Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday 31 October - Return to Ottawa

Heathrow Express is the easiest, no stress way to get to London Airport.  The formalities were completed quickly and we were left to our own devices in the duty free area.  There was a leisurely stroll to the departure lounge and an unhurried boarding.  The flight was uneventful - three movies.  Arrival at Ottawa was a couple of minutes early and we were home within 75 minutes of touchdown.

Click here to see all the pictures taken on this trip, organized into sets.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday 30 October - The Tate

We took advantage of the change of time to get a good  night's sleep.  The 436 bus took us to the Tate Gallery which was a disappointment.  The map that they sell you shows galleries with names such as "The Black Lines" or "Restless Times" without giving any indication of what they contain.  The pictures were placed on the walls in groups but the labels were artfully placed some way away so you had to walk across several paintings, read the labels and then walk back to see the picture.  The labels weren't very helpful.  We eventually found the Turners but I was disappointed to find that those I had wanted to see ("The Fighting Temeraire", "Rain, Steam, Speed") were in the National Gallery.
Millais - The Boyhood of Raleigh
We found a pub just around the corner and had a pint of Fullers London Pride and a packet of chili crisps, then back to the hotel to check in to Air Canada.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday 29 October - Travel Market Rasen to London

Standing on the balcony to our room this morning I heard a couple of horses approaching.  Two horses with riders came by underneath, both wearing fluorescent yellow jackets to make them visible to vehicle drivers.  They had a small dog with them who also had an identically coloured high visibility jacket.
With a little time to spare before leaving for London, Brian took us to a chocolate factory in an old prisoner of war camp.  The selection of chocolate was very wide and there were free tastings, as much as you wanted.  We then came back into town and had a final drink at the Aston Arms before going to the station.
Aston Arms, Market Rasen
The silhouette was produced by a local arts group.
There is now an indicator which shows whether the trains are on time.  There was time to admire the silhouettes that a local arts group has prepared.  Brian has made up a very detailed history of the station together with some pictures that are very popular.

Right on time the crossing warning system changed from green to red indicating that the train was coming and we had a good ride to Newark North Gate although the one car train was full and standing.

Our train to London was only 6 minutes late but the car we should have been in, with seat reservations, was locked shut because the doors wouldn't work and the crew told us to get in where we could - in other words bugger off.  We did manage to get seats no thanks to the crew.  What a contrast to the trip down two days ago.

We met a pleasant couple on the train.  They lived in Harrogate and had expected a seat reservation from Leeds.  They won't travel again by train for a long time.  On arrival at Kings Cross we had to negotiate our way through the ticket barriers so it was completely chaotic.  My case was trapped by the barrier and had to be released by a barrier person.
This display at the Tate is called "I Love Kings Cross and Kings Cross Loves Me"   I certainly don't love Kings Cross and I am sure it doesn't love me if the way it bit my case and wouldn't let go is anything to go by.

Because most of the Underground shut down over the weekend we took a 205 bus from Kings Cross to Paddington.  This worked very well and we checked in to the Indigo hotel in good time.

Our train to Kings Cross was the last one that weekend that would be going directly to London.  After the passage of this one the line was to be closed for maintenance.  Later trains were to be diverted via Lincoln which puts about two hours onto the journey and enrages the people of Lincoln when the level crossing over the High Street has to be closed frequently for the passage of trains.  I have come to the conclusion that one should only travel in Britain during the week, on Saturdays and Sundays large parts of the transport network are closed down for maintenance.

We took a bus to and from Selfridges to get some teas.  This particular bus was so crowded that there were seven standing upstairs.   The store was packed and I shudder to think what it will be like at Christmas. However, Mary found what she was looking for and there were lots of free chocolates being handed out.

Mary wanted fish and chips so we found a local shop.  The fish and cod roe was good but the chips were very soggy - the Advocate Arms would have done a better job.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday 28 October - A visit to Woodhall Spa

The mini-English breakfast at the Advocate Arms hotel contained black pudding along with wonderful back bacon, egg, sausage, hash browns, tomato and toast.

The weather was very good today.  We had clear skies all day although there was a very heavy dew first thing.  We were out early and went to Woodhall Spa which is a small village planned as a Spa rather than as a country village supporting the surrounding farming communities. The sun took some time to clear the dew but the air smelt of the country - earthy and damp.  Many fields have been sown with winter wheat and here were many fields of sheep and also some cattle.  The views to the horizon in the clear air were very impressive.
Old railway right of way converted into a footpath.

There used to be a railway line through the village and we walked out along this and then through a large area of golf courses.  The grey squirrels were busy and we saw several robins and blackbirds.  There are a lot of ladybirds around this year.

