Tuesday, April 30, 2013

London Monday

We had our Oyster Cards and set off (with some confusion) on the Underground, from Islington to Westminster station - making it in time to meet Joel and hear Big Ben tolling the bells at 11 o'clock.

It was a sunny, cool London morning with clear blue skies and great views across the Thames to the London Eye. Tourists were everywhere, cramming the sight seeing boats, and there was a very long queue waiting to board the Eye.

Victoria Embankment looked impossibly green and manicured with lollypop coloured beds of tulips festooning the lawns.

We walked all the way from Westminster to St Paul's Cathedral and spent some time being awed by its amazing interior and crypt before making the climb to the whispering gallery and then the dome.

We love this view of London - looking much greyer now as the clouds gathered.

Refreshed by a lunch break at one of the ubiquitous Pret a Mangers we made our way across the Millenium Bridge to Tate - Modern.

We loved our visit here in 2011 and enjoyed introducing it to Ros and Pete. Its brilliant collection and  quirky architecture and layout gives it great energy.

Heading home, we caught a big red London bus from Liverpool St station (a 26 or 48 is what we were advised by the newspaper seller out the front in his very appealing Cockney accent). This was a great thrill for Ros and Pete who managed to get front row seats on the upper deck for the whole journey.  

We made our way to Queen Victoria Park in Hackney for a catch up with the rest of the family...and a beer at the Royal on the Park before making our way to the lovely old Hemingway on Victoria Park Road, where all 11 of us made ourselves at home for the evening, in amongst the old leather chesterfields, the deer heads, stuffed monkeys, Punch cartoons and some interesting artwork (especially in the bathrooms)........

As in all British pubs, kids and families are made to feel very welcome ....... games are provided and there's plenty of space...... and none of the guests seem to mind.

Ollie and Angus (and therefore Claire and Jeremy) woke up at 2.45am this morning (jet lagged) and have been awake ever since.  Claire and the boys left after a meal about 8.00pm utterly whacked. But we stay on even later and end up having a really late (but good) night together at this lovely old Hackney pub.

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