My friend CL came to visit us from California over the last two weeks…although technically she was only in London for a little over a week, as she wisely took advantage of the chance to pop over to Ireland for a visit as well. But it was great to have another visitor and another friend in town!

Plus we got to meet her son for the first time who was 14 months old and a total cutie…but we both expressed some shock at the amount of tube stations in London with no disabled or stroller access. So we got a bit of exercise carrying the stroller up and down flights of stairs and balancing it precariously on escalators (yikes!).

I took four days off from work, and we visited some of the usual tourist spots like Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the National Gallery, Windsor and Stonehenge. But we got a few new ones in for me like the Museum of London with its great segments of Roman wall and the remains of the Roman fort across the road.

Remains of Roman fort near the Museum of London.

Remains of Roman fort near the Museum of London.

We also took a self-guided tour inside Westminster Abbey, which blew both of us away. I knew that it was almost 1,000 years old and that coronations and royal weddings took place in the abbey. And I’d read that a few important people were buried there.

But the place was practically a mausoleum crammed wall to wall with everything from elaborate memorials and tombs to simple plaques for everyone and their brother (literally), including Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Bloody Mary, Lady Jane Grey, Edwards I, III and IV, Edward the Confessor, George II, Henrys III, V and VII, Jameses I and VI, Shakespeare, Handel, Chaucer, Dickens, Kipling, Robert Browning, Laurence Olivier, David Livingstone, and even Oliver Cromwell (although they dug him up later and hung his bones on the Tyborn tree for treason). Beyond that the Cloisters and the Lady Chapel (added by Henry VII in 1503) were lovely, and we had a fun lunch in the gothic café space where monks used to store their food.

Mary, Queen of Scots (internet photo).

Mary, Queen of Scots (internet photo).

George Frideric Handel (internet photo).

George Frideric Handel (internet photo).

Speaking of food, one afternoon we stopped into the fancy ice cream parlour at Fortnum & Mason, a 300-year-old department store that started as a grocery store in 1707. It’s famous in the UK for its loose-leaf tea and luxury picnic hampers first distributed to Victorian High Society for events such as the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races (Wikipedia). The hampers can cost anywhere from £35 to £25,000…depending on what you want in them. Fortnum & Mason also claims to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738…yummy!

The ice cream parlour at Fortnum & Mason.

The ice cream parlour at Fortnum & Mason.

Sundays being made.

Sundays being made.

Another exciting new stop this time around was Glastonbury. Glastonbury is such an interesting town with its associations with Arthurian legend and Avalon and all the funky mystical shops on the High Street. Technically I’d been there once before with my mom and stepdad back in 2002, but it was great to bring my own family this time and watch the boys roll around on the grass at the beautiful ruins of Glastonbury Abbey (and run across King Arthur’s grave). We didn’t hike up to the Tor, but we did check out the Chalice Well, which I hadn’t done 12 years ago.

Glastonbury Tor.

Glastonbury Tor.

The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.

The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.

The Chalice Well gardens.

The Chalice Well gardens.

The Chalice Well.

The Chalice Well.

The pools in the Chalice Well gardens.

The pools in the Chalice Well gardens.

So another wonderful visit comes to an end. And we’re back to exploring London and its environs on our own. But we’d better get a move. May is already over, and the summer is passing quickly!

Advertisements