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A summary of the last week and a half

Monday:

In the afternoon Jane & I headed to the Tate Britain. If you're a fan of Turner this is THE place to be! Other greats hanging on the walls here are Constable, Whistler, William Blake and loads more. 

In the Historic British Art section you can see: Tudor & Stuart Portraiture, portraiture from 1660 - 1800, Hogarth, Lawrence & Sargent, The Grand Manner, Nature & Landscape, Romantic Painting in Britain, Visionary Landscape II, New Sculpture, Pre-Raphaelites & Painters of the Ideal, Victorian Spectacle and the artists listed above! There are also Turner galleries and a Turner and Rothko Gallery!

I have to say that it was getting to be quite a long day - LOADS of walking around, and I was getting tired, so didn't see as much as I would have liked (ie the whole place). But the great thing about the Tate Britain is that there is also no admission fee (except to specific exhibitions!). It is open daily from 10:00 - 17:50 with the last admission at 17:00. And on the first Friday of every month it's open until 22:00, with the last admission being at 20:30! For more info click here

Something to keep in mind: if you want to do both Tates & the Thames in one day - it's possible! You can catch the Tate Boat that runs between the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern approximately every 40 minutes!

It takes all types in London!

Ben and his building neighbours

So ornate & beautiful!

I met Jane for lunch and we dined in the crypt at St. Pauls Cathedral! I've learnt always go for the safe option: cheese sandwich etc and that's a tip I'm passing on to you! Anyway I got a couple of pics:

This +

this = the front of St. Pauls Cathedral!

Just crossed the Millennium bridge view of St. Pauls

View of St Pauls Cathedral from on the Millennium Bridge

Tate Modern Building:

This 

+ this

= an awesome day at the Tates! I did the Modern in the morning (well level 2!) and was totally blown away by the works of art! There is so much Picasso there - WOW! other artists that really stood out for me were Jean Miro with his simple abstraction, clean lines, bold colours and generally visually attractive works; Marcel Duchamp; Francis Bacon; Jackson Pollock - another WOW; Kandinsky - another WOW, love his work! Claude Monet, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko... the list goes on! (I should also mention that there is a Matisse, but I don't really like his work, it aggravates me!) I think I'll be coming back here often! 

The Tate Modern is open from Sunday - Thursday 10:00 - 18:00, Friday & Saturday 10:00 - 22:00. Last admission to paying exhibitions Sunday - Thursday 17:15, Friday & Saturday 21:15. Entry is free, except for the paying admission galleries - generally any non-permanent exhibitions! There are multimedia tours that you can take, but for a better experience, join a free guided tour! For more info click here


An evening at the Halfway House

On Friday evening (after lunch at a rad Spanish place with Jac, and an afternoon of chilling) I met Ryan Morris & his girlfriend Beks for a civilised drink (as can be seen in the image below...) at the pub down the road called the Halfway House. 

Grrr...

We were joined by a few others who also live in the area (candidly captured on camera!) We drank ALOT of wine, and had a great time!

Beks & Ryan

Sarah & (sponge) Rob

Matt - looking demure

Norky - glass half full!

Jac & Nikki

Tower of London

On Friday AM I went to visit the Tower of London... Obviously everyone comes here because of the gruesome history associated with this place. And that's exactly why I came too!

In the olden days the Tower was the safest place, accessible only by water (Traitors' Gate) and heavily armed. Stores of weapons were kept here along with the mint (where the money was made!)

This is what the T.O.L would have looked like when the moat was in action. The moat is no longer I'm afraid! It has been replaced by a lovely lawn.

Not the best light for this bridge!

Big, strong, different shapes!

So big, so old...

So awesome!

I stand corrected, but is this Tower Green?

Ancient ruins: part of the old Roman City Wall

Confirmation of above!

Big, round, old and rad!

Some people used to live in the Tower of London - these were some of their houses!

Inside this building is (at the moment) a rad Henry VIII exhibit apparently...

Behind these walls is a rad church. It's one of the Queens special churches (trying to remember why...) Buried in this church are lank famous people and if I'm not mistaken (although I could be) that includes 3 potential saints!

Behind this blue door lived either the doctor or the priest? One of the two!

A sneaky bridge makes sure it's included in the pics!

Some old houses: in the corner of the square (where the white houses meet) it's thought that Queen Anne stayed there before she had here head chopped off! Also one of the head honchos from the Nazi's stayed there along with quite a few other famous people! Not a great place to stay though: usually means you won't be around for too much longer!

Think this is the White Palace - could be wrong there. Need to go back and complete my tour of the Tower, so will find out then!

Quite picturesque...

Some old walls.

Isn't it great, old fashioned stonework? But even better is how they planned for electricity before it was even invented!

