Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last day in London - first day home!

When I left you last, we were on our way out the door for our last day in London.  Ellen and Philip had already left to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the exhibit on quilting that I told her about when I went in June sometime - or was it May?  I'll have to read my own blogs to figure that one out!

We wanted to go to the Docklands Museum which is in the east end of London to finish up a tour that we took back in December when we were visiting Ellen and Philip to learn all the ins and outs of their house.  It's a great museum about London's history and I had gotten as far as the slave trade in the 1700's and wanted to finish.  To get to the museum, you take the tube to the DLR - Dockland's Light Rail.  This is a unique part of the London rail system and starts at the Bank tube station underground but comes above ground very soon and goes out beyond the Docklands area and beyond Greenwich.  It is an automated train and I felt sometimes like I was in Disneyworld on the tram.  If you are in the first car, you can sit right up front where a driver would normally be and watch where it is going.  Since it twists and turns and goes up and down, I said to John that this is the closest I would ever get to being on a roller coaster.

The museum opened in 2003 and is housed in restored sugar warehouses that were built in the 1800s.  It tells the story of the River Thames from Roman times to the present and I found it simply fascinating because so much of what I have read about England revolves around the river and London and it made a lot of history and historical novels come alive for me.  The displays are excellent and some are interactive.  You can walk the length of a model of London Bridge when it had over 100 houses and shops on it;  you can walk through an area that looks like the docks; you can  watch on screen an enactment of several shipowners in the 1600's doing business in a pub; you can read the names of souls that were transported in ship-holds as slaves to the hell they would be living in England and the colonies.  It is a remarkable museum that you should visit if you are ever in London.  We had a very nice lunch in the restaurant before we returned to see some more.  We could have eaten outside in the sunshine but it was very blustery and cool and we deemed inside to be much more comfortable.  By the way, admittance is free!

While there, we were reminded of the Museum of London which we had also been to before and decided at 3:00 to go on to that since it was open until 6:00.  It was only a 20 minute trip using the DLR to return to Bank and then switching to another line to go only one stop.  A five minute walk fighting the wind got us there. It was interesting to be there on our Fourth of July and see so much of where our heritage and history started.

We spent a good three hours in the museum and when we left the wind was blowing and it was very cool. 
 I was wearing shorts because it was much warmer when we left the flat hours before.  We headed to Hammersmith to meet Ellen and Philip for dinner at The Dove, one of our favorite pubs.  It's on the Thames River and is in the Guinness Records for the smallest bar in England.  Seats 4, I think, but the pub is a pretty good size and a lot of it outside on the river.

Well, we got there at 7 just as they closed the kitchen so we walked down the way to another larger pub.  Food wasn't as good and we were sitting outside for awhile until I couldn't stand it any more.  I was the only one in shorts and I was cold.  The wind was blowing off the river and it was in the 60's - on the 4th of July!  Don't think I made Ellen very happy, in fact she had to go outside for awhile during dinner because she was too warm!

Got home and finished packing.  I had asked Ellen and Philip to bring one of our suitcases from our attic with them -  what I thought was a brilliant idea - so we would have an extra because we had accumulated so many books and presents.  They said they really didn't need an extra bag but somehow when they arrived in London, it was stuffed!  It was a challenge getting everything to fit and in the right bags; in fact when we went through security, John was accosted by security for having sunscreen and the very expensive mustard we bought in Paris in his carry on.  They absconded with it!! 

We left early Monday morning, July 5th, for home.  John was really ready and I wasn't at all.  In fact, I'm ready to go again any time.  It's where I feel at home. 

Ginger and Bill picked us up at the airport and had a lovely little basket of goodies for us -items that we shared in England together, crackers, cheese, even a certain toothpaste I found in England.  We had a lovely hour or two with them and then took off immediately for our rental house that badly needed fixing up to put it back on the market for the next renter. Painted rooms, washed walls and woodwork, floors, etc.  Welcome home!!

Now we have been home 7 weeks and it has taken me a full month to get back in gear.  I started working about 3 weeks ago in my design business and focusing more on MonaVie.   Wish me luck.  My dream for England is finished and now only memories.  On to a new dream.... I wonder what it will be.

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