A Travellerspoint blog

Madam Tussuard's, Primrose Hill and Swiss Cottage

Revisiting some favourite places in London

sunny 24 °C

It was Saturday in London, we set off first to visit Madam Tussuard's. We found our way to Kings Cross Station. At our entry point to our underground destination they had just stopped the train line due to someone on the line. Police and medics running everywhere, we never did find out what happened. Plan B. We found another way to get there with one train line change. At the beginning of our big trip when we were in London we found the buses worked well from our accommodation. But as we were near Kings Cross Station the underground certainly worked better for us. Kings Cross a local and international station. We headed to Madam Tussuard's to join lots of other tourists on this very sunny Saturday. I enjoyed my last visit here about 10 years ago. The displays are constantly changing. It always surprises me that you can get up so close and personal with the wax figures. David Becham no longer in footie clothes and pose but now in a fancy suit posing beside his wife Victoria, famous for the Spice Girls and now her fashion empire. Kylie Minogue on surfboard replaced with Miller Cyrus sitting on a long tongue. There was a feature of some of the young singing stars. Beyonce was the head feature with 3 models of her along with Lady Gaga who wouldn't have existed on my last visit. Also Britanny Spears looking very glam. I was amazed how small Madonna was she isn't very tall, she always seems larger than life in real life. Freddie Mercury still there, his Song Barcelona with the Spanish Opera singer still the best Olympic song ever. A little bit of home New Zealand's legendary rugby player Jonah Lomu striking a great pose, possibly on display with the Rugby World Cup taking place in England. With my interest in art it was good to see some of the famous artists on display. The Royal family pose now controlled with an official photographer. You can still take your own photo. Of course I had to do that pose for my late Grandma who was such a royalist. It is rubbing off on me as have had a rather Royal time this trip. Lady Diana no longer attracting queues but replaced with queues to do the selfie with Kim Kardashian. I admit I did this pose. Interesting how the moody Kane is relegated to the back. There were all the usual world leaders, sports stars too numerous to mention. A new area was showing the making of the wax figures, with Beyonce featured here. Also there was a display of the history of Madam Tussuard's. She was the tiniest little lady. We did the London Taxi ride through various displays that flash past. Soon we were queuing to head upstairs then waiting upstairs to go into the 4 D theatre. We were so hungry by then the only drink we could find was some sugary icy drink the cup was threatening to collapse we had with a bag of crisps. The 4 D was based around saving Buckingham Palace. You got sprayed with air and mist at the correct time, jabbed in the back by your chair, vibrations through the floor. Puff of air where you would least expect. After this we ended up in a Star Wars exhibition. I am not sure how this got added to our ticket. The Grandchildren would like this part. We had a very late lunch. Afterwards we decided to walk through Regent Park to Primrose Hill. Daughter Janine and Tim's old stomping ground. London rather flat, Primrose Hill gives views over London. A few families up here, lots of tourists and the younger generation up here. Young lovers of every orientation up here as well relaxing. Londons certainly enjoy lapping up the sunshine when they get it. Then there was us the two oldest up the top of Primrose Hill. For nostalgic reasons we then decided to walk to Swiss Cottage where Tim and Janine lived while in London and later along came baby Joe, now a big boy. We spent lots of happy times at Swiss Cottage on our previous 3 visits to the United Kingdom. We found new apartments, the favourite Costa Coffee Shop still there as is Alex's Hairdressers. There were lots more restaurants across the street from the flat and a very nice restaurant at the nearby sports Centre. We found our way to the underground where we used to catch the Jubilee Line, here we managed to find a train heading to Kings Cross Station.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:56 Archived in England Tagged city siteseeing Comments (0)

