It’s wonderful to have planned a longer stay in London to be able to explore many of this city’s wonders in more depth and even venture out of the city and up to Cambridge for a bit.

Do know that we’ve inserted a number of hyperlinks that show up as colored text. Clicking on any of those will take you to websites that will give you more information.

Friday 9/8/2023 London’s experiencing a heat wave and and most places in London have no air conditioning. Nonetheless this afternoon we headed to The British Museum again. Friday afternoons/evenings tend to be less busy in the museum and as soon as we arrived we headed straight to the Sutton Hoo exhibit. This 7th Century ship burial discovered in 1939 included incredible artifacts and shed light on the amazing civilization that flourished in Anglo Saxon Britain. We were awed and spent an hour or more gazing and marveling at the intricate craftsmanship of the iconic helmet, the gold and garnet jewelry, and more before moving on the the vast collection of coins and jewelry in the 15th Century Fishpool Hoard that was likely associated with Britain’s War of the Roases and a 16th Century Mechanical Galleon, an amazingly intricate table ornament.Once we left the museum we were fascinated with some kinetic art in a shop window. Then on the tube ride home we had to get off a couple of stops early and helped guide a fellow visitor to catch the bus north to where she would meet friends. We continued on into Hampstead but our trip home included an uphill hike into the village. There we indulged in a couple of brews at The Horseshoe before heading back to our room.

Saturday 9/9/2023: The Treasures Room at The British Library was something we’d learned about and added to our places to visit in London list only shortly before our trip. It is indeed an amazing archive. Handwritten treasures include an 1215 AD copy of The Magna Carta, works by Leonardo Da Vinci, and original lyrics by The Beatles scribbled on the back of an envelope. There’s one of the very earliest copies of the Bible printed with moveable type. It’s a positively amazing collection of materials from all over the world throughout the ages, just a sampling of the more than 170 million items held by the library. Originally part of the British Museum founded in 1753, the library is now housed in a modern building dedicated just twenty-five years ago. Next we walked to the King’s Cross Station to view Paul Day’s sculpture, The Meeting Place and also see the crowds waiting in line to have their photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 before boarding The Tube and making our way back to Hampstead.

Sunday 9/10/2023: Our plans today were to head to the Charing Cross Station to check out the murals depicting the Thirteenth Century construction of the towering crosses honoring Queen Eleanor then walk The Mall for a head-on view of Buckingham Palace. As we left the station and admired the Charing Cross itself, we decided to first visit Walkers of Whitehall again for some Fish & Chips. Checking Apple Maps for the best walking route we discovered another London treasure and decided to take a short detour to walk past 36 Craven Street, The Benjamin Franklin House where one of the most notable of our American Founding Fathers rented rooms here for sixteen years between 1857 and 1875. To our delight the house was open for free tours as part of London Open House Weekend so we took the opportunity to tour this amazing property and learn more about Franklin and his time here. We did eventually get to the pub and had another fun visit with George at the bar then decided to quick take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in some Harry Potter lore and take a few trinkets back to a couple of HP fans in Massachusetts. The shop had some great items on display including Harry Potter’s snowy owl Hedwig and Mr Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia. Then as we emerged out onto the sidewalk to make our way to The Mall we noticed ominous rain clouds in the sky and opted to head back to The Tube and scoot back to Hampstead saving The Mall for another time.

Monday 9/11/2023: Having packed an overnight bag, we made our way this morning to Kings Cross Station to purchase tickets for a 1½ hour train ride to Cambridge aboard the 10:12 where we were met by our niece, her dad, and the newest family member! They quickly whisked us off for a fabulous brunch and conversation then introduced us to a quintessentially Cambridge activity, punting on the River Cam. Scudamore’s College Backs tour gave us an opportunity to sit back, relax, and learn about some of the history of Cambridge University, an esteemed center of learning since the early 1200’s. Then after some delightful walking the streets of Cambridge and an ice cream/coffee stop we headed to Freckenham. After a delicious charcuterie board style dinner we made our way to The Golden Boar an 18th Century coaching in on The Street in Freckenham for some brews and conversation before turning in for the night.

