Another British Ramble – Days Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen

Salmon Sandwich Tally: 9

Distance Walked: 14 Miles

Writing Soundtrack: ITV 3

*** All photos are property of yours truly – Please don’t use them ***

I don’t have much to say about Day Thirteen as I spent a lazy day in the flat until it was time to meet a friend for dinner.

Day Fourteen was spent at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew which is my favourite place to visit while in London. I had a window of good weather (it only briefly drizzled) and was able to spend quite a few hours happily wandering. The bluebells have bloomed and there were blankets of blueish purple throughout the woodland areas…actually, they could be found pretty much everywhere. Even with a full day to explore, it would be quite a challenge to cover everything there is to see, but since I was pressed for time this visit, I focused on some of my favourite sections and Kew Palace, since I’d never ventured inside before. And lunch at The Orangery is always a good idea. I really can’t recommend Kew enough and if I lived in/near London, I’d probably find my way there quite often. An adult admission with donation is £18.50 and the Victoria Gate (the main gate) is just a short walk down Lichfield Road from Kew Gardens Station. The Temperate House has been closed for refurbishment during each previous visit but is scheduled to open May 5th after an extensive restoration (hopefully I can catch it next time.Later that evening, I met a friend for dinner and we saw Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre. It featured Edward Fox, Freddie Fox, Frances Barber, Nathaniel Parker, Sally Bretton, and Susan Hampshire…and was absolutely superb.Day Fifteen was my last full day in London before I fly home tomorrow. I had planned to walk along the Embankment and then wander through a couple of the parks on my way back to the flat, but the wind and the rain thwarted that plan. So instead I caught a Thames Clipper at Embankment Pier, rode it to Greenwich, had lunch, then rode it back to Tower Gateway Pier and caught the Tube back to Paddington from Tower Hill.

I may not make a post about the final trip day as it’ll just be a travel day from London back to San Francisco, but I just want to thank any and everyone for following this little adventure and taking the time to read these little ramblings.

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Another British Ramble – Day Eight

Distance Walked: 4.5 Miles

Salmon Sandwich Tally: 6 (I’m including the salmon and toast I had for breakfast)

Writing Soundtrack: The Music Man (watched – minimised in the bottom of the screen – while typing)

*** All photos are property of yours truly – Please don’t use them ***

Another day in Oxford, another breakfast at the Vaults and Garden with a view of the Radcliffe Camera, after which I walked to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. I’d visited it on my last trip, but a month earlier in the year so I was curious to see the difference in what was blooming. Yes, I was mainly hoping for bluebells and I was not disappointed, even seeing a more purpleish-pinkish variation I never had before. I was also greeted by some golden poppies in the arid greenhouse (the California state flower that my front yard is filled with some 5,800 miles away) which made me smile. The Botanic Garden here is the smallest of the ones I’ve visited, but beautifully situated along the River Cherwell near the Magdalen Bridge and it’s an absolutely lovely place to wander for a couple of hours. Another favourite lovely nearby wander is the Christ Church Meadow Walk along the Cherwell, Thames (Isis), and (obviously) the Christ Church College Meadow. And I’d like to thank the gentleman sharing my bench along the Thames for tossing the last of his sandwich bread to the web-footed locals as he left which caused them to swarm (and stand and give me the stink eye for minutes on end when they realised that I had nothing to share with them). 😳

There’s delicious food to be had at Quod on Oxford’s High Street (and the apple tart is quite a yummy dessert).

Another British Ramble – Day Seven

Distance Walked: 3.75 Miles

Salmon Sandwich Tally: 5

Writing Soundtrack: Marvellous Musicals Playlist (It’s a VERY long playlist)

*** All photos are property of yours truly – Please don’t use them ***

I had tentatively planned on returning to the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden today, but since there’s less rain forecasted for tomorrow, I though that’d be the better day for it. So after breakfast at The Vaults in Garden (a favourite Oxford spot) I went to the Ashmolean Museum, which I’ve visited on past trips but haven’t even begun to see all of.