York to Stegness, Stegness to Kent, Kent to London

Travelling from York to London


All good things come to an end, it was time to clean and vacuum our York house swap. We said our goodbyes to Harley the shared cat and left his bowl full of food. You would think he would be overweight with the volume of cat food he consumes, remembering that the neighbour was feeding him too. Soon we were in the car and heading South. We stopped at Drewtons Farm Shop for lunch. This place had a huge shopping area one part selling farm produce, lots of cheeses and meats and another area selling other crafty things etc. There was an extensive newish Restaurant, the whole building looked quite new. We had a tasty lunch and good coffee. This place was an estate a large farm. The manages did all sorts of things like hunting parties, weddings, accommodation as well. Soon it was time to head to somewhere for the night, we ended up in Skegness. Skegness was a seaside resort. First we tried one place but got a bad feeling about the place so curtailed out of there and headed the other direction. We found a family run Guest House. The lady here very nice and the room was good. No lifts just lugging cases to the 3rd floor. Most places we stayed several floors up most had lifts but not all. Some lifts the size of cupboars that is when I decide Geoff can take the lift with the bags and I'll take the stairs thank you. We walked to an old corner pub for a meal. It was rather late. After our meal walked all over town, found a suppermarket still open for supplies. There were lots of amusement archades open with very few people in them. I am not sure how they all manage to make a living.. Breakfast wasn't included with our accommodation so we ate cereal off our plastic plates in our room. The next day we drove from Skegness to Eden. We passed a lot of market gardens on very flat land, England very flat and rolling. I had visions of staying in Windsor where we had visited before, at this late stage the prices there of accommodation very pricey. We finally found a guest house called Buckingham Hotel just out of Eden. This place just 15 minutes from Heathrow Airport where we were dropping off our car the next day. We walked into town about 20 minutes walk, needed the exercise, past a pizza place near the hotel and the silly thing was we ended up eating pizza in Kent. Kent seemed to consist of huge shopping malls that seemed very new all attached with a railway station. A bit of the old town remained. We headed to the town the next morning to find a post office in the old part of town it took a w hIle to findicate a park found a praking building in the end. The next morning after visiting the Kent township we headed to Heathrow Airport to drop off our hire car. Still no scratches to the car, no mean feat with some of the roads navigated. Eight hire cars and no scratches. It was a different story for the other young couple who caught our cutesy bus. He was saying we should have taken more before photos, she was saying what about the curb you hit and the hedge you scrapt. A few phew moments during all that time driving in so many countries for us but us and cars were still in one piece. We caught the Eurocar cutesy van to Heathrow Airport, just had to get in the lift and negotiate our way to Heathrow Express train. Managed to stow our luggage and get a seat. Only about 20 minutes and you are in Paddington Station. We spent some time here had lunch before catching a taxi to our hotel near Kings Cross Station. I like these London cabs so easy to pull your luggage on and off, no boots to have to lift your bags into. A short distance was our Guest House called Sudios2let. This time we were on the top floor, lots of stairs to negotiate, no lift. A porter grabbed my bag and ran up the stairs with it. Accomodation good and reasonable, we had booked it well in advance. It was only a short walk to Kings Cross Station, one of Londons main stations. The good thing is it had a kitchen. There were lots of quaint shops and eating establishmen's near us and a newish shopping complex with a supermarket. We bought groceries and went back to cook dinner. I Thought I could smell smoke Geoff opened the oven and smoke poured out setting off the fire alarm first one then the other. I had visions of the fire engines turning up and people half naked standing on the foot path. It was late. Finally got the alarms off and retrieved the charcoaled chicken. My ears were sore for ages after. Checked the oven again later and this time all the fuses blew, I was in darkness while Geoff went and found someone to fix the fuse. Polish people running this place a little translation problem at times. Finally the fuse fixed and someone came to repair the thermostat the next day. The first day back in London caught the train to Picadilly Circus and spent some time in central city.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:31 Archived in England Tagged driving Comments (0)

