12 June 2007

Hampshire and London...

I guess it’s time I posted an update from the weekend’s trip “down South”!

The drive down to Andover on Wednesday evening was quick - 2½ hours for 150miles - and uneventful with only minor hold-ups in the last of the rush hour traffic. I still need Lynda’s guidance for this trip even after doing it for the best part of 20 years or more!

On Thursday, we joined Lynda’s aunt and uncle, and their strolling group, for a morning stroll around the village of Monxton and the surrounding countryside. Monxton is a typical Hampshire village… approached down narrow country lanes, full of gorgeous old cottages - many of them with thatched roofs - and with a great little village pub! What more could you ask for on a Thursday morning?

One of the cottages in Monxton.

The walk lasted for just under 2 hours and finished back at the pub, where we had lunch and a pint. It sure beat being at work! The rest of Thursday was spent resting up, and sleeping off the rather large lunch, ready for Friday’s trip into London.

We caught the Andover to London Waterloo train at just after 9am on Friday and arrived in the capital at just before 10:30am. The first part of the day was taken up by a guided tour of the old streets around St. Paul’s Cathedral, the financial district and the Millennium Bridge. Following the very informative walk around the streets - guided by an American! - we headed down onto the shoreline of the River Thames for a little beachcombing. Yes I know, I thought that it was a bit strange too but it proved to be one of the highlights of the day!

After a brief history lesson from our American guide - who certainly knew his stuff - we were let loose by the river to see what we could find. It was just like being a little kid again! We were shown bits of old roof tile that would have dated back to the Great Fire of London - 1666 - and also the remains of clay tobacco pipes that would have been made around three or four hundred years ago. It was these tobacco pipes that grabbed my interest and I was soon engrossed in the search to try to find a complete bowl or even a complete pipe. I never did find a complete pipe, but one day…

Some of the tobacco pipes we found.

After the beachcombing, we left our American friend and headed off towards the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Gardens, where we ate a picnic lunch before having a guided tour of the Albert Hall. This was one part of the day that I wasn’t too bothered about leading up to our trip but in the end, it proved to be very interesting. The guide was very informative without being “boring” and gave us the history of the building in a light hearted and humorous way. We were able to see inside the Royal Box, saw the private entrance halls and rooms used by the Queen and Royal Family and saw a few moments of a rehearsal that was taking place in readiness for that evening's show.

After the Albert Hall, we decided to walk back to the railway station via some of the other sights of London. We took in Kensington Gardens, the Albert Memorial, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the Serpentine, Hyde Park and the Cavalry Memorial. We then arrived at the Mecca for all London tourists, Buckingham Palace! This was the first time I had seen “Buck House” and I have to say that it did not grab me quite as much as I’d imagined it would. Yes, it is a BIG house and yes it does look rather imposing but it was not quite as impressive as I thought it would be - either that or I was starting to get a little tired by then! The gardens surrounding the approach roads were rather nice though.

Buckingham Palace.

The final part of the day saw us walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and then the London Eye. By now, it was getting on for 6:45pm and the sun was slowing starting to set over the London skyline. Our last glimpse of London, apart from Waterloo Station, was the sun going down behind the London Eye.

The London Eye.

Saturday was a day of leisure, I don’t think any of us could have walked too far even if we had wanted too! In the evening, we went to a quiz held by the local scout group to raise funds for a camping trip. We didn’t win but we certainly did a lot better than we thought we would - we even learnt a thing or two as well! Quite why Lynda and I couldn’t remember that Fluffy, the dog in the Harry Potter books, had three heads I will never know!

On Sunday, after a late breakfast in the garden, Lynda and I visited her cousin for a while before returning to her aunt and uncle's for lunch. After a gorgeous Sunday dinner, it was time for us to hit the road and head for home, unfortunately ending a great weekend.

The rest of the photos are HERE!


  1. Darn it Richard. I want to go to London with you and Lynda.

    The Hampshire countryside and the cottages and flowers were so beauiful. I would have had fun combing the beach at the Thames. Lynda is looking great, as always. Is she ready to adopt me yet? I don't eat much and require very little space :o)

    Glad you had a great time.


  2. ouch, oh, limping from all of the walking. . .didn't you just love Big Ben? It was my favorite on my tour through London. . .I loved the thatched roof. . .simply beautiful. Thank you Rich and Lynda for the tour. . .