Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014, London at David and McKenzie's

Have neglected to mention a fall which happened on Monday at Covent Garden.  I tripped on a curb and landed HARD on the cobblestones....cut above my eye, glasses twisted, skinned knee and bruised hand.....sounds awful, but no big deal....or so I thought.  It is now Thursday and the swelling is diminishing, but the hand is black and blue on both sides.  I say it is improving.....I'm outvoted....the other three say:  Get thee to a doctor.  Have no pictures but this one....McKenzie spent the morning here with me.....3 X-rays and 2.5 hours later indicate a break in the hand and have an appointment for tomorrow morning.  In that 2.5 hours, i saw the nurse practitioner twice and had three X-rays.....sometimes at home, I wait 2.5 hours just to see one M.D.   My introduction to socialized medicine was very the way, I did not pay a dime and no one ever asked to see an insurance card.

This building was all mirrored windows on the river side....sleek, ultra modern, a focal point in the skyline.  Within a short time of completion, a significant problem was discovered.  Granted London has little sunshine; however, whatever amount MELTED the cars below....yep, MELTED them!  Now there is black mesh to mend the problem.  I didn't get a picture of another significant problem....a high rise apartment/condo building tried to be "green" by installing 3 huge windmills on top to generate the electricity for the building.  Again, within a short time, the residents complained that the noise from the windmills was offensive.  Silence the the electric bill.

The HMS Belfast battleship from WWII

Still strolling along the South Thames, we pass a modern shopping mall...

and a great view of the Tower Bridge which we are going to walk across.

A glimpse of the Tower of London....our destination

A glimpse of City of London....The City Hall if on the left....the tall building i mistakenly kept calling "The Sheath".  It is The Shard...the tallest building in western Europe, home to a variety of commercial space.

Some nourishment before The Tower of London

Walking across the bridge

The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror around 1066 when he conquered England. Since that time it has served as a Royal Palace, an arsenal, a prison, safekeeping of the Crown Jewels, the Royal Mint, a fortress, Royal zoo and place for executions (22).

The yeomen warders are ceremonial guards of the Tower.  They must have completed 22 years of active duty military service to the Crown, starting as non-commissioned.  Their chief duty, in reality, is to provide tours of the Tower of London. 

Traitors to the Crown were brought to the Tower by boat through this "traitor's gate"

The Bloody Tower so named because of the murder of two young princes by their uncle, Richard III, who wished to secure his right to the throne.  The bodies of the young boys were discovered in a staircase excavation a century later.

All 22 of the yeomen warders live on the grounds of the Tower.

Prior to viewing the Crown Jewels (ABSOLUTELY no photos), there is a video of Queen Elizabeth II coronation

The raven holds a special place in the history of the Tower.....oftentimes a pest bird, King Charles II (1660-1685) wished the birds to be exterminated from the premises of the Tower.  The King was advised, however, that such an action would be disastrous.....that the Tower would, in fact, crumble to the ground.  The King acquiesced, allowing 6 ravens to remain....then changed that number to 8 to be certain that the Tower would remain intact.

Another treat AFTER the Tower!

Back to Parliament Square....for a closer look....famous statesmen are honored here

Sir Winston Churchill

David Lloyd George

Nelson Mandela

Abraham Lincoln....David was the first second grader to recite the Gettysburg Address in its entirety on the public address system at school....he dressed up as Lincoln.....he wanted to quit many times, but persevered and DID it....I lived in Springfield, Ill, for a few year, Lincoln's home....This great statesman is very special to our family.

Westminster Abbey....the site of William and Kate's wedding.  The sanctuary was closed, but we found other interesting sights....

Couldn't resist the "Thomas Sanders"

The Westminster School...high school for boys only....girls accepted for junior and senior years.