Walking the walls of the walled city of York

It would be a good idea to start with a map


We caught the bus into the city. The bus stop was just across the road. Buses came past about every 10 minutes. It was good not having to find a car park. I had a well over due hair appointment, I had the compulsory dye test the Friday before so was all set for a colour and cut. The lady did a good job, the end result was good. That will get me home. It was expensive though. Eighty pounds, when you convert that it would have been around 200 NZ dollars. It was just convenient to get it done in York, I guess I would have paid less if I had used a Salon out of the city. It was then time to find some lunch before heading off around the wall. Finding the first part was easy as started near York Minister. It was quite fun at the beginning as you could peer into the backyards of hotels and houses. The city of York has the most complete example of medieval city walls still standing today. Beneath the stonework lie the remains of earlier walls dating back to the Romans. The Roman walls survived into the 9th century when in AD 866 York was invaded by the Danish vikings. The Vikings buried the wall under an earth bank topped by a palisade - a tall fence of pointed wooden stakes. The wooden palisade was replaced in the 13th and 14th centuries with the wall that stands today. We finished the first part of the wall but finding the next part not easy, not helped with road closures. We searched for a while eventually we found some others looking for the wall as well, eventually we found it. The other young couple started on the wall with two elderly ladies. They didn't get far as one of the ladies didn't like heights. We continued on our way stopping to take in the sites along the way. The wall then finished. We found the museum and a information Centre and got a map. I pointed to a historic bridge but Geoff decided to walk the other way. I finally decided we were going no further till we knew where we were. We walked towards the historic bridge and over it and found the wall once again. It took us a while to work out our map. This was probably the longest section. Lots of twists and turns. At one stage we saw an ambulance go by, then we peered over the wall to see what looked like someone trying to revive someone. It was a homeless group, Whoever was helping was getting lots of verbal abuse. Soon the ambulance came back to sort the situation, we made our way around the wall. We exited and finished the last bit when we found the entrance, we had walked this bit before. Wall conquered. It is about 4 1/2ks around with our detours it was a lot longer. It is great that so much of this wall still remains today, it certainly gives a lot of character to York City. We enjoyed all the time we spent in the city of York. Soon it was time to catch the bus home, prepare dinner and start packing for the next day.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:47 Archived in England Tagged city walled Comments (0)

Our Coastal Drive in Yorkshire, England

A beautiful sunny, Sunday drive

sunny 24 °C

We enjoyed our Steam train ride from Pickering to York, so decided to do a coastal trip. It was a beautiful sunny day. We drove through the Yorkshire Moors. What a beautiful site with the moors a sea of purple from all the wild heather growing there. There were lots of people out walking or bIking through the heather on the Moors. Our first stop was going to be Hartlepool. We changed our minds when we started to drive in and found that this seemed to be a big industrial city. To get to the other side we had to cross over the river Tees. This was one of the longest bridges that we have driven over, it looked very new. It was one of those suspended bridges. It was a long way down. The first stop was Staithes, Captain Cook Village in North Yorkshire in Scarborough District. Captain Cook worked in Staithes as a grocers apprentice from 1745 - 1746. It was here he gained his passion for the sea. This was an important fishing village at the time. There are still fisherman working from here. Getting out to sea would be interesting especially when the sea is rough. The car park was up above the village with a steep walk to the village. This place was charming with its interesting shops and houses, art galleries and alley ways. The view of the sea was picturesque. There were about 8 artists here painting the views. We wandered around then found a cafe by the waterfront selling sandwiches so stopped for lunch and enjoyed the view. This would be a great place to stay a night. Soon it was time to head back up the hill. We found the interesting town of Ravenscar, the town that didn't happen. One man of importance didn't want a train track on his property, so the track had to go through a tunnel. The train drivers hated the wet tunnel. The train line was closed some years back. Our next stop was Robin Hood Bay. Fisherman, sea Captain, smugglers and dinosaurs have all left their mark here. Smuggling was profitable in the early 18th century due to high taxes imposed at the time. Rum, brandy, tobacco tea and silk were landed on the beach at night and delivered inland via connecting cottages, tunnels and using moorland ponies. There is a dinosaur free museum here. The village is known locally as Bay of Baytown. Parking was a distance away. There was a paying parking area. Walking into the village was down a steep incline. With it being Sunday there were lots of families enjoying the village. Lots of interesting shops, houses, pubs etc to admire. The sea was quite away out on this flat beach. You could see that the water levels could be high when the tide was in. There was a lot of seaweed on the beach. We bought ourselves an ice cream and enjoyed it whilst taking in the sea views. No amusement parlours here. Soon it was off to our next Destination, of Scarborough. We drove along a popular swimming beach area with a towering hill with walls and Scarborough Castle. The town lies above sea level 3 to 70 metres above. The older part of the town lies around the harbour and is protected by a rocky headland. We spent time here after finding a paying park on the outskirts. Scarborough's population just over 61,000 and is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire Coast. The place has Sandy beaches, cafes, amusement archades, theatres and a modern commercial town that can be reached from the harbour by cable car. The Grand Hotel dominates the harbour it is an impressive building. Scarborough was bombed by the Germans in 1914 resulting in 78 women and children being killed and 228 women and children injured. We enjoyed this place pausing for coffee and Jaffa cake. We walked right along the harbour to the Spa area. We were fascinated by this building. There was also a theatre here. Scarborough has much to offer. It would be easy to stay here for a few days, lots to do. The marina is very picturesque. The song Scarborough Fair originates from here. A major fair was held here for over 500 years. It was dark when we headed home. We had our dinner at our local shops a late dinner, restaurant calley Prezzo, very Italon, great decor. The first time I had tried pork belly. Yummy. A great day on our big adventure.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 02:07 Archived in England Tagged coastal drive Comments (0)