The walk was very pleasant this late fall day and we stopped in at a cafe in the woods for a drink before continuing back to the village past a Kinema in the woods. There is a monument to the Dam Busters squadron in the centre of the village.
Kinema in the Woods
Floral arrangement at the Dam Busters' Monument
We had a drink and a snack (Directors Bitter, sauvignon blanc/jacket potatoes) in a pub in the village then walked along to a small museum which had a small display of 617 Squadron (Dam Busters) and some interesting exhibits illustrating the history of the village.  There are some interesting shops along Broadway, the delicatessen being an interesting visit - it had genuine old style pork pies.

A short ride brought us to the vast Petworth Hotel which was the Officers' Mess for the Dam Busters squadron.  It was a convalescent home during the first world war.  This is a very elite hotel which contained some excellent items relating to the Squadron.

A short ride brought us back to the Advocate Arms.  This is the same room we had on our last visit.  It is very well appointed and very comfortable.  Everything works and is well thought out.  The balcony is a pleasant little extra.
Gill and Brian came to dinner with us at the Advocate Arms hotel.  The food was excellent and the service was superb.  The place was very busy on a Friday evening but there were seven girls serving and the pace was pretty good.
Smoked duck breast/sardines/scallops
Terrine/shank of lamb/salmon
the desert and cheeses were also very good.
The Chianti Classico was passable

Thursday 27 October - London to Market Rasen

The journey from London, Kings Cross to Market Rasen went very well.  East Coast Connect took us to Newark Northgate on time and there was but a short wait on the dreary Newark station for the single car to Lincoln and Market Rasen.  the only bad part was getting through the ticket barriers with all the world's cases, parcels, kids etc. before boarding the train at Kings Cross.  Complete chaos.

While waiting for the train at Kings Cross there was a pre-recorded announcement in stentorian tones:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, there will be a test of the alarm system.  You do not have to take any further action".
This was repeated four times after which a bell could be heard very faintly. I doubt if very many actually heard it, and in any case it was completely ignored.  After this there was another announcement.
"Ladies and Gentlemen.  Thank you for your cooperation."
We presume this was to thank us for ignoring the alarm and not running round like chickent=s with our heads cut off.

Brian met us at the station with his usual cheery smile and we had a delightful afternoon over lunch which Gill had prepared - gammon marinaded and cooked in cider.  Gill made two deserts, a trifle and a lemon tart, everything was exceptional.

We checked in to the Advocate Arms hotel and were given the same room as last time No. 6.  It is delightful.  The hotel is celebrating its third birthday next week, it is a great asset to the village.

This evening Brian took me to see the model railway he and some friends are building - a good reproduction of the Market Rasen station and goods facilities.  After that we put the world to right over a pint at the Aston Arms.

I have made a reservation for dinner tomorrow evening.  Duck is on the starter menu.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday 26 October - In St. Pancras

We had a light breakfast in the room and then went across to pick up our prepaid tickets for the trip to Market Rasen tomorrow.  We were able to do this at a ticket machine.  It worked very well.

We then had a quick visit to the very impressive British Library where the Magna Carta was on view and I then went to the nearby Skinners' Arms to meet some school friends none of whom had I seen since leaving school in 1960.

Colin Bishop, Dai Bamford, Peter Gregory

Peter Gregory. Tony Butwick, Mike Fulford

Mike Fulford, Charles Smith, Clive Grenyer
Rob Carter
It was a great time and there was a lot of very friendly banter.  Each one seems to have done pretty well and it was a pleasure to meet up with them.  We ran a beer kitty and the fish and chips was pretty good.
Mary and I decided on an Indian meal this evening.  Skewers of chicken with tamarind sauce, lamb Madras and chicken Ceylon.  It was all very good, the sauces being thick and with a good depth of flavour.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday 25 October - Dulwich Picture Gallery and Jersey Boys

Pictures will be posted later.

We got up late and went down the Euston Road to have a full English breakfast at a pub, along with a pint of Fuller's London Pride.  A ride on the top deck of a bus to Victoria provided plenty of interest but it was pretty slow.  At Victoria we took an Orpington train to West Dulwich to visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery which is celebrating its 200th anniversary.  It is a small gallery and some of the pictures are a little difficult to see as they are high up and catch the reflections.  There is an exhibit of the Group of Seven which was pretty good.  Tom Thompspn's "The Jack Pine" was there but most of the pictures and sketches were new to us.

Coming back to town we just missed a train and the next one was cancelled.  It started to rain and the rain came into the shelter.

The Underground was a nightmare.

We went to the evening performance of "Jersey Boys" about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  The sang a lot of well known songs and the whole was well performed and good fun.  Getting back, the Underground was almost as full as during rush hour.