Ireland would start.

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