United Kingdom Trips

Buckingham Palace - Changing of the Guard.

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

Buckingham Palace - Changing of the Guards: Great photo opportunities.

At Buckingham Palace, Guard Mounting takes place at 11.30 am. It is held daily from May to July, and on alternate dates throughout the rest of the year. February 2014 - even days (ie 2, 4, 6, etc.)
March 2014 - even days (2, 4, 6, etc.) PLUS 31 March etc'.

Changing of the Guard is one of the most amazing displays of royal tradition. No-one does the pomp and ceremony as well as the British do.

The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is divided into two Detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment (which is responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace), and the St. James’s Palace Detachment, (which guards St. James’s Palace). The Guards are usually from the five regiments of Foot Guards (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards regiments).

The handover is accompanied by a Guards band. The music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs. The St James's Palace Old (changed) Guard marches up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, accompanied by a Band or Corps of Drums, around 11:15am and enters the south gate. The New (changing) Guard marches from Wellington barracks (200 metres south) accompanied by a Band, and enters the north gate. After the 30-45 minutes ceremony, the Old Guard with band marches out the central gate and back to Wellington Barracks. Then the St. James's Palace New Guard marches out the central gate, as well, and up the Mall. Bear in mind these routes - if you want to get a view of the guards when the palace gates and fences are too packed...

Tip: Buckingham Palace is not the only place to see Guard Mounting.
At Windsor Castle, the ceremony takes place at 11.00 am. For most of the year Guard Mounting takes place on alternate dates, but it is held daily (except Sundays) from April to July. At Horse Guards Arch, Changing the Guard takes place daily at 11.00 am (10.00 am on Sundays) and lasts about half an hour; it is normally held on Horse Guards Parade by the arch of Horse Guards Building. If it's raining, don't go.. There is no place to stay under !!!

Important Tips: The guards come in three different sessions. Much of the crowd leaves after the first group marches. It is much easier to see the second group about 10 minutes later (the band) and then later to see the third group (the mounted group). There is a changing at night time too which requires tickets. Stand at the Victoria Monument for the best view (this turns out to be a very good thing because as the horses and guards approach and depart yiu are able to walk the platform around the monument to see both events for some terrific photo ops and hear the bands, or stand in the middle around the fountain (for arrivals and departures of the Guards and Bands and a fence-obscured view of the ceremony) or immediately behind one of the gates (for the 30 minute ceremony). If it is too busy - you can snap pictures as the guards return home. Birdcage walk in St. James Park may be a fantastic location for Guards and Band arriving and returning from the ceremony. Protect your valuables as pick-pockets are everywhere.

Many thousands of people come out to watch. Crowds in front of Buckingham Palace are huge except in freezing weather. It's impossible to get any reasonable view unless you arrive at Buckingham Palace at least 60-90 minutes before the changing of the guard begins. Sometimes, getting there an hour ahead of time, is not enough. People push and shove to try and see. Realistically, unless you are in the very front row - don't expect to see much. iPads and phones are blocking everyone's view. During the event itself - not much happens. Waiting to the Guards and gathering with all this loads of people around the front square of the Palace is really an interesting experience as well...

St. James Park

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

St. james Park:  (3-4 hours. At least 3 hours in the park in a sunny day). Stunning, relaxing and picturesque.

St James's Park opens from 5:00 am until midnight all year round.

Main Attractions: (from East to West): (The closest start tube station is: Charing Cross near Trafalgar Square). (The closest end tube station is: Green Park).

Horse Guards Parade, Inn The Park, The Mall, The Lake Bridge, Deckchairs, Playground, Buckingham Palace.

Restaurant: Inn the Park.

Refreshments: The playground, Artillery Memorial, Marlborough Gate and Horse Shoe Bend. Several stalls selling refreshments. There are bathrooms in the park as well.

Tips: No lightning at evenings, and some points of the park get very dark. 

On weekends there are more visitors but never feels crowded.

Take some bread and nuts with you and you'll be able to hand feed the birds and the squirrels.

Leave the footpath and go for a walk in the wood.

Deckchairs for hire during the summer. Lots of benches to relax on.

For photographers: different vistas towards Buckingham Palace and the London Eye from the park. Views of Buckingham Palace from cross-the lake area. St. James's park has a lake with 2 islands: West Island and Duck Island. Good views of horse guard parades !!! Get the chance of seeing the horses being ridden up to St James's Palace for the changing of the guard.

Walks: Princess Diana Memorial walk (11 km.). The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk is a long circular walking trail in London dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. It goes between Kensington Gardens, Green Park, Hyde Park and St. James's Park - passing five sites that are associated with her life: Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace, Clarence House and Spencer House.

A wonderful park that stretches from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. It is surrounded by some of London's most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Westminster, Houses of Parliament  and Clarence House. Very central to Buckingham Palace, the Queens Mews , War Cabinet Rooms, Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. When we refer to St. James Park we mean also: The Mall, and Horse Guards Parade and spectacular, annual Trooping the Colour (Once a year, to mark the Queen's official birthday Trooping the Colour is held on Horse Guards Parade in St James's Park). You also have St James Palace if you to visit something nice. The best way to reach Buckingham Palace is through St. James Park !

