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 18

Distance travelled: 3.5 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 15

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Day Eighteen other than I had an absolutely wonderful time visiting with a friend who took the train into London to meet up. I headed for Paddington Station just after 9am and caught the Circle Line to Tower Hill where we met up at the Starbucks across from the Tower of London. We spent a few hours chatting and laughing and fangirling but the visit flew by and we eventually said goodbye, she caught a train home, and I caught another Thames Clipper at Tower Millennium Pier. I disembarked at the London Eye, bought an ice cream cone, and wandered along the south bank of the Thames, crossing the river at Waterloo Bridge. 

I then made my way through the Victoria Embankment Gardens, pausing to enjoy the sunshine and the scenery before catching the Tube at Embankment Station to head back to Paddington.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 17

Distance travelled: 6.75 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 15

When I finally went to bed last night, I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do on Day Seventeen. There was rain forecasted so I considered visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum since I never have, but when I woke up, the weather app showed that the rain would be moving out around 10am. So I decided to stick with my other plan of wandering east along the Thames starting at Embankment Station, something I had attempted to do on my last day in London last year but was foiled by wind and rain. Today I only encountered mild wind and very brief sprinkles so it was a much more successful excursion. 

I walked along the embankment until I reached the Millennium Bridge – spanning the Thames between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Shakespeare’s Globe – which I crossed and then crossed again so I could continue along the north river walk. 

After having my pic of the Shard photobombed by a pigeon…

…I eventually reached the Tower of London and while I didn’t visit it this time (I have twice before), I sat and had lunch at the neighbouring Pret. 

After lunch, I headed up to Tower Bridge to enjoy the view and the sunshine, but a back/shoulder ache from carrying a purse that I don’t know how to not fill with too many things and the beginnings of a headache led to the decision to catch a ferry at Tower Millennium Pier back to Westminster (since Oyster Cards are valid) and then the Tube back to Paddington. 

After a stop at Sainsbury’s for groceries, I made my way back to the flat for some caffeine and headache meds.


Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 15

Distance travelled: 7.15 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 13 (but I also had salmon sushi for dinner so one could argue that salmon meals stand at 14)

Day Fifteen was my last full day in Oxford and even though I don’t leave until tomorrow afternoon, the thought of having to say goodbye makes me sad. I let myself sleep in again this morning and like yesterday, was on my way to breakfast at the Vaults and Garden around 10 am. The sun wasn’t out, but since it wasn’t raining, I couldn’t resist sitting outside to enjoy the view of the Radcliffe Camera again.

After breakfast, I went to the post office to mail home that box filled with Jaffa Cakes and caramel biscuits. They were busy again (I have a feeling that post office, being in the Oxford City Centre, is always busy), but it wasn’t too long until I was back on St. Aldate’s, heading toward the River Thames. I’d decided to dedicate as much time today as necessary to walk down to Iffley Lock, a location from my favourite episode of Inspector Lewis (“The Ramblin’ Boy”) that a friend showed me the way too during my visit last year. It’s just over a two mile walk each way along the tow path and I wasn’t in any hurry as I made my way along the river, stopping on my journey at a horse-filled meadow for a few minutes (although they were busy eating and ignored me).

I reached “The Bridge” at Iffley Lock and after snapping lots of photos, sat on a bench to watch the ducks for awhile (there were lots of ducks and I’m not sure who was more fascinated, me or them). 

After enjoying a trail mix bar and some water, I made my way back along the towpath, past the horses (who had either disappeared or all turned into geese), and across the Thames, deciding to take the daffodil path along the Cherwell again as a longer means of getting back to the Broad Walk at Christ Church College. After stopping at Paperchase for a luggage tag (funny that my luggage makes it to my destinations but my luggage tags don’t seem to), I headed to the Ashmolean Museum with the intention of seeing some of the exhibits I didn’t get to last year, but found it difficult with it as crowded as it was. So, I didn’t stay particularly long, visiting the museum shop before stopping at Boots and then Wasabi for some take away sushi for dinner (something not Costa), making my way back to my hotel via Market Street, Brasenose Lane, and Radcliffe Square.

Tomorrow I return to London for the final stop on my trip, one last week which I know will fly by no matter how desperately I wish time would slow down.


Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 14

Distance travelled: 4.6 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 12

I decided that on Day Fourteen, I would sleep until I woke up without an alarm…which meant sleeping until 8am. Around 10am, I headed across High Street to the Vaults and Garden, my favourite breakfast spot in Oxford (and perhaps my favourite Oxford spot period). They have delicious sourdough toast and the view really can’t be beat.

After breakfast, I wound through Merton College and along Dead Man’s Walk to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, situated along the River Cherwell near Magdalen Bridge/College. I spent about two hours meandering through the glasshouses and along the paths and river, encountering the same duck couple multiple times (they seemed particularly friendly, even though I didn’t have any duck snacks…but Mrs. Duck’s limp made my heart hurt). 


I considered taking the bus down to the university’s arboretum on the chance that their bluebell wood would be in bloom (the above flowers are Scilla), but decided against it (figured the chances were remote if I haven’t seen a single bluebell anywhere else – I’m hoping they’ll make an appearance before I head home). I thought I might make my way up to the Ashmolean Museum to see some of the things I didn’t manage to last time but that will be on tomorrow’s agenda, since I wandered south along the Cherwell and Christ Church Meadow to the Thames, passing huge patches of daffodils splashing yellow along the banks. Navigating the numerous geese (and their presents) and managing not to get hissed at, I made it to the Inspector Lewis Robbie/Laura fangirl bench (from the episode “Beyond Good and Evil” – see posts from last year’s trip) and sat for awhile to watch the river and take in the quiet.

Eventually, I wandered back up Poplar and Broad Walks, dodging massive groups of school children and tourists, and crossed St. Aldate’s to Tesco for multiple boxes of Jaffa Cakes (don’t judge me) and then to the post office for a box in which to ship them home (please don’t judge me) and some more international stamps. As they were quite busy, it took awhile, but I was finally successful and then grabbed a late lunch (from…Costa) and headed back to my hotel room to read and relax. A short trip out for dinner later and then back to the room to read some more…and sing and dance along (badly) to musicals again. Current album stuck in my brain: the original Broadway cast recording of Into the Woods, one of my most favourite favourites.


More Busy Wanderings: Another Big British Adventure – Day 18

Day Eighteen was my last full day in London (sniffle) and since it was forecasted to rain for part of the day, I thought I would spend it visiting the British Museum as I hadn’t done so before. The sun was shining when I headed out the door around 9:30, catching the Bakerloo Line from Paddington to Oxford Circus and then the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road, getting to Bloomsbury a little after 10 am. Even though the museum had just opened for the day, being a holiday weekend, it was already crowded, but I slowly moved along with the herd, dropping £5 in the donation thing, entering the Great Court, buying a map (worth the £2 price), and slowly progressing into the Ancient Egypt section, where people were swarming around the Rosetta Stone. After a wait, made longer by people who either don’t know how to queue or don’t give a crap, I managed to grab a glimpse and a photo of it and moved on through to the sections on Ancient Greece and Rome and the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos.      

   The museum is almost overwhelming in the quantity and breadth of its artifacts and with the crowds, I knew I wouldn’t make it through everything or be able to take in everything I did see, so I decided to head for the upper floor and focus on the European rooms, ranging from Medieval Europe (AD 1050-1500) all the way to present. That section alone is big enough to make a person’s head spin, but I managed about an hour of wandering through the various exhibits before the crowds started to try my patience.     It was only 11:30-ish, but since I’d skipped breakfast (unless two Jaffa Cakes count as breakfast), I was a bit peckish, so I headed back downstairs to the café for a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Afterward, I browsed through the substantial gift shop, but didn’t find anything I can’t live without; there was something I was tempted to buy, but if the remorse of not doing so gets to be too much, the whole museum shop is conveniently available online.   My weather app indicated that the rain had moved through and I decided a walk along the Thames would be a nice way to spend this last afternoon in London, so I walked through Russell Square to the Tube station of the same name and caught the Circle Line to Blackfriars.   After taking a moment to check in for tomorrow’s flight, I headed out into the wind and sunshine, intending to walk along the Embankment to Westminster and then turning onto Birdcage Walk to catch the Tube at the St. James’s Park station. However, not three minutes later, the sunshine was gone and was replaced by very cold almost horizontal rain and even with my umbrella and two hoods, I was soaked by the time I ducked into Temple Station, the next one down the Embankment on the Circle Line. I got off at Westminster to dash into the Tesco next to the station, hoping the rain would have let up enough to walk a bit more, but no such luck.     I got back to Paddington and headed to the Pret a Manger in the station to grab something for dinner and by the time I’d done that, the sun was shining again. But, since my Toms, jeans, jacket, and scarf were all damp (my Toms were down right squishy), I decided to call it a day and head back to the flat, having spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and relaxing before I stress this evening over packing everything up. Like last time, I’m not ready to leave the UK, not at all, and I think I’ll leave another piece of my heart here. But this adventure isn’t quite over yet and I fly to New York tomorrow for a couple of days of Broadway awesomeness before heading home to California.


