North America, Europe · 36 Days · 76 Moments · May 2017

Matt and L'Von's 2017 Trip to London

19 June 2017

A little too close for comfort. For anyone wondering about the location of last night's attack at the Finsbury Park Mosque, it is actually very close to the underground station we traveled to a dozen times or more. Finsbury Park was the closest underground station from our flat. This map shows the bus route we rode to the station and then you can see the walking distance from the station to the mosque.

17 June 2017

Glad to wake up in my own bed. Woke up this morning to see that we could watch the Queen's Trouping of the Colour on our BritBox streaming channel. Hard to beat British pageantry. This celebrates the monarch's birthday, not the queen's actual birthday. She's pretty amazing at 91 and Britain's longest reigning monarch.

15 June 2017

We didn't get much rain in London. Catching up now that we're home. Just drove through downpour, but thankful for safe flight.

13 June 2017

One last trip down to Tunbridge Wells yesterday.
Enjoying this view one more time last night in Tunbridge Wells.
Had coffee this morning with an old friend from the boys' school. Her son, Peter, and Garet were friends and we carpooled for five years. Hadn't seen her for about 30 years. 😊

9 June 2017

Took a walk yesterday to a little park where this view opened up. This overlooks the Muswell Hill area where we used to live. Alexandra Palace on one end and St. James Church, the center of Muswell Hill, on the other end. An unexpected spectacular view. Wish it had been a brighter day. ⛅️

8 June 2017

I'm always amazed at how effortlessly things seem to grow here. This hydrangea is right by the door to the Tunbridge Wells church building.
There's a reason they call this a "cream tea". This is some serious clotted cream.

7 June 2017

Went to one of my favorite "look only" shops yesterday - Liberty of London.

6 June 2017

So it was a little stormy here today. Umbrellas were of very little use.

5 June 2017

Look who arrived last night! Parker Carolina Qualls. We are bursting with joy and gratefulness. She didn't wait for us to get back. 😊❀️

4 June 2017

We were riding a bus on the way home from the concert last night when we got a text from Colly asking if we were ok. We weren't sure what he was asking since we had not heard about the attack at London Bridge. We were almost home so got the details on the news when we got home. We had been nowhere near these attacks but had been to both London Bridge and Borough Market ( see photos) earlier on the trip. We are thankful we were not caught up in everything going on and our prayers are for those who were victims. It's sad we live in times like this. These horrible attacks could happen anywhere.

3 June 2017

Filling up fast. This is an amazing music hall.
Cashing in my belated birthday gift tonight. We are sitting on the steps of the Prince Albert Memorial, across the street from the Royal Albert Hall where we have tickets to see The Piano Guys. 🎹🎹🎹🎻🎻🎻 Third photo courtesy Apple Maps Flyover.
This Muswell Hill area where we lived is well known for an infamous resident back in the late 70's / early 80's. One of Britain's most famous serial killers, Dennis Nilsen, lived in this house and lured at least 12 homeless men here and dismembered them until a neighbor complained of a strange smell coming from the house. We were shocked at the time to learn how close this was to where we were living.

2 June 2017

Quintessentially British.
Believe it or not, not all red double decker buses are red.
We see this everywhere - kids riding their scooters, not just for fun but for serious transportation.
Came in late last night to a freshly cleaned flat, complete with fresh flowers. Now if I can figure out how to make that happen at home. πŸ˜ŠπŸ€”

1 June 2017

And tea afterwards, of course.
Strolling through the gardens. Love these peonies.
Drove down to Tunbridge Wells again for their midweek bible study and did a little sightseeing on the way. This is Penshurst Place that was owned by Henry VIII and used as a hunting lodge. It was recently used as a filming location in the BBC series Wolf Hall. I'm anxious to rewatch it to see the scenes filmed here.
No shortage of breakfast pastries and coffee in Crouch End.

