Day 3 – Friday, December 15, 2023
Good Morning London! 😎.
What you might have missed…
For our final day in the capital, there’s a change to our advertised programme! 🤔. Our visit to see my brother and his family for a festive lunch and pressy swap is postponed, as he’s down with some nasty bug. I know Christmas time is for sharing, but we’ve all agreed that he can keep that to himself! 👍👍. However, having brought their Christmas presents with us, we don’t want to take them home, so we’re going to drop them off and have a short chat, role-playing the ‘days of COVID’ and exercising social distancing!
So, today, now looks like this:-
☑️ Brekky at Côte Brasserie (just up the road from the hotel)
☑️ Mid-morning visit to Neil’s (Pressy swap)
☑️ Return to London and visit the Wallace Collection
☑️ See what the new(ish) Elizabeth Line is like
☑️ Back to the Hotel and get packed
8.45am: Like most major cities around the World, you’re never short of somewhere to eat in London. Just up the road from the Tower Hotel in St. Katharine Docks is Côte Brasserie, and we headed there for Breakfast.
9.02am: We were one of their first customers – and it didn’t disappoint!
At just £12.50 each for a Full English, this was exceptional value for London. Service was swift and came with a smile, setting us up nicely for the day.
Next stop, Tower Hill Tube, heading for Bromley. Luckily (for us) since our last visit (I think) Bromley now accepts Oyster Cards meaning no need to purchase a separate rail ticket. Cheaper too! Victoria to Bromley, just £9.70, return. 👍😃
10.34am: Bromley town was busy, but fortunately we only had a short walk from the station to my brother’s, avoiding the crowds. In a replay from those days when COVID seemed to rule our lives, we met for a catchup and pressy swap, whilst keeping our distance. It was all a little surreal, but we had a good chat about this, that, and everything else in between. It was great to see everyone (minus Frankie, who’s away on holiday at the moment!). We swapped gifts and said our goodbyes just before midday – and headed back to the station, and back to central London.
Given that we couldn’t have Lunch with the family, we had some time to kill, and we planned to head for the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square in the West End.
The Wallace Collection
12.48pm: The Wallace Collection, is a national museum housing unsurpassed masterpieces of painting, sculpture, furniture, arms and armour, and porcelain. It’s free admission too! 👍. Ann had been before, but this was a first visit for me.
It was all brought together by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and most recently, Sir Richard Wallace, the likely illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Lady Wallace, Sir Richard’s widow, in 1897. If history is your thing, there’s a fuller account of how the family amassed their wealth HERE.
If you like your wealth to be obvious, this is the place! Absolutely no restraint whatsoever, championing the saying: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”. It looks like they had a lot of flaunts! 😉. For me, the (slight) surprise was that everything looked BRAND NEW. Not a faded picture anywhere, no cobwebs and everything ‘shiny, shiny’. Taken as a whole, the House looked like it opened yesterday! – and it was pretty popular too!
There was a lot to see here. Room after room, after room (after room) – and on two floors. Unsurprisingly, the Collection seemed to have something of everything. Having said that, armour was a big feature (mostly acquired from the outcome of the war in France).
The ONE piece, we were looking forward to seeing was the famous painting ‘The Laughing Cavalier‘ by Frans Hals, painted in 1624. Sadly, it was out on loan to the National Gallery! ☹️
But at least they had this one! A self-portrait of Rembrandt from 1637!
And if oil paintings aren’t your thing, there is a great collection of portrait miniatures and snuff boxes – again, all in pristine condition.
To finish, it’s something unexpected, something a little saucy! 😉. It’s ‘The Swing’ by Fragonard. There’s a bit of a story to this one (that reads like an early EastEnders script), In short: ‘what is the guy on the left, looking at? (clue: it’s NOT the foliage!), what’s the significance of her shoe flying through the air and who’s the fella on the right in the painting, and why does he need the ropes? It all looks like the potential for a safeguarding issue, but the girl seems happy enough being a swinger! 😉 Doof, doof! 🤔.
An enjoyable visit – and if you like your life somewhat ‘blingy’ in nature, even more so! 👍👍
1.32pm: We’re all cultured out! 😃 and so time for a cup of tea…
…and helpfully, their tea came with scones and lashings of jam and cream! What luck! 😆😅😂
2.06pm: Time to head back to the Hotel, with just one more visit on the list, whilst we’re in London! In spite of my dislike for trains, there IS an exception – and that’s a new train/train route. As many of you know, the new(ish) Elizabeth Line has now been added to the Tube network, officially opened by the Queen on 24 May 2022. Quite apart from how much time it’ll save US in the future getting to Heathrow for our holidays, the line boasts the latest in MRT design and we wanted to see what it was like.
We walked from the Wallace Collection to Bond Street and picked up the Line from there. If your recollection of travel by Tube, is that it’s cramped, too cold in Winter, too hot in the Summer, noisy and uncomfortable, you’ll be impressed.
We took the short trip from Bond Street to Whitechapel and it ticked all the boxes for us. Fast, quiet, comfy seats and a feeling of space – just how modern MRT should be! Back to reality then, as we changed Lines and then picked up the final leg from Whitechapel to Tower Hill, on the older District Line.
2.42pm: As we walked back to the Hotel for the final time (for this trip), we chatted about how much London was changing. In all the time we’ve been here, I don’t think we heard a single London accent at all, let alone a cockney one. confirming that London is clearly multicultural these days. Architecturally, there is still a lot of commercial building going on (I think that’s pretty normal for the capital these days) but we also saw an awful lot of new public housing (mainly Flats) replacing older commercial properties. With both of us having spent so many years working in the capital, it now all feels very different! 🤔
3.02pm: Back at the Tower Hotel, all that was left to do was to think about getting packed. We’re home late morning, tomorrow. 👋👋. Thanks for all your comments about this week’s Posts – all very much appreciated! See you on the other side! 👍👍. Over and out!
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