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EV Day #10 – Kensington Palace

We spent Day #10 of our London vacation at Kensington Palace, probably best known in current times as the home of Princess Diana from the day she wed Prince Charles until her death, and now the home of William, Kate and baby George.

But it was also the childhood home of Queen Victoria, England’s longest reining Monarch, and where she lived when she married Prince Albert. Her 1st child, Victoria, was born at Kensington Palace. Right now there is a big exhibition “Queen Victoria Revealed” and we learned so much about her life, in addition to enjoying the palace itself.

The exterior is pretty unassuming, not like many of the palaces in England are. What made this one special is the stories and the items inside.

Unfortunately, we were unable to use flash, so most of the photos came out crummy, so this will be a shorter post than I’ve been subjecting you to in the past few days. (Sorry about that – hope it hasn’t been TOO boring!)

The main gate boasts a large statue of Queen Victoria:


These gates may look familiar. This is the site of the makeshift floral/candle memorial for Princess Diana:


The palace itself:


Looking into the gardens:


From the gardens looking to the palace:


From there ended up at the Pizza Express for dinner again…we’re getting in a bit of a rut. But it’s sure a good-tasting rut! There’s not much that can compare with dough balls. Next time (and there WILL be a next time,) we’re going with a double order with dipping sauces…I can taste them already.


EV Day #10 – Windsor Castle

This is the third time we’ve been to the UK, but the first time to visit Windsor Castle. I know I’ve HEARD of it, although I couldn’t remember much, if anything about it. But, we’re looking to round out our knowledge of London, so we headed out, thinking we’d look around for an hour or so, and perhaps head down to Greenwich via a boat ride on the Thames.

It is a short train ride away from downtown London, but when it was built, it was considered the country. Now, it is the weekend get-away home for the Queen, as well as home to many family celebrations.

All I could say was WOW!

And seriously, my camera (and its new lens) were smokin’. And in case you were wondering, no, there was no trip down the Thames. We spent the whole day at Windsor. The castle that is. We never even looked around at downtown Windsor, and that looked pretty awesome, as well.

The castle is very impressive. As well it should be. Many a King in the past has added to the original structure to make it more intimidating.

You may have realized that I have become an architecture freak…I just can’t get enough of it. The combinations of building materials, the colors, the textures, the lines and angles – I love it all.

This first photo cracked me up…notice the McDonald’s “golden arches” in the shadow of the castle…


The rest are much more traditional…




Okay, so not ALL of them are. I like the airplane soaring over the castle…



















It’s really an incredible place.

EV Day #9 – Lavenham – Stepping Back In Time

Today’s outing with Gordon and Ann was to a little village called Lavenham. What a darling little place! The roads are narrow and it’s hard to find a building whose lines are plum! Even by English standards this is considered quaint and not something you see every day.

I’m going to let the photos do the talking as much as possible on this one…





lavenham19-wA seemingly typical wall made of whatever was handy – flint, brick, rock













lavenham9-wThis building (and ones like it)  housed wool that was being dried. The doors were large to get things in and out, but had a second, smaller door built in so that people could go in and out without opening the big door and letting more of the heat out…clever, huh?



lavenham8-wNotice that fancy brickwork between the beams





A few of the houses had thatched roofs, and fewer still were part thatch, part tile.






As if the AMAZING architecture wasn’t enough, this village also had some incredible shops. It was VERY hard to just look. I could have done some serious damage, but both available weight and space are huge issues, so I had no choice. I did pick up some business cards in hopes of doing some on-line shopping when we get home!

After lunch in a darling tearoom, wandering around in the country, and a quick dinner, it was time for a teary goodbye before catching our train back to London. But not before making tentative plans for them to come visit us in America.

EV Day #8 – Norwich (drop the “w”)

In trying to troubleshoot my camera woes, I switched to my long lens to see what would happen, and it worked fine! That told me it wasn’t my camera that was broken, but my lens. Tentatively, that’s good news. I think it will be easier (and certainly less expensive) to replace a lens than the whole base.

After a lovely breakfast, we headed out to Norwich for a day of exploring. I took all the pieces parts for the camera, just in case.

And as luck sometimes has it, as soon as we began walking through town, we saw a sandwich board for “London Camera Exchange,” only a block away, so off we went.

Twenty minutes later I was the proud owner of a new 18-55 EFS camera lens. I was back in business…WOOHOO!!!

Next stop the castle at Norwich.





It’s a pretty minor castle as far as castles go…

We went in to check it out and decided to have lunch at the cafe before taking a tour…


Best quiche I’ve ever had in my life, and the carrot soup pretty much rocked as well…

Ann and I decided to walk around downtown while the boys explored the implements of torture.





Then we met up with the guys, and headed home for a lovely dinner and a walk along the beach.








EV Day #7 – It wasn’t a Nightmare

I woke up this morning hoping that I either dreamed that I broke my camera, or it had somehow miraculously healed itself, but neither were accurate. I cannot get it to focus correctly. The auto focus is gone, and the manual focus has to be so precise that my old eyeballs can’t do it, even with glasses.

I pulled the lens off, and there was an apparantly broken off piece down inside the camera where the camera meets the lens. I’m thinking that is not a good thing.

We jumped on-line to see if we could order a camera base from Amazon and have it shipped here, but they can’t because of some kind of federal regulations. A friend who lives overseas suggested checking, but we had a train to catch and I ran out of time.

I felt like I needed to have someone at a camera shop look at it before I make any decisions on what to do, so we took the pieces with us, hoping to run across one on our travels.

