The Tower of London at Christmas

This is the lovely group of people who came on my tour of the Tower of London this morning.

The Group by the White Tower

It was a perfect morning to visit the Tower: blue skies, a few morning skaters enjoying the ice rink that is in the moat until early January, no queue at the jewel house.

South Side White Tower

The ravens were active and noisy. A couple of Yeoman Warders advised members of a school group to eat the packed lunches they had brought in a different spot, or risk the ravens stealing sandwiches and crisps.

Raven on the Mount

W

King Henry III’s White Bear

The Queen’s House
Continue reading “The Tower of London at Christmas”

Where Light Falls: Coventry

Two cities; two cathedrals.

London and St Paul’s; Coventry and St Michael’s.

In both cities the cathedrals were and are strong emblems of unity and identity. London’s current cathedral replaces one lost in the Great Fire of 1666; Coventry’s one lost in November 1940 during the Blitz.

Where Light Falls

A few weeks ago I attended a special event at St Paul’s. A light show played across the west front of the cathedral; images from the war interspersed with text from a poem written especially for the occasion which was simultaneously broadcast, read by Keith Jarret who wrote it together with people from London.

This weekend I was in Coventry for the sister event. More light, more images of a ruined cathedral, rubble piled high, a different poem projected onto the walls, simultaneously broadcast, read by Jane Commane who wrote it together with people from Coventry.

Until a few years ago. I had never been to Coventry. Now it is a city I look forward to taking people to visit. In 2021 it is to be the City of Culture. Preparations are very much underway.

Where Light Falls

I defy anyone to stand in the ruins of the old cathedral and not be moved. Watching the light show, listening to the poem, witnessing the rapt attention of the crowd, gearing the pride in their voices for their city, amplified my admiration and affection for Coventry. There is huge civic pride. The people love their city. They have good reason too.

Where Light Falls
Continue reading “Where Light Falls: Coventry”

Where Light Falls

This weekend has seen an extraordinary and very moving event at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. Where Light Falls is a light show which remembers and commemorates the members of the St Paul’s Watch who ensured the cathedral’s survival despite the terrible bombing during the Blitz.

Keith Jarrett has written a poem to accompany the light show, it’s called From the Log Book and starts with quotations from that book. The poem is broadcast throughout the event, and many of the images are linked to the lines. The poem ends with “When morning comes, I’ll wear a dome of hope.”

I hope these pictures will encourage you to go and stand in the cold this evening and be moved by what you see and hear. Continue reading “Where Light Falls”

Without walls – Connections

London is full of amazing galleries and amazing exhibitions. There’s the two Tates (Britain and Modern), the National, the Royal Academy, the Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery. And that’s just for starters.

But this week, make sure you go a small but perfect exhibition in the crypt at Methodist Central Hall. It’s called Connections.
Here are some of the pieces you will see.

Prisonopoly
Prisonopoly (detail)
Ginger cat

No deal
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Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

We’ve gone through the Keatsian days when it seemed ‘warm days will never cease’, and although the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is still with us, there’s a nip in the air in the morning, the sun rises later and sets earlier.

Under grey skies

In London, every season has something to offer residents and visitors alike. So whether you are thinking of visiting a gallery, taking a stroll around the centre of London, visiting somewhere out of town, or exploring some of the lesser known areas, there’s a tour to please everyone. Continue reading “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”

Summer in the City

Yesterday was hot, though fortunately London is not suffering the same high temperatures as parts of France. It was a good reminder to always carry water, and to refill water bottles at every opportunity. You can now get apps for your ‘phone which tell you the sites of water fountains and other places where you can do this.

Throughout July visitors to London can see the guard change at Buckingham Palace daily. I must have witnessed it hundreds of times during my time as a London Blue Badge Guide, but somehow it never fails to please.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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Simply Salisbury and Stonehenge

I have had the good fortune to take two contrasting groups to visit Salisbury and Stonehenge in recent weeks. On both occasions the weather was kind, and we enjoyed blue skies and sunshine. I hope everyone got good photos.

The first group was a mix of children and adults from the US. The children were home schooled, and as I have found before with home schooled children, their questions were varied and interesting. If any of them see this post I should love to read some comments about what they thought of the two sites.

On my second visit I was with a group of adults from various countries. Antiques Roadshow was being filmed outside Salisbury cathedral. I have never seen so many people there, many with their dogs.

But we found a space outside the west end of the cathedral, and my group kindly posed.

Outside Salisbury Cathedral
Continue reading “Simply Salisbury and Stonehenge”

Through other eyes (for the teachers planning school trips)

Obviously when I am guiding somewhere it is a place I have explored and studied. Oh the late nights over guttering candles, the hours in libraries, the sore feet from investigating hidden corners.
Not that I am complaining: absolutely not. I love my job.

One of the joys is seeing somewhere familiar through other eyes. This was very much the case recently when I had the joyous task of accompanying some French primary school children when they visited Windsor and Eton.

Royal Windsor
Continue reading “Through other eyes (for the teachers planning school trips)”

Why Windsor?

Since the wedding last year between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Windsor has enjoyed increased popularity as a visitor destination.
I advised one of my Irish cousins who was meeting friends from Canada in London to take the train and spend the day in Windsor. They all loved it.

You may not get to see the Queen, but you can have your photograph taken with Harry and Meghan.

Harry and Meghan

Eton College, where Princes William and Harry received their secondary education, is a short pleasant walk away across the Thames.

Eton College

The domestic architecture of both Windsor and Eton is easy on the eye.

Red door
Continue reading “Why Windsor?”

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