30 May 2017

There are a lot of areas in the UK where this invasive rhododendron has taken over the woodlands. This is a small example as I'm guessing it is not as bad in this area as other places. It seems like a pretty invasion to me, but apparently, it is very aggressive in some areas.
At one point a big view opened up over the hills. It was a very beautiful scene. When we got back to our car, we had walked 9 miles. (23,000 steps on my Fitbit 😊) Amazing that Peter had the interest in inviting us to go with him and that he made the walk as easily as we did. It was such a great opportunity to spend some time with Peter. And it was so encouraging to us!
Peter has always been an inspiration to us for how he deals with his blindness, but today was especially inspiring as he walked this trail with Matt's assistance and really didn't stumble or trip any more than we did. In fact the times he did were probably more Matt's fault than his own disability. There were low hanging tree branches and tree roots to negotiate all along the trail. But the trail was beautiful.
So after we picked Peter up, we drove over to an area where we could park the car and join the trail close by. We had a little trouble finding the entrance but followed these signs until the wooded area opened up.
So Peter Bently had described to us a nature trail that apparently goes around the entire London metropolitan area called "London Loop". He said that you could get to it fairly close to where they lived and asked if we would like to go with him one day and walk a section of it. This map shows the general section of the trail we walked.
Went to a little quirky coffee shop this morning for breakfast. Ordered the porridge (oatmeal). Wish we'd asked about the portion size. This would easily feed three people or at least Matt and me.

29 May 2017

On our walk back to the bus stop after lunch, we ran into this street entertainer producing hundreds of bubbles.
On Monday we had arranged to meet several of the members from the Kings Cross church for lunch. We had so much fun visiting with them and renewing friendships. Michael is a lawyer serving in what would be comparable to our district attorneys' office. He came here from Nigeria while we were living here but had spent several years away attending law school. He's back with the congregation again and it was encouraging to see him again.

28 May 2017

Heading out this morning for worship services. Stopped by Kings Cross on our way to Kentish Town since Kentish Town starts an hour later.

27 May 2017

In case you need cream .....

26 May 2017

I'm sure it sounds like all we do is eat. This is back in Muswell Hill at a place where we've eaten fish n chips many times over the years. It has won many awards such as the one mentioned on their menu. It was actually featured on a Cooking Channel show called Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook, which we saw once just randomly watching the show.
First venture out into this neighborhood this morning to eat breakfast at a little cafe on the corner. We love to eat breakfast out, but the "full English breakfast" is not for the feint hearted. Matt loves it but can only manage it a couple of times a week. I opted for "Scotch" pancakes, which are very similar to our pancakes. I was intrigued by the mirrors mounted on the ceiling.

25 May 2017

The church at Tunbridge Wells is made up primarily of the family of Derek and Margaret Daniel. Derek has been preaching here for nearly 50 years. His sons are doing more of the teaching now as he and Margaret are getting older. Their family has always been an inspiration to us over the years. We are planning to visit them as often as we can while we're here. It's nice that their midweek study is on a different night - especially now that we know what night it is.
One thing we really notice when we're here is how much eating out has improved since we lived here. (Of course this is true in the US, too) There are so many cafes and restaurants you feel like you could just do an eating tour and never get through all of them. This one we ate at last night had very up to date decorating and a menu to match. We split some Thai green curry that was delicious, and then split this dessert favorite - sticky toffee pudding.
We decided to attempt a second time to go to the midweek bible study down in Tunbridge Wells. We drove down early enough to stop by Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Beautiful day for a walk through the gardens and visit the castle.

24 May 2017

On Wednesday we moved from Muswell Hill over to another rental in an area nearby called Crouch End. This one was not available the entire four weeks or we would have stayed here the whole time. It is a very nice flat, very nicely decorated and at a comparable price to the others we've stayed in. The owner must be a designer or magazine editor. Small but beautiful.
When we arrived last week we learned that a sister of Clive Wilson, one of the members at Kings Cross, had passed away unexpectedly. We decided to go to the funeral today. They had a horse drawn hearse outside the church. (Including somewhat creepy undertakers). I've only seen that in movies. Something new everyday.

