Friday, July 31, 2015

We Saw Some Old Stuff.... Alternate Title: Day 8

OMG! I totally forgot to post last night....ok maybe we had a bit much to drink with our new Airbnb hosts at their local pub. Oops, sorry about that!

Greetings fellow Canadians!

So yesterday was our last day at Rob's place and we were kinda sad to leave. It was a great location and he was great host too. We were spoiled by the large room the nice big bed, our own table and couch. But we move on and moved to our last Airbnb in Greenwich! Now this one is only 15min from Canada Water tube Station - so it feels like home. I will take some pics of our view tomorrow when there is light. It is really lovely.

We already had 95% of our stuff at Christiane and Nick's place, so it was easy to pack the rest of our stuff and head out to try some recommended regular bus routes. on Reddit Jeff found some recommended routes to see some great stuff, but the 15 bus route was a to the British Museum we go instead.

Now this museum is also free, which makes for easy on the pocket. This museum has the Sutton Hoo helm, the Rosetta Stone, and much, much more. Now the one thing I have noticed about British museums is that they don't jam it with lots of this can be good and bad. I personally love it when there is so much stuff you don't know where to start. The German museums are like that.

We're going to see Old Stuff!
 The BM had some really amazing stuff...not enough 16th century for me, but I think their online collection is sooooo much better. We wandered about for 3 hours, which means we saw stuff! Also we did get to see the Rosetta Stone (surrounded by tourists! lol), we glanced at it and said there it is, and left.

I wandered the shop after lunch and found 3 gems. 2 cookbooks with sources and a really good bibliography, and a tote bag that Mel has and I had been coveting! hehe

To round out the museum, we went to the Islamic section AND the Rothschild's collection. Now I found a few really awesome pieces for my SCA fighter persona! YAY! AND the Rothschild collection was AMAZING! They had the most amazing collection of gold and silver artefacts. So many to mention.

Woven Islamic textile - 10-11th C.

Wooden 15th (or 16th C.) Prayer Nut - Amazing carving

Underside of Prayer Nut
Once we ginished up at the museum, we decided to take a recommended bus route to see the sights. This time we tried the 24 Pimlico. So we go along heading towards Westminster, and as we are watching we noticed all of the music shops! There were at least 10 on one small street. The one that caught my eye. We were on a double decker and the Lute was calling to me. So we hoped off, grabed a quick bite to eat, and headed to this shop.

Early Music Shop
All I could think of was that Marie would be in heaven! I got her a card too! I had no idea where to start. The we went back on the 24 heading to Hamstead Heath. Which apparently is a very affluent area. We sure noticed that when we got off the bus. Very nice, but sure felt expensive.

We decided to head back towards home and maybe hit Harrod's at the same time. At this time it was rush hour so the trains and tube were really busy. We finally arrive and walk in, and started giggling. We stopped at the Gucci purses just to see how much they were. Can't be that bad right?

Gucci Purse

Ummm...yeah right...
HAHAHAHAH....You know what I could buy with that? How about an £80K watch? Or the jewellery that we didn't even bother asking how much. Insane! I think we lasted 20 minutes and got ourselves out of there!

The we saw the most ridiculous car on the planet.

Swaorvski Crystal Mercedes

Oh look missing cheap! lol
Time to head back, grab some groceries and relax for my big day. As we were heading back, I received a text from our hosts, that they were at the pub and asked if we wanted to join them. I love the idea of a local pub and theirs was really nice. Tried more cider, and had a little too much. Evidence below! lol

Time to head home...
Not long after this post we headed back home. It was close to 11pm and really I needed sleep so I could form a proper conversation with Marc.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I See Dead People... Alternate title: Day 7

Greetings from....bah, bah bah bah, bah, bah, bah bah, bah bah....!


So today was kind of a slow day for us. Not that we meant it to be, it just worked out that way. As you saw I finished yesterday's post this morning as I waited for our darks to wash. Actually it is really neat here, everyone has a washer in the kitchen, then you hang your clothes to dry or go to the laundry mat to dry them. Which is perfect for me since I hang everything anyway.

On the plan for today was to head to Westminster, then maybe Oxford Circus or Harrod's...we made it to Westminster and took a walk along the Thames instead. :) Work out well for us and it was really a nice walk.

So I am super disappointed that I could not take any pictures inside Westminster. But Jeff got a wonderful one outside.

Westminster's rose window
So we wandered around the Abbey with our audio guides for about 2.5 hours. It was really neat seeing all the monuments, though I was saddened that I couldn't read a lot of the old ones on the floor. I was happy to finally see Elizabeth I's tomb and the effigy corset! I even got to see St. Edward the Confessor's tomb by attending a service inside the blocked off area. Very interesting. I loved the Lady's Chapel and all of the architecture. I am sad that we don't have any pictures to show you.

A view through the cloister
We travelled through the cloisters to get to Chapter House which is the oldest part of the Abbey, with amazing medieval glazed tiles, the oldest door in Britain and houses the oldest paintings in Britain.

I am sure this was illegal...but this door is dated 1050s. :)
We left Westminster with the expectation of heading to Oxford Circus, but the weather was finally nice and sunny, so opted for a Thames river walk. It was really lovely and fun! We went by the London Eye.