I’d forgotten that I’d booked a spring special package with my hotel rate which included tickets to the Ashmolean’s current exhibition (America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper) and Blenheim Palace (which will sadly have to be saved for another trip, I think). It’s a bit funny that whenever I visit, the featured exhibition has to do with American artists (last time, it was Andy Warhol). Like many great museums in the UK, admission to the Ashmolean is free (a £5 is kindly requested but not required). The collection of English and European silver is particularly stunning (no, seriously, with that lighting, it’s stunning) and includes a variety of pieces from pocket watches to toys to wine bottle emblems.

There isn’t much interesting to report on the rest of the afternoon as I just wandered the shops until I headed back to the hotel…where I was serenaded by church bells through my open windows (a sound I love in Oxford) until the rain started to blow in.

Another British Ramble – Day 5

Distance Walked: 3.5 Miles

Salmon Sandwich Tally: 4

Writing Soundtrack: Marvellous Musicals Playlist

*** All photos are the property of yours truly – Please don’t use them ***

I spent the first bit of my final full day in Edinburgh (and Scotland) at the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound, something I’ve passed numerous times but never visited. Its collection of art is beautiful and spans several centuries and its outside architecture and location are picturesque as can be, perched between Princes Street Gardens and Waverley Station. And like so many great museums in the UK, admission is free, although a £5 donation is encouraged and a small price to pay. Since I’m odd and love listening to the train announcements at Waverley, I headed there next since I’m flying out of Edinburgh tomorrow and it seemed weird to visit Edinburgh and not hear the announcements.

I finished the day relaxing at a cat café just down the street from my flat that I’ve passed each day I’ve been here. I’m not really a cat person and am missing my dog terribly, but it seemed like a nice way to end the day.

I can’t say that I didn’t do everything I’d planned to Edinburgh, but I know I’ve packed more into my days here during past trips. However, I’m usually here when there are fewer people and after my body clock has had some time to adjust. But hopefully, I can make my way back before too-too long.

Another British Ramble – Day Four

Distance Walked: 4 Miles

Salmon Sandwich Tally: 3

Writing Soundtrack: Sensational Sondheim Playlist

*** All photos are the property of yours truly – Please don’t use them – Please ***

Day Four was a shorter day than I’d originally planned due a combination of too little sleep and too many people. But I’m glad I finally made it to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh…and that I successfully navigated the very efficient bus system without getting lost (blame my nervousness on California’s car culture). From my Grassmarket flat, it’s a shortish walk up to George IV Bridge where buses 23 and 27 will take you right to the East Gate of the RBGE. Entry is free (the first of the multiple botanic gardens I’ve visited in the UK to be free) but admission to the numerous amazing glasshouses (I met a friendly bumble bee in the orchid one) is £6.50, still quite a bargain that supports a fabulous place. I spent a couple of hours wandering through the various gardens and could have easily stayed longer and seen more and will probably visit again on another trip. It’s also apparently a lovely place to have a wedding, complete with a horse-drawn carriage and a piper (and numerous refrains of “Flower of Scotland”). And it took all of willpower not to buy a packet (or numerous packets) of bluebell seeds in the garden shop. Sigh.

Other highlights from today include Scottish tablet ice cream from Mackie’s of Scotland atop the Royal Mile and glimpses of the often-seen-on-Tumblr Writers’ Museum off Lady Stair’s Close.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 22

Distance travelled: 5 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16

Day Twenty-Two was my last full day in London and the last non-travel day of my trip so I decided last night that I would cram as much wandering into it as my energy level would allow. I was ready to face the outside world just before 10am so I headed to Paddington to catch the Circle Line to Westminster in order to catch the River Bus down to Greenwich; I visited the Royal Observatory there on my last trip, but the weather was so wet and windy that I didn’t spend much time exploring and since I travelled on the Underground, I spent quite a bit of time on the three lines to get there and back. So, I thought a trip down the Thames in the sunshine would be a nice change in mode of travel. Once I’d alighted at Greenwich Pier, I spent some time wandering through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College/University of Greenwich, glimpsing the Royal Observatory atop its hill and knowing I wouldn’t be trekking up there again this trip.




