Travel Letter Index

January's trips to London

Letters to Doreen from London

Early January

We left on Friday at 10.34 and read on the crowded train all the way there. When we arrived we bought a roam around ticket for the day so that we could go anywhere without having to buy a ticket for each journey. We certainly got our money’s worth. We took the Docklands Light Railway to London City Airport station and the hotel we were staying in was about ten minute’s walk away. The railway has only just been opened at this stage and was new and clean and appealing.





The hotel was also brand new and so everything was in perfect condition. After unpacking our luggage, a quick coffee and an apple we set off again back to Canary Wharf. The railway goes past the Thames Barrier which in someone else’s photo looks like this:






Canary Wharf is most impressive and looks like this from the railway.






We did some shopping, bought roam around travel tickets for the next two days, found our bearings and located two of the restaurants we hoped to use and then went back to the hotel for an hour or so before setting off again to Canary Wharf in the evening to have a meal with Judith. Someone else’s photo of Canary Wharf in moonlight makes it look quite romantic.



We had an excellent Chinese meal and spent ages nattering with Judith. We got back to our room after half past ten and crashed out in front of TV news after a long day.

Next morning we went to the British Museum to the Samuel Palmer Exhibition. It was the first time I had been to the Museum and so I was quite taken aback by the new part.

My photo is a bit more straight forward than this one I borrowed:






We thoroughly enjoyed the Exhibition which was very crowded. We then bought ourselves a newspaper and headed back to the hotel with a view to a wash and change and back out to a restaurant. However, we were so tired by the time we got back and it was not far off six o’clock we decided not to go out in the cold again but to eat at the hotel.

The next day we went to the Tate Britain gallery to another exhibition, which again was very crowded. When we came out of that exhibition there was not a seat to be found in the gallery café or restaurant so we left the building and went to a restaurant along Millbank where we had most of the place to ourselves. We sat at a table in the window and had a really nice meal. We had decided that we would have a long slow lunch, not bother to try to fit in another gallery that day and not bother to go all the way back to the hotel only to come back to the city for an evening meal. Instead we decided to take our time, go back via Canary Wharf and spend some time looking around and sitting in a coffee shop watching other people.

Part of our shopping was a pile of books which along with the gallery catalogues had to be carried home the next day………and they were heavy.

The next morning we walked around the St Paul’s area with our rucksacks and then went on to Tate Modern where we had coffee but did not have time to go round the exhibition there so we bought the catalogue and have now booked a hotel for another time to go backand see it. This is the view during our cup of coffee.



We then walked over two miles through London’s streets to St Pancras station and caught the 13.25 train to Derby. We had the carriage almost to ourselves and so had a really comfortable journey. The end of a very busy few days.



Late January

We left Derby on Sunday at 11.55 and although the train was called the ‘fast’ train we did not arrive at the hotel until gone three o’clock. Still, we did have an extended tour of the engineering works. By the time we had gone out to buy necessary supplies it was too late to go to Trafalgar Square to look at the Chinese New Year celebrations. Instead we decided to go out early for dinner. We had a very enjoyable meal at a restaurant nearby called Little Bay.

On Monday morning we took a slow walk down the road we were staying on which took us almost directly to where we wanted to go; past St. Paul’s cathedral, over the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern. We wanted to go there because we intended to see the Henri Rousseau exhibition the last time we went to London but ran out of time. So, on this occasion, we were prepared to devote the whole day to it if we wanted.

We had coffee in the same place we did last time and so the view was the same as the one in the previous letter and then went in to the exhibition. We spent quite some time there and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had plenty of time and although it was busy we were able to look carefully at all we wanted to. Indeed, we went back and looked at a number of paintings several times.

We left the Tate and went back across the bridge and this time turned right and went to Spittalfields market to find a restaurant called ‘Canteen’ we had read a complimentary review of. Although we had not booked they managed to find us a space in a very modern building in a square. We had an excellent meal although the food was what we would call straight forward. The place was packed and when we chatted to the waitress we found out that they had had ten good reviews in the press and were extremely busy as a result. I have just checked the ‘Time Out’ web site and it received five stars for everything. After taking quite some time over lunch we took a slow walk around the development at Spittalfields and then went on to St. Paul’s.

I had never been in the building before and was content to sit under the dome and marvel at it whilst Beryl went up all 530 steps to the top to admire the view. I was already in quite a lot of pain in my left knee and did not like the idea of such exercise. Anyway, after a thorough look around the place we had a drink in the café and went on to walk around the city some more and do some shopping before returning to the hotel for an early night.

This is a photograph of the recently renovated and replaced Temple Bar with St. Paul’s in the background.





The next morning we left the hotel at 8.30 and very unusually for us joined the rush hour crowds on the transport system. We took the tube to Hounslow East and then walked the two miles or so to Golly’s house where we arrived just a little after the time we said we would.

She was remarkably active for a lady of her age and kept us enthralled with reviews of books she had read recently and tales of her family background. She even gave us a list of recommended reading to take a way and we look forward to sharing our reading materials and reviews with her.

We left her house at about 12.20 which is when I phoned you to hear whether the flowers we had sent had arrived and they obviously hadn’t. We took the tube back to Leicester Square and went for lunch in the National Gallery Café. After lunch we had an extensive walk around the gallery looking at paintings we had seen often before but really enjoyed again. Because we had the time we listened in on a number of people who were delivering talks to assembled groups about the paintings. That left me with the desire to go back to my art books, read them again and pursue things further.

After the gallery we took a walk around China Town. It was very busy and people were clearly celebrating still. This is what one of the streets looked like.



We then went from China Town to Covent Garden where Beryl wanted to show me a restaurant she and Celia sometimes use when they go to London. I look forward to going there one day but for this trip we had decided on another restaurant nearer the hotel. So by the time we had finished drifting about the rush hour was well and truly on again and we squeezed into the last inch on a tube train back to the hotel. We had a glass of wine or two and watched the news and Masterchef before setting off again to a Turkish restaurant we had selected the previous day in Exmouth Market. We had an excellent meal before trudging back through the bitter cold to the hotel. We did not “take much rocking” as Dad would have said.

The next day we packed and left the hotel at about ten. It is not one we shall use again. The road it was on was so noisy and it was built directly above a tube line and so we could hear and feel every train. We left our luggage at St Pancras station and set off to walk to the Wallace collection for another look around there. However, by the time we had walked just past Harley Street we realised that there would only be time to drink a cup of coffee. So, as my left knee was hurting so much that I stopped off and bought some pain killers to have with my coffee we went back and spent our time at the British Library instead. What a wonderful place! We had a snack there and spent ages in the book shop. We have decided that whenever we have a wait for a train we will go there. They have a free left luggage and cloakroom facility and we intend to apply for readers passes so that we can go into the reading rooms and indulge our passion for finding things out.

We were in good time for our booked seats on the train back to Derby and the time passed very quickly with us glued to the novels we had taken with us. A really good trip and we look forward to going again.