London – Day 6 – Palace of Westminster to Gordon’s Wine Bar

….day six continues along the River Thames

After leaving the Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey we continued walking towards the River Thames. Right behind the Abbey lies the Palace of Westminster which holds both houses of Parliament for the United Kingdom. It was originally built in the eleventh century and rebuild in the 1800s after it burned down.

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As you can see from the photos the structure was under quite a bit of construction. The one big disappointment was that Big Ben was also under construction but we knew this before we arrived in London. What I didn’t know was that the entire tower would be covered in scaffolding. The refurbishing is scheduled to take three years to complete and during the renovation the clock bells have been turned off.IMG-8945

From many parts of London one of the sites that stands out above many of the building is the giant Ferris wheel called the London Eye. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames in London and is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually.IMG-6999
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As we continued along the River Thames we came across the Golden Jubilee bridge built in 2000. It is a steel truss bridge located in Lambeth borough.

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From here we headed over to Gordon’s Wine Bar but on the way we passed through the Courtauld Institute of Art. At the time we had no idea what we were looking at but we liked the sculptures and the architecture.IMG-8961
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Gordon’s Wine Bar is located on the Strand. It is thought to be the oldest wine bar in London having been established in 1890. The bar is very much a family affair, owned by Wendy Gordon who is the wife of the late much loved Luis Gordon, and now overseen by Luis’ eldest son Simon. The building itself was a warehouse built in 1790 and in 1880 it was converted to accommodations.

We entered through the cellar doors. You need to stoop to get to your rickety candlelit table – anonymity is guaranteed! If the sun is out you can also sit outside in Watergate Walk and enjoy watching the world go by. The bar is loved by many and seems to be a place where time has stood still. It serves only wine, sherries and port and simple food, ranging from homemade pies to mature cheese. If you’re in London you should definitely check this place out. You can find more information here.

A word of warning. If you do go into the cellar watch your head because the ceilings are low and it takes awhile for your eyes to adjust to the dark. I hit my head three times in the space of a minute making my way to our table.

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Baking Bread Outside in the Winter

….actually all year round

The biggest difference between baking bread now and in the summer is the weather. In the summer we can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine while the bread bakes in the outdoor wood fired oven but in the winter the sun may shine but the wind and the cold drive us indoors to wait out the baking time.

Today it was a beautiful sunny day but when the wind picks up and we can’t all stand in front of the oven door to keep warm we headed inside. It was a busy market day because it was also the Christmas market. We had to work quickly so that the vendors could set up but we also made more product because we knew that there would be twice as many people coming today. We experimented with a new recipe and made some mini panettone. The first five loaves sold in a matter of minutes and I’m sure that the remaining three didn’t hang around for long.IMG-9688
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London – Day 4, Part 2

…..Diana’s Memorial Fountain, Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, the V & A and happy birthday to my sweetie

While walking along the Serpentine we came across Princess Diana’s Memorial Fountain. It was officially opened in 2004 by Queen Elizabeth and the opening was attended by Prince Charles, her two sons and her brother Charles Spencer. It was the first time in seven years that the Spencers and the Windsors came together to honour Diana.

The fountain itself was designed by an American, Kathryn Gustafson.  She had wanted the fountain, which was built to the south of the Serpentine, to be accessible and to reflect Diana’s “inclusive” personality.IMG-8812
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From the fountain we walked further west towards Kensington Gardens where we came across the Albert Memorial. From the size of the memorial you would have thought that Albert had been a king but it was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband Prince Albert, who died in 1861. The memorial was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

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After Kensington Gardens we headed south to meet up with my husband Kevin and our son, Brendan. Brendan is a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum.IMG-8833
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The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The Museum holds many of the UK’s national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance. (copied from the V&A website – www.vam.ac.uk)

Brendan gave us a wonderful personal tour of some of his favourite rooms at the museum.

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The last five photos were taken in the casting room. The gold leaf that you see here was used to cover the private parts of the statue, David, whenever Queen Victoria would come to visit the museum.

