London Twenty Years On…

So way back when I was a sweet and innocent young thing, I lived in London for several months while doing some photography work, and so coming back here this trip meant that I didn’t feel any overwhelming need to race around like a headless chook and see everything there is to see in five days or less. But I have noticed that while many, many things remain the same and no doubt thanks the the National Trust and the like, essentially will remain the same… there are a lot of things around here that are very very different. These are just a few of the little oddities that struck me as having changed – or indeed have not when you expect they might have – in the last 20 years…

The big one has to be … There’s no fucking traffic in London anymore!!! Used to be you couldn’t move in inner city London for the traffic, cars would be backed up for miles, going nowhere, and to turn a corner meant literally nudging your way into a sliver of space and hoping like hell the guy beside you will reluctantly yield enough for you to merge in. The congestion tax that was implemented several years ago, obviously works a treat, the streets are half empty, and 90% of vehicles seem to be cabs. 

  The downside – and there always is one – pedestrians have gotten a lot cockier. I noticed many people stepping out in front of cars when they would never had tried that shit in years gone by, and jay walking is just the done thing. 

Speaking of pedestrians, there appears to be more pedestrian only areas in and around covent garden, down through to Piccadilly, which means you can get around a lot easier and it is far more pleasant than it was in the past. I like it, pedestrian malls always feel like they are reclaiming cities from the cars and giving the city back to the people. 

  Oyster cards. The Oyster cards are much cooler and far more durable than old weekly paper ticket with the magnetic strip that would get torn in the ticketing machine or get demagnetised at the drop of a hat. But I gotta know… Why is it called an Oyster card? And why is it a boring blue travel card that could belong to any city? Why not a London skyline, or an Underground logo, or even a section of the iconic Tube map? They couldn’t have designed a more boring, less British looking card if they tried (though come to think of it, Japan’s Suica card, Hong Kong’s Octopus card and New York’s Metrocard are equally boring… there’s some missed opportunities here to brand your city – pay attention transit authorities!) 


What else? Smoking!!! Wtf is with that? Everyone still smokes here. Admittedly not as bad as China, but surely in England you’ve all seen the memo, right? Smoking kills you, end of story. In China, you can well and truly blame extremely poor education still, but England, there’s no excuse. Can’t stand walking down the street in a cloud of second hand smoke, it’s time you gave it away guys. PS: I love you, Australia. 

Something else I noticed was the crazy infiltration of chain eateries. Not the McDonalds and Burger King, though, those are here too, but in particular the Pret A Manger and Caffe Nero who try to look like they’re not necessarily a big chain and pretend to be healthy even, but are ridiculously expensive and have probably put a thousand small sandwich bars and coffee shops out of business. Starbucks is bad enough, but do we need yet another pervasive chain? Can’t we have something unique.

Souvenir shops have changed considerably since I was here last – they are no longer quaint little shops run by little British granny types saying, ‘Hulloo. Are ya right there, luv?’ No, now in the major touristy areas, they seem to be largely run by Pakistani and Indian men who have six or seven guys loitering around the store while you walk around feeling uncomfortable as they watch your every step. And for some reason, souvenir shops are also selling LOADS of mobile phone cases and have currency exchanges offices in the back. Oh, and they sell novelty condoms in these places now, though for the life of me, I don’t know why.

  Bobble heads have almost entirely edged snow globes out of the tacky tourist market, but not entirely. Yet. 

 Rubbish bins are back! Yeah, didn’t see that one coming, but it was really noticeable, not just for the obvious reason – that everywhere seems just that bit cleaner, with a lot less rubbish being dropped about the place, but also… no more hunting forever for somewhere to dispose of that unwanted leaflet you just got given. Twenty years ago, the cop’s primary purpose was to look for and deal with unattended parcels, and there would be no rubbish bins in sight, especially not in tube stations or near pubs and restaurants. Now, it seems the cops’ (in their high vis vests) primary function is to stand around giving out directions to clueless tourists. Good job everyone – rubbish bins are awesome. So clean. 


