A Day Out in London with Isobel.

Saturday 24th January 2003.

The main purpose of this trip to London was book for a holiday to California.

I was up at 5.0am and went to work (newspaper deliveries). There was very hard frost – the last thing I wanted. Then back home for breakfast. Cars were all frosted up so I was busy with tepid water and a scraper. By 8.0am the car was frosted up again so more clearing and use of de-icer. And yet again more de-icing just before I left home at 8.45am and drove to Wickford and got a carparking place by 9.15am at the railway station. I found that there was “severe delay” on the lines to London due to frozen points. I had a slow journey in fits and starts. Much activity on all the mobile phones but eventually I met up with Isobel at the offices of Trailfinders travel agency by 11.0am so only half an hour late. This was near the Royal Exchange building.

Here we managed to get the Amtrak trip to/from San Francisco to Seattle all booked and with two nights’ hotel accommodation at Seattle. Also got all the car hire settled. They found some hotels in SF but at much higher prices than we had seen on the Internet so we left that bit. Also they were not too keen about hiring a wheelchair for me so we left bit as well. Something was settled anyway.

 For the rest of our day we had an interesting walkabout. The City is an area that Isobel is not too familiar with but I worked there for many years and did my army service there. We were next door to the Royal Exchange (the old business exchange and market) rebuilt after the Great Fire of London 1666. We had a look around in there and a short walk to look at a church called St Peters that I rather liked. There has been a church there since the 8th century but the present building was erected after the fire. We found it was now a young persons’ study centre although the huge organ and the rood screen and stained glass windows still there. Crossing the road we found ourselves at the entrance to Leadenhall Market. A huge roofed building full of butchers, poulterers, fruit and veg shops, wine dealers, clothiers and many others. We were now rather hungry and found by chance in Bull’s Head Passage a little place called Wraps Bar where we had a very good lunch of Ploughmans and 1/2 pint of beer each. A ploughman’s lunch there was bread rolls, butter, big hunks of cheese, pickled onions, pickled gherkins, salad and a fruity pickle.

 Then, walking towards the river, we reached The Monument. A column built to commemorate the great fire. There are 311 spiral steps inside to reach a viewing gallery. So up we climbed and I found it a little hard on my legs but the view over the City is very good and I took some photos. So much has changed since I was last up there when Isobel was about 4 yrs old and in a nearby hospital (with heart problems) and I took Tansy up. It was a faster climb down and we walked along Lower Thames Street past Billingsgate – the old fishmarket (now relocated) to reach the Tower of London.

 We walked around the quayside and took some photos of Tower Bridge and I pointed out the window of the room in the Tower that I occupied when I lived there in 1948/1950 as a military policeman. Then we had a look around Katherine Docks, which has now been converted to very expensive homes with a marina. There were some good old boats including a galleon and a schooner.

 Then we went to see the exhibition in Tower Bridge and see all the splendid engines that raise the roadway up to let ships through. Now we were very tired so back across the bridge to the Undergound station on Tower Hill. I left Isobel on the train to go further than I and found that at my station (Liverpool Street) there were more delays – due to “the delays of the earlier trains”. Got back to Wickford and drove home at 6.0pm.

Memo: add photos reference 035004 to 035015 when scanned.

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