L is for London, Liverpool, and Loch Tay
London, England (1990-2004)
We used to go to London more frequently when Mike's mother lived in Reading, a 45-minute train journey from London. Now she and Mike's sister and family live in Cambridge, so when we visit we don't get to spend as much time in London. One of my favorite visits was when Kieran was a toddler (2004), and we stayed in the St. Margaret's Hotel in Bloomsbury for a few days. (I would recommend this hotel, for its reasonable prices, large family rooms, breakfast included, and proximity to the tube, a park, restaurants, and the British Museum!). Staying in London for a few days allowed us more time to experience the city.
Here are some of my favorite things to do in London:
- Walk around or ride a double-decker bus--it's easier to get the feel for the city when you're aboveground. If you're in a hurry, though, take the tube--that's an adventure, too.
- Visit Paddington Station and Platform 9-3/4 in Kings Cross.
Mike and Chris in Paddington Station in 1997 And Chris and Kieran there in 2004
|I understand Kings Cross Station now has a Platform 9 3/4|
- Visit the British Museum to see the Magna Carta, mummies, and my personal favorite: all the wonderful original manuscripts in the library.
My favorite part of the museum--original manuscripts in the library!
- Go to Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben, all in the same area.
- Visit Trafalgar Square (hopefully it will not have a statue of Margaret Thatcher there!), and watch out for the pigeons.
Unless you like pigeons (my dad...) Mom and Dad in London with us in early '90s Trafalgar Square in 2004
- Visit the Admiralty Arch, one of the most stately pieces of architecture in the city, used for ceremonial occasions.
- Go to the National Gallery nearby Trafalgar Square and the wonderful church of St. Martin's in the Field. St. Martin's regularly offers free lunchtime concerts, and it has a cafe in the crypt where you can have tea and snacks and make brass rubbings. You might be familiar with the Academy of St. Martin's in the Field, which played the Mozart music for one of my favorite movies, "Amadeus."
- Shop, eat, and take in free entertainment in Covent Garden.
|With Mike's cousin's daughter Emily in 2001 or so|
|Riding the fastest carousel EVER in Covent Garden, 2004|
|They were having fun, but I was a bit nervous!|
- Go see a show--London theatre is fantastic and we've found it to be less expensive than in New York or Broadway Across America shows (that might have changed over time).
Seeing "The Lion King" with Emily and Chris in 2001
After the show
- Visit Kew Gardens and Regents Park. The British do certainly know how to garden! :)
Mike with my parents in London, early 1990s
|Mike with his godchild, Jacob, in Kew Gardens|
- Stop by St. Paul's Cathedral (where Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married).
- If you have kids, don't miss the Natural History Museum and the wonderful Peter Pan playground and statues in Kensington Gardens.
Natural History Museum, 2004 Peter Pan Playground, Kensington Gardens
In front of Peter Pan statue
Peter Pan Playground (complete with pirate ship)
- Of course, you must visit Harrod's, particularly the food hall. And have tea at Fortnum & Mason...and window shop at Liberty's of London and Savile Row.
- Have lunch in a pub--my favorites are British pies (not the steak and kidney), curry, or a Ploughman's lunch (crusty bread with cheese and chutney).
- Don't forget to eat fish and chips, especially this is your only stop in England.
- Go to the Victoria & Albert Museum, my second-favorite museum in London.
- Taste London's wonderful food! It's a culinary paradise.
Meeting up with friends from Japan in a Bloomsbury restaurant, London
- Go see the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.
Winter 1990 or '91, I think...
- See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and the Horse Guards Parade.
With Chris in 1998 or 1999
- Visit Somerset House, especially in the summer, when 55 fountains dance. Feast for the eyes and senses! As you can see, Chris and Kieran got completely soaked, even though we didn't have swimsuits with us.
With our friend from Japan, Alison
- Check out Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (a modern reconstruction), or even better, see a play there.
- Walk across the Millennium Bridge (the one destroyed by Fenrir Greyback and the death eaters) and go up in the London Eye--we have actually not done either of these things, but they will be on our list next time we visit!
London Eye, 2004
Ah, to return to London!!!
Liverpool, England (early 1990s)
I've only been to Liverpool once, perhaps around 1991 or '92. What I remember most about it is meeting with our friend Tom in London the night before--we stayed overnight with him at his flat--and he and Mike stayed up really late drinking elderberry wine. I kept reminding Mike that we would be getting on a train very early the next morning to visit his aunt, THE NUN, but he was ignoring me. I finally went to bed without him. The next day he had a devilish hangover.
Mike's Aunty Gena was a wonderful, spirited nun who died last year, and she lived in various locations around the United Kingdom--her order would move her around every few years. We visited her at her home in Liverpool, and while we were there we spent some time wandering around the city, but not much. We did not go to Beatles tourist sites, for example. Most of what we saw of Liverpool was the convent!
|Rainy and gray Liverpool winter day, early 1990s|
|What we did NOT see...next time!|
We visited Loch Tay in Scotland with Mike's mum, who exchanged a week at her timeshare in Yorkshire for a place in Loch Tay. We had a wonderful week there...I loved the Scottish people; they are so friendly. And of course, since a Scottish woman (our mutual friend, Cath) is responsible for our marriage, we hold them in very high esteem! I remember going into the village to get meat pies for dinner, going to see an Agatha Christie play one evening in Perth, shopping in Aberfeldy, taking a visit into Edinburgh, and having a memorable visit to the chemist's. I had a horrible cold while we were there--sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, etc.--so we visited a chemist's (American English: pharmacist's) for some relief. Instead of giving me cold medicine, she told me that what I really needed was a swig of what she had under the counter--local lemon whisky! (Perthshire is a big whisky-producing region.) She was right...it really soothed my throat. So we went and bought a bottle next door. Wonder if the chemist gets a payback!
Apparently J.K. Rowling now lives near Aberfeldy and the River Tay in Perthshire.
|Loch Tay, Scotland|
Visit here to read my A-K posts. Tomorrow, it's back to Asia, and also the UK and Mexico, for M.