 Errr… what else? People still don’t talk on the Tube. Of course. This is a vital and necessary unwritten rule for surviving living in enormous and busy cities like London. But I have noticed that instead of reading whatever free or cheap local newspaper that was available in the local tube station, no one is reading anymore – they’re all on their phones. Stephola tells me the Piccadilly Line is the only acceptable line to be smiling and engaged in conversation – this is largely due to it being full of people coming in from the airport travelling with friends whom they have not seen in a while, and it is only here on this one line where camaraderie and conversation is acceptable on the tube. Everywhere else must be endured with the traditional stoic silence and pretence of being alone while plunging into the crowded darkness.

 It felt very much as though there were not as many homeless floating around as there used to be, or if there are, they don’t appear to be begging as much as I remember. Not sure if this is because begging is proving to be less successful as people become ever more insular in their lives or if social policies have improved (*scoff*) to enable more homeless to have safe accommodations, but it’s just a general impression that I wasn’t being harassed as much as in the past.

Women seem to have gotten more sensible in London than once they were. They aren’t as crazy over the top dressed up as I remember. It seems that nowadays the jeans and boots rule the pavements, whereas once upon a time, everyone was wearing thin pencil skirts, tights and stupidly high heels that made you worry for their safety as they teetered over the cobbles. Oh, and huge enormous fake fluffy fur jackets. Perhaps we have the likes of Bridget Jones to thank for this terribly practical transformation towards the comfortable over the ridiculously fashionable, who knows?? 

Other than that, things are much as I remember. I love London and all her quaint little alleyways and lack of grid layout. 🙂 Though I do believe that pint glasses seem that have shrunk… either that or I am a much better drinker than I used to be!

William Morris and Covent Garden Adventures

“I have never been in any rich man’s house which would not have looked the better for having a bonfire made… of nine-tenths of all that it held.” – William Morris on why the rest of us shoudl not give up our day jobs and become interior decorators.

Went out the the William Morris Gallery today in Walthamstow somewhere, and found a wonderful little free gallery that illustrate Morris’ art, his life, work and influence. Naturally I was very interested to see the works, but somewhat worried for my credit card as there was bound to be a bookshop and giftshop full of lovely reproductions of William Morris’ designs (I LOVE the Compton design on just bout anything) where I would surely buy some truly beautiful, but enormously expensive scarf, that I would never wear back in Brisbane … but I needn’t have preemptorily panicked as the gift shop was modest and filled mostly stationery and small knick knacks, and both myself and my credit card got out un-scarfed and unscathed respectively!

The exhibition has many printed, woven and embroidered fabrics, rugs, carpets, wallpapers, furniture, stained glass and painted tiles designed by Morris himself – as well as items painted and designed by his Chums from the Pre-Raphaelite Bortherhood – Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Webb, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, and others.  Together they eventually borrowed some moey from Morris’ mother to create the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company in 1861… eventually Morris & Co.

There were pleny of outstanding items on display including, Morris’ medieval-style helmet and sword that were made as props for the Pre-Raphaelite murals at the Oxford Union.  I also saw the original design for the Trellis wallpaper (the first of many Morris’ wallpapers).  They also have the gorgeous and famous Woodpecker tapestry woven at Morris’ Merton Abbey workshops, the Beauty and the Beast tiles and the Labours of the Months tile panels.  As well as works printed at Morris’ Kelmscott Press such as his own writings and the Poems of William Shakespeare and The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.

They also have a substantial collection of furniture, textiles, ceramics and glass by Morris’ contemporaries in the Arts and Crafts movement, (the height of which was about 1880 to the 1920). Among those represented are Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo and the Century Guild, May Morris (Morris’ exceptional daughter who turned household embroidery into a thriving artform), William De Morgan, Ernest Gimson, Sidney Barnsley, Selwyn Image, George Jack, C. F. A. Voysey, Harry Powell, Henry Holiday, and Christopher Whall.

Much of the collection of is complemented by the Brangwyn Gift – Sir Frank Brangwyn was a former student of William Morris who collected many paintings, drawings and prints by Morris and the other Pre-Raphaelites that were later donated to this collection.

Upon leave the Gallery, I had the most unusual encounter in Walthamstow High Street… a good looking young man in a well fitting suit approached me and said, very amiably, “Hello. Have you had a good morning?”, to which I felt free to reply, “Why, yes.  I have thank you.”  He then proceeded to ask me if I have internet at home.  Ah, the penny drops, “Yes, I do, but at home in Australia.”… then the poor lad incapable of letting go of someone willing to reply to his innocuous opening questions starts asking me if I would consider changing providers.  I had to stop, look him dead in the face and say, “As I said, I live in Australia… I strongly doubt your company wants to solicit customers that far from their network.”  He then said, “Nooo. You’re not Australian, you don’t sound Australian at all… c’mon, where are you from?”  I had to flash him my passport before he would believe me.  He walked off very confused, and I wished him better luck with his next potential customer.