23 May 2017

The blue ring road is called the M25 or the London Orbital, a 117 mile road that goes all the way around the metropolitan area of London. The traffic can be very heavy at times so they have an ingenious way to ease the congestion by slowing traffic down (here to 60, but as low as 20) when you're approaching a congested area. This allows you to continue driving at a slower speed rather than inching along in stop and go, bumper to bumper traffic. At least that's the idea and It does seem to help.
And always the tea and scones. No skimping on the clotted cream. Actually, we have found that the cafes in museums and stately homes are some of the best!
I loved reading these little personal notes between Churchill and Lady Churchill.
I was really interested in the kitchen. (Of course!!)
Matt coming down the stairs, just as Churchill probably did.
Churchill's sitting room with a picture of Roosevelt hanging right next to his chair.
We had decided we would get going today and drive down to the Tuesday night midweek bible study at the Tunbridge Wells church. We decided to leave early enough to stop at Chartwell House which is on the way. This is the home of WInston Churchill which was featured recently in a BBC drama called Churchill's Secret, which centered around the time when Churchill had a stroke. After spending an hour or so touring the house and grounds, Matt decided to double check that the Bible study started at 7:30 and not 7:00. He found that it did start at 7:30, but on Thursday night, not Tuesday like they've done for the last 35 years or more. Should've checked earlier. We really enjoyed Chartwell House, though, so the drive was still worthwhile.
I shopped at this bookshop many, many times when we lived here in the 80's. I bought books for my kids here as well as birthday gifts, baby gifts for family back home, etc. today I'm buying for my grandkids! How time flies😊😊

22 May 2017

Our AirBB just happens to be about a block down the street from this house where Beth and Jeremy lived.
Spent the afternoon and evening with Peter and Marilda Bently and their daughter, Carla and their new grandson, Harrison. You almost forget that Peter is blind.
Drove past St. James Primary School today where our boys went to school - Garet for five years and Doug for three years.
It's a long way up to the top of this escalator at the Highgate underground station.
Many of the stores here sell packaged sandwiches. They are fresh and there are tons to choose from. Let me see...
Set out on my own this morning to one of my favorite market spots. This is a market selling antiques and flea market type junk. I like to look around but nothing really caught my eye this time.

21 May 2017

Out in front of the church building Sunday night. We all walked over to this woman's flat afterwards for a cup of tea.
Our bus route to the church building at Kentish Town takes us past the hospital where all three of our children were born. It's a big hospital with other buildings behind this one.

20 May 2017

Feeling a little touristy this morning near our market lunch spots.
Headed out this morning to a couple of markets for lunch. Biggest problem was deciding what to get. We split a pork belly sandwich and steak and chips. Both excellent. Swipe left for more photos.
We aren't used to walking near as much in the US as people are here. On our walk up the hill we have to walk under this massive rose bush. We're not used to that, either. The British are good at gardening.
This is the flat upstairs where we are staying this week. On the picture taken of the view you can see the top of Alexandra Palace where we walked to on Friday. On the map you can see where we are, where Ally Pally is and the red marker is where we lived.

19 May 2017

It's funny how little things can spark a memory you haven't thought of for 30 years or so. That's how I felt as we walked through the grounds of Alexandra Palace this morning, through the playground. Our boys slid down this slide many times. While other things in the park have changed, this looks just like I remember it, apart from a few safety updates.
Our charging station.
We walked to Alexandra Palace, locally referred to as "Ally Pally". From this hilltop palace, the world's first ever television broadcast went out to the 200 or so televisions that existed.
There's a good reason this area where we used to live is called Muswell HILL.

18 May 2017

And my sentimental treat. Only place I've seen this in US is in Tarpon Springs. It's a Greek dip or spread.
And more green. The rain definitely makes a difference.
I think this is called wattle fencing - woven with twigs and vines.
And, of course, the walking goes well with tea and a scone.
Since we're still getting settled, we decided to drive out of London this morning to a little historic estate called Hatfield House. We'd been through the house before but enjoyed walking around the grounds.

17 May 2017

Waiting across the street to stay out of the rain. Christians have met here a very long time - as in since 1871- trying to shine their light in a very worldly city.
Matt's first sentimental treat.
Heavy traffic is a way of life here. The cars seem smaller and the trucks seem bigger. ??? Driving on the left comes back fairly easily. Driving a stick shift reminds me of living here.
We arrived to a rainy day here in the UK. Gatwick Airport is about an hour drive from where we are staying in North London. I am always struck by how green everything is, especially on a rainy, overcast day.
Day 1 in London. We made all our connections easily enough in Tampa (best airport ever) and boarded our nonstop flight to London/Gatwick. We didn't sleep much but did have seats with extra legroom, so it wasn't too bad. This is a picture standing in line at passport control. It is always humbling to realize they don't have to let you in.

14 May 2017

Thinking about our trip and looking forward to leaving on Tuesday