Since it was low tide we were able to walk on the Thames foreshore and look for treasure! Well ok, for the most common thing which are pipe necks. :) I have a whole bunch for a necklace now. :)

Thames Mudlarking
A rusty nail...age unknown...
As we walked around, there were many buskers, a book sale, lots of restaurants. I had to give some change to the bassoon busker!

Bassoon Busker
There was a roasted peanut seller...Yum!

We passed by the Globe Theatre where there are a lot of shows going on, and we decided to go and see Measure for Measure on Sunday as a groundlings! so for £5 each...should be fun!

We finished our walk at The Anchor, London's oldest Pub. We shared our dinner and it was super yummy with cider of course!

Now we need to pack all our stuff as our next airbnb hosts will let us store our luggage there tonight, since they won't be home till 7pm tomorrow.



Tudor Monastery Farm...Here I come! Alternate Title: Day 6

Greeting from Londres,

Today was a great day! We woke up to the sun shining, even though it was a little cold. we were happy to see the sun. We had to be out of the house early enough to catch our 9:37 train to Chichester. I planned for us to visit Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. This is where they filmed portions of the Tudor Monastery Farm (TMF)! If you are interested in Tudor history it is a must and it is my favourite show.

It was going to be a bit of a gong show to get there. You see we had to catch the Portsmouth to Chichester train. When we arrived in Chichester, we had to catch the #60 bus going to Midhusrt. We then had to hop off at the Groom's yard in Singleton, and walk 1 km to Weald & Downland. It could have gone so horribly wrong, but thankfully I had planned it like crazy! I was so excited to go there. Mel and Dave raved about it!

Another bonus, is that if you came on the stagecoach, you got 20% off your entrance fee! YAY! So off we go for a lot of walking. If you plan on visiting, just remember that their map makes everything look really far away, it isn' I forgot how close everything is on a map here.

The Market place
I was so excited to see the view above, they used this in TMF! I was giddy like a school girl meeting One Direction! See....?

IT's SO FLUFFY!!! (not really
Well Ok maybe not, but I was super excited. so we travelled around the site, amazed at the thatched roofs and how thick they were. So all of the homes and buildings here were taken from other locations around England. They basically dismantle them to save them. Some come into their hands in very poor condition, but the historians try and work out how this building may have looked. We travelled up to the Brewer's cottage, which was really interesting since there was an interpreter actually making ale. Now this ale would not have been carbonated, he was in the process of heating the copper bowl over a fire. In a special "stove".

The Brewer adding faggots to the fire and getting it going.

His worktable, with the barley and hops.
He stated the problem with this set up was that they didn't add the proper holes in the brick so that the heat could go around the copper bowl, as it was it would only heat from the bottom. He encouraged us to come back a little later to see the cooking process.

We then moved to the other buildings and found the cheese room! Woo hoo!

The cheese room
The porous tile floor

window screens

We then moved along to the Tudor kitchen where they were in fact doing some cooking of bread, fritters and making butter. The room has no chimney, so it was very smokey. All I wanted to do was get dressed and go and play with them. :( That right there is my ideal job. 

Making butter with a small amount of cream. Right in a bowl with her fingers.

The open hearth

The bread oven

A different angle
My dream job! She's putting on bread.
It was really interesting to try what they were making, the flat bread was cooked most likely at the end of the day since they didn't want to heat up the bread oven. It was cooked on the metal griddle in the fire. The pot next to it contained oil, that is what they fried the fritters in. The mixture for the fritters was flour, beer, spinach and onions that had been fried sweet. it was then mixed together and formed into balls (but not as neat, more of a dumpling shape) and put into the oil till cooked. It was delicious. They flat bread with the home-made butter was great too. Definitely whole wheat. This was one of my favourite parts!

After the kitchen, I wanted to check out the house they used in TMF, and it was right next door.
The front of the home (actually build in 1405)

A really nice side angle of the home.
 This is the main hall of the building. The windows have large shutters to open and close depending on the weather. The back wall has a painted wall hanging and a table set for a meal. It is a very large room.
The main hall
What is interesting here, is that the fire is in the centre of the room, it was only used for heat, not cooking. The clay pot in this picture was to keep the embers hot overnight, so that they could start the fire in the morning. All the cooking of food was done in a separate cooking house, to try and eliminate the possibility of a fire burning down the house.

One of the upstairs bedrooms (panorama)
There were 2 bedrooms in this home, each with their own staircase. Most likely the masters room and the children's rooms.

After visiting all the Tudor buildings, we decided to head back to see what the brewer was up to. When we arrived he had put in the barley and hops into the copper bowl over the fire. It was just starting to smell the yeasty smell of cooking barley sugars (like the smell you get near a Molson plant in Montreal).

Hops (small bag) and Barley (large bag)
When we saw them in cheesecloth bags, we were surprised. I didn't even think about how they would do this, but the copper bowl could not be removed, so for cleaning it made more sense to keep all the ingredients in linen. Here you can also see the ratio needed for making ale. It had a wonderful smell. 