After this I head back to Covent Garden to have a look around the shops and find some lunch.  I have to admit, Covent Garden is nothing like it used to be… it used to be filled with heaps of fancy stores on the inside and surrounded by market stalls – the type you’d find in any market – nearby.  Now it feels like the market stalls are overtaken by people who are probably on Etsy selling over priced crap that no one needs. Not a hat stall or glove stall in sight and loads of custom printed aprons, over priced handmade silver jewellery, and 3D printed plastic London monuments. Mind, you could still get a bobble headed Queen so maybe I was over thinking that ‘too classy bit’, too much.  

On my way back to the flat, I stopped at Marks and Sparks for what turned out to be another unusual encounter.  I’m off on my cruise tomorrow, so I decided to buy a bottle of Shiraz to take with me.  As I am going through the self service point, the register sets off an alarm for a store attendant to come check me out, I guess because alcohol is a restricted product and they want to check you’re not 12.  The store clerk comes over to me, and logs into the machine, and say “You’re right aren’t you?  Over the age for alcohol.” I laughed and said to him, “I’m 43, how much more ‘right’ do you need to be to buy a bottle of wine.”  He looks at me and says, “No, you’re not!  Can I see your ID please?”  I was a bit taken aback… carded at Marks and Sparks!  But not because he didn’t think I was over the legal age, but because he didn’t I was as old as I was claiming to be!  *scoff*  Weirdos.

Tonight I caught up with Stephola for a few pints at the Prince of Wales in Covent Garden before heading out to the most amazing dinner at a lovely place called Sarastro with Stephola.  


 Sarastro has the most crazy and quirky decore. Outside it is an overgrown cottage garden climbing the walls.  Insider there are delightfully cosy booth spaces and hidden balconette tables amidst a veritable feast for the eyes in an all round fabulous atmosphere and the most delicious Mediterranean inspired food.  


We talked about old times and mutual acquaintances (there surely were plenty of ears burning back in Australia!), giggled like high school girls, and there may have even been a tear or two over lost loves, lost family members and the sadder dramatic moments of our lives.  It occurs to me that I am truly blessed to have friends like these – ones that I may not see for years, but when you do get together, you realise how much they mean to you and how much they have your back should you ever need them… and thanks to the Internet, the miles just melt away.
I had ever such a lovely evening, and if it weren’t for the hideous 30 hour transit, I’d suggest we meet up and do it every year or so!  

A Quintessenitally British Day Out

Being in London for the fourth time has been lovely… it has given me the option of doing as much or as little as I choose and I don’t feel the pressure to run around like a headless chook, playing tourist and trying to cram it all in – and there is a LOT to cram in if you want to see even half of what London has to offer. 

I wasn’t initially intending to, but on walking past the British Museum today, I saw there was a special exhibition on that piqued my interest – A Rothchild’s Rennaissance, the Waddlestone Bequest, so I had to pop in.  The Waddlestone Bequest is a collection of approximately 300 exceptionally beautiful and some iimportant objectfs from the medieval and Renaissance periods, as well as numberous 19thC copies.  The items were left to the Musuem in 1898 by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild and there were many items of Renaissance jewellery that I felt were worth popping in to have a look at.  Waddlestone, btw, is/was the family manor in Buckinghamshire, and apparently is a particularaly beautiful house.  I can just imagine old Ferdinand sitting on this enormous collection in his favourite library or smoking room, congratulating himself on having amassed such an impressive collection of objets d’art.  🙂   

I collect nail polish, travel pins and dust bunnies.   😛 

Anyway, there were some extraordinary pieces on display – some very fine and typically Renaissance items of jewellery (large gold, enamel and pearl pendants etc), some limoge enamel pieces, majolica ceramicware, some match lock and wheel lock longarms, a gorgeous medieval helmet and various reliquary items and plate etc.  It was well worth stopping in to have a look at these beauifully preserved decorative arts objects.  Just lovely.  The catalogue for this exhibition is avilable on the Book Depository if anyone is interested – GBP24.00, big heavy book full of lovely photos and delivered right to your door… if you’re guessing I didn’t buy a copy at the museum, you’re spot on! 




