Time in the UK

September 13, 2011


When we flew from Singapore for London, we knew we had a long 13 hour flight ahead of us so I decided to take a sleeping pill and pass the majority of it in sleep which meant I slept 11.5 of the 13 hr flight which was fabulous. I also needed the rest so that my back didn’t cause me grief for the entire flight.

We arrived at Heathrow airport at about 5am and we had to catch the underground train – ‘The Tube’ – to High St Kensington which is where our hotel was and we only had to make a short walk from the station to the hotel, thank goodness…it’s always a pain dragging luggage around. We were able to store our luggage at the hotel but we couldn’t check in until about 2pm…we arrived at the hotel a little before 8am and we didn’t want to waste the day by sitting around in the lobby, so we got a bus to Victoria St Station which is where all the buses and trains are centred and it’s where all the tour companies have their bases. We thought the best thing to do with our day was spend it looking around as our time was limited and already pretty much booked out.

We got a 48hr hop on/ hop off bus ticket that gave us a commentaried tour around all the main sites of London and we could get on and off wherever we wanted to and see any site that appealed to us. I had always wanted to go in to the Tower of London so we decided to start there. We actually spent a few hours wandering around the Tower of London and learning about it’s history…it was not the place one wanted to end up…if you entered the Tower of London, you never left there with your head.

Actually, many people who were sent to the Tower of London were executed but the majority were actually executed on Tower Hill, just a very short walk from the Tower itself and only 7 people were ever executed in the Tower of London itself. Two of those were wives of King Henry VIII.


I was surprised at how big the complex is and there is even a chapel there as well and many other buildings and dwellings, even a residence for the Queen and there is a Royal Guard on duty at all times. We learned that he is a qualified soldier and had even done a tour in Afghanistan.

The grounds in the Tower of London are really quite beautiful and there is a great deal of history to be seen and learned from visiting there; there is the armoury showing various suits of armour and the swords and cannons that were used in various centuries. There is also a small display of some of the weapons and tools of torture that were used on those imprisoned there and of course, stories of things that happened there abound. Medieval England would not have been a wonderful time to live, you could lose your head for any or no real reason.

Once we finished at the Tower of London we hopped onto a cruise boat that took us up the Thames and this gave us a wonderful view of some


wonderful British landmarks, the most notable being Tower Bridge. Most people think this bridge is called ‘London Bridge’ but that’s not the case at all, ‘London Bridge’ is really quite unremarkable and ordinary, Tower Bridge on the other hand is stunning. We got some fabulous shots of this bridge from all sides, front – back – under – and going over it – we saw it from almost every angle except from the sky! It really is a gorgeous landmark and like everything else in London, it’s incredibly detailed and ornate.

We got off the boat at Westminster and got up close and personal with the Houses of Parliament. Boy if ever there was an ornate building it’s this one. The artwork and detail in the stonework all over the outside of this building is breathtaking, it’s hard to imagine so much effort going into a building for the government. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way by any means, but I can understand that kind of detail for a Cathedral or a palace or a castle but I was just stunned at the intricacy placed into the construction of a government building. It is simply fantastic.


Westminster Abbey is also a magnificent structure although we didn’t go in it this time around as we’ve already been through it on a previous visit. Yes it’s magnificent, yes it’s enormous and even awe inspiring, but at the end of the day it’s a giant indoor cemetery. That was something I wasn’t expecting when we visited it years ago…everywhere you look there are sarcophagi with statues, busts and epitaphs for all manner of people who had varying degrees of importance over the centuries. I have to admit that it’s really a gigantic edifice to the glory of man and to those who are entombed within it whether they deserved to be or not.

Big Ben the clock tower is also situated right beside the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and that is a seriously impressive clock to be sure. We found out that the clock was never named Big Ben, but rather the bell inside it that chimes is called Big Ben…the name has simply stuck over time and the clock has gained the name. It’s really quite beautiful and like everything else is very detailed and ornate. That was something that really struck me as


we made our way around London, all the buildings have that big, grandiose feel about them with ornate stonework, intricate carvings and scroll work is everywhere from ornate carvings over the top of entrance ways and window sills, to incredibly intricate carvings that decorate entire buildings. Some of it was staggering and so very old as well.

Having been in the heart of Sydney and even in Brisbane, it’s very easy to see the British influence on many of our older buildings and terrace houses; in fact I believe that many of the architects and builders who erected those buildings were originally from England. I guess that makes perfect sense considering that it was the British who initially settled Australia and NSW/Sydney was the place they started.

We saw a few other famous landmarks on our first day in London and we got back to our hotel pretty weary and ready for a good nights sleep and it was around dinner time that we finally checked in.

I’ll have more to share soon…thanks for stopping by.


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2 Responses

  1. Lyndall CroftSeptember 18, 2011 @ 10:35 amReply

    Mandy you would make a good tour guide for London as well as Singapore n Israel. Ian has some relative buried in Westminster Abbey, near Poets corner, Dr. South lost his head at the time of King Charles 2nd. So you’re right, it is a giant cemetary. Looking forward to reading more of your amazing blogs. Mum.

    • Thanks Mum…we get a little caught up in the info we learn…we love history. Last time we were in the UK we visited Westminster Abbey and saw the bust on the wall of Dr South. This time we decided to seek some other points of historical interest. I’ll have more to share soon. Mandy :-)

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