Museums, etc…..

1 Oct

Happily, our vehicle has been repaired.  The last mechanic to look at the brakes had pulled out the hydraulic fluid line and not replaced it properly, leaving it with a slow leak.  We were grateful that the repair did not amount to much and we could collect the van the following day.  With a clear plan of how to get home we surprised ourselves with how smoothly that journey progressed!

We have taken the van out several times since and find the experience challenging to say the least.  Dennis is comfortable driving it, that’s not the problem.  It’s the navigator that lets the side down!  Reading maps quickly and accurately while bumping down the road is proving to be very difficult.

On the other hand, the public transport system is SO good.  Buses continue throughout the day at 5 – 8 minutes apart!  So you never need to consult the timetable as the waiting time is minimal.  Purchasing your fares electronically means you can move between buses, overland and underground trains using the same card.  It’s brilliant.

London Bus in front of the Water Tower at Shooters Hill

With London being so huge, when we make plans to visit anywhere other than the local vicinity, we must factor in the time to get there and back.  An example was when we went to Kew Gardens:  Rob tells me it is around 18 miles, (30km) but using this efficient transport system it took almost 3 hours to get there!   Even going into the London CBD from here takes 60 – 75 minutes.   We tend to use the buses or overland trains as we can at least see the views while traveling, and it also helps to get your bearings in this flat landscape.  And the underground trains are invariably packed and so hot!  They have no air-conditioning in the underground system and it’s surprising how hot it gets!

We have been blessed with such a good run of weather.  All the news reports (and the locals) tell us repeatedly that we are in the midst of a heat wave.   The average temperature for September normally is up to 18C but this week it’s been 27C, 28C and 29C!  Beautiful blue, cloudless skies, with a slight breeze.  Reminds us of home…..

Think he has enough mirrors!

It has been my practice in the past to take along a novel when accompanying Dennis to a museum.  ” If they have taken the trouble to write something down, the least I can do is read it”  is his policy.  So I usually trot around the site, stopping here and there to glance at something that catches my eye and then find a spot, preferably with a coffee in hand, and sit and read my book until either Dennis returns of his own sweet will or the establishment closes for the day.  Our first museum visit was to The Natural History Museum in central London.  What a beautiful building to start with.  We sure are enjoying the old stately buildings,  full of beautiful details and carvings that newer glass boxes lack.  You need to pass through a security check upon entering these public places now days.  The youngish good-looking black fellow laughed at Dennis walking up the stairs towards him.  Dennis was dressed in a green shirt, kakhi  shorts wearing a backpack and a dinky hat, oh and holding a camera as well.  ” You look like a famous person!  Oh it’s Crocodile Dundee, isn’t it?”  Well, quick as a flash Dennis tells him he looks like a young Barak Obama, and he agrees with that observation but replies ” the only difference is that Barak can write” which completely floored us.  The displays were fascinating, from the animal kingdom, insects, dinosaurs, etc and how the human body works.  My novel never even left my bag!  I think we stayed for about 5 hours and there were a couple of sections we missed.

Natural History Museum

"The Man!"

A Dodo (on the right)

The grand entrance hall

Amardillo, walking & in defence

An actual Human Brain & Spinal Cord

Another day we took the bus, and two trains to Kew Gardens.  I realised there would not be much in the way of flowers on show as the English summer was cool and apparently well passed.  And this proved to be so.  The only flowers were in the glass houses, and even there they were few and far between.  But the trees!  We took a guided tour for an hour where a lovely lady took us through a small part of the 300 acre garden, to explain the history of some of the trees.  First of all the lady apologised in advance of her having to stop talking each minute when the planes flew overhead.  Today, with the wind direction just right, all the planes coming in to land at Gatwick International Airport were flying directly overhead.  They flew so low, it was stunning!  One plane every minute for the five hours we were at the gardens!! 

Flight path for Gatwick Airport

Anyway, so many trees we have never seen before, all grown  with plenty of room to become the most beautiful specimen trees.  And some of them just starting to begin their autumn show.  Many were 200-300 years old.  At one stage we were walking on a 18 metre high walkway within the tree tops, with squirrels and green parakeets going about their foraging while we standing level and watching.  The glasshouses were dramatic as well.  If we’re still around next summer I would definitely love to return and see the outdoor floral displays.


One of the Glasshouses

Giant Lily Pads

Tree Top Walkway

   One thing intrigues me is the tidal range of the Thames RiverApparently, it ranges up to 8 metres between high and low tides.

High Tide....

Low tide.....


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