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London explorations

Dr Johnson's House, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Hunterian Museum, Turkish meze in Bethnal Green


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Day trip to London :-)

Dr Johnson's House was my first destination. This 300-year-old Georgian townhouse is where the famous lexicographer Samuel Johnson lived and worked for a while in the 18th century. In contrast to other parts of London, there are not many other examples of houses of this era within the Square Mile of the City of London.

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It was lovely looking round and seeing all the period furniture and appreciating the wooden panelling and so on, but especially interesting for me were the famous stained glass portrait of Dr Johnson that hangs in front of one of the windows, his framed last will & testament and most of all, the loft room where he compiled his famous Dictionary.

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I flicked through a huge original copy which lay on a table, making sure to stop at his famous entry about Oats; 'A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people' (unlike modern impersonal dictionaries, Dr Johnson didn't hold back from including one or two of his own opinions).

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From Dr Johnson's House I walked on to the Hunterian Museum, a medical museum within the Royal College of Surgeons. It's not far. On the way there I admired a famous Fleet Street institution; the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub. I've eaten here before (it does some really good food as well as drinks) and it's incredibly atmospheric both inside and out. A lot of famous literary characters have drunk here over the years; Charles Dickens, P. G. Wodehouse, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and many others. Although there's no written evidence that Dr Johnson ever visited, the fact that his house is only about 100m away and that he was a famously sociable literary figure makes it highly likely that he did.

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The Hunterian Museum was fascinating, just like I guessed it would be. It's filled with anatomical, osteopathic and natural history specimens, mostly from the 18th century but some from since then as well. A lot of them were interesting to me, but the stand-out was the skeleton of Charles Byrne, 'The Irish Giant'. I also loved the 18th and 19th century pictures of exotic animals such as a hippo and one of a yak.

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After leaving the museum I headed eastwards to Matthew & Andrea's new flat, where I met up with them, Mum and uncle Justin for a delicious dinner of Turkish meze. I've read that Bulgarian food has a Turkish influence gained from the Ottoman period; I think I will like it! Soon I will find out...

Posted by 3Traveller 05:38 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom museum river_thames house_museum ye_olde_cheshire_cheese_pub turkish_cuisine historic_pub Comments (0)

Manchester and Nottingham


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Dave and I went up to Manchester on New Year's Day to see his parents and grandma for our re-arranged Christmas visit (originally we had arranged to be there from Boxing Day to the 29th, but then of course events took over). It was lovely to see them, as always. We stayed the night and fitted a lot into the following day (today) before our departure.

In the morning we did some shopping at the Trafford Centre. I bought a special chocolate meringue and a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans from Selfridges and a pair of trousers for work. Dave had a good look round but didn't buy anything. Then time for some lunch in the food court - fish and chips from Harry Ramsden's - just what we wanted. For months I'd been looking forward to having some proper fish & chips once I was back in the UK for Christmas!

Then we managed to fit in one or two activities in the city centre. We walked through the Northern Quarter on our way to the Wheel of Manchester - interesting to see Manchester from a bird's eye view.

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We shared our pod with an thirtysomething Eastern European guy who told us that this was the first time in his life that he'd been so high up.

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A quick drink at Sinclair's Oyster Bar followed. This is the most atmospheric pub I've been to in Manchester; founded in the 18th century as an extension to the building that is now The Old Wellington Inn (which was itself built in the 16th century), after the IRA bomb exploded nearby in 1996 they were both dismantled and rebuilt further down the road. I love the wooden panelling inside. We couldn't spend long there though because we had to head to Nottingham before it got too late.

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We stopped at McDonald's for dinner at a service station on the way to Nottingham (Beeston). Today was clearly not a day for healthy eating! I only have McDonald's every once in a blue moon, but when I do, I do love a plain double cheeseburger with medium fries.

We were in Beeston for a flying visit to old friends, on our way back to St Albans. It was lovely to sit down and have a good chat for an hour or so. Thanks Amy and Dan! Thanks also for the Kahlua on ice!

Posted by 3Traveller 10:03 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom dave manchester nottingham historic_pub british_cuisine Comments (0)

First blog post!

St Albans

This is a test entry more than anything else.

I walked around St Albans on Tuesday taking some photos, firstly to have as a reminder of home once I'm in Ecuador and secondly because who knows, I may find that they come in handy at some point when teaching. I took ones of the Clock Tower, French Row, St Albans Abbey Cathedral, Fishpool Street, the war memorial garden with the tower of St Peter's church in the background, Verulamium Park and the stream/ ford at St Michaels, and the Robin Hood and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pubs.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower

Disused side entrance at the Clock Tower

Disused side entrance at the Clock Tower

Eleanor Cross sign on the Clock Tower

Eleanor Cross sign on the Clock Tower

Another sign on the Clock Tower

Another sign on the Clock Tower

View of St Peter's Church taken from the war memorial

View of St Peter's Church taken from the war memorial

Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban

Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub

Verulamium Park

Verulamium Park

Verulamium Park

Verulamium Park

Roman remains, Verulamium Park

Roman remains, Verulamium Park

Ford at St Michael's

Ford at St Michael's

Pub sign on historic Fishpool Street

Pub sign on historic Fishpool Street

Historic Fishpool Street

Historic Fishpool Street

The White Hart Inn

The White Hart Inn

The Robin Hood pub

The Robin Hood pub

The Robin Hood pub sign

The Robin Hood pub sign

I'm off to Manchester on the Megabus tomorrow, returning with Dave on Sunday. Then I'll have two full days in St Albans before I leave at 6.20am on Wednesday morning (the 15th)! I really want to visit the bluebell woods in Sandridge before I go, so long as the weather's good, so hopefully I'll be able to do that on Monday or Tuesday.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:34 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom cathedral clock_tower st_albans roman_remains french_row verulamium_park fishpool_street st_peter's_church historic_pub Comments (1)

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