Tag Archives: London

Top things to see in the Tower


1.Crown Jewels

As I said in an earlier post, the Crown Jewels at the Tower are magnificent. No photos could ever do them justice, they have to be seen in situ.

 The tradition of coronation in England is well over 1000 years old, but the Crown Jewels at the Tower are more recent. Almost everything in the Jewel House was made after 1660 – the earlier crowns, orbs and sceptres had been destroyed following the abolition of the monarchy in 1649.

 

2.The Ravens

Legend says that  if the six resident ravens ever leave,the kingdom and the Tower will fall. 

It was Charles II who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower shoravensuld be protected. His astronomer, John Flamsteed, complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower. Despite their having one wing trimmed, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have had to be sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials, and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub.

3.The White Tower

 One of the most famous castle keeps in the world, The White Tower  was built to subdue and terrify Londoners and to deter foreign invaders. It’s an iconic symbol of London and Britain.tol-iconic-white-tower-1

Along with the rest of the Tower complex, the White Tower is one of the most important historic buildings in the world. It’s part of a World Heritage Site and is an example of Norman Architecture. 

The White Tower also houses the magnificent Royal Armouries collections, including the 300 year old exhibition Line of Kings as well as treasures of the Royal Armouries.

There are arms and armour on display including the magnificent royal armours of Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.  

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The White Tower was also used for torture, imprisonment, and execution over the centuries.

Actually, torture was only used in the Tower during the 16th and 17th centuries, and only a fraction of the Tower’s prisoners were tortured. It was never used as a punishment, only a means to get information.

Torture has never been officially permitted under English law. Those who carried out this brutal practice in the Tower acted under the direct orders and authority of the Privy Council and the monarch.RackTowerofLondon

The three main instruments of torture employed at the Tower were the rack, the Scavenger’s Daughter and the manacles.

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Tower Bridge: Some interesting facts


tower-bridge1910 – the high-level Walkways, which were designed so that the public could still cross the bridge when it was raised, were closed down due to lack of use.

1912 – during an emergency, Frank McClean had to fly between the bascules and the high-level walkways in his Short biplane, to avoid an accident.

1952 – a London bus driven by Albert Gunter had to leap from one bascule to the other when the bridge began to rise with the number 78 bus still on it.

1977 – Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. (Before that, it was painted a chocolate brown colour).

1982 – Tower Bridge opened to the public for the first time since 1910, with a permanent exhibition inside called The Tower Bridge Experience.

 1993 – The Centenary exhibition was opened at the Tower Bridge.

 1994 – The bridge was available for events and parties.

 2002Tower Bridge Exhibition.  was reopened.

Tower Bridge was needed as originally the only crossing for the Thames was London bridge, and as the population grew this became too congested. At this time the east end of London was a thriving port being served by hundreds of boats including Thames Sailing Barges.

(London Bridge was perhaps one of the first bridges built over the Thames, the original wooden version was built about 50 AD.  The most famous version of the bridge that was used in the nursery rhyme was built by King Henry II as part of his penitence for the murder of Thomas Becket by his knights.  Eventually it became saturated with buildings (some 200 by the Tudor period) on top that ultimately proved to be a fire hazard and were torn down after an act of Parliament in the 18th Century.  Another bridge was built in the 19th Century, and when it came time for its replacement, it was sold in 1968 to Robert McCulloch, who had it shipped to Arizona where he rebuilt it).  

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The Coca-Cola London Eye


Eye Pod

Situated on London’s South Bank, it is within easy walking distance from several London Underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster. 

The 32 capsules of the Eye are symbolic of London’s 32 boroughs and are numbered 1 to 33, eliminating the thirteenth carriage for good luck.  The wheel offers some of the greatest panoramic views of the city, on a good day stretching as far as 40 kilometres. 

It stands 135 metres high and is now the Coca-Cola London Eye and is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. The experience showcases breathtaking 360-degree views of the capital and its famous landmarks and has been the number one visitor experience in the city for the past decade.

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My Favourite 5 Places to go in London


1. The Tower                                         toweroflondon

One of my earliest memories of London was visiting the Tower, with my sister-in-law when I was a child. The scary ravens on the lawns are said to protect not only the Tower, but London itself. The story goes that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, London will fall. They have lived there for over 200 years and don’t look like going anywhere, thank God!

Continue reading My Favourite 5 Places to go in London

London’s Big Bus Tour


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London’s Big Bus Tour company runs 3 different routes around and through the city, offering single or multi day tours, and optional attraction packages. The bus also runs some night tours.

The open-topped, double-decker buses take in almost all the sights and attractions London has to offer with a “Hop-on/Hop-off”  system so you can visit any or all of them as often as you like and stay at each place as long as you like!

With over 50 well placed stops and buses arriving every 10-15 minutes, it couldn’t be easier to see all of London and enjoy  the recorded commentary in 12 different languages.

Check out their video for a sample of one of the tours.

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London- why you must visit


 I LOVE London!london

Have I said it already?   Well I’ll say it again – I LOVE LONDON!