Opened in 1873, the Cast Courts display copies of some of the world’s most significant works of art reproduced in plaster, electrotype, photography, and digital media. The cast collection is famous for including reproductions of Michelangelo’s David, Trajan’s Column, and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, amongst many others.(copied from the V&A website).

Brendan explained to us that the whole idea of making these copies was to bring the world to the people at a time when most people couldn’t afford to travel to exotic places. Over the years these copies have become invaluable reproductions because many of the original pieces have been damaged or disappeared because of environmental factors or conflict.

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It’s impossible to see everything in this museum in one visit. I went back a couple more times I was in London.

After an exhausting day of walking we went back to our apartment to rest and freshen up. October 2nd is Kevin’s birthday so Brendan and Azadeh booked a reservation at a restaurant in Central London called Polpo Smithfield. We had a wonderful time sharing numerous plates of delicious Venetian food. fd3f46d5-f05c-407b-b1bb-20256b07ea63
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London – Day Three – Part 2

…..after Highgate Cemetery

Down the hill from Highgate Cemetery we were directed to look for a pub that came highly recommended. Unfortunately when we got there the pub was being completely renovated and wasn’t open for business. We didn’t have to walk far before we found another place with a lovely patio. It was a little chilly to be sitting outside so we opted to go inside The Vine. Only one other table was occupied but the bartender greeted us and directed us to a table for four and handed us menus.

Normally an empty pub doesn’t bode well for good service or food but in this case it was completely the opposite. Our waiter was delightful and the food was delicious.

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After a pint of larger or cider and a few sharing plates we headed off towards Camden Market.

With hundreds of stalls selling clothing, crafts, and food, Camden Market is one of Europe’s largest markets. It is divided into different markets. We started in the Camden Lock Market which is on the street level and next to the locks. There were lots of food vendors here and a variety of stalls selling anything from books, music and flowers to vintage clothes.IMG-8642
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At first glance I thought the market was actually quite small but then we walked through a hole in the brick wall and we experienced a whole new world. There are literally hundreds of vendors in the Stables Market.

The Stables Market is located in historic former stables and the Grade II horse hospital which served the horses pulling Pickford’s distribution vans and barges along the canal. Many of the stalls and shops are set in large arches in railway viaducts.IMG-8651
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It is very easy to get lost in this place. If you like this kind of market give yourself a couple of hours to really see this place and check out all the vendors.

London – Day 2 (Part 2)

….Day 2 was jam packed with activity

We ended our site seeing day at Liberty London where we admired the beautiful fabrics that Liberty is so famous for and went upstairs to the Christmas Department. Yes, Christmas. October is the beginning of the Christmas season in England. I couldn’t help myself but I had to purchase a little Christmas gnome for our granddaughter’s Christmas tree. I wish I had taken a photo. Sorry about that.

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One of my daughter-in-law’s must do items for this trip was to experience a Sunday roast. Our son booked a table at the pub where he and his wife celebrated their marriage after the civil ceremony over two years ago. Since none of us were at their party (we celebrated with a Persian wedding a month later with all the families in Italy) Brendan really wanted us to see the place and he pre-ordered a traditional Sunday roast for six.IMG-8221
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London – Day 1

……settling in

We arrived at Heathrow one hour earlier than expected. I actually managed to get some sleep on the plane so I wasn’t a complete zombie when our son picked us up. We had a quick coffee and then took an Uber drive to our accommodations. It took about an hour to get there but it was a wonderful introduction to the enormity of London.1348_DCEB_5537_47_E5_867_C_820_D84_D1_E30_F
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After unpacking we walked to the corner convenience store and bought a few things to make a light lunch. Josie kindly made us eggs and toast. I had a quick power nap when I finished eating.

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Our son, Brendan, came by later in the afternoon to walk us over to his flat so we we would know how to get to his place in the next few days. Both Azadeh and Brendan made us a wonderful meal to celebrate our arrival in London. A great way to start our vacation.18223136_EB07_4_B00_979_D_9_F0_F64_ABC323
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