Pickering to Whitby, York

Great steam Train Ride

all seasons in one day

Following on from our visit to the Train Museum in York the day before we decided to drive to Pickering and catch the steam train to the coastal town of Whitby. We parked and paid then realised it was a 2 hour park. We went to see when the next train was leaving. It left in another 20 minutes. We flew back to the car and found a park the other side of the town that was long term. We walked very fast back through town. Pickering an attractive town but didn't have time to linger. We got our tickets then lept on the train. Um not easy finding a seat. We thought the first carriages upholstery a little shabby so kept going till we found the new upholstered seats. We finally found a seat where we could sit together, when the man opposite pointed to the window and said that this carriage is reserved for couch trippers. I think he was enjoying his peace and quiet. Just then the ticket man arrived and he wasn't a bit concerned with us being there. Anyway we soon befriended those around us, they were all a bit older than us. They were all interested in our house swapping adventure. There trip ended at Whitby where their couch was returning at 2.00 pm. They wouldn't have had much time to enjoy Whitby. Half way there we stopped and opposite us was a stationery train carraige that was a dining car. We spotted some glums sitting at a table and decided it was our mission to get them to smile. They were really glum took us till the train left to finally get a smile and a wave. The trip was great it went through a National Park. We enjoyed seeing the vast growths of heather in full flower. Just being on a steam train a novelty for us. Lots of volunteers running these trains. We met one man who had been volunteering for 40 years for several days a week. Whitby is Dracula country where Dracula originated from. There is a ruined castle on the hill you can walk up to. It is a very picturesque town. We enjoyed exploring all the quaint shops. We found a restaurant looking towards the sea where we had fish in chips for lunch. We also found a museum dedicated to Captain Cook so visited that. There were lots of people dressed up demonstrating various things. This building was where Captain Cook did his apprenticeship. Apparently he was more studious than the other lads. We also found out he was a good friend of Captain Bligh. The Captain from Mutiny of the Bounty fame. One of the demonstrations was of the food they ate on their voyages. It was exciting for us to discover the Mauri cloak on display presented to Captain Cook, especially as it came from a Taupo tribe, our home town. For awhile it became very windy, we walked towards the sea and it was blowing a gale. As usual at English seaside places there were the usual array of amusement archades. Also of interest was the historic swing bridge to let the boats pass out to sea, which connected the town. It was easy to full in 6 hours here. We caught the last train back at 6.00 pm. The train didn't have many passengers on the return journey. Half way back they swapped the steam engine. Apparently it takes an hour and a half to put it to bed for the night as they have to clean it etc. It was dark by the time we got back to Pickering. By the time we got back to York we abandoned the idea of cooking our dinner and bought some noodle boxes at our local shopping Centre. Harley the cat was waiting for our return. This steam train trip well worth doin, very enjoyable.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:23 Archived in England Tagged train ride steam Comments (0)

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