Why? Oh so many reasons, after all these years it still makes me welcome when I visit. Growing up in Essex, and working in London, I got to see quite a lot of the place. And I never get tired of it, I can go there time and time again, see the same sights and still learn something new each time. London has so much to offer visitors, you can spend a few weeks easily wandering from one attraction to another. Guided walking tours are available for those that want something more organised, or you can simply use the hop-on-hop-off bus if you are pushed for time. I find that just walking around is the best way and the new London Wayfinder signs for walkers are excellent.  ll-totem-1wayfinder-sign

The London Underground rail system, (known as “The Tube”) is really easy to use and visitors can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card which offers a 50% discount to cash fares. These can be bought online at Visit Britain Limited, along with a London Pass which gives you free access to 60+ attractions around London, including the Hop-on, Hop-off bus.

The London Pass can be bought for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days use, and attractions include;

  • Tower of London, londonsightseeingboat1 bigbus1
  • Westminster Abbey, 
  • Windsor Castle,
  •  Hampton Court Palace, 
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,  
  • London Bridge Experience, 
  • Thames River Cruise,
  • Tower Bridge Exhibition,
  • Monument.

There are many guided walking tours, some are free, and some offer self-guided tours. A good starting point when researching is to check out these websites:

Free tours by foot                   Strawberry Tours                 New Europe Tours

Free London Walking Tours         Undiscovered London              London for Free

tower-bridge

Well now we’ve explored ways and means of getting around the city, lets see some of the places worth the effort!  (And these are purely my own experiences and opinions, you may have different ideas of what you like and if so, please share them with us on the comments section).

London Eye              St Paul’s Cathedral              Tower Bridge              Westminster Abbey

Madame Tussaud’s              Hyde Park              Piccadilly Circus              Covent Garden

The Old Cheshire Cheese              Buckingham Palace              Tate Modern

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Youth Hostel Association (England & Wales)


YHA (England & Wales) provides lowcost accommodation which is often in unusual places, perfect for adventurers.

YHA has been operating for around 80 years and is also a charity organisation working to ensure that every young person should have the opportunity to venture out and experience something new and exciting.

With over 150 places to stay, YHA accommodation is no longer the “big dormitory bunk-bed, communal kitchen” type of place. There are so many other options to choose from, YHA caters for every sort of traveller. And likewise, not all accommodation is in diverse country places, some are, but some are in the middle of towns if that’s what you prefer.

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YHA offers a divers range of accommodation, everything from Castles to Campsites!

To find out more about YHA and the unique opportunities they’ve created, watch the video.

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So I told a little fib


In a  previous blog, I said my travel-lust started at about age 13 when two friends and myself planned a cycling trip around England.

That was not quite true.

It actually started way way back when I was very young and my sister-in-law worked in a London hairdressers. On Saturdays she only worked a couple of hours and so would take me along with her, and after work we would visit different landmarks and tourist places all around the city.

This was the time when the “Monument” was the tallest building and observation tower, I remember climbing all 311 steps to get to the top thinking what a clever girl I was!

the-monument-column-and-cage-in-the-city-of-london

These little excursions were also where I found my love for British history and the Monarchy. It was from these early days that it became embedded in me to seek and learn, to find new places and explore cultures.

I grew up with a love of London, which I still have to this day despite not living there for over 40 years!images

The most memorable of all the trips I did with Carol, was seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. No words can describe the beauty of the magnificent gold and gems seen up close. No photograph or video could ever do them justice, they are simply awesome!

So Big a Planet and so little time……..


Some background first

 the-monument-column-and-cage-in-the-city-of-london

Ever since I was a young girl in England I have had the yearning for travel and experiencing new adventures, possibly stemming back to my ancestry, coming from Huguenot heritage.

At the ripe old age of 13 my father bought me a bicycle and I made  plans to travel part of the home country with my two best friends. There was no mobile phones back then, and the plan was to make use of youth hostels.  For months we sat huddled in my bedroom, planning our trip, we had an itinerary, bikes and parents permission – I was excited!

Sad to say, a couple of weeks before we were due to set off, both friends decided it was just too scary, and backed out, leaving me high and dry. No way at 13 was I going alone!

So the longing to travel further than Essex to London stayed with me. When my sister emigrated to Australia with her family and invited me to join them 2 years later I jumped at the chance! Once again, another two friends were going to come along for the ride. Once again we sat huddled together discussing our plans to live in Sydney, get an apartment and jobs. We were going on a 2 year working holiday it would be a great experience! Three pot-smoking hippy girls being independent women at 15!  The world was ours!

But needless to say, once again my friends backed out and once again I was left to go it alone!  This time however, I didn’t stay – I went to Australia.

That trip across the globe satisfied my wanderlust for many years, I settled in Perth Western Australia, married and had 2 children. Later in life, after a divorce and a trip with my boys back to England, I came back to Australia where I met my new husband and made a new life.

And that’s when my itchy feet started to twitch once again, I wanted to travel and explore new places, and I wanted to share the experience with the love of my life. Lucky for me, he was easy to convince, and he didn’t back out like my friends!

So that’s when our adventures started, with a trip to Queensland to whet our appetites…