It is a relaxing place: The flower beds and grass beds are enjoyed by visitors all the year round. Many of the plant specimens are marked here in this well landscaped park. The majority of trees in the park are Plane trees. Extremely peaceful interlude to the busy London buzz surrounding the park.

During the days the Grey Squirrel is the most likely mammal for visitors to see. During the nights - foxes and mice. The Pelicans in the lake and ponds - are one of the main highlights of the park. The Mallard and other species of dick seen on the lake in St James's Park all around the year. You'll be excited over the squirrels (asking people for nuts by sitting up on their back legs and staring at you), ducks, geese, swans and other birds.

St James's Park is the oldest Royal Park in London. About 500 years ago, the St James area was known mainly for farms, grazing beds and woods.

Cleaning statues near the The Guards Parade:

The Royal Mews Guards:

Buckingham Palace seen from the bridge:

View from St. James's Park towards Whitehall:

"Let it Be" Matinee' in Savoy Theatre - The Embankment

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

The Embankment and "Let it Be" Matinee' in Savoy Theatre :

Start & End: Embankment Station.

Head northeast and turn right toward Victoria Embankment Road. Turn left onto Victoria Embankment and take the crosswalk. You face Cleopatra's Needle. This is one of London's great landmarks. It is one of a pair of twin obelisks that were gifted, in year 1818, by the nation of Egypt to London. It's much old than Queen Cleopatra. The Sphinxes are beautiful. Everyone climbs on them, so hard to get a picture without some stranger riding on them:

Before you go to the Strand and the Savoy Hotel and Theatre to watch the "Let it Be" marvelous show - take one hour to stroll in the Embankment and the blooming Embankment Victoria Gardens. Just the view across the Thames itself is sufficient reason to walk the Embankment.The Embankment Victoria Gardens are gorgeous park with a very relaxing, comfortable atmosphere. The place is full of all sorts of legal system employees at lunchtime.

Walk to northern end of the gardens. Turn left onto Savoy St. Turn left onto Strand and the Savoy Hotel will be on the left. The entrance reception area is breathtakingly luxurious. You feel you had stepped back in time walking through the hotel. The decor is absolutely beautiful:

Next door is the Savoy Theatre with its immortal show "Let it Be". The theatre itself is art deco and trendy. The seats retain their art deco designs as does the wall decoration. A truly great afternoon out. A wonderful set of Beatles songs played and sung in the style in which the legendary 4 boys would have done it themselves.  Great show, great acting, great music. Cameras are allowed. An excellent show that gets you up and moving. We felt 50 years younger by the end of the show. 

In case you have time step into Somerest House in the Strand.

Opening times: Embankment level 10.00-18.00, The Edmond Safra Fountain Court 07.30-23.00, River Terrace & Seamen's Hall 08.00-23.00.

Call +44 (0)20 7845 4600 for latest information. Much depends on current exhibition there ! Somerset house is quite an impressive neo-classical piece of architecture. The inner court with its water feature is a haven of tranquility in the center of this bustling city. In the massive courtyard during summer children play under the water fountains. The grounds of Somerset House are good for taking photographs and also inside. The various photographic exhibitions are also of an extremely high-calibre and tastefully chosen. Pleasant cafe and in the summer pleasant to sit outside overlooking the Thames !!!

Neasden Hindu Mandir

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir - Neasden Hindu Mandir - Half a day. Whatever your religion, this is a wonderful place of worship:

Start & End: Stonebridge Park Station.

Weather: Good idea for a rainy day. Keep in mind you'll need 20 minutes walk from the station (and another 20 minutes back...). Very well signposted along this trek... Another option: Bakerloo line, Harlesden Station,  zone 3., From there by buses (No. 208, 216, 18) which drive 10 minutes directly to the temple.

From Stonebridge Park Station head east toward Argenta Way. Slight right onto Argenta Way and turn left onto N Circular Rd. Walk 150 m. and turn right onto Harrow Rd. Follow Harrow Rd. and turn left onto Conduit Way. Walk 500 m. and continue straight onto Meadow Garth. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Brentfield Rd. The Temple will be on the right.

Note: No photography inside. You are not allowed to take pictures even at the yard of the temple. You leave your camera (with the security in the booth opposite the temple) and shoes in a secure place outside the building or just inside the entrance with the security personnel.

Duration: The entire temple can be seen in about 1-2 hours (longer if you want to browse through the gift shop).

Orientation: Amazing, peaceful, relaxing. truely a gem of London. The Neasden temple is a great day out with the family. Entrance is free ,but if you wish to see the Vedanta exhibition there's a small fee. I'd strongly recommend if you want to have a taste of Indian temples without traveling outside Europe.

The Mandir temple gives you an excellent idea about the architecture of Indian Temples, especially the marble (outside) and wood (inside) carvings.