More Busy Wanderings: Another Big British Adventure – Day 12

Day Twelve was another long and busy day, so here’s another post that’s a day late. I had decided to take the bus back to Bampton, the village that’s used as the filming location of the village of Downton on Downton Abbey. I’d visited on a lovely sunny day last year – luckily timing it between filming days and tour groups – and thought perhaps I’d get as lucky again, able to wander around a second time without looking like quite so much of a tourist or crazed fangirl. So on a sunny Monday morning, I left the hotel, stopped into Pret a Manger for a (salmon) sandwich to eat later, and headed for the bus stop just around the corner on George Street, catching the 18 bus to Bampton. As was the case last year, the ride through the Oxfordshire countryside on a bus was quite an adventure, especially when passing through the various villages along the way – which have very narrow roads. After about an hour, the bus arrived in Bampton and I alighted near the church, a location that appears quite frequently in Downton Abbey, my favourite instance being for the wedding of Mr. Charles Carson and Mrs. Elsie Hughes, my two favourite characters (see posts about West Wittering and Bampton from last year’s trip for the full extent of my “Chelsie” – Charles+Elsie – fangirl madness). Luckily, I had managed to visit on another quiet day in the village, the only people about being a few locals here and there. I wandered around the village for awhile, revisiting the church, Church Gate House (“Crawley House”), and the Bampton library (the exterior of which is used as Downton Cottage Hospital), eventually settling on the bench on the green between all three to eat my sandwich.  

Having been before and Bampton not being particularly big, I didn’t stay too long and caught the next bus back to Oxford. The bus stopped right in front of Debenham’s and I popped up to the top floor to buy another suitcase for the flight home (a small, cabin-sized spinner that should be just about perfect for holding the few souvenirs I’m planning to buy during the rest of my stay as well as some things from PJ so that she isn’t over BA’s luggage weight limit). After dropping the newest member of my travel family at the hotel, I headed south back to the Lewis bench along the river, determined to enjoy the location on a sunny day for once. And wouldn’t you know, it was overcast by the time I’d walked there, a journey of only about ten minutes. But, I sat and enjoyed the River Thames for awhile, watching the ducks and geese do what Oxford ducks and geese do … you know, ducky, geesy things. Eventually, I began to make my way back, wandering north along the Christ Church Meadow Walk which affords beautiful views of Oxford’s spires and follows the River Cherwell, the banks of which were covered in swatches of bright yellow daffodils.        

After passing a mob of teenagers on a fleet of punts, the majority of which were screaming at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason, I passed Christ Church and Merton colleges, making my way through Radcliffe Square and back to the hotel for a bit of downtime before it was time to meet B for dinner and a night of theatre at the Oxford Playhouse, a wonderful production of Alan Bennett’s Single Spies starring Nicholas Farrell, Belinda Lang, and David Robb (another Downton Abbey fangirl favourite of mine). Shy and nervous as heck, but bolstered by having a friend with me, I waited at the stage door after the show finished and he very graciously stopped for a brief “Hello” (I think I managed not to swoon too badly, but I can’t be sure). After walking back to St. Michael’s Street, B and I said our goodbyes (thanks for a lovely visit, B!) and I just managed to get ready for bed before dropping off to sleep after a long and fun-filled day.