Weald & Downland have the most amazing views, the homes that are beside the museum are just spectacular. It would be so easy to pretend to be in Tudor or Medieval times in a place like this. Oh yes and the pigs were enormous!

The view
We made our way back to the shop, to see if there was anything I wanted. They had lots of fine pottery, but nothing I couldn't get back home from our pottery throwers. BUT...there was a book, a very expensive book that I had to have. It only came out in December last brand new! I have already read 3 chapters. It is amazing. He worked at Hampton Court and he also has a medieval version of this book. I am in heaven, but it is a huge book!

After paying for my purchases, we walked the km back to the bus stop and made our way back to Chichester. Next time we are in England we will go there, it has a beautiful Cathedral we didn't have time to go into, as well as a beautiful main street. we got back to the bus station, and then made our way to the train station. We were arriving at Victoria Station. That was a crazy place at 6pm on a Monday. There were so many police armed with automatic weapons and hand guns...never seen it before. There were dog sniffers and regular police...crazy! The amount of people was intense too. We were glad to make it back to Rob's place for dinner.

So today we are off to Westminster and a museum and possibly SOHO.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Gale in Portsmouth - Alternate Title: Day 5

Greetings from London,

Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but we ended up having a great night with our Airbnb host Dan in Portsmouth...but more on that shortly.

So on Monday morning, we made our way to Waterloo station to start our trip to Portsmouth. I was excited because I have never been anywhere south of London.

They don't pull any punches in

I was excited to check out the Mary Rose Museum because of the 16th century artefacts they found when the raised the ship from it watery grave.  It was a good train ride (about and hour and a half) for us to arrive in Portsmouth.

The very tasty chicken, bacon and cucumber sandwich
from M&S (Marks & Spenser!)
When we left London it was a beautiful sunny day, but as we got closer to Portsmouth it got cloudy and very windy. There were gale wind warnings! Now I bought the discounted tickets to the whole Portsmouth Dockyards, which included a few museums, the ability to go on a bunch of really neat ships and the Mary Rose Museum.

Portsmouth Harbour - Low tide

It is really windy!
So on our way to the Mary Rose Museum, we get to go by the HMS Victory. It is dry docked, but still has a full crew and captain! It was Nelson's flagship during the battle of Trafalgar.

Walking towards the ship.

Behind it on the way to the Mary Rose.

So we get to the museum....and man there is quite a bit there. I have lots of pictures of artefacts, but I think the coolest info was about the ship itself. When they raised it out of the water, they needed a method to keep the wood intact, as the water had saturated all the cells of the wood, and if it evaporated the wood would fall apart. So for 30 years (yes 30!) they sprayed the ship with a water/wax solution. This solution would replace just the water and the wax would keep the cell structure when it dried. Preserving the ship for years to come. They finished spraying the ship in 2013, so it now begins its 4 year drying period. It will be ready in 2017.

The black tubes are pushing air to dry the ship.
Once this has been completed, the building that houses the ship, is really neat. It was built with the whole purpose of having all the walls surrounding the ship, get to be removed. So it will be open to view by the public, nothing obstructing the view of it. So cool!

There were museum staff around showing different reproduction artefacts for people to handle and I found one thing I is a Tudor pepper mill...did they have it in the shop...nope. :( Sadness...they used to sell them, so the shop staff recommend looking on eBay!

The Tudor pepper-mill!
After the Mary Rose, we decided to do a Harbour tour. We love these as you always learn cool tidbits. Here we are was really windy.

Yes, it was windy!
Despite the wind, we decided to sit above deck as it had the best view. We found out that this was a very busy week for ships in the docks for repair. Plus they were dismantling all the America's Cup buildings from the weekend. What we didn't know is that the dockyards are a fully functioning Ministry of Defence site, so there were some restrictions.

Waiting above deck...all the life boats were here! ;)

in for repairs
 To finish our day we headed back to the HMS Victory for a tour. It was really fascinating on how cramped it was for the men to get in and out of. Also some of the ceilings I needed to duck to get under, I can't imagine how gown men could move around there quickly.

HMS Victory
Me beside the front mast

Jeff beside the front mast
After our tour we decided to get some dinner and then head to our room with Dan our host. We milled about at Gunwarf Quay. It was a typical outlet mall. lol but interesting non the less. We then headed to where we were staying, but could we find how much the bus would cost to get there, nope. It is one of the most disorganized transit I have ever seen. Even the drivers didn't recognize where we needed to go. Thank goodness for google maps. lol

We get off the bus and stock up on some ciders before we get to our room. I have to say that Dan's place was AMAZING! It is one of the old town-houses in Southsea (a part of Portsmouth), the outside is meh, but when we walked in, he had completely remodelled it! It had a wonderful nautical theme throughout and a retro kitchen. We met Dan and his girlfriend Cat. We came in just as they were having dinner. We sat with them as they ate and we talked all night! It was too bad they had to work on Tuesday. It was really great to meet someone our age, with so much in common. The room was great, he even had breakfast available to us in the morning. I would stay there again for sure. He even recommended that we take the train to Chichester from the station near his place. What a time and money saver! I wish we had taken a picture as a group. It is a great memory!

Next to Singleton!