The temple is really very beautiful. Walking around is a peaceful and amazing experience. Inside it's quite and peaceful. If you are not familiar with Hindu culture it would probably take you couple of hours to go through the whole complex and daily ceremonies.

A breathtaking masterpiece. A relaxing and peaceful place, out of the busy hustle and bustle of the city of London.

Tip: Come around the Diwali to see the temple decorated and at its best. Preparations are being put in place for thousands of people. Dress sensibly and courteously.

Once through - women in the right, men on the left. Men and women are separated in the prayer hall as well. An ideal place to get de-stressed. It is open to all, whatever your religion or faith might be. The video inside explains and shows that detailed precision of building this wonder from scratch to this glorified monumental place of meditation, thinking and grander. You may stay for a short pray service at lunch time (about 11.15 or 11.30) or during the afternoon (16.00) (30 min.). You sit down (on the floor) and relax into the atmosphere of the place. The exhibition on Hinduism is insightful and educational. Note the spectacular one-piece carpets inside.

Do checkout the Shayona restaurant ! It is on the pricey side but most worth it and lots of vegetarian dishes to choose from. They make everything fresh within 2-3 hours of serving.

There is a shop inside the temple selling all sorts of religious stuffs and souvenirs.

Also a big supermarket in the complex selling all sorts of Indian grocery, vegetables and spices.

Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane and Shoreditch

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane and Shoreditch - funny, peculiar and authentic: A rainy half-a-day activity !:

Do this itinerary on a Sunday and then continue to Sunday Up market at Brick Lane and then walk your way up to Shoreditch area and you will find great fashion shops on your way that's better then the market itself.

WELL WORTH a visit even when it's raining as Old Spitalfields Market is all under cover...  Located just five minutes’ walk from , Liverpool Street Station. Head east on Liverpool St toward Bishopsgate. Turn left onto Bishopsgate. Slight right to stay on Bishopsgate. Turn right onto Brushfield St. Turn left onto Commercial St.

There has been a market on the site since 1638. The original wholesale fruit and vegetable market moved to New Spitalfields Market in 1991. In January 2011 Old Spitalfields Market received the award "Best Private Market" by the National Association of British Market Authorities. Open seven-days-per-week. The market offers shoppers something different each day. Monday-Wednesday: fashion, footwear, gifts, bric-a-brac etc. Thursday: Antiques. Friday: fashion and arts. Saturday: vintage, designer made products and collectable items. Sunday: college graduates showcasing their works. Lots of great stalls selling unusual and interesting things, and the shops and cafes around the market are really excellent. This feels like the real London !

Open: Mon to Wed: 10.00 — 17.00 (General Market Stalls). Thurs: 9.00 — 17.00  (Antiques & Vintage Market). Fri: 10.00 — 16.00 (Fashion & Art Market). Sat: 11.00 — 17.00 (Themed Market Day). Sun: 9.00 — 17.00 (General Market Stalls).

Duration: Allow at least a couple of hours but you could spend a good half day here and feel it was time worth spending.

What a great place to spend a few hours browsing around. They are not tourist goods and most of the things for sale are designed and hand made by the people sitting behind the stall. The clothes are well priced and you will find something unique to take home with you. Around the edges of the market are independent shops selling mostly retro clothes, furniture and ornaments. it is a social place to meet.

The Gun Pub is located in a public house, situated to the south of the market buildings. It recalls Tudor times, when the Old Artillery Ground in this area was used by the Honourable Artillery Company to practice with cross-bow, and later guns and artillery pieces. It is in the Commercial Road:

On the other side of Commercial Street is Christ Church, Spitalfields, a large Nicholas Hawksmoor church. Built between 1714 and 1729:

Very good selection of cafes and restaurants: Giraffe, Leon, Wagamama and others.

Head south on Commercial and turn left onto  Fournier Street.  Fournier Street, formerly Church Street, is an 'east-end' street of 18th-century houses in Spitalfields, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It runs between Commercial Street and Brick Lane.

5 mins walk from the Old Spitalfields Market will find yourself in Brick Lane the curry mecca of London. Lots of photogenic corners so bring a camera !  Everywhere you look there is a feast for the eyes. Today, BL it is the heart of the city's Bangladeshi community and is known to some as Banglatown. It is famous for its many curry houses and oriental eateries. Brick Lane is a very vibrant and multicultural tourist destination very famous for its Indian/Bangladeshian Curry Industry. There are so many Indian curry houses here so if you would like to taste Indian food why not come here. On Sunday Brick Lane is very vibrant with so many people visiting Sunday market.

