Sunday, September 26, 2010

LONDON 2010 - Part 3

First, let me say that I had no intention of three separate posts of my five days in London.  But after pouring over photos and reviewing my travel journal notes, I was too bleary-eyed to keep it to two.  So forgive me if you think I've been going on too long about London.  But, boy do I love that city.

Our last day in London started with a visit to the British Library.  That's me above reading on my Kindle.  I liked the comparison of reading my ebook in such a stately, traditional library.

It's been a few years since I stopped by the British Library.  It isn't your typical "let's check-out a book from the library" place as it also houses some incredible rare historic works.  Documents such as the Magna Carta, printed Shakespeare texts called quartos which are the closest prints to his time, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, original texts written in Jane Austen's own hand, and much more are housed in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery (entrance seen above on the right side).

After perusing the gallery and visiting old favorites, we took off to see a new sight for both of us, Highgate Cemetery.  Why, you may ask, did Leslie and I visit an old cemetery and how did we hear about it? I had read about it in a few books and blogs. And since at one time it was one of London's most fashionable burial places, well then, we just had to take a peak.

The Highgate Cemetery is located appropriately in the little village of Highgate and we traveled there by train and a brief bus ride.  We then walked through pretty Waterlow Park that leads to the cemetery.

A fun little structure near Highgate Cemetery.  You never know when you are going to see an interesting building tucked away somewhere.

This is the gate to exit the park on the way to the cemetary--fitting, isn't it?

Entrance to Highgate Cemetary.  Nothing here is done half-way.  It is full-on-over-the-top memorials.  The cemetery is divided into two sections, the East cemetery (more notables buried here), and the West cemetery (larger architectural structures). We chose the latter to visit (so now we have an excuse to come back to visit the East side).

Here is our very informative tour guide.  You must take a guided tour if you want to visit the West cemetery. This gentleman is one of the original founders of Friends of Highgate Cemetery.  So thanks to him and other like-minded folks, this cemetery was saved and brought back (really can't say "to life", can I?) from almost ruins.

You can see this is a classic Victorian cemetery.  It reached its heyday in the early 1900's and then started to decline right after World War I until there was no money left to maintain the grounds by 1975.  That is when a group of energetic villagers got together to save and restore the place. It is privately funded and does not receive government funding (yea!).

The walkway above was probably the smoothest but most are uneven and steep. You really can't go off the path given the undergrowth and hidden bits of broken memorial pieces.

Leslie seems to be related to all of the important people in England.  Her ancestor is a Talbot (more about that in my Oxford post soon to come) and that name pops-up everywhere.  She may be entitled to be buried here, although I'm doubtful she wants to join her clan in the above catacomb.

There is something about these elaborate monuments and headstones that let people know, "Hey, pay attention because someone important is buried here!", rather than the flat to the ground grave markers we have back home.  Seeing all these customized memorials made me start to think about what I would like to mark my resting place.  Good news:  I've narrowed it down to two (won't my family be thrilled about spending the money on one of these toppers?).

I am torn between these two beauties to grace my future plot.  One the one hand, I love the figure in repose.  Graceful, elegant even while sleeping.

On the other hand, I would love to have this angel fully on guard and looking out for my benefit.  Hmmm, which one to choose.

This one is so pretty for two people lying side by side.  My Mom and Dad would have appreciated this one.  Believe me, I could post twenty more photos but I think we've had enough.

It occurred to me I hadn't posted a photo of the classic red British telephone booth, so here it is.

And, yes, I know this is random, but it made both of us laugh out loud.  I mean really, the hog is only going to be jolly for so long.

You didn't think we would go to London and not visit Fortnum and Mason, did you?

There is something more formal about Fortnum and Mason that precludes me from pulling out my camera and snapping away.  Isn't that blue gorgeous? I think I actually like the Fortnum and Mason blue better than the Tiffany blue, how about you?

Joy of joys, since I talked about Liberty so much Leslie wanted to pop-in, so I got to pay another visit.

Another pretty display.

The London Eye, we didn't ride it this time, but it's worth doing at least once.

Florence Nightingale--a heroine of mine.  Standing patiently in the middle of a quiet intersection.

A new fun piece in Trafalgar Square, "Nelson's Ship in a Bottle", added earlier this year.

So, tired yet? After traipsing around the cemetery, shopping and such, we were in need of Happy Hour back at our room.  Oddly, this combination of English Toffee Peanuts, Sea Salt and Vinegar Crisps, and these two drinks, hit the spot.  Sweet and salty.  All purchased at a favorite little snack shop, Pret a Manger.

We had a relaxing dinner at Sandy's Corsican Pizza, a brand new restaurant around the corner from our hotel.  Not sure how Corsican pizza is different from Italian pizza, but it was good.

So, cheers to London and onward to Oxford!


  1. I was so excited when they opened a Pret a Manger here in DC. Although they have good sandwiches they aren't the same flavors as you get in London. But they do make really good brownies at the one here. I mean really good.

    If you love Fortnum & Mason I hope you have seen the scene from the film Howard's End where Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave go Christmas shopping there. One of the things I love about the scene is how easy it must have been to make the interior of F&M look like it should have looked during the period of Forster's novel. The place is so traditional and beautiful, all they had to do was put up the Christmas decorations.

  2. Putting Howard's End on my Netflix queue right now. It's been ages since I've seen it.

    And I will definitely hit Pret next time I'm in DC. Thanks, Thomas!

  3. Oh super, your London Part 3 post! I love all the photos. You've made me really want to visit Highgate Cemetery, as (rather shockingly as I live in Hampstead, which is so close) I haven't yet been. Fortnum and Mason is a real favourite of mine too. I adore their tea!

  4. Miranda:

    You will get a kick out of the tour at Highgate. We learned more about burial customs, etc. then I could imagine.

    Also, I am half-way through The Making of a Marchioness and love it. I will be reviewing soon.

    Hope the weather is lovely in London. It is still hot here in Arizona...

  5. Oh Kim, I love cemeteries, creepy I know. I guess because of genealogy. What a beautiful gardenesque place to go. Go for the lass sleeping.
    Love your pics and style.