Back to London again! For those of you who have been following our journey by the itinerary, you will know that we are almost at the end of the trip, having travelled extensively from the last time that we were in London.
Our journey back started in a small Cotswolds town, from where we made our way onto the M25 and the city!
14 June 2001
Our main stop for the day was Hampton Court Palace. Cardinel Wolsely initially upgraded Hampton Court to a grand mansion, which he hastily offered to Henry VIII in a bid to save is head! The gesture helped for a while... A visit to the palace offers a variety of historical and architectural perspectives, from the Tudor style of Henry VIII's palace to the more modern apartments of William and Mary, modelled after the Palace of Versailles.
The palace has various apartments that are open the the public. Henry VIII's public apartments date back to the 1530's, and feature beautifully preserved tapestries of various religious scenes. As one walks through these apartments, however, one has to spare a thought for Henry's many wives.
The picture above shows the Hampton Court of William III and Mary. Mary, heir to the English throne had agreed to be become queen only on condition that her husband William be appointed joint monarch. The two set out to remodel Hampton Court to create a palace to rival Versailles. Unfortunately for them - fortunately from a historical viewpoint - they did not have sufficient funds to remodel the whole palace.
We visited King William's apartments, which were completed by Christopher Wren in 1700. Not only do the buildings bear an architectural resemblence to Versailles, but the style and function of the apartments are also similar.
A visit to Hampton Court would not be complete without walking the maze. After much circling and turning, we found the centre of the maze:
Leaving Hampton Court in the mid afternoon, we made our way back into London. Having left the ladies at our hotel in Bayswater, Peter and Deon proceeded to drop off the hire car.
Later in the evening, we met up with Ross again. It was amazing how, after a short break, navigating the underground now seemed to be a piece of old hat!
We met Ross at Piccadilly Circus and had a good dinner at a Chinese Restuarant in Chinatown, followed by a stroll through Soho.
14 June 2001
Our last day overseas... A bit of forward planning was required to ensure that we could fit everything in, and be at the airport on time. We made a reasonably early start from our hotel, and dropped all of our bags off at Paddington Station. Travelling the underground at rush hour with all of our bags was a different experiance, especially as the trains on the Circle line were all running late and as a result were very full. Our backpack-style luggage really came into its own!
With that out the way, we headed out to Hyde Park for a brief stroll and a cup of tea. From there, we caught the underground out to Hornchurch to meet up with Peter's Uncle Charles and Aunt Sally. Hornchurch is located right near the end of the District line. It was lovely to be able to see Charles and Sally in their home, as well as the church where Charles is based. They certainly went all out to make us feel welcome, from an excellent lunch, to making arrangements to meet up with Ian and Shelley later.
After lunch, it was time to head back to London - accompanied by Charles and Sally. It certainly pays to have a train enthusiast in the family, as Charles had all the times planned for a trip back to London on the above ground train. The trip was substantially more comfortable and quicker than the underground, although a knowledge of train times is important. After a little more site-seeing, we met up with Ian and Shelley at a pub in Paddington Station. While we were travelling the UK, Sally had been very busy behind the scenes, locating a pub that was suitably close to the station and ensuring that Ian and Shelley were available.
It was wonderful to have been able to enjoy our last few hours in the UK with family. Alas, however, our departure time was drawing ever closer... Before long, it was time to go! After picking up our bags from the baggage check, we boarded the Heathrow Express. There is certainly something to be said for bidding farewell at a station platform, waving family members goodbye as the train draws away slowly!