Tag Archives: London

Contrasting Entertainment

While in London we have tried to take advantage of the myriad of entertainments on offer. Some has been planned in advance like last week’s Blood Brothers, which was booked before we left Canberra. Others we have picked up along the way.

Early this week we went to a Cabaret in the Tower of London put on with amateur talent from the Yeoman guard and their family and friends. Not always very serious but a lot of fun. The Cabaret was performed in a small hall to a very small audience – perhaps 50 – to raise money for the restoration of the chapel. We stumbled across the night when looking for information on the Tower.  The night cost us £10 for the entertainment, as well as food and drink – amazing. One of the really interesting things about the night was being inside the Tower after dark with no crowds – quite different than being there in the daytime.

On Thursday we did a tour of the Royal Albert Hall – quite interesting although not entirely what we expected. During the tour we discovered that Don Maclean was performing that night and consequently booked ourselves seats. It was a great night – lots of fun. He has certainly not lost his voice or his ability to entertain.  We did pay a bit more for the privilege of listening to a professional entertainer at a venue like Royal Albert but it was worth it.  The only downside to the night was the youngish girl who sat next to me who had obviously never really heard of Don Maclean and spent most of the night playing with her phone – her loss.

This week we also went back to Windsor. While the day started a bit overcast, it cleared in the afternoon and we had a very good day with very few people around the castle. The history of the buildings, which stretches back to the 13th century and as the longest occupied palace in the world, is absolutely fascinating. We spent quite a few hours in the castle before wandering around the town and Eton for another few hours  and finally heading home around sixish.

As usual we have spent a large part of our week also wandering around the largely free museums, galleries and just London in general. Highlights this week include guided tours of London before London in the Museum of London, a tour in the Victoria and Albert Museum  on the Renaissance and an exhibition on the Wildlife photographer of the Year in the Natural History Museum. There were some very good photos including ones from very young photographers showing promising talent.

We have already booked our entertainment for Wednesday week – a play at the National Theatre. What we will end up seeing next week is anybody’s guess at this stage but you can gurantee that we won’t be at a loss for something to do.


Settling in

Our first week has been one of contrasts – trying to sort administrative issues and wandering around some fascinating locations.

First thing Monday morning we headed for our bank to finalise the paperwork necessary for our account. A real eye opener for us. The English banking system seems to be several years behind what we’ve been used to in Australia – to the point where the poor girl assisting us was apologising for how antiquated it is. Things like changing passwords and changing address can only be done in-branch or through a paper system. Setting up internet banking can also only be done in-branch and promises to be an interesting process!

We also had the fun of getting a National Insurance Number – something that the bank said they needed (the equivalent of a tax file number). So first thing Tuesday we rang the NIS phone number and eventually a very condescending woman (who we had difficulty understanding as she spoke with a strong accent – English) agreed to send the paperwork to John to complete his NIS.

For some reason I needed to attend an interview at a regional job centre on the Wednesday to fill out the paperwork for mine. We still can’t quite work out why the difference but as we now have our Insurance Numbers we don’t really care. (Although we are now at a loss to know why we did need them – we just did as we were told).

The week hasn’t been all administration though. On Monday afternoon we wandered around the city and ended up in the Royal Courts of Justice, which is an amazing building. We also visited the Churchill museum and War Rooms – the underground bunkers where Cabinet met during WWII. Everything is still much the same it was when Cabinet was meeting during the war – fascinating.

After my NIS interview on the Wednesday, we headed for Kew Gardens, a very large botanic gardens in the south west of London. We spent a pleasant day wandering around the various areas. John was very well behaved considering he has no interest in what he would normally classify as weeds. Still there was enough history in Queen Charlotte’s cottage and other buildings to keep him interested….. And he had his compensation with a taste of the local brew at the station pub on the way home.

The next day saw John a lot happier. We did a tour of Lord’s and it was very exciting to sit in first the Member’s and then the Visitor’s dressing rooms as well as the Media Centre. Hearing the history of the grounds and the players was interesting and John just couldn’t resist standing on the hallowed ground for a stolen moment. We had lunch in nearby Regent’s Park and wandered slowly into the city before heading home. A pretty special day.

On the Friday we visited the Tower of London – our first time since 2007. The Yeoman guard do a great spiel as they guide you around the Tower and you get to see things that you wouldn’t see without the escort. We spent around 5 hours in the Tower all up learning about it’s fascinating and gruesome history.

At the end of our first week we headed into Covent Garden, which is an interesting mix of up-market shops and flea markets with many buskers. The buskers range from opera (by virtue of the proximity to the Covent Garden Opera House) through to VERY bad comedians, jugglers and fake statues. The strangest we saw had to be a guy juggling sharp objects on top of a ladder in his very bad underwear (despite the cold weather). A very interesting area that is always good for a bit of entertainment.

A large part of our week was spent wandering in museums and galleries but mostly just around the streets taking in the historic buildings and the amazing atmosphere. of the city

An interesting and diverse start to our time in London.


After a long flight and a reasonably short trip through Immigration, we headed to our apartment in North Acton – our home for the next two months.

After unpacking and settling in, we wandered around the neighbourhood to get our bearings and to fight off the imminent tiredness from the long flight.

Coffee and a late brunch in the local cafe  proved too much for John’s desire for good coffee. I’m sure he despaired at this stage of ever getting a decent cup of coffee. The experience has unfortunately put us off the local cafe but luckily for John we found lots of very good coffee in London.

A trip to the local pub, The Castle, later in the day proves a bit more positive. The pub has a lot of character and offers live jazz every second Sunday. Somewhere we will be visiting again soon.

All in all a good day and a good start for our wanderings.