We were heading up to Ipswich to stay a couple of nights with another English couple we met (this one on our 1st cruise!) Gordon is the British version of Mr. Tattered (yes, there’s another one!) and Ann is a sweetheart. We had dinner with them every night on our 14 day cruise and laughed a lot. We were sad to part when the cruise was over and were hoping that our feelings of closeness  would still be there after not seeing them for 9 months.

They met us at the station, and it was like we never skipped a beat, falling into the same camaraderie we’d had before.

We made the quick trip to the town where they live, Felixstowe.


Ann laid out a beautiful “ploughman’s lunch” – cheeses, bread, cucumbers and tomatoes from their garden, hummus, chutney, grapes…hit the spot!

Then we drove around the local area. Felixstowe is right on the eastern shore of England. Next stop, Belgium.



Our nightly pub visit was to the White Horse…

Photos from a distance, with no need to focus are fine, the rest are hit and miss. This one’s a hit.


This one a most definite miss.


This may not be a well documented few days.  You guys, I’m so sad. I love living life with a camera in my face, but I’m not loving having to delete, delete, delete.


EV Day #6 Soho and Camden Town (and lunch, and dinner!)

Today was supposed to be a “low photo” day. Nothing much going on during the day, then visiting with friends for dinner. Time to catch up and breath a little. We’ve been going, going, going day after day, and the idea of not much on the agenda sounded like such a good idea.

We had a leisurely morning then decided to check out a little veg restaurant that was supposed to be one of the best in London. We were NOT disappointed. Mildred’s is an unassuming little place on the outskirts of Soho. I LOVE it when food makes your mouth so happy you can’t stop smiling. This was one of those places…




After our late lunch we set out to Camden Town, by way of a very cute section of Soho. I texted my daughters to tell them to start packing, the lot of us are moving to Soho. That was before we saw a real estate listing for an old, refurbished, 2 bedroom apartment on the 20th floor for 2 MILLION $$$$. Burst that little bubble, didn’t it?






There’s more, oh so much more…

Although we would have liked to wander more, we needed to get up to Camden Town to meet a couple we met on our second cruise (they live in London!) for dinner. He (Tek) works as a volunteer at the Camden Locks and it was a good place to meet up. His wife, Jean, had suggested we have a walk-about around the Camden stalls until he got off work, at which time she’d pick us all up and we’d head to one of their favorite watering holes for a pint (or in my case a half pint!)

Well, I had no idea what the stalls were, and we didn’t allow NEARLY enough time.

Camden Town has turned into a crazy, funky international marketplace that just goes on forever. It was wilder and rougher than Soho, but just tons of fun.









And now I’m kinda wishin’ I had bought the red shoes with the 2 buckles and figured out how to get them home later… I’m going to be lusting for them for awhile.

Our nightly pint/half pint was shared with our friends…it was so fun to see them again. It was a little hard to wrap our heads around the fact that we were visiting them in their stomping grounds instead of on the ship! We had a great time. BUT. As I stood up to leave the pub…


…I caught my foot on the table leg, reached out to steady myself on the table, and knocked my camera onto the cobblestone below. I may have killed it. The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur. I know we had a nice dinner, but I was really preoccupied with how I was going to manage 5 more weeks of an incredible vacation with an iphone camera OR replace it in London without spending an arm leg, and half of something else.  NOT a happy camper!

Thank goodness we’ll be seeing them again before we leave! Hopefully having found a solution to my dilemma.

EV Day #5 (continued) and a little Day #6 Preview

Okay, so when we left off on my last post, I’d left Highclere Castle, heading back to London to sneak into Selfridge’s before meeting Mr. Tattered for dinner.

One of the things that I like so much about the show “Mr. Selfridge” is that it is based on a real person. Harry Gordon Selfridge really DID found an amazing department store in London, and it is still there! It is now known as Selfridge & Co. and is located at 400 Oxford St. in London.

When I got back to Paddington Station I went to the information desk and asked the lady if you have an address, how would you figure out what tube station to go to? As she reached for a map, she asked, “what’s the address,” and when I told her she put the map down, smiled and said, “Selfridge’s…that’s right down from Oxford Circus.” Ha! I was either not the first person to ask, or she just knew! We both giggled, and I headed out.

Oxford Street is a huge fashion shopping district, and incredibly crowded. I don’t know why being around that kind of hustle-bustle energizes me, but it does. I was buzzed!

The store is ginormous! It is a city block long and 5 stories high (1 basement and 4 above ground.) VERY impressive.



The displays are incredible and there is more merchandise than you can imagine! I’m sure I was walking around with my jaw hanging open. And with camera clicking, it was pretty obvious I was a tourist! I knew I HAD to buy something, just to get a bag!




BUT, the downside of traveling with only one suitcase for so long is that there is little room for taking treasures home, so it would have to be something small. I found a Christmas ornament that I had personalized to read “B & J London 2014.”


And so I had my pretty yellow bag! And a grin from ear to ear!

Meanwhile, Mr. Tattered was in Portsmouth, having just as much fun exploring the historic boatyard. He’s really into English history and has read many books based on the naval battles of the 1700’s and 1800’s, so he was looking forward to seeing Admiral Lord Nelson’s ship, the HMS Victory, and learning more about his death during the Battle of Trafalgar.


He also toured the HMS Alliance, the last remaining English submarine from WWII.


But the majority of his time was spent at the new “Mary Rose” Museum, looking at the thousands of artifacts found in her when she was raised from the sea just outside Portsmouth Harbor in 1982. The Mary Rose was Henry VIII’s flagship, built in Portsmouth in 1511, and was sunk by the French in 1545.

He would have stayed a LOT longer, but the exhibits closed way before he was ready to leave.

It was so great that we both able to have so much fun doing completely different things!

Day #6 will be a fun post – lots of photos of Soho and Camden Town. Camden Town will blow you away!


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