Flags are flying and towers are high!

Wish I could read what that says! But it's pretty cool anyway!

Old & older! 

This wall could be part of the Roman ruins, but I could also be making that up?

Wall & tree: deceptively pretty!

The infamous TRAITORS' GATE! This was the entrance that Queen Anne & Queen Katherine would inevitably have entered the Tower of London through. It would also have been the gate that Queen Elizabeth I entered the Tower through (although she didn't have her head removed, she did spend some time here. Before she was anointed Queen she again spent a brief spell here (as tradition dictates) but then never again returned - not surprising really!)

The water, the gate in perspective...

Another grey day in foggy London town!

How about them for windows?

Old building...

The Bloody Tower - this where a lot of the killing took place!

Confirmation of the above, and if I can read, built in 1225 or there-abouts!

St. Thomas Tower

Guarded middle? tower

Spikes from the drop-gate that is still closed at curfew every day, preventing people from both entering and leaving...

A (haunting) view thought the spiky gate

1500's / 2009? Hard to tell (the drain pipes are a bit of a give-away though!)

The outer tower (if I'm not mistaken?)

The view from the Tower of London. Although the exact date the 'gerkin' was built is unknown, historians claim that it may predate the Tower by 10 - 20 years!

Disguised by the buildings in the background: the original boat that Napoleon fought the Battle of Waterloo. In front of that grey warship, a replica of some old boat!

The walls of the middle tower if I'm not mistaken

Confirmation: the Middle Tower

Fancy a few old fashioned games anyone?

What I can't show you are pictures of the crown jewels (and no thanks, I don't need anyone to send me pics of theirs!). But they are quite cool! It takes about 30 min to see them all and if you have an obsession with gold, then you'd be in heaven! 

Legend has it that only once did anyone try to steal them, but if anyone knows of any other times I might be inclined to beleive that! Also I'm no expert, but I don't think all the stones are real, but that could just be because I'm from SA? 

For me walking around the Tower of London was actually more exciting than the actual jewels. Sure they were pretty, but they just don't have as good a story behind them. People plotted, planned and were killed behind these walls (like the two young princes who were killed by their uncle - how much more interesting is that!)

Anyway, I'm glad I went and I'll go back and see the rest later. I suggest going to visit during the week if at all possible. I imagine that on the weekend this place will become unbearable (haha). Admission is £17 for adults, £9.50 for kids, £14.50 for students and over 60's! Opening times are: Tuesday - Saturday 9:00 - 17:30, Sunday - Monday 10:00 - 17:30, last admission is at 17:00! For more info click here


Earlier on in the week...

On Thursday I went to Wimbledon and did the training I required for my new job (which I start on Thursday 21 May). I followed this up with a trip to the London International Wine Fair (talked about in a previous blog). What I couldn't capture in that blog was the mood I was in... Sometimes I wish I had a dictaphone with me at all times. Other times I wish I had a more advanced type of dictaphone... one that would record my thoughts without me actually having to speak out loud! This would be the ideal type of dictaphone for capturing the more 'interesting' moments...

I'd just been given a case of wine (totally thrilled by that) and set out to send Meebs the longest sms / text eva (I'd bought a phone package worth £15 that gave me 200 minutes and 600 texts. In an outstanding effort I managed to use all of those 200 minutes in 3 days. Quite a feat. I was however left with 600 texts, and was determined to use them!)

So I texted, and texted, and then tried to catch the train, with the box of wine. Strange phenomenon: in SA the boxes of wine seem to be lighter than in the UK! Possible answer: in SA we have cars to put the boxes of wine into. In the UK we don't. We have to lug them all the way home on the tubes (correct and incorrect ones) and then to put the cherry on the cake, from the station to the front door. On the plus side you can drink as much as you like cause you don't have to drive! Solution: get a wheely bag!

Monday - Wednesday:

I've told you all about Hampton Court Palace. Also went to see Wolverine (the movie). It was cool - great for those who like action movies. Just remember that it's make beleive, originally from a cartoon... Also did some shopping. Got a rad jacket from TK Max - all I need now to complete my outdoors look are a pair of wellies! 

For some reason I'm missing a day! I can't work out for the life of me which one it is and what I did! Hoping it will all come back some time soon :)


Anyway that's the last week and a half! I start my job tomorrow at lunch time. I'm catching a train from Waterloo in the am and the trip takes about 2 hrs, 15 min. I'm heading down to Dorset which I'm told is beautiful. It's also near the coast, so maybe I'll get so see some sea!

Meebs is holding the fort in Oxfordshire and should be returning to London in the beginning of June, so for all of you who haven't seen her - be in touch! I'm sure she'll be after a pint... :) To email her click here

Lucky

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