Anticipating grabbing a quick bite at Costa, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Bill’s just down the street so I decided that that would be where I enjoyed the last lunch of my trip (and I did). After a yummy meal, I checked in for tomorrow’s flight (*sniffle*) and then meandered through Greenwich Market to the Cutty Sark before heading back to Greenwich Pier to catch the next westbound boat. 





I had intended to to disembark at Westminster Pier and take the Tube to Sloane Square so I could visit Saint Columba’s Church on Pont Street and then walk through Hyde Park and back to Paddington, but time and waning energy meant adding Saint Columba’s to next trip’s list of things to visit. So after hopping off the boat at Westminster, I caught the Jubilee Line to Green Park, made my way to and through Hyde Park (where the bluebells were out), and grabbed a final Costa panini at Paddington Station before heading back to the flat to do some packing. 


There will be one final post for tomorrow since my journey isn’t quite over yet, but as always, my time here has flown by and I’m not ready to say farewell. But it’s been another wonderful trip.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 21

Distance travelled: 6 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16 (still…although I did have a bagel with salmon spread, so…)

My plan for Day Twenty-One was to revisit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a place I’ve visited on my two previous solo trips and is probably one of my favourites. I managed to get up and moving and functional early enough to be ready in time to head to Paddington by 9:30, catching the District Line to Earls Court where I changed to a Richmond-bound District Line train, finally getting off at Kew Gardens, the Tube stop only a short, scenic walk from the Victoria Gate entrance. Although I’d visited twice before, the sheer size of the gardens and their seasonal changes mean there’s always something new to see, so I made a point of wandering paths and areas that I hadn’t on previous visits. I was so very glad I did when I came across a badger sett along the southern border (although the fluffy inhabitants were napping for the day); I saw quite a few other badger setts later on in areas I’d explored before, but without seeing that first one and its sign, I’m not sure that I would have known what they were.





There’s always an interesting juxtaposition at Kew as you walk through nature, often quiet except for beautiful birdsong…while every twenty or so seconds a jet goes roaring overhead with its gear down on its approach to Heathrow. Anyway, a little while later, a flash of blue in the woodland was something I had been desperately hoping to see on my visit: bluebells. I’m just a little bit obsessed with them as that particular bluebell isn’t found in North America at all (Virginia bluebells are a different plant) and a bluebell wood in bloom is a wondrous thing to behold. My first UK trip was in April and May during the height of bluebell season while my later two trips have been about a month earlier. Last year, I missed them completely so I was crossing my fingers that they would begin to emerge before I head home to the States on Thursday. Luckily, the bluebell gods smiled on me and while there weren’t the huge swatches of purplish blue that there will be later in the month, there were quite a few of them out and about throughout the gardens.





After going ga-ga over the bluebells and wandering through the rhododendron dell – which I always leave with the opening of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca running through my brain (“The rhododendrons stood fifty feet high…”) – I made my way to the Orangery for a bite of lunch, sitting outside to enjoy the cool weather while constantly being monitored by a magpie who would hop around on the umbrella above me and then peer down over the edge (I think he was eyeing my brownie). Side note: A sign in the rhododendron dell explained that scientists have found that the poisonous nectar of the invasive plants is toxic to honeybees (Read more…).










When I’d finished, I wandered over to Kew Palace and its Queen’s Garden before continuing on around the rest of the perimeter to the Alpine House, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, and the rock garden before passing the Palm House on my way back to the Victoria Gate and the garden shop in search of any new bluebell swag.









Successful, I said goodbye to Kew and walked back along Lichfield Road to the station to make my way back to Paddington, grabbing some groceries for dinner at the station’s M&S before heading back to the flat. Tomorrow is the last full day of my trip and I’ve a bit of an idea of how I’ll spend it.