Life in London

Mum, Dad & Christine’s Visit

The Wednesday of Mum, Dad & Christine’s visit was cloudy and drizzly. We had a lazy morning before heading to Westminster for Mum and Dad to visit Westminster Abbey. On our way though we went via the Borough Market where we had lunch – I had a german wurst hotdog, mum had an Ethiopian meal, Christine and Dad had wild boar burgers and Andre had a pie.

Andre, Christine and I visited Westminster Abbey when Christine was with us in January, so we went to see the National Portrait Gallery. When Mum and Dad were finished at the Abbey they met us at the gallery, and Dad had a look around with Christine and I (Andre was sitting downstairs with a headache) while Mum looked through the shop. Once the gallery closed we headed to a pub Andre used to visit with work colleagues for tea – the Crosse Keys. It’s a JD Wetherspoons pub and I was pretty disappointed with it. The chicken on my burger was dry and they obviously served up the peas on Dad’s plate with a non-slotted spoon so it ended up with water all over the plate making his chips go soggy. Plus Dad ordered, for Christine, the southern-style fried chicken strips (a meal advertised on their special Wednesday night chicken menu which included glazed chicken strips) but they brought her a starter-sized dish of crumbed chicken strips which goes by exactly the same name in their regular menu! Instead of apologising and offering to fix the mistake the waiter basically said “you should have specified you were requesting the meal” and left. Never before have we had to specify we were ordering a meal – you just order it according to the name on the menu! Perhaps they shouldn’t have more than one item on the menu with the same name??

The next day we explored some of the Royal Greenwich Museums. Dad, Andre and Christine went in the morning to visit the National Maritime Museum while Mum and I went to Lewisham to go shoe shopping as the boots Mum brought were hurting her feet. Once she found a pair of shoes she liked we picked up some lunch (£3 meal deals – sandwich/wrap/pasta dish with a drink and packet of chips or slice of cake) from Sainsbury’s before meeting the others at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. We had lunch by the river, then headed up the hill to the Royal Observatory via the Painted Hall and Chapel in the Old Naval College.

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Looking down on Greenwich Park, the Queen’s house and the Old Naval College with Canary Wharf in the background.

There is a whole complex of museums on Greenwich Hill, and while some parts are free others are ticketed. We only had time to visit the Meridian Building and Flamsteed House (exhibitions about time, clocks, the Prime Meridian, and a steam punk mockumentary-type exhibit) and didn’t get to the Astronomy Centre. We dutifully took our photos on the Prime Meridian (0 degrees longitude) and Andre and Dad were quite intrigued by the dolphin-shaped sundial. Mum, Christine and I took a quick look through the space museum in the Planetarium building before it closed while Andre and Dad stayed outside drinking their tea and coffee.

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On the Prime Meridian!

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Dad and Andre discussing the sundial in front of them. The dolphins’ tails do not quite touch, and the shadow of where their tails nearly connect is the marker for the sundial.

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Christine with some of the clocks in the time exhibition in Flamsteed House

Once the Observatory complex had closed (rather early for summer I thought – 5pm when there’s still nearly 4 hours of sunlight left) we headed across the city to Hyde Park. We spent probably close to 2 hours walking across the park, seeing rabbits, squirrels, ducks, swans, geese and herons. We had tea at the Serpentine cafe overlooking the water – still bright and sunny at 8pm!

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On Friday Mum, Dad and Christine went to visit St Paul’s. Andre and I have both been there before and it’s a bit on the expensive side so decided not to go again. We took lunch though, and met the others once they were finished and ate our lunch on the steps of St Paul’s. And then it was off to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to watch Antony & Cleopatra!

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On our walk from St Pauls to the Globe theatre over Millennium Bridge.

Christine, Andre and I had cheap £5 ‘groundling’ tickets (standing space in the yard) while Mum and Dad had slightly more expensive (£15) seats on the bottom level. (You can pay up to £45 for seats depending on where they are positioned). The performance was very good and the actors did a great job, although it took a little while to get used to the Shakespearean language, and we all thought Shakespeare was lacking a little with his storyline. If you are able to stand for 2ish hours the yard tickets are very good value and a good experience – you’re close to the action and often the act moves back and forward through the yard as well. I would also say don’t bother buying the lemonade they have on sale there – it is the ‘homemade’ juice-type lemonade which, while that is normally fine, was lacking in sugar.

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The stage inside the Globe

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The view of the seats from the yard

Then it was back home for dinner so Mum, Dad and Christine could pack up ready to go the next morning, when they were picked up in a black cab to take them to their tour’s meeting point!

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