England’s Finest Gardens & Chelsea Flower Show 2010
May 25th – June 2nd, 2010


Monday, May 31st, 2010

Our last day of leisure so after breakfast I got out and did some serious walking, like about 7 hours worth of it. I love doing this in London, just wandering and letting your senses take you where they want to. I had a London Leisure Pass to try so first visit was to Kensington Gardens where I took the tour of the Palace. I had been before but there was a different exhibit on and I wanted to see that.

Then to the Royal Albert Music Hall for an inside tour of the hall. Prince Albert was the Key player in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. During the time it was open – 6 months – they had 6 million visitors. The money made on the exhibition (186,000 GBP) was to go towards buying land and putting up buildings, such as the Royal Albert Hall. When he died (age 42) Queen Victoria used some of that money to build the monument to him, which is across the street from the hall. This depleted reserves and they had to come up with a way to get more money. Building Royal Albert Hall was going to cost 200,000 GBP. They decided to sell 1300 seats at 100 GBP. They were given a 999 year lease on those seats. You can imagine how much 100 GBP was in those times, but just imagine what one of those seats would be worth today…a box has 12 seats in it and today if you can buy one you would be looking at around 1 million for that box. Queen Victoria bought a box of 20 seats and today it is where the Queen sits when she comes to the hall – 2 times a year. The rest of the time it goes to staff. The Queen has her own entrance to her box and even a lovely waiting room just up the stair case from her entrance. It is exactly as it was in Queen Victoria’s time with the exception of newer paintings of monarchs added over the years. In her box there is even a hidden toilet. There are 5222 seats in the Hall. Renovations have been made over the years, especially to the acoustics. In the beginning it used to be said that you really got your monies worth going to the Hall because you would hear everything twice. Now with the addition of 85 circles overhead the acoustics are much better. Door 11 entrance has been changed too because in the past they would have to bring all equipment – everything – through that entrance and it was very hard to do, so now it has been changed to an underground system which works much better.

It was a delightful tour and I suggest that you take one to find out more about this beautiful building full of history and funny things that have happened over the years.

From there I went to Apsley House – a magnificent house and still home to the family of the first Duke of Wellington. Known as Number One London. There is an outstanding collection of artwork here. One of the things that stand out in my mind is a gift. It was from Napoleon Bonaparte to his wife and she didn’t like it so they gave it to the Wellingtons – it is a 26 foot long centerpiece for a dining room table. All in silver. There are other items here that impress, like the sword carried by Wellington at Waterloo. Baron Apsley owned the house originally. It was designed by Robert Adam. Then Arthur Wellesley, First Duke bought the house in 1817 and became Prime Minster in 1828. Benjamin Dean Wyatt enlarged and redecorated it. In 1947 it was given to the nation by the 7th Duke and is still lived in by the 8th Duke and his family. The 8th Duke is 94 years old.

And then across the street to see the Wellington Monument. Decimus Burton designed the Wellington Arch in 1825 as a grand ceremonial entrance to Green Park and Buckingham Palace. Spiralling costs prevented the scheme being realized as envisaged, and when George IV died in 1830, the government intervened and Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner was completed without many of its intended ornamental features. It was taken over by a Committee organizing the national memorial to the Duke of Wellington. In 1846, a disproportionately large equestrian statue of the Duke by Matthew Cotes was erected on top of Wellington Arch without Burton's consent. It remained there until 1882, when a road-widening scheme required the arch to be dismantled and moved to its present site looking down Constitution Hill. This allowed the Duke's statue to be removed to Aldershot, the home of the British Army, where it still remains. Adrian Jones depicting The Angel of Peace descending on the Chariot of War completed the neo-classical arch in 1912 by the addition of the Quadriga, a sculpture. In the 1950's, the monument served as the smallest police station in the city, occupied by ten constables, two sergeants and a cat! This was closed circa 1960, when the setting for Wellington Arch was radically altered by the creation of the Hyde Park Corner roundabout.

I found the London Pass so easy to use. I would just walk into what I wanted to see that was listed in my very comprehensive book and show them the card and there you have it…The London Sightseeing Pass gives access to over 55 of the Capital City’s top attractions including Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, a Thames River cruise and the London Bridge Experience. With discounted meals and shopping the London Pass makes for a perfect day out for less.

Users have priority access at the busiest sites to avoid queues, a free guidebook and over 40 additional deals and discounts. Check out all the activities on offer with the London Sightseeing Pass at www.londonpass.com. The website includes a London map tool to plan visits, details on all the featured attractions, and comprehensive information on special offers that are exclusive to London Pass holders such as free gifts at Harrods and commission-free currency exchange.

A one-day London Pass costs £40 for adults visit www.londonpass.com



  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row