THE HAND looks black and blue on both sides.....yuk!  On the bus home!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014, London at David and McKenzie's

Our personal breakfast chef is on the job

This is the basic platter....eggs how you like 'em.  I think that after a week of this succulent beginning to our day, we are committed to adding tomatoes and 'shrooms to our morning fare!  We had a lazy morning....after our LONG day at Wimbledon, we were due for a break!  David has been getting up early every morning to go work out, preparing for a weight lifting competition.  The other 3 slugs slept till 9:30 am!  We lazed through the morning and gradually made our 1:45 appointment at HintHunt....certain that this time we would beat the clock

This picture should suggest that we did not, in fact, beat the clock!  Actually, the Zen room was much more difficult than the first one.  We were close, but no prize!!!  Kenz is trying to blame it on David...  not so much,  we think the old folks didn't carry their weight...which is considerable weight!!

On our way to lunch...electric car charger

Sticks n sushi is a restaurant which McKenzie discovered on a trip to Copenhagen with a classmate.

They just opened in London within this year.

Perhaps the waitresses' tshirts tell the story better than i can.   It is McKenzie's favorite London restaurant.

The menu tells even more of the story....yum

The tap water is filtered with a stick of charcoal.  The food was prettier than the menu....and tastes unique to each platter.  Nothing tasted the "same"....each platter, each fish, each meat had its own presentation, seasoning and flavor.  We agreed that we could stay here all afternoon!


The National Portrait Gallery is part of the National Gallery....somehow the portraits seemed more appealing at this time.

Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon

Anne Boleyn before she became Queen....

and after.....

Queen Elizabeth I.  The frames were nearly as spectacular as the portraits.

Queen Elizabeth I again

The Tudors aside, we went to another floor where we might recognize more contemporary figures. 

No bio needed

Back on the street again.  Warning:  do not feed the pigeons.  The Brits are serious about this.  One man was finally arrested after three warnings about doing so.  He is in jail, no bond.

A repeat visit to Trafalgar Square minus the festival crowds.  The monument is in honor of Admiral  Lord Nelson who defeated the combined French/Spanish fleet during the Napoleonic Wars in 1805.  27 ships under the command of Admiral Nelson defeated 33 enemy ships off the coast of Spain, west of Cape Trafalgar.  The Franco-Spanish fleet lost 22 vessels during the battle....the British Navy lost none; however, they lost their Commander Nelson who died in the conflict.

Not to be outdone by all the "little" kids who climbed up on the lion, these big kids were determined to do something they had not yet done in their three years here.....(but they were ALMOST outdone)

We are a bit early for our feature presentation of the week:  Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" which opened last night at the Old Vic Theatre. 

The Old Vic was established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre.  It changed ownership in 1880 and became known as The Royal Victoria Hall.  The building was damaged during WWII and reopened in 1951.  The theatre was home to the artistic direction of Laurence Olivier for a period during the 60's.  New ownership and new revenue created significant renovation during the 80's.  In 2004, Kevin Spacey was named the new artistic director and the last decade has seen an upturn in The Old Vic's popularity.  Spacey retired just a few weeks ago.  The Crucible is only the second play to be on stage since Spacey's retirement.

Richard Armitage portrays the lead role of John Proctor in Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible.  Some of you may remember him as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit.  The Crucible is an intense drama, reliving the Salem Witch Trials.  This parable attacks the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures.  The Old Vic was very recently converted to a "theatre in the round"...we were on the second row, level with the actors; we could see their eyelashes, their tears, their breath.  When David told us, just before the performance, that it was 3.5 hours long, Tom and I groaned.  I knew T would fall asleep and I was even worried about myself (and I LOVE live theatre).  No one dozed, no one moved, no one flinched nor hardly batted an eye....the drama was riveting.  When we stood to cheer at the end (and everyone in the theatre was standing, yelling, cheering for at least 3-4 minutes), the tears were involuntary.  Later we discussed why we were crying:  Yes, the story is sad.  Innocent people were executed.  However, the tears were in deep gratitude to the men and women who gave their heart and soul to tell the story with such passion, intensity and realism.