A Busy Week in the UK

15 Apr

Our first full week in the UK has been a busy one as we try not to let days go by without ticking something off the list.  The weather has been a mixed bag; some days overcast and cool ending up raining, others breezy and a bit of sun.

I have mentioned this before but for anyone who missed it; it is not my intention to even try to present a full and historically accurate account of each of the places we visit – that can all be found on Google for those whose interest I have piqued.  Rather I will include photos that I find appealing or that I think you might like, together with some comments that help me remember what it was about or add some context.  If I have it handy I will sometimes include a link, usually to Wikipedia, for further information.  And on occasions, I will not let the facts get in the way of a good story!

On Monday  after lunch we went to Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, a National Trust property.  We joined the NZ Historical Society before we came back to Europe in February.  The cost was something like NZ$69 as a couple and it includes reciprocal arrangements with the National Trust and some other organisations.  The thing is it would cost GBP92, or about NZ$180 to join here in the UK.  So it is a very good deal.  The entry price for two adults to Wimpole Hall alone was GBP21 (NZ$40) so it only takes a couple of visits to cover the cost of the membership.  Anyway, the house was awesome.  Took lots of pictures of  the house and the gardens and farm.

Wimpole Hall, the stables which are now used as the ticket office, café and gift shop.

Wimpole Hall, the stables which are now used as the ticket office, café and gift shop.

Wimpole Hall, the north facing façade

Wimpole Hall, the north facing façade

Wimpole Hall - The Grand Dining Room

Wimpole Hall – The Grand Dining Room

Wimpole Hall - Old Rectory

Wimpole Hall – Old Rectory

Some of the various breeds of lambs.

Some of the various breeds of lambs.

Monday was also the day that we all learned of Margaret Thatcher’s death.

The weather was not great on Tuesday but we went out after lunch anyway but only to Welwyn Garden City.  This was a new city established in 1920 according to a plan that was meant to combine the positive aspects of both the city and the countryside while mitigating the negative aspects of both.  It was not a nice day to be out so we returned home early.

Before lunch on Wednesday we headed for Bishop’s Stortford.  We walked up to the church of St Michael and got talking to an old guy who had been to NZ – he told us to look at the plaque on the RHS wall beside the High Altar. It was about the guy Jackson after whom Captain Cook named Point Jackson in NZ.

The Corn Exchange, Market Square at Bishop's Stortford, now a restaurant and hairdresser.

The Corn Exchange, Market Square at Bishop’s Stortford, now a restaurant and hairdresser.

Just because it was there.

Just because it was there.

Saint Michael's Church, Bishop's Stortford.

Saint Michael’s Church, Bishop’s Stortford.

Looking towards the high altar.

Looking towards the high altar.

Saint Michael's Church, Bishop's Stortford.  The plaque referring to Jackson Point (not sure, but this might now be known as Port Jackson on the Coromandel).

Saint Michael’s Church, Bishop’s Stortford. The plaque referring to Jackson Point (not sure, but this might now be known as Port Jackson on the Coromandel).

We then headed further north to Anglesey Abbey, another National Trust property.  We went straight to the house and the the gardens and then to the Lode Mill, which was running some of the time we were there.  Spring is very close now, lots more daffodils and blossoms.  It was also quite warm.  The house was not anywhere as nice as Wimpole but it was interesting enough.  The current appearance was only developed between 1930 and 1960.  The grounds were 114 acres.

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

An example of one of the rooms, this was the only one with such a ceiling.

An example of one of the rooms, this was the only one with such a ceiling.

This looked like baking paper to me!

This looked like baking paper to me!

The canal to the Lode Mill at Anglesey Abbey.  The mill was running when we visited.

The canal to the Lode Mill at Anglesey Abbey. The mill was running when we visited.

It rained overnight and Thursday morning there was fog/low cloud and a tiny bit of moisture.  We left home at 11am headed for Saint Albans using Apple maps for navigation.  We have been using Apple maps on the iPhone as our primary navigation aid for the past week and it works very well.  You do have to check the routing sometimes and as far as I can make out you can’t manually alter it.  My solution has been to either find an intermediate locality, or drop a pin, navigate to that and then re-plot to the actual destination.

Saint Albans Cathedral was awesome, spent ages in there – it is huge.

Just a cute pub but with a quick costume change facility outside.  Handy!

