A cold but sunny day saw us traveling to London for a spot of sightseeing. Catching the train from Shenfield, Julie and I traveled as far as Stratford, then switched to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) line in to the Tower Hill station. A short walk from there took us to the Tower of London. We started off by taking the official 'tour' which gave a lot of background about the Tower's history and it's current day status. Contrary to popular belief, the Tower was not a place bathed in the blood of criminals, although some traitors did indeed meet their end there.
We heard about the Yeomen and their duties, and had a chance to look around the chapel there, the 'Bloody Tower', and I can say I have now seen the Crown Jewels! They have a wonderful history, well presented, as we walked through the White Tower and looked at the historical armoury.
We walked from there past St Olaf's church, where, reputedly, Samuel Pepys is buried. The gateway to the church is notable for the rather gruesome skulls above it! After lunch at Pizza Express (oh, that's not very English!) we went to All Hallows church where I had a taste of brass rubbing. Places for doing full sized brasses are not easily found these days, but they had smaller miniatures of the real thing available there.
From All Hallows, we caught a double-decker bus, Number 15 - the 'Heritage bus', which is the only line with the old-fashioned buses still in service. These are the ones with the conductor at the back where you can hop on. We took this bus all the way to Trafalgar Square where I saw Nelson's column, and the National Gallery, and looked down past the Admiralty down the mall towards Buckingham Palace, and then walked on to Picadilly Circus. Charing Cross Station was also on our way.
A little bit of shopping followed, with a walk down Regent Street, and included visits to the London Apple Store (eat your heart out, Jack!), Hamley's toy store (5 floors of toys... * wow! *) and TopShop. The crowds were h-u-g-e, and it became almost claustrophobic! When we emerged from TopShop, the Underground was closed due to some problem - right on rush hour and people were crowding the streets shoulder to shoulder as they waited for access to be reopened. A visit to Fortnum and Mason's could not be ignored
"Mind The Gap" - this is a saying used for train and tube travelers as they alight from the trains, and refers to the gao between the train and the platform. Well worth a t-shirt price heheh!
We caught the number 23 bus back to Liverpool Street, where we were lucky enough to basically walk into the station, walk on to the train we wanted and we were on our way in just 5 minutes to Shenfield and sanity!
Yet another visit to the photo store is on tomorrow, and a quiet day, to follow as I try to absorb everything! Friday will probably see me back in London to follow up on a visit to the Sherlock Holmes museum, the British Museum, and maybe look for an army surplus store (??? this will depend on the budget and what remains of it...)
With regards to the medal search, I have to quote Victor Meldrew: "I don't believe it!"
We contacted the National Archives, who had been closed for the couple of weeks before Christmas. I had left the search over the Christmas / New Year period, thinking staffing would be at best at a low level, and we set aside this week to try to track the citation... The National Archives has chosen THIS week to close to the public again for renovations. They reopen next Monday - the day after I begin my journey home! * aaaaaargh! *
However, I spoke to a very sympathetic worker there, who gave me some good information about the medals. Apparently, if there WAS a citation, it would have been sent with the medal, which did not happen, according to the info I have, so this may be the end of the search. She did warn that a citation for the medal I am looking for is, at best, RARE. Sounded like close to 100% of the medals fall into this category. The best I can probably hope for is a copy of the Gazette notice stating that the medal was awarded. This is, apparently, the case with the vast majority of medals.
However, she also gave me more leads to follow up online, so I have more homework to do.
Catch you tomorrow night!
Oh, last word - "EXTERMINATE!" I am now the proud owner of a Dalek! heheh (I did mention Hamley's, didn't I?)