Both Fournier Street and Brick Lane became established as the heart of the Jewish East End. Although there had been a small Jewish community in the East End for some time, a large number of Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia moved to Spitalfields in the 19th century and founded a thriving community. Many new schools, cultural activities and businesses were created, including the Jews Free School and the Jewish Chronicle newspaper (the oldest Jewish English language weekly in the world). This area faced unbelievable, extreme religious changes: In 1898 the Methodist Church (at the eastern extremity of Fournier Street) was converted into the Maz'ik Adath Synagogue. This building had been constructed as a Huguenot Chapel ('La Neuve Eglise') in 1743-4, had also served as a Protestant church and would later be converted during the 1970s to become the London Jamme Masjid (Great Mosque) - as the area then evolved to become the present day heart of the Bengali community. This building is symbolic of Spitalfields' role in immigration and in providing 'refuge' to many minorities:

The Sunday market, like the ones on Petticoat Lane and nearby Columbia Road (see special blog on Columbia Market), dates from a dispensation given by the government to the Jewish community in the 19th century. The Sunday market is a great way to pass the time on a Sunday afternoon. Wonderful place to visit on a Sunday when the market is in full swing. More recently the area has also broadened to being a vibrant art and fashion student area, with considerable experimental or exhibition space. Brick Lane is world famous for its graffiti, which features many famous artists. The lane has been used in many music videos. Brick Lane has also been the site of several of the city's best known night clubs around. Very in, very vintage, packed of young people. Diversity of food on offer is vast and you find it very difficult to resist sampling some before reaching your final destination of the Bagel shop: amazing salt beef bagel that comes with mustard and pickles but the name of the bagel place might elude if you see a long line at the store it's probably it. Must try !  You actually have a lot of choice such as Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Bangladeshi, Indian food stalls. Some curry houses of Brick Lane will not sell alcohol as most are run by Muslims.

You can make the whole itinerary back to Liverpool street Station:

Or you can extend your itinerary to Shoreditch for another 20-30 minutes of walk. Head north on Brick Lane and turn left onto Hanbury St. Turn right onto Commercial St. Slight right onto Shoreditch High and the station will be on the right.

Chiswick House and Gardens

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

Chiswick House and Gardens: 2-4 hours.

A unique oasis in this corner of London - though this wouldn't be on my top must-see list.... Please refer to our blog on Hammersmith and Chiswick, along the Thames. After visiting the CH  take a stroll along the Thames towards Hammersmith or Richmond or to one of the other nearby tourist attractions such as the Fullers brewery...

Visitor Information:

The House: From 1 April-30 Sept: Open 10am-6pm Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed & Bank Holidays, Closed Thu, Fri and Sat. Ticket price: Adult: £6.10. If you are an English Heritage member (or a Barclays Premier client) you can tour round the house for free.

The Gardens: Open every day from 7am until dusk, all year round.
There is no charge for visiting Chiswick House Gardens.

The Café: Open every day from 09.00.

Duration: A great place to visit for a couple of hours.

From Chiswick Park station  - it is a 15-20 minutes walk to Chiswick House.  It is quite a long and disorienting walk from the  subway line. Head southeast on Bollo Ln.  At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Acton Ln. Go through the next roundabout. Turn left onto Chiswick High Rd. Slight right to stay on Chiswick High Rd. Turn right onto Duke's Ave. Slight left toward Great West Rd. Turn right toward Great West Rd. Turn right onto Great West Rd. The Chiswick House and gardens will be on the right.

Chiswick House is one of the finest examples of neo-Palladian design in England. I highly recommend that you'll combine your visit with one of the numerous special events taking place in the house. See: http://www.chgt.org.uk/index.asp?Pageid=1

The third Earl of Burlington built the house in 1729 with help from the renowned architect, William Kent, as a tribute to the Italian architect Palladio. Chiswick House is a showcase for art collections, and a venue for many temporary exhibitions. The finest remaining example of Neo-Palladian architecture in London, the house was designed by Lord Burlington, and completed in 1729. It was not intended as a home but as a place to get away to and to have parties. It was also home to the Earl’s art collections. The house itself is pretty much unique in London and an audio tour of the ground floor deals mainly with the architectural history. The first floor has been beautifully restored and gives a good idea of how the place would have looked more than 200 years ago. Allow about 45 minutes to 1 hour of the tour inside.

It's a very small house despite the imposing exterior. The second floor is more impressive with beautiful ceilings and nice artwork. The upper floor of the CH holds the "Green Velvet Room", and the "Red Velvet Room" where Lord Burlington and his pals would discuss art and architecture, and the politics of the time. Very impressive ceilings and a good collection of paintings.

If you don't wish to pay to enter the house you can spend an hour walking round these beautiful historic gardens for free. They are a lovely place to roam in all seasons. The Conservatory is open from Mid-March - mid-October 10am-4pm with free entry but there is a charge when the plants are in bloom in February/March. The gardens at Chiswick House have been loved for centuries. The gardens have benefited from a large-scale restoration, unveiled in June 2010.  The gardens are a great attraction in themselves, with a number of fantastic little features scattered around the place. It gets a little crowded on sunny weekends.  Go on a weekday and it's still blissfully quiet. If you're short on time, skip the house and take a wander down a garden path - you won't regret it !

The grounds are huge, and contain a bridge, straight out of a classic rural painting, and an Ionic temple, which you'll love. Worth visiting on a nice day as the grounds are spectacular with great walks in the gardens and around the lake. The Royal Horticultural Society was based in the grounds in the nineteenth century. The park is beautifully maintained with a lovely lake and helpful signs describing bird life you can see. Another special experience are the dogs and their owners spilled out all over the front lawn area and beside the lake:

The café (with toilets) in Chiswick House is quite expensive but the staff is most welcoming and helpful.