Just a cute pub but with a quick costume change facility outside. Handy!

The Clock Tower, built between 1403 and 1412.  This is a mediaeval belfry almost unique in England, it contains a large curfew bell dating from 1335.  At least that's what the sign said.

The Clock Tower, built between 1403 and 1412. This is a mediaeval belfry almost unique in England, it contains a large curfew bell dating from 1335. At least that’s what the sign said.

Looking directly ahead upon entering the cathedral via the public entrance.

Looking directly ahead upon entering the cathedral via the public entrance.

Then looking right: Wallingford Screen, St Albans Cathedral behind the high altar where the monks prayed.  It dates from c. 1480 - the statues are Victorian replacements (1884–89) of the originals, destroyed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when the screen itself was also damaged. Statues of St Alban and St Amphibalus stand on either side of the altar.

Then looking right: Wallingford Screen, St Albans Cathedral behind the high altar where the monks prayed. It dates from c. 1480 – the statues are Victorian replacements (1884–89) of the originals, destroyed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when the screen itself was also damaged. Statues of St Alban and St Amphibalus stand on either side of the altar.

And then looking left.

And then looking left.

Then finally looking up...

Then finally looking up…

On the back side from the organ is the main public area for worship.

On the back side from the organ is the main public area for worship.

The shrine of Saint Alban.

The shrine of Saint Alban.

Showing the remains of where there were once cloisters.

Showing the remains of where there were once cloisters.

Saint Albans Cathedral.

Saint Albans Cathedral.

The Great Gateway Of The Monastery.  It was erected in the 1360s and besieged in 1381 by the Insurgents in the Peasants' Revolt.  The third printing press in England is said to have been housed here in 1479.  From 1553 till 1869 it was the local prison.  Since 1871 it has formed part of St.Albans School (just to the left in this photo).  the cathedral is on the right.

The Great Gateway Of The Monastery. It was erected in the 1360s and besieged in 1381 by the Insurgents in the Peasants’ Revolt. The third printing press in England is said to have been housed here in 1479. From 1553 till 1869 it was the local prison. Since 1871 it has formed part of St.Albans School (just to the left in this photo). the cathedral is on the right.

Afterwards we walked on to what they claim to be the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Inn, for a beer and a bowl of chips.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks interior.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks interior.

Beyond the pub is Verulamium Park which apart from being big and wet contained these two gems…

Roman mosaic floor from AD195 in Verulamium Park.  The missing section in the lower right corner is where one of the underfloor heating ducts, part of a system known as a 'hypocaust', that cross the room has collapsed.

Roman mosaic floor in Verulamium Park. The missing section in the lower right corner is where one of the underfloor heating ducts, part of a system known as a ‘hypocaust’, that cross the room has collapsed.

Still in Verulamium Park, a section of Roman wall.

Still in Verulamium Park, a section of Roman wall.

On the way home we went to the De Havilland and Mosquito Museum at Salisbury Hall. I only spent an hour there.  It was a bit Heath Robinson, more like a hobby place than a fully prepared public exhibit.

De Havilland and Mosquito Museum - a 1945 Mosquito.

De Havilland and Mosquito Museum – a 1945 Mosquito.

A DH100 Vampire.  As far as I know there is still one of these airworthy in NZ and one of the staff confirmed that it had flown recently in a display with one of their own aircraft.  I have seen it at the Wanaka Airshow.

A DH100 Vampire. As far as I know there is still one of these airworthy in NZ and one of the staff confirmed that it had flown recently in a display with one of their own aircraft. I have seen it at the Wanaka Airshow.

The very well recognised DH82A Tiger Moth.

The very well recognised DH82A Tiger Moth.

The day started with light rain but we still decided to go to Cambridge. It was not raining when we parked there but in 45 minutes there was a bit of a downpour.  Another fine spell then more heavier rain than before. Decided to pull the pin and come back another day.  Got to the M11 and came to a halt just south of Duxford due to an earlier crash somewhere north of Bishop’s Stortford.  Took us 1h07m to cover 8km, some of it was stopped with the engine off.  The trip that should have been just over an hour turned into more than two hours.

Corpus Christi College

Corpus Christi College

King's College

King’s College

Christ's College

Christ’s College

After getting home, dried off and relaxing a bit we headed out again…

Met Dave and Carolyn here for an ale one evening - very busy.  Only a couple of miles for where we are staying.

