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"They're Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace"

Geoff went down with Joyce to the Palace

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Wherever I go in England I seem to get reminded of songs with the place names. When out and about in London feel like I am making progress around the monopoly board. This morning after a sleepless night managed to sleep in. Not good when we had plans to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. We fast walked to Kings Cross Station to catch the underground. Had to figure out which train to catch. We realised we could catch the circular line. But which direction would be the fastest as our destination half way around. Our indecision at the beginning meant we had to wait another 10 precious minutes for the next train. It was frustrating watching the clock tick around as seemed to stop at endless stations. Soon we alighted near Hyde Park and had a fast walk through the park. It was a little wet but we had dressed for this. Managed to make it just in time. I managed to wriggle myself to the front though one man was taking up a mighty lot of room beside me. There are always crowds of people watching this. The last time we had seen this was almost 11 years ago. It was on our first trip over to the United Kingdom when our three daughters, their partners and two grandchildren lived and worked in England. We had arrived the evening before. All the family were camped out at Sharleen and Adam's home in New Malden. Katrina and family who lived out of London suddenly decided it was the changing of the guards and wanted to see it. We were out of the house in quick time and almost ran through Hyde Park to make it in time as well. Zara was barely 6 weeks old at the time. So back here we were. Just as they were to come into view wammo I had a selfie stick thrust right in my range of vision by a young girl standing behind. "EXCUUUUSSSEEE meeeeeee" said I with a glare. The offender disappeared. The man taking up a lot of room moved over a bit I think he thought I was talking to him. Well worth the effort of getting there to see the changing of the guards again. We then thought we would get tickets to see Buckingham Palace. You can only do this tour for a short time every year when the Queen is on her annual holiday to Sandringham and as we were in London thought it would be a good chance to do it. We queued for a good half hour for tickets even those who had bought tickets on line were in another shorter queue. We then found out that we couldn't do the tour till 1.30 pm. We decided to book for the next day. We headed down the road for lunch. Later on we headed back to our accommodation, had a rest, then glammed up to head to Prince Edward Theatre by the underground. We had left plenty of time to have a leisurely meal before seeing Miss Saigon. We found a Japanese Restaurant where the waitresses were dressed in saris. A short walk to the theatre another wine and soon the show began. We were able to shift seats when a tall person sat in front so ended up closer. We sat on the first tier. We never can work out the best place to sit. This was good as most of the action in the first half seem directly in front of us. The show was full of action and the sets were amazing, and the acting and singing were great. It was a very entertaining evening, we were pleased with our choice of show. Soon it was back out on the street on a pleasant evening into the underground and back to our accommodation. Another great day in London. We were enjoying London and as we had seen most of the main sites in London on previous visits so didn't feel pressured to be seeing everything. Sometimes it is nice just to wander around absorbing all the atmosphere.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:49 Archived in England Tagged the palace at changing guards buckingham Comments (0)

Cork, Blarney, Killkarney and Limerick

A whole lot of Blarneyr

all seasons in one day 18 °C

On a showery morning we leave Cork and head for Blarney Castle. I had spied in a brochure that we were near Blarney Castle. Of course we had to visit. This was one time when ignorance was bliss. I had done no research on this. Geoff had studied it the night before. I thought the blarney stone was at ground level and wondered why on earth you would turn upside down to kiss the blarney stone. I was soon to find out. The entrance to the castle rather pretty with gardens and a stream. We got to the Castle and joined the long queau that stretched out the door. It took awhile to reach the narrow winding turrent leading upwards and upwards. Once in this turrent there was no way of turning back as there were people packed in front and behind. You were wedged in this turrent. Luckily I was in the right frame of mind that day as sometimes I can have claustrophobic issues and height issues. You could exit on the way up to look in rooms we did once but then had to push back in front. I must say we were guilty of saying we were part of the group in front at one stage. This was funny as got friendly with them and they would have known we didn't belong to that group. Near the top the turrent is particularly narrow and steep you are literally hauling yourself upwards by a rope which is quite vertical and still squashed like a sardine. It was good to finally make it to the top. Great views from there. It suddenly dawned on me that one of us would need to kiss the blarney stone. I knew Geoff wouldn't. We progressed reasonably quickly at the top as some people chickened out. There was a slippery mat to lie on and a gentleman to hold you in case you took a head first dive. There were some rails quite far apart quite a distance down. I put my head back then said where is it. It was another foot down. I just grabbed the rails and hauled myself down. Yes I did kiss it. When I stood up my feet were a little shaky for a couple of moments. By then I had time to think what I had just done. You went down a different turrent slightly wider. This time we had a chance to look through the rooms. We also chatted to an American couple from Arizona on their first trip abroad. She was an air hostess just doing internal flights. A chance to get a photo with 2 of us in. We looked around the beautifully set out grounds and had lunch here. Yummy tomato soup. I am always impressed with the quality of food in these places. We looked through the new gift shop, I bought a teatowel here. After Blarney Castle we had a short stop in Killarney before heading to Limerick for the night. Sadly we didn't get to meet up with Margaret, John's mum, we were in contact then I lost cell phone coverage. Killarney is an attractive town, obviously it would have been great to stop for longer. 7 days just time for a little taste of Ireland. Ireland on the run. All to soon we headed to Limerick another nice city with a river Shannon running through. We parked in a parking building then walked out of this building and along the street to reach our hotel looking over the Shannon river. The lady behind the counter very friendly, I read Irish people are the friendliest people in the world. It is right. New Zealanders quite high on that list. Anyway she decided to organize us gave us a map and told us where we should walk and have dinner. So we obeyed and enjoyed our river walk took photos and ended up at The Loft the noises busiest place in town. We were very hungry. They found us a quieter place upstairs where we could have dinner. The dinner was delicious, we were surprised how quick it arrived. Another great day in Ireland.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:22 Archived in Ireland Tagged the stone kissing blarney Comments (0)

