My OE - England & Ireland                             
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Fri 21-Nov 03	London  	- Overcast  

Had an early breakfast and then went for a wander through Hyde and Kensington Parks - very large and peaceful place even though in the middle of a large city!  Nice Autumn colours, lots of friendly squirrels etc.  Carried on to the Irish Embassy/Visa Office to pickup my passport with new Work Authorisation - got it without any problem!

Caught the tube to Westminster Abbey to have a quick look around.  Amazing detail of carvings/decorations etc.  Saw the tombs of Queen Liz I, Mary Queen of Scots, amongst many others.  Next I walked along Parliament Street / Whitehall (in the rain) to watch the Horse Guards Parade as the mounted guards change shifts for the day - very impressive (better than changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace I thought!)

London Street Map

Horse Guards, Whitehall

Horse Guards - Changing of the Guards

Crossed the road afterwards to visit the Banqueting House opposite (the last surviving building of Whitehall Palace), with an incredible painted ceiling.

The Banqueting House

The next stop for the day was then the British Museum, with a brief detour to see the shop front used in the comedy series Black Books ("Collinge & Clark" Bookshop, 13 Leigh Street, London WC1H 9EW)!  The Museum's 'Highlights Tour' was very interesting (although I wished I had had more time and energy to stay and look around all day).  Saw the Rosetta stone, various Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and Turkish carvings, and Indian and Chinese artefacts.

The 'Black Books' Store!

Next I went on a search for the Battersea power station (solely because it's on the cover of Pink Floyd's 'Animals' album and I'm a Pink Floyd fanatic) for some photos.  Ended up walking back into town (a long way!) and had a very late lunch at about 4:30pm!  

Battersea Powerstation - as seen on the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals Album!

Finally for the day I tubed to Hyde Park Corner and visited the Hard Rock Cafe shop to see The Vault of rock memorabilia.  Okay, but not astounding.  Saw Jimi Hendrix's favourite guitar, John Lennon's Glasses and original lyrics to 'Imagine' and 'Instant Karma', and guitars of Duane Allman and Jeff Beck, amongst lots of other (less interesting) stuff.  

Jimi Hendrix's Guitar - The Vault @ Hard Rock Cafe

A VERY long, interesting and busy day!
Sat 22-Nov 03	London  	- Raining again

Today was my second to last day in London so I was trying to fit as much in as possible before leaving!  Caught an early train from Waterloo station to Hampton Court Palace.  A large palace with nice old architecture, antique furnishings/paintings etc.  Well worth a visit.  Pretty gardens too, even in November and in the rain!  Was a little rushed but think I saw everything within the Palace.

Hampton Court Palace and the River Thames

Hampton Court Palace

One of the Courtyards at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court

Caught a train back into London Waterloo to then jump on a river cruise down river to Greenwich.  The weather was unfortunately getting worse - raining heavier and getting very hazy, but an okay cruise anyway.  At (old) Greenwich I wandered up the hill to the Royal Observatory, getting rather wet in the process.  Saw the east/west division at 0 degrees Longitude, looked around the observatory/museum etc - VERY interesting!

The Prime Median (0 Longitude), Greenwich, London


As the sign says!  In the Greenwich Information Centre

Sun 23-Nov 03	London (visited Windsor) - Dublin  	    - Raining 

Never known for doing things by halves when away, for my last day in London I'd decided to squeeze in a visit to Windsor Castle before flying out this afternoon.  Caught 8:45 from Paddington to Windsor & had a nosey around town while waiting for the Castle to open for visitors at 9:45.  A really wet miserable day today! 

Windsor Castle, Windsor

Windsor Castle (Palace) is very large and really dominates the town.  I wandered around the 'Middle Ward' and then entered the State Apartments, where I first saw the miniatures of Queen Mary's Dolls house (yay) and then a gallery including sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci (much more interesting!).  In the State Apartments proper there was a large collection of weapons and suits of armour and gold gilding everywhere! "The Green Drawing Room", "The Crimson Drawing Room", "The State Dining Room" and "The Octagon Dining Room" were all very ornate and decadent (and a bit over the top, but impressive none-the-less!).  Pretty gardens too, although not the best in late Autumn in heavy rain!

Windsor Castle - the wing where Queenie lives when she's in town


Windsor Castle

Afterwards I had a further stroll around the town of Windsor which is quite a pretty little town, before catching the train back to Paddington, picking up my luggage and heading out to Luton Airport for the flight home to Dublin.

I had a great week in London, but unfortunately it was over too soon and I had to return to Dublin and work!!

Wed 26-Nov 03	Dublin - Ice Skating in Smithfield ('Dublin City on Ice')

This evening I traipsed over to the Smithfield area of Dublin for my first go at Ice Skating, where a temporary rink had been set-up for the Christmas/New Year period (Dublin City on Ice - now called 'Smithfield on Ice').  I had great fun 'trying' or pretending to skate and amazingly never fell over at all (although I hardly had it mastered!)  Lots of fun, but also very tiring!

(see photo of the rink here)


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