Met Dave and Carolyn here for an ale one evening – very busy. Only a couple of miles for where we are staying.

Saturday morning was blue sky – got up early to go in to London for the day. Left home at 8am and parked at Gordon Hill station.  Rode the train to Kings Cross.  The closer we got to the city the darker the sky became bit no rain – yet.  Saint Pancras station looks amazing (right next door to Kings Cross).  It is huge.  Walked to the British Museum and were there before it had all opened properly.  Were waiting for the Egyptian display to open because we tried to follow a suggested route on their map.  We whistled around many different exhibits and left after two hours.  You could spend weeks in there!

Caught a double decker along Oxford Street to Marble Arch, got the upstairs front seats. Had a quick wander then caught the Tube to Westminster so we could visit the Churchill War Chambers. Lots of exhibits and a semi-separate Churchill Museum but that part was difficult to navigate, there was a day worth of material in there alone.  When we got out it was raining.  Walked through Horseguards Parade and via the NZ Embassy to  Piccadilly Circus.  Got on a bus near Piccadilly Circus going all the way to Finsbury Park and luckily there was a train 10 minutes after we arrived, otherwise it looked like the next one was over an hours wait.  We thought the cats might be very pleased to see us after a day out but they didn’t seem too bothered.

Kings Cross railway station.

Kings Cross railway station.

The result of budget cuts n the London ambulance service.  To be taken to hospital you need to sit on the back.

The result of budget cuts n the London ambulance service. To be taken to hospital you need to sit on the back.

Saint Pancras railway station and hotel… it is huge and lovely.  Lots of information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Pancras_railway_station#Connection_to_King.27s_Cross

Saint Pancras railway station and hotel… it is huge and lovely. Lots of information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Pancras_railway_station#Connection_to_King.27s_Cross

And people refers to NZs roads as a working museum!  Good to see The Hobbit looking on.

And people refers to NZs roads as a working museum! Good to see The Hobbit looking on.

The main entrance approach to the British Museum.

The main entrance approach to the British Museum.

This space is reported to be the largest covered square in Europe.  Again, lots more information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#The_Great_Court_emerges_.281975.E2.80.932000.29

This space is reported to be the largest covered square in Europe. Again, lots more information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#The_Great_Court_emerges_.281975.E2.80.932000.29

Snapshots from one of the many exhibits.

Snapshots from one of the many exhibits.

Leanne pondering the meaning of life...

Leanne pondering the meaning of life…

Called 'Cradle to Grave by Pharmacopoeia' each strip contains over 14,000 doses of medication, the average prescribed to every person in Britain in their lifetime, incorporated in pockets of knitted nylon filament.  The man on the right died at 76 and took as many doses in his last ten years as he did in the previous 66 years.  The woman, on the left, is still alive at age 82.

Called ‘Cradle to Grave by Pharmacopoeia’ each strip contains over 14,000 doses of medication, the average prescribed to every person in Britain in their lifetime, incorporated in pockets of knitted nylon filament. The man on the right died at 76 and took as many doses in his last ten years as he did in the previous 66 years. The woman, on the left, is still alive at age 82.

Light rain was falling.  This was beside Piccadilly Circus.  I took it for the lines of curved buildings but you also get an idea of how busy it is with taxis and buses.

Light rain was falling. This was beside Piccadilly Circus. I took it for the lines of curved buildings but you also get an idea of how busy it is with taxis and buses.

Sunday was a real rest day.  Except for a necessary visit to the supermarket for supplies we stayed home all day.  It was not uneventful though.  Murphy (one of the cats) has found a way out of the ‘cat-proof’ back yard.  The first we knew of it was mid afternoon when Leanne walked out of the lounge and saw him sitting outside the front door!  That is not meant to be possible!  Then in the evening, after he had been fed (and he had actually eaten his food), we noticed that the little bugger was gone again.  We searched the house and the back yard and the street out front calling his name and shaking a bag of treats, but nothing.  Before it got dark we dressed up in our coats to extend the search and to try and find our way to the properties on the other side of the cat-proof fence.  Just got all dressed up, opened the door, and there he was sitting on the front step again.  So now he is not even allowed out into the back yard.  Isn’t it typical that something would go wrong the last night before the owners return?  Talk about Murphy’s Law!

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