Bridgewater, The Chantry and Kilve Beach

Making the most of a wettish day

rain 19 °C

After a bit of a lazy morning we donned our Kathmandu jackets as the day was rather showery and headed to Bridgewater for some supplies. Jackie had circled places of interest on a large map so we were attempting to tick them off one by one. With house swaps it is always good to get to know your local area. Burton was close to plenty of local attractions. Everytime we headed off it was down narrow country lanes often with high hedges, so you were on full alert for oncoming traffic. It would take a little manouvering to pass especially when it was a tractor set up for harvesting. The area was in full harvest mode. Bridgewater was our local town only a short distance away. We needed some supplies. Parking wasn't too difficult, there is a parking building in the town. We wandered around town separately, I wandered in a couple of clothing shops just looking. Bridgewater is a market town and civil parish in Sumerset. It was A major manufacturer of clay tiles in the 19th century. It is the administrative Centre of the Sedgemoor district and a major industrial Centre. The population is around 36,000. The muddy river Parrot runs through the Centre of town. In the afternoon we decided to visit the Chantry Tea Gardens. What a great place this was with a garden amongst the ruins of the Chantry at Kilve. We had a cream tea here and chatted to the owner. The gardens were lovely and colourful. The Chantry was founded in 1329 when a brotherhood of five monks was employed to say mass for their founder, Simon de Furneaux. The Roll of Incumbents show that several successive priests were incumbents of Kilve parish. The Chantry seems to have fallen into ruin long before the dissolution of the monasteries, for centuries it served as a barn for the adjacent farm. A path leads down from the Chantry to the beach. Wordsworth the poet lived here with his sister Dorothy for a brief period. We wandered down further and found a cricket field. Near here are the remains of a brick retort built in the 19th century when it was discovered shale in the cliffs was rich in oil. The scheme to the relief of locals was abandoned. We walked to the rocky beach. Here you could see the remains of a jetty. This area had a long association with smuggling. Legend has it that barrels of spirits hidden in the Chantry were deliberately set fire to as the revenue men appeared on the scene. We then set off home. We cooked duck for dinner, have taken a liking to duck since Gillian cooked it for us at Romney Green. You can buy it marinade already to put in the oven with all the instructions included, ideal when you are travelling. We found a large shop in Bridgewater basically full of these easy to cook meals.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:29 Archived in England Tagged gardens the tea bridgewater chancy Comments (0)

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Scotland's Royal Palace


Just seen my big blooper from yesterday. Heading should have been Edinburgh Castle. We have been to Stirling Castle on a previous visit. We awoke and looked out the window to see lots of rain falling. After breakfast it was on with the coats and off to catch the bus into central city. The day before we had purchased tickets to cover the hop on hop off buses. Hopped back on these to get to the Palace. The Palace of Holyroodhouse stands in a spectacular setting at the foot of the Royal Mile. It has walled gardens and is surrounded by parkland. It has been a royal residence for over 500 years. Today the Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen of Scotland. The Queen had recently been in residence on her way to Balmoral. She spends a week here at this time every year to carry out official engagements. You can't visit here when the Queen is in residence. The State Apartments are also used frequently used by members of the Royal Family for events in support of charitable organisatios of which they are patrons. Apparently Princess Anne stays here a lot. We had a guided tour through this Palace. No photos to be taken inside. Sometimes these places can seem a bit gloomy due to very low light , deliberately used to protect tapestries and furniture etc dating way back in time. This place has a vast history. Of course a big mention goes to Queen Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary succeeded the throne on her father's death in 1542 when just a few days old. Mary grew up in France in the French courts after an attempt by Henry VIII to force the Scots to accept a marriage proposal between his son Prince Edward and the infant Mary. The young Queen of Scotland, a Catholic returned in 1561 to a largely protestant country. She lived in Holyroodhouse where many of the dramatic events of her short reign took place. After the opulence of the french palace she would have found Holyroodhouse to be quite plain. She married her second husband Lord Darnley in the chapel in 1565. Her Italian secretary David Rizzio was murdered by Darley in her private apartments. We were shown where this dreadful event took place. When you first get to the Palace you are greeted with the classic style Quadrangle, then you walk up the Great Stairs into the State Apartments. The very large dining table is set out like it is ready for an official visit. You get to visit the throne room which was plainly finished. Then the drawing room with its large tapestries. The King's bedchamber was very elaborate with lavish furnishings. The great gallery served many purposes over the years The Queen still regularly uses this room to carry out investitures for Scottish recipients of honours and for State banques, dinners and receptions. After the tour we visited Holyroodhouse Abbey. This building has been left as a ruin. The ruins make good photos. We then wandered around the gardens. It was showery. There was a rather nice cafe here with very good food we had lunch here. Afterwards we visited the Exhibition of royal paintings which we enjoyed.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:01 Archived in Scotland Tagged the palace of holyroodhouse Comments (0)

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