Tuesday 9/12/2023: With a archaeological evidence dating back to Neolith times, a written history pre-dating 1066, and mentioned in the Domesday Book, the village of Freckenham is fascinating. After breakfast and some family visiting, we set out on a stroll around Freckenham starting with a walk across a farmer’s field, part of the UK’s Right to Roam, toward St Andrew’s Church. Parts of this ancient church date back to the 13th Century but it’s still the center of an active parish. Later in the day we were invited to tour the grounds of Freckenham House and enjoy a cup of tea and biscuits in the kitchen of the former home of one of the ladies in waiting for Elizabeth, the Queen Mother before boarding a southbound train for Kings Cross and on to Hampstead. We’re already looking forward to a return visit next year!

Wednesday 9/13/2023: The Tower of London! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the most complete 11th Century fortress in Europe, continuously in use since 1066. It’s one of London’s must-see sites and incredibly popular. We booked our tickets online for a day and time that’s not acutely popular but still we were sharing the space with plenty of folk. With such a long history, there have been countless uses for the space and innumerable tales of events that happened here. Even before we arrived we realized we wouldn’t be able to see it all. We took the advice of Lorenzo, our host at La Gaffe , and headed straight to The Crown Jewels display and were able to avoid a wait to enter. There we walked through drinking in some of the stories behind all the royal regalia. Next we queued up for a Yeoman Warder’s Tour, included with our admission ticket. It didn’t disappoint, it was as dramatic and informative, and entertaining as we had hoped. We followed that with a self-guided tour of The White Tower. Inside is the Line of Kings display of royal arormy that we realized we’d been wanting to visit since 1994 when our son returned from a school trip and his World History teacher described the awe he saw on our son’s face. We were fascinated with the myriad uses of this building over the last millennia and amazed at some of the 11th Center features that made it a comfortable home at the time that were still in place. Next we visited the Chapel Royal, still in use as the parish for the Yeoman Warders before walking by the Execution Block where three queens lost their lives. Before we concluded our visit we chatted with a couple of the Beefeaters and watched a Changing of the Guard then decided we’d skip some of the other opportunities this visit and got lost trying to find the exit. A kind Yeoman Warder guided us to a way out and gave us directions to The Dickens Inn along St Katharine Docks where we enjoyed a repast before returning to Hampstead at the end of a long and exciting day.

Thursday 9/14/2023: It was a gentler start today. Breakfast at La Gaffe, a little bit of shopping in Hampstead. A mid-afternoon dinner at The Holly Bush an 18th Century pub on a back street in Hampstead. Then a trip to the Vaudeville Theater so see a live performance of the musical SIX. It’s a rollicking, fun, high energy, retelling of the history of the six wives of Henry VIII played by an all girl cast backed by an all girl band. On the day after we visited the site of the deaths of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard we were treated to each of the queens regaling us with the her first person story each competing to convince us that she suffered more than the others at the hands of King Henry. With each refrain we learned that their fates were Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. We agree with the rave reviews and have to say that we’re ever so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience SIX in London!

Friday 9/15/2023: Visiting the Churchill War Rooms, part of the Imperial War Museums has been high on our list of things we want to do in London so we booked tickets for a timed admission for today. Located in the Whitehall area of Westminster in close proximity to Downing Street and the Prime Minister’s residence the war rooms are in the basement of a building that houses the HM Treasury, We queued up with dozens and dozens of other interested folks to to be issued a recorded audio guide headset and to navigate our way through the warren of hallways and small rooms where Winston Churchill, key advisors, military leaders, and support staff worked and slept around the clock for the entire six years of World War II. The website advises to allow at least two hours here and notes there is a cafe. We planned accordingly and did take the opportunity for a sit-down with tea and some pastry before continuing on into the Churchill Museum to get a deeper look into the history of the War War II Prime Minister. It was fascinating seeing the Map Room, the Cabinet Room, officer’s bedroom, communication equipment and pondering what it was like to be living and working in a fortified basement with bombs falling on the city. Once our brains were saturated with all this history, we made our way back to Hampstead and dined at the King William IV Pub.

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  1. Amanda Evans

    I really love new look of your blog. The imbedded hyperlinks in the narrative is so useful. Great post!

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