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London 2018: City Cruises River Cruise

Day 3, Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday we made the most of our day.  We were up at 7 and out of the hotel room by 8:30 – it was a bit chilly in the morning!  There was a bit of trouble with the Tube, since there was some sort of issue with a train on the line we wanted, but we were soon on our way to the Westminster Pier.  We were going to take a cruise on the River Thames!

Brandon, me, Taryn and the River Thames

City Cruises offers a 24 hour, hop-on-hop off pass; we boarded and enjoyed a leisurely ride up the river on the boat.  Our guide gave us lots of information on the history of the river, and the buildings and bridges that we saw along the way.  He was very funny too, and it was a beautiful day for a boat ride!   If the weather is cooperative, I would definitely recommend sitting up top – you can’t beat the view!

We departed at the Tower Pier; we were going to the Tower of London next!

Tube Stations: Earl’s Court (hotel), Westminster (at the River Cruises dock)
Costs: City Cruises River Cruise – 18.75 pounds (free with London pass)  Note: City Cruises advertises this as a 24 hour pass, but the boats only ran until about 6 pm at the latest – check the times!

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Circus Trip 2018: Withdrawals

I have been home since Monday night.  I unloaded the car and have put away most of what was loaded into it.  I have seen my parents, four of my friends, got my hair cut, and had my tires rotated.  I brought my cat Coraline home.  It has been good seeing people here, but I miss Jeff.  And I miss being on the road.

I drove 13,660 miles on my trip.  It’s hard to believe there are that many miles to be had in the United States, but there you have it.  That’s almost as many miles as I typically drive in two years!  Even with that many miles, there was so much I didn’t see, and I would go back out in a heartbeat if I could.

I am certainly missing this view, from Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Circus Trip 2018: The Home Stretch…

Tomorrow I’m leaving California for home.  I don’t want to, but I have to get back to restart things at home.  I have been away almost four months, and in California for over a month.  I don’t want to, but it’s time.

I’m not sure how it will feel to be back home.   I am excited to see my friends and family.  Excited to see my horse and my cat.  Excited to see fall in one of the beautiful places in this country.

I feel more ambivalent about the house.  It is beautiful, but it is too large for just me, and it is a lot to maintain.  My ex-husband wanted a larger house after we married, but I miss the small home I owned when I was single.  When we got divorced, it made financial sense to stay in my house, and I wasn’t emotionally in a space to pack everything up and move, but I have been thinking for a while about whether I want those memories there.  I know it is time to make new ones.

Leaving California to go home also means leaving someone special to me.  A month here has given me one of the things I have been missing most in life – love and affection.  I won’t be cryptic – I found someone – or to be more accurate, he found me.  I’ll introduce you in another post.

So tomorrow morning I’ll be back in the car for the long drive north.  Sigh…

Thank You for Your Service

A year ago today, I was at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. visiting the memorials.  It was a cold, sunny day and it was a humbling experience to visit the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.  There was a ceremony honoring veterans at the Vietnam Memorial, and there were many Vietnam Vets in attendance.

To all of our Veterans, thank you.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

London 2018: Dinner, A Drink, and a Walk

Day 2, Monday, June 25, 2018

After we went to the Churchill War Rooms, we stopped in at a pub close by for a drink.  I had a nice Chenin Blanc, and Taryn shared a bit of her cider with me.  It was a nice break on a hot day.  I don’t think I have mentioned yet that London was unseasonably warm during the two weeks we spent there.  It was in the low 80s every day, there were barely any clouds ever, and it only rained a tiny bit one evening after we were already back at the hotel for the evening!  Spectacular!  But I digress.

After our pub break, we walked.  And walked.  And walked some more.  It was about 2.2 miles, which normally wouldn’t be very taxing, but we had walked a lot already, and it was hot!  Our destination was the Foxlow in the Clerkenwell district, a restaurant where we were meeting some friends.  It took a while!

Along the way we got some great views of the River Thames, the Household Cavalry Museum (I would have liked to have seen inside but it was already closed for the day so we wandered around the courtyard for a few minutes), Whitehall Gardens, a gorgeous church, Smithfield Market (a meat market that has been in continuous operation since medieval times), and some of London’s incredible architecture and statues.  It was a beautiful walk.

For dinner at the Foxlow I had the Flat-iron steak with salad, and a cider.  It was delicious!  I had a couple of bites of Taryn’s sticky pudding with clotted cream for dessert too – it was yummy!

After dinner, we took the Tube back to the hotel, and arrived more than ready to tumble into bed!  What a day!

Tube Stations: Barbican (near the Foxlow), Earl’s Court (hotel)
Costs: Dinner
FitBit Steps: Almost 19,000!

London 2018: Churchill War Rooms

Day 2, Monday, June 25, 2018

After our visit to Westminster Abbey, we headed to see the Churchill War Rooms close by.  We were met with another line of about half an hour.

Taryn and me waiting at the War Rooms

History of the War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is the underground bunker that was used by the British Government during World War II.  They planned war strategy, ran the government, sent and received critical communications, and even stayed overnight during the bombings of London.

In 1936, the British government realized that the potential of war would be devastating for both the government and the civilian population.  They began looking for an suitable emergency location for the government and settled on a basement under what is now the Treasury Building; renovations were completed in 1938 to make the site livable, usable, and relatively safe – with a 5 foot thick concrete layer of protection.

The basement consisted of communications rooms, map rooms, typing pool rooms for the secretaries, and living quarters for Churchill, his staff and officers of the Navy, Army and Air Force.  The underground rooms were completely self-contained, with a kitchen, bathrooms, sleeping quarters and a full communications system.  The staff could stay underground indefinitely, if they needed to.

The War Rooms were in continuous use throughout the war, especially during the Blitz in 1940.  In 1945 when the war ended, the government recognized the historical significance of the rooms and preserved them as they looked during the war.  They were only open to the public on a very limited basis until the 1980s, when the government transferred the administration of the rooms to the Imperial War Museum.

The Museum

The museum explores the life of Winston Churchill, and goes through his birth to his death, focusing on the World War II period.  The exhibits are wide-ranging, with pieces from his childhood, one of his infamous siren suits, his paintings (did you know Churchill was an accomplished amateur artist?), and more somber exhibits on the war.  The museum explores Churchill’s work habits and personality, discussing how his staff felt about him.

The Rooms

The war rooms are a self-guided tour with an audio-guide (see, I told you London loves audio-guides!); the guide was quite thorough with about 30 stations.  Even I, being the museum nerd that I am, stopped listening to it towards the end.  I was most fascinated with the map room, the cabinet war room, and the living quarters.  Churchill even had a bed here; although it was explained that he never really spent the night here – he did take naps here.  The staff in the map rooms clearly got frustrated and needed an outlet at times, so they drew a caricature of Hitler that survives today.

It was fascinating to be there; at the site where critical decisions of the war were made.

Costs: Churchill War Rooms –  16.35 pounds (included in London Pass).  According to their website, photos are permitted in the war rooms but not in the museum; they didn’t seem to mind that I took photos in the museum too.