WTM 2003, London, England
 



November 9-13th, 2003

Prior to this trip, as I was waiting in the AC lounge in Calgary, sipping my g & t, who should come in, but Sir Roger Moore and his very lovely wife. I quickly called Tom to let him know and what does he say - get his autograph! After much fortitude, I walked over to his wife while Sir Roger was getting a drink and asked if it would be ok...of course she said. I had remembered that they lived in Monaco, so had a really nice chat with her about the gardens in the area then asked if I could get his autograph, not for me, but for my husband who loved him in the James Bond series. He was very gracious and asked for his name, then proceeded to write a nice note to him. Of course it is framed now, (thanks to Hilda) and sits on Toms desk as a further reminder of my bravery...

This was a really nice break for me…not only did I get a chance to go to the World Travel Market show, which is huge! but I also had the opportunity to spend time with Hilda, my guide that I have on all my England tours. I have known Hilda since 1996 and the compliments that I get on her as a guide happen each and every time we tour. She had booked us to go to listen to Amanda Herries on Japanese Gardens the night I got in. This was one of a series that the London Parks & Gardens Trust holds. I was really depressed that I was going to miss Sue Shephard speaking on the Veitch Nurseries on December 8th. I have her book Seeds of Fortune on the Veitch family, and it is a fascinating read.

Of course before the show started, we had time to wander the streets of London and find more secrets…London is full of them. A wonderful time of year, the sun was shining, the leaves were falling everywhere! London Plane trees with the most beautiful leaves were dropping around us, in perfect shapes and so many colours – mostly browns, tans. Hilda told me that it was not unusual to have trains not running on schedule this time of year for all the leaves falling on the tracks. I could understand this. A magical time.

The first two pictures are from Hilda’s home…I spotted these tiny little mushrooms growing in this old tree stump and they beckoned me to take their picture…nothing unusual, but growing where nothing else would. Her front garden is next – now this is November so much has settled in for the season, but Hilda is a gardener, that we can see.

The third and fourth pictures are at the Hayward Gallery. I had not seen this Gallery yet and wanted to make a point of visiting as the exhibit ‘Saved! 100 years of the National Art Collections Fund was on and is still on until January 18th, 2004. Of course you can not take any pictures inside, but some of the works were so beautiful that a picture would not do them justice anyway. I was extremely impressed with Canova’s Three Graces. These were the daughters of Zeus and the Art Fund helped the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Galley of Scotland in their joint purchase of this at a sum of 7,600.000.00 BP. The Toilet of Venus by Velazquez was another beautiful work that was once considered quite bold to have on display. Jacob and the Angel really took me aback – incredibly strong and emotional. Outside was the Burghers of Calais (the picture you see) and I had first seen this at Rodin Museum in Paris. This cast was at the Victoria Tower Gardens until July of this year and removed to be cleaned. Here you see it fully restored before it heads back to its home.

Another beautiful piece of artwork was the Cheetah and Stag with two Indians 1764 by George Stubbs. You have to see this to really appreciate it. The eyes on the animals are so real, the painting looks so real…incredible. Finally, one of the most moving for me, was the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, in her own hand, making requests just hours before her execution on February 8th, 1587. There is much more here to see, but these few items really impressed me. Visit their site at www.hayward.org.uk

The next four pictures are around an area in London that is home office to many barristers and judges. There is a chapel there called Lincoln’s Inn Chapel and the undercroft is what you see there in one of them…the pillars and bosses. In the days when the old hall was used as the Chancery Court, Counsel would often meet their clients in the undercroft. At one time babies were sometimes abandoned there, and often brought up by the inn, often under the surname ‘Lincoln’. From its consecration in 1623 services have been held here on a regular basis. John Donne the poet laid the foundation stone.

The bell came from Spain. It had been captured in 1596 by the Earl of Essex at the siege of Cadiz. By ancient custom it is tolled whenever news is received that a Bencher has died. From this may have sprung Donne’s well known words, which end ‘Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee’

Another picture you see what so cute I had to take it…the wig for sale – and Hilda tells me that that is a very good price to pay! In one of my other tours I tell you about my visit to the Halls of Justice and also about the wigs they have to wear to this day.

We also visited a lesser known, but very exciting museum, that has been likened to a mini British Museum called Sir John Soane’s Museum. Now this man was one of England’s greatest architects. He died in 1837 and the museum opened to the public soon after with his stipulation that it be kept as closely as possible to the way he left it. Yellow and red were his favourite colours and they are in the carpets, on the walls and add much to the character of the place. That is if you can see them. This man loved to collect and it is absolutely full of the most amazing things. The paintings that he collected are breathtaking. There is a grouping of Hogarth, that once the curator told us about them, just sprang to life before our eyes.

Visit this wonderful museum, it’s free but they need our support to keep it up. Their site is at www.soane.org

Another wonderful place to visit is Dr Johnson’s House. Do you know that he compiled the first comprehensive English Dictionary in this very house, which was published in 1755? Also on display while we were there was an exhibit called The Tyranny of Treatment. I took pictures of each of the posters there so you could read them and react in your own way…quite happy not to have been born at that time, I am! There is also a picture there of his home #17. http://www.drjh.dircon.co.uk/indexmain.htm

After all this Hilda and I were getting hungry so she pulled me into this wonderful old pub called Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Rebuilt in 1667! And take a look at the list of Sovereigns it has seen. You see a picture there of Hilda holding up this thing – what is it? Well, we ordered our sandwiches and were given this little gizmo that vibrates or something when our meal was ready to be picked up at the counter. We didn’t get a chance to see it in action though because they brought our meal to us…but we laughed about this little piece of technology in a pub so old.
 

   

The last pictures are of the World Travel Market show. I had gone on Tuesday and then Hilda and I went together on Wednesday…I came back with so much material. A great way to see countries and what they have to offer all in one place.

So that is it, back home to digest it all…

 

 


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