The Nature History Museum

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

The Nature History Museum - So much to see ,So little time:

Duration: 3-4 hours or the whole day.

Weather: Rainy day only.

Open every day 10.00-17.50. Free.

Tips: watch out when it's hot. There is no air-con and it can be quite hot.  If there's a massive queue at the front, there is a side entrance too!!!  Use the side entrance to get in as the queues are much shorter. The picnic area downstairs is an oasis of peace, and has a cheap snack bar too, but it closes in the afternoon. Arrive early if you can, and if you can avoid weekends and school holidays !  The food is a bit overpriced - so get a packed lunch with you.

Don't miss the NHM , it's a museum for all ages. To feed the boy within you - you'll need 6-8 hours ! A good day out. The Museum is gigantic so make sure you wear comfy shoes! It's a lot of walking! Some of the exhibitions have been there during the last 40 years...  If your visiting London especially with children pay this place a visit. Its free and there are some amazing things to see for all the family. Easy to find and on good transport links. Diverse array of scientific artifacts housed in a beautiful neo-Gothic museum. The museum in divided into four colored zones which help plan your visit.  Five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology. Don't miss the Darwin Centre with Cocoon and collection of tens of millions of preserved specimens.

The building itself is spectacular:

Inside it may be a vast space but every inch is beautifully decorated. The architecture and styling that went into its construction is hard to match. Even the smallest details were intricate and beautiful. Spend your time looking at the details. The majesty of the main hall is always stunning and really is like stepping back in time:

You simply can't visit the museum and not see the dinosaur exhibit!

Who can fail to be amazed by the sight of the massive whale in the mammals area:

Go back in time and discover the stories that fossils can reveal:

Charles Darwin transformed the way we understand the natural world with his revolutionary ideas:

At the very top of the Central Hall you'll find a section of the trunk of the enormous giant sequoia tree. These trees are the biggest living things and the exhibit gives you an idea of how huge they are:


Laura Foster

United Kingdom

Chelsea - 1 day:

Start: Sloane Square tube station.

End:   Sloane Square tube station.

Weather: The visit in the Royal Hospital and the urban part of Chelsea - can be done in any weather. For the rest of the day - along the Thames and Battersea Park - better in a clear day (or, at least, cloudy but not rainy day).

From Sloane Square head west toward Sloane St. Turn left to stay on Sloane Square, slight left to stay on Sloane Square. Turn right onto Lower Sloane St. Turn right onto Royal Hospital Rd and the Royal Hospital Chelsea Chapel will be on your left. It is a walk of 10-15 minutes. This is a magnificent historic rest home for retired armed service people. These are all ex service men and women who have served the UK and now retired to this beautiful haven. The buildings and grounds are full of interest and very well maintained. The grounds and gardens are peaceful and perfect for walking. The grounds are extensive and a real oasis from the rest of bustling Chelsea. The permier world flower show takes place in these premises - every year, usually, in May. Many visitors there are just coming to be "seen" instead of seeing the gardens and horticulture issues. try to see the Grand Hall and Chapel both of which are well worth seeing. The dining room is laid for the luncheon and the menu which was on the table would clearly indicate that these admirable old soldiers, in the hospital, are very well catered for. Try to get in touch with one of the pensioners. They are glad to explain and to guide your visit around. The inhabitants are full with wisdom and stories. There is a cafeteria on site which adequately provides tea, coffee and snacks:

Head northeast on Royal Hospital Rd. toward Franklin's Row. Turn right onto Chelsea Bridge. You are facing the Chelsea Bridge. The impressive features along the bridge look their best against blue sky. Stand on the bridge and look down the river to Albert Bridge and Battersea Park - it is all just truly beautiful. Right next to the bridge is one of Londons historical- Iconic buildings - the Battersea power station. Just to look at that is worth standing on the bridge. Admire the ornamental lamp posts along the art-deco white bridge, each comprising a golden galleon on top of a coat of arms.

Charles II statue on the southern end of the bridge:

Chelsea Bridge and Wandsworth mansions (the southern edge):

After crossing the Chelsea Bridge the Battersea Park is on your right. The main attraction: many paths to wander, the Pagoda with its Budhaaa, the Lake, football and hockey pitches, play / adventure areas for children, tennis courts , a new winter garden, Crystal palace fountain, hidden waterfalls, famous sculptures, Cafe' and restaurant and much more:

Three figures standing - Henry Moore:

Battersea Park - the sub-tropical garden:

As we came from Chelsea Bridge, crossed the Battersea Park - our direction is, basically, from east to west. The next bridge to the west - is Albert Bridge. Many residents in London (and tourists) think that Albert Bridge is the most beautiful bridge on the Thames and it looks like a wedding or cream cake.  Well, certainly the most elegant !
The best time to take photos of the bridge - is when it is illuminated during the dark. Do not miss it during the night. The transport , over the bridge, isquite sparse from the evening hours. It took a long time to refurbish it before the Olympic Games. It was closed for 18 months for re-construction.