 And of course once one is in the British Museum, it is hard to just walk on out again.  So I whipped around and said, ‘hello’ to my old friends the Lewisham chessmen, the Sutton Hoo exhibit, the horology room, the Rosetta Stone and the winged bull from Ashurnasirpal.

Time got away from me a little and I had to run to make my afternoon tea date with KPeth down at the Brumus Bar on Haymarket.  We had decided we would got for afternoon tea or high tea somewhere nice while in London – it’s just the done thing you know – and were tossing around options on where we should go, when my friend Stephola recommended The Brumus Bar at Sulfolk Place.  Never heard of it, but Stephola’s very posh friends had remarked that it was ‘just as good as Claridge’s afternoon tea’, so with this high praise in mind, we made a booking.  And were not disappointed… our afternoon tea was delightful.  We had a lovely corner table which allowed for engaging in one of my favourite past times – people watching – and a fabulously English waiter who was extremely attentive and kept offering us more food, though we were struggling to get through the very beautifully plated items already offered.  Was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours – a glass of champagne, fancy delicate nibblies, nice tea and good company.  10/10 – would definitely go again.  🙂 

  After that I did a bit of tourist shopping – ie: bought a decent sized coffee mug to take on the ship, as I had intended to pack an old one I was happy to throw away, but in my rush to fit so many Tim Tams in my suitcase, I had completely forgotten to do so.  It is probably the one thing I do not like about the cruise lines – melamine coffee mugs everywhere except the main dining rooms.  So if you want a decent cup of tea, you need to order room service or go to the dining rooms.  I’m much happier to make one in the buffet and take it back to the room and not bother the staff.   Anyway, bought a touristy London mug (sans sparkly paint, sorry KPeth – just not my thing!), which may or may not make it home.  And then headed back to the B&B for a few hours before continuing my Quintessentially British Day Out with a show – The Book of Mormon.

Okay – have probably stretched the truth a bit on that one.  But I didn’t want to see Billy Elliot or Kinky Boots or *insert Random Shakespeare Play* to round out my Big Day O’British Stuff.  I thought I’d give The Book of Mormon a crack – which was a bit of an odd choice for me given I am not a South Park fan and generally have a less than favourable reaction to that sort of humour.  But I went in with an open mind and was not disappointed.  The show was fantastic.  Just hilarious, irreverent, surprising, unique and down right funny.



Written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, the story ‘The Book of Mormon’, follows two mismatched Mormon missionaries who, upon graduation from Missionary School, are are sent to fucking Uganda of all places to spread their religion and try and baptise locals. As you might expect, when they arrive, things are not exactly what they expect and much of what they encountered definitely wasn’t in the brochure.  It was extremely earthy and frog-fucking funny.  If it comes to Australia, and I assume it eventually will, we shall all have to line up and go see it.  Brilliant.  And while it heavily pokes fun at the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints – a lot of it could just as easily apply to any organised religion.  I laughed out loud so much my cheeks were hurting.

Great way to finish my evening, even though it did’t fit into my Quintessenitally British Day Out.  🙂 

I’m in London Still…

Had a bit of a late start this morning.  The workmen outside my window mightn’t want to let me sleep in, but they can not force me to leave my bed before I am ready to face the day!  😉 

For a day that started out without much on the agenda, I somehow seemed to alter that considerably and did my fair share of wandering around aimlessly – well, not aimlessly per se… just wandering.  And often in the wrong direction!  I’ve not been here for many years and occasionally seem to lose my bearings entirely, most evidenced by today getting out a Tube station and not once, but twice!, turning the wrong way and attempting to follow my predetermined directions.  Took me forever to find the Beretta Gallery – which in all fairness if they had on their website as being on the Corner of St James and Jereym Streets, I might have found much more quickly… hell not even a copper standing around Picadilly could point me in the right direction.

Anyway, as you see – The Beretta Gallery was my first stop for the morning.  I had decided I’d try my luck at finding some screws for my 87 Target, seeing they are terrible pain in the arse to purchase at home, and an extremely tedious and BYO sort of pain in the arse if you decide to import them.  It took me a while to find the place (looking at the wrong street named St James, because of course everything over that way has St James written on it!).