Battersea new properties - from Albert Bridge:

After crossing the Albert Bridge, from south to north, do not miss the Boy and Dolphine sculpture by David Wayne, 1975, Cheyne Walk, on the Northern Bank of the Thames:

Another statue in Cheyne Walk is :Thomas Carlyle statue:

You can walk along Cheyne Walk or Chelsea Embankment (from east to west, turn left after crossing Albert Bridge). The first turn to the right is Old Church street whre you can see the Thomas More statue near the Chelsea Old Church:

To the west of the church is a small public garden containing a sculpture by Jacob Epstein. Head north on Old Church St toward Petyt Pl. Turn right onto Justice Walk, turn left onto Lawrence St. Facing you, as you emerge from Justice Walk into Lawrence Street are two early Georgian houses: Dukes House and Monmouth House built around 1705. Originally occupied by the Duchess of Monmouth, later occupants included the writer Tobias Smollett and Nicholas Sprimont, owner of the famous Chelsea China factory from 1747 to 1769. Part of the building was also used as a showroom for the porcelain works. The building was demolished in 1835 to create Upper Cheyne Row.

Turn right onto Upper Cheyne Row. A blue plaque commemorates Chelsea Porcelain Works which occupied a nice site from 1750 to 1784:

From Cheyne Row, turn left to Glebe Place and left to Bramerton street. In every corner you'll notice wonderful doors, fences and grilled-windows:

Turn right to Kings Road and, again, do not miss another interesting house in this section of the most bustling street in Chelsea:

Turn left onto Sydney St and the St Luke's & Christ Church will be on the right. Charles Dickens was married at St Luke's to Catherine Hogarth, who lived in Chelsea, on 2 April 1836, two days after the publication of the first part of the Pickwick Papers, his first great success. It is a beautiful construction and is of architectural significance as one of the earliest Gothic Revival churches in London:

Here are two alternative routes. Most of you will prefer to skip the busy main road of Chelsea: the Kings Road and head to Saatchi Gallery. Head north on Sydney St toward Cale St and turn right onto Cale St. Continue onto Elystan Pl. Turn right onto Anderson St. Turn left onto King's Rd.  On the second turn to the right the Duke Of York Square will be on your left. Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) statue stands in this square:

Retrace your steps. Walk back and turn left into KIngs Road. 50 metres further and you are in Saatchi Gallery. One of the most controversial places in London. First,, the only famous gallery of modern art in the world that does not charge an entrance fee. It inhabits a beautiful green space and is housed in the extended Duke of York's HQ. The gallery spaces are light, high and beautiful and provide a cool environment for the modern art on display. The current exhibitions change very frequently. Much depends on your exact day of visit.  Interesting contemporary works from young artists. A gallery with art for sale in the basement. Compared to the maddening crowds of Tate Modern, one can walk with ease and without the crowds here at the weekend. This gallery is almost empty in the weekdays... The exhibits are unique and quirky. Very interesting free tours, at 3pm, everyday. WHATEVER IS YOUR TASTE - DO NOT MISS !!! 

In our day of visit the gallery was very crowded: Hermes Paris gave a brilliant demonstration on thechniques of prints on fabrics:


Contemporary Art in Saatchi Gallery:

It is further 5 minutes walk to our final post today: Sloane Sqaure.  Head northeast on King's Rd toward Cadogan Gardens. Turn left onto Sloane Square road and turn right and the tube station will be in front of you. the square is beautifully maintained, a little spot of peace surrounded by London traffic. It offers great shopping without the hustle & bustle experience of Bond St or Oxford St. The space and area around Sloane Square includes some great upscale shopping names. Go have an overpriced coffee and pastry on the top floor of Peter Jones but you'll get great views !

Another option is to continue on the Kings Road until arriving to the Sloane Square. King’s Road offers a wide variety of award winning boutique luxury fashion and dining establishments to indulge; starting with the department store Peter Jones to trendy high-fashion shoe stores. it has always been a popular location for the wealthy. But it is a wonderfully diverse community. The local elderly residents from the  Royal Hospital in their regal uniforms, are always up for a chat on the sidewalks of Kings Road in dry days.

The Dockyards

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

The Dockyards: Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf.

Start: The South Quay DLR Station.

End: The Canary Wharf Underground Station.

Weather: Could be in any weather. But, what a difference between a sunny and cloudy day !  The Dockyards are in their best under London sun. The pictures below have been taken in a rainy day...

We start at the South Quay DLR station. With our back to the DLR track, and the Marsh Wall street (behind) - we face the Millwall Inner Dock on the Thames. Millwall Inner Dock is an area where several housing developments and impressive apartment towers have been developed. We walk to the left (east) and continue along the water crossing 3 restaurants: the Spinnaker, the Food Atelier and the floating Lotus - all on our left. On our right is the Baltimore project of offices and housing. Arriving to Pepper street - turn backward and what you see:

The view from Pepper street - to the east side of the dock:

...and to the western bank:

Turn right on Pepper street and step on the Glengall Bridge (over the water) to get a better view of the dock northward. On your right (east):

and the Baltimore Building:

On your left (west) is the Tompkins Building (built by Pan Peninsula):

On the north-west is the South Quay Plaza project:

We continue walking AROUND the Millwall Inner Dock - returning to the South Quay DLR station and climbing along the stairs to the Marsh Wall street.  On the junction with the Admirals Way (on your right is the Hilton Canary Wharf hotel) -  wait a few minutes to catch the DLR train passing by with the Canary Wharf towers behind:

Walk along the Marsh Wall street with spectacular views on both sides of your way. On the left (west) is the Thames (and the Thames Path).

On your right magnificient views to the (by order of your walk) : Britainnia International hotel, the South Dock, the PwC headquarters tower,
Heron Quays West Park, the Middle Dock (and behind it the Canary Warf big station) and Jones Long Lasalle building. Keep walking until you arrive to the attractive square of Westferry Circus:

Now, we turn right to the centre of Canary Wharf. Every step we face grandiose sights around. Head east (right) toward W India Ave. Exit the roundabout onto W India Ave and slight right onto Cabot Square. Continue onto S Colonnade. Slight left to stay on S Colonnade. Turn left to stay on S Colonnade. You are under the highest building in Britain (until 2010): the One Canada Square. One Canada Square  is a skyscraper in Canary Wharf, London. It was the tallest building in the United Kingdom from 1990 to 2010, standing at 235 metres above ground level and containing 50 storeys. In late 2010, it was surpassed by The Shard (completed in July 2012) which stands at 309.6 metres . Construction on the tower began in 1988. On November 1990, the tower was topped out when the top piece of the pyramid roof was put in place by crane. It took 15 years to fill up the tower  from the completion of construction .On your right is the One Canada Park  or East Winter Garden (we'll return to the Canada tower a few minutes later):

While in the park, with your face to the Canada Tower, take the left (south-west) exit. Head west on Canada Square/S Colonnade. Continue to follow S Colonnade road. Turn left toward Bank Street. Take the stairs and turn right onto Bank St. The Heron Quays are on the left. We moved to Heron Quays to get wonderful views on the One Canada Sqaure - opposite the Heron Quays:

One Canada Square is a prestigious location for offices. The pyramid roof, in its top,  is a famous feature of the building. The pyramid itself is 40 metres high and 30 metres square at the base. It is made from stainless steel. The tower is an occupied office building and is not open to the public. The tower has 32 passenger lifts divided into four banks, each serving a different section of the building. It also has two freight lifts and two firemens lifts.Lifts travel from the lobby to the 50th floor in just 40 seconds:

In case you are very hungry enter the ground / underground space of the Canada Tower. Tens of restaurants and other businesses:

With your face to the tower (the East Winter Garden / Park on your right) - you'll see on your right, also, the entrance to the Canary Wharf station and Mall:

We'll return part of the same way we did from the Heron Quays to the One Canada Square. With your face to the Canary Wharf Underground station (NOT the CW DLR station !) and the One Canada Square on your left - continue (right) along the South Colonade and the Bank roads. On your left is another small park - the Jubilee Park:

The HSBC building from the Jubilee park:

Bank of America from the Jubilee Park:

The Bank street and, later, the Upper Bank street go around the Jubilee Park. From this park and from the Jubilee Place (inside the park) you get, again, marvelous views of the Canary Wharf buildings, pier and the Thames:

From the Bank street, turn right to the Upper Bank Street.

In the Bank Street - you'll see an impressive sculpture of Igor Mortaj:

Walk until you meet, again, the South Colonade  Rd. Turn right to the S. Colonade rd. and again right to the Montgomery Street. All that for having a look at another impressive sculpture Centauro of Igor Mitoraj (from year 1994):

We recommend walking southward along Montgomery Street (until its end) to get other impressive sights of Canary Wharf from this south-east corner of the Canary Wharf (the Admirality Way Waterside):

Almost in the end of Montgomery Street, turn left on the Pontoon Foot Bridge to the Wood Wharf and the Harbour Quay road. From there you get further sights on the Canary Wharf mega-buildings, the Thames canals and waterways:

We step back from Wood Wharf to the Canary Wharf station - crossing again Montogmery Street and Montgomery Square. The station is on our right. From there you can take more sensational photos of the Canary Wharf cybertown:

Broadgate, Shoreditch, Hoxton and Covent Garden (including a Matinee Musical).

Laura Foster

United Kingdom

East London and Covent Garden (including a Mama Mia show in the Novello Theater in Covent Garden):

Start: Liverpool Street Station.

End: Covent Garden Tube Station.

Highlights: Liverpool Street Station, Exchange Square, Curtian Rd., Hoxton Square, Street and Market, Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch High Street, Aldwych, Covent Garden Piazza, St. Martines Court.