  The one on the right please! 






 What a cool shop though.  Three stories of very British shooting accoutrement – everything the fashionable hunter could be needing this season from fabulous argyle socks and blazers, to lovely engraved shotguns, thermos flasks, collapsable shot glasses and the obigatory cufflinks, tie pins and mugs shaped like shotgun shells.   The lady serving at the main counter sent me up to the third floor when I mentioned I was after a part for my Beretta – I should have been more specific.

Upon gaining entrance to the Gun Room, I asked about the weight screw to my Beretta 87 and he looked at me blankly and said “Is that a pistol, madam?”, to which I replied in the affimrative that it was indeed a sports target pistol, and he stated “I am sorry madam, we do not have any pistols in England.”  *blank stare from me*  “What?  None at all?”  And so ensued a discussion about how there are no competitive pistol target shooters in the entire country and that in order to shoot pistols, one had to go to Jersey where they are a law unto themselvse and pistols are available under very strict conditions.  THE POLICE HERE STILL DON’T CARRY!  I forgot about that – thought things might have changed with the times, but rather glad to find they haven’t.

Anyway had a good look around, had a lovely chat with most of the staff here, they were all delightfullly helpful, and lusted after a shotgun that I had seen at the Brisbane Shot Show last weekend (seriously? was it only last weekend?) and then head off out to play a bit of tourist around Picadilly and Trafalga Square – some things do never change, nothing looked different here.

After a late, quick and very ordinary bento box lunch (dammit but if Japan hasn’t destroyed sushi for me forever!), I head back towards Leicester Square to meet up with KPeth for our afternoon’s entertainment – Tim Minchin’s interpretation of Matilda which has been running at the Cambridge Theatre for about three years now.  I had wanted to see it in New York last year, but knew after dragging Mr K to an opera at the MET, I’d be pushing my luck.  It was a delighful show – I would highly recommend fans of the book, the movie, Tim Minchin fans and teachers and parents all go see it… yes, I know that is a sweepingn demographic, but there is a lot of appeal in this incredibly creative interpretation of the story.  The lovely little girl playing Matilda was delightful, she was confident and sung beautiful and had such an expressive range for someone so young.  And the Trunchpool was FANTASTIC…. just brilliant, so much Tim Minchin in this character and the actor’s portrayal of it.  I am gald to see it is currently auditioning and is going to have a run in Australia, people at home are going to fall in love with it.

After such a delightful show KPeth and I popped across the street to a quaint little pub called the Crown to kill a bit of time before our respective dinner dates.  Had a pint of cider and discussed our impending travels to Norway, Iceland and back to Canada.  Absolutely can’t wait to set sail – with a bit of luck, we will see the Northern Lights too, which would just be the icing on the cake.

After that I made my way to Cosmoba – a fabulous Italian restaurant recommend by Stephola in the Russell Square/Holbourn area – via a wrong turn out of the tube station yet again!  I am all turned around at the moment, twice today I have stuck off walking about a kilometer and a half in the wrong direction only to disheartenedly discover I should have gone right instead of left on coming out of the Tube!  It’s very strange not having been here for so long – many things look so familiar and yet entirely different at the same time… so I think I am on the right track and then discovering – err… not so much.  🙂    Cosmoba was quite a lovely little Italian place and I had a delightful meal with the MusicMan.  We discussed politics, travel, food, relationships, you name it – it feels like we’ve been friends for years… a very odd and yet lovely feeling.  After dinner we stopped by the Princess Louise for a pint – chosen by the MusicMan for it’s fabulous historical cred as a gin palace and it’s amazing decorative arts interior.  Such an amazing little pub.  I forgot to take some photos so had to find some as it is difficult to desribe.  The establishment is a labyrinth of etched glass and dark timber with high solid bars and tempting beverages on tap, the design motifs scattered throughout the decor keep the eye busy, and there are pommegranates, acorns, oak leaves, and greek inspirted cornice and roses and ribbons and so much to look at… it’s busy and a little overwhelming, but somehow cosy and wonderful – I think I have just found my favourite London drinking establishment.  

 After such a lovely night out, it was just a quick walk back to Covent Garden whereupon I collaposed in an exhausted heap – so much for an easy day of wandering about.  🙂 

Blenheim Palace… as you do.