Go to the north side of the Liverpool Street Station. It borders with the Exchange Square. A modern and mainly-pedestrianised development. The largest office development in London until the emergence of Canary Wharf in the early 1990s.  It contains the 165 metres Broadgate Tower, the 4th-tallest building in the City after the Heron Tower, Tower 42 and the 30 St Mary Axe. The tower was completed in 2008 and stands over the railway tracks out of Liverpool Street station:

In this complex you'll find also the Broadgate circle is host to London's only turn up and skate arena:

Head west on Broadgate Circle. Turn right onto Sun St. Sun St turns slightly left and becomes Appold St. Turn left onto Worship St.  Turn right onto Curtain Rd. Now, you are in Shoreditch. On your right - do not miss the The Horse & Groom pub:

I highly recommend not missing a series of wall paintings:

One - in Hewett Rd. (the first turn to the right from Curtain Rd.):

Another couple impressive wall painting are found in Curtain Rd. itself:

Continue along Curtian Rd. crossing 6 roads on your right (including Hewett Rd.). The sixth road on your right and left is the impressive Rivington Street. This street goes along the "border" between Shoreditch and Hackney. Rivington Street was the Shoreditch electricity generating station, by the London County Council to serve the LCC tramway system. A secret bar, the Jubjub Bar - in 65 Rivington Street:

Continue until the end of Curtain Rd. Turn right onto Old St. Turn left onto Hoxton St. Turn left onto Hoxton Square. You are, now, in Hoxton. The geographical distinction between Hoxton and Shoreditch is often confused. Hoxton is a district immediately north of the financial district of the City of London. The area of Hoxton is bordered by Regent's Canal on the north side, Wharf and City Roads to the west, Old Street to the south (we just passed it...) , and Kingsland Road to the east. You'll appreciate a few interesting houses in this square:

Head east on Hoxton Square toward Hoxton St and turn left onto Hoxton St. Go along this street - not missing the nice garden in Hoxton street:

Hoxton Street Market is the focal point of this end of the district. The market sells a wide range of household goods during the week and specializes in independent fashion, art and design products on Saturdays:

Turn right onto Falkirk St.  Turn left (north) onto Kingsland Rd and the Geffrye Museum will be on the right. It is a museum specializing in the history of the English domestic interior. Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday 10.00 - 17.00, Bank Holiday Mondays 10.00 - 17.00. Closed Mondays. The restaurant is open until 16.45. The shop is open during museum hours:

Your direction in the Kingsland Rd was northward. Now, walk back (SOUTHWARD !) in the Kingsland Rd., cross again the Falkirk/Cremer streets. Cross the Waterson street on your left. On the next junction (on your left) with Hackney Rd (the Kingsland Rd. becomes Shoreditch High Street) - note the Shoreditch Cathedral (St. Leonard church):

This part of the road is wholly within the London Borough of Hackney. In the past, Shoreditch High Street boasted of both a prestigious theatre (numbers 2-4 in the street) and a music hall. By the late 19th century the Shoreditch Theatre  was one of the largest theatres in London.  In 1926 it was converted into a cinema called the New Olympia Picture Drome. The building was destroyed in year 1940. There are many striptease pubs along the road:

Continuing along Shoreditch High Street to the Liverpool street Station - you'll see spectacular views of the City high buildings including the Gherkin:

From Liverpool Street Station we headed to a Matinee' show of Mama Mia in Novello Theater in Aldwych (nearby tube stations are: Temple and Covent Garden). You are not allowed to take photos during the show. So, the pictures, hereby, are from the theater hall and the ads in the lobby:

After the (so-so) Mama Mia show we headed to the Covent Garden PIazza - spending there another couple of bright afternoon hours. The central square in Covent Garden is simply called "Covent Garden", very often marketed as "Covent Garden Piazza"

Head south on Aldwych. Turn right onto Catherine St. Turn left onto Exeter St. Turn right onto Burleigh St. Turn left onto Tavistock St. The Transport Museum should be on your right. Turn right toward Henrietta St. You should face the Apple Market and the St. Paul Covent Garden Church on your front and back. The church of St Paul's was the first building, and was begun in July 1631 on the western side of the square. In year 1974 the Covent Garden market moved to a new site in south-west London. The square languished until its central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980. The central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980, with cafes, pubs, small shops and a craft market called the Apple Market. The Piazza, at the heart of Covent Garden, hosts a variety of talents, performances and family events. Shows run throughout the day and are about 30 minutes in length. Please note that the courtyard (in Apple Market) space is dedicated to classical music only.

Our final point, in Covent Garden (see more detailed blog on CG - in a seperate report) is the St. Martines Court. With your back to St. Pau church and your face to the Apple Market signpost - turn left (north-west). Turn right at King St.  Turn left onto Floral St. Turn right onto Slingsby Pl (partial restricted usage road) and the St. Martines Court will be on the left.  It isw a luxurious shopping centre just opened during year 2012-2013:

From here it is 5 minutes walk to the Covent Garden tube station. Head southeast on Slingsby Pl toward Long Acre. Turn left onto Long Acre. Turn right and the tube station will be on your right.