Having been to London and the UK several times before, my list of places that I wanted to see is pretty narrow.  I’d like to go to Fingal Caves which I missed seeing due to dreadful weather back on my first trip to the UK, but that is hardly a day trip from London, so strike that from potential itineraries.  I have also wanted to go to Blenheim Palace… mostly since seeing portions of it in Kenneth Brannagh’s epic 4hr ‘Hamlet’ that Mr K took me to on our first date.  So it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to see for nearly 20 years.  Unfortuantely, when I was here in 1997/98, it was closed for the winter (they don’t do this anymore – there is obviously financial reward to being open for Christmas functions etc) at that time and I missed out.

  Anyway, Blenheim Palace is a monumentally huge country house (can’t believe anyone could call it just a ‘house’), in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. It is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and has been since it was commissioned in about 1705.  It is apparently the only non-royal non-episcopal house in England that is officially called a palace, which makes plenty of sense seeing it hardly fits the usual definition of a ‘house’!  Blenheim is one of England’s largest manor houses, and was built between 1705 and 1722 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 – but more importantly, Kenneth Brannagh filmed Hamlet here!   😀 

  Originally, the palace was intended as a reward from a grateful nation to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough in return for the Duke’s seriously cool military triumphs against the French and friends during the Spanish Succession War, which culminated with the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.  Queen Anne, was ever so grateful and bestowed upon the good Duke about 200 square miles of deer park in Woodstock on which to build a monument/palace.  However, not long after the construction began, the palace became the subject of political infighting; and the fickle bitch, Queen Anne decided she wasn’t going to pay for this enormous pile of rocks, and that apparently led to Marlborough’s exile, the his and his Duchess’ fall from grace and power until Queen Anne carked it and her successor agreed to pick up the tab again.  Now, apparenlty we were talking about some  £220,000 that Anne only partially paid for leaving the Duke enormously in debt (modern day equivalent of about £400,000,000!).  The Duchess blamed the architect Sir John Vanbrugh entirely for the blown out costs of building the palace and his reputation suffered considerably and he never gained another huge public commission.  Whatever, it was messy, there are probably books on that.

  The palace was designed in the seemingly rare, and short-lived, English Baroque style (was it because it was so bloody expensive?!), and architectural ‘appreciation’ of Blenheim is apparently as divided nowadays as it was at the time of building.  It’s MFMH (Multi-Function Manor Home) status renders it to be a bit of an oddity as it was supposed to have the combined states of family home, mausoleum (somewhat morbid for the family pile) and national monument. After the building of the palace was complete, it was to be the home of the Churchill and then the Spencer-Churchill family for about 300 years?  And of course various family members made additions and changes accordingn to fashion and taste over the intervening period, in the manor’s interior, the park and formal and informal gardens. 



 The whole place nearly went to hell in a handbasket at the end of the 19th century, but was saved from ruin by a fortuitous marrage (that came with a fuckton of cash – about US$2.5million and $100,000 for life, approximately $67M in 2007) between Charles, the mercinary 9th Duke of Marlborough and an American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Charles apparently abhorred anything American, and refused to ever return to America after collecting his bride who was said to have locked herself in a room for over a week refusing to submit to the marriage.  But her mother would have her made a Duchess, and her father was paying for the priviledge and a lovely loveless marriage was entered into.  Delightful huh.  Anyway, it saved Blenheim from the auction blocks (much of Blenheims treasures had been flogged off to keep it afloat until Charle’s marriage to Consuelo) and now the palce remains in excellent repair, being a wonderful desitnation for tourists who are probably now the main source of income to foot the enourmous upkeep bills, why the gardens alone must cost a fortune to maintain.  🙂

The other thing Blenheim is most well known for, and which you see at every turn here, is that it is also the birthplace and ancestral home (scoff – yes, Carina is the seat of my own ancestral home!) of Sir Winston Churchhill.  There is a serious exhibition on Churchill, his youth growing up at Blenheim, his political and military achievments and loads of his personal affects on display at the palace… though looking through the exhibition, all I could think was how I simply could not imagine what it must have been like growing up in such a place.  It’s enormous, and would be like living in a museum.  It must have been a very surreal childhood.
Anyway, we had a lovely day out at Blenheim and even the weather played nice for us, and I am quite glad to have finally had a chance to go visit.  Would definitely go back again to just enjoy the magnificient views and the gardens.  Simply lovely.