Tag Archives: Things to do in London

great british carnival

Great British Carnival

Great British Carnival, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford
July 27th, 2014 12:00pm – 21:30pm
A celebration of music, dancing and costumes, celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, a fantastic event of dance, infectious music, performance and costume that the whole family can enjoy.
Kicking off at 12pm and entertaining throughout the day until 9.30pm, the Carnival will feature a vibrant mix of international carnival artistes, homegrown performers and local carnivals from Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – and it’s completely free!

great british carnival
Great British Carnival – image from the QEOP site

In homage to Rio’s most famous cultural export, London and UK carnivals are keen to show off what Britain has to offer. The best of UK carnival arts will feature an exciting programme of pop-up parades, mask-making workshops, high-quality live music and performances from young musicians, rappers and poets.
The event will also host the world premiere of The Carnival of the Animals: a magical twilight crescendo of costumed performers, 300 dancers, giant carnivalesque creatures and extraordinary illumination.
In the run-up to the event, residents of the Park’s four surrounding boroughs can participate in free music, dance and choreography workshops, learning routines with a view to joining in the pop-up parades on the big day.

Keep checking back for more information and updates on this!
http://queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/whats-on/events/2014/6/great-british-carnival-at-the-park

Getting there:
The nearest stations are Stratford station and Stratford International station and both provide step-free access from entrance to platform.
Stratford station is served by:
• Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
• Jubilee and Central line
• National Rail services operated by Greater Anglia and c2c
• London Overground services
Stratford International station is served by:
• Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
• Southeastern High Speed 1 services
You can also access the Park via Hackney Wick station which is on the London Overground.
More information is available at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Download your FREE #3DIL App today for Android Apps http://bit.ly/1049ZSl
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Information on London Events, Exhibitions, Embassies, Places of Interest & much more.

If you attend this event, be sure to send in your photos via the App with your twitter or instagram profile; I’ll upload them to Flickr

A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th 2014 buses on all London bus routes no longer accept cash.
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/buses/cash-free-buses?intcmp=17374

Please check their website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.
http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/oystercard/product/oyster-card.html

Types of refund
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.
To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post them your Oyster card
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays

city cruises lunch tour london

City Cruises Circular Tour; London

I finally got to do the City Cruises Circular Tour on the 31 May to be precise, which was just as wonderful. The weather on the day on which I had planned to go on the cruise was perfect! As always I had included as much onto my schedule for the day as possible. My first surprise of the day was the Thames21 10th anniversary beach party in the morning…..and so it went from there.

The Circular Tour, at just on 45 minutes is a great way to see the city, especially if the weather is good; you can sit outdoors on the open deck!  We pulled away from the dock at just after 1pm and headed upstream to Westminster Bridge. An eclectic mix of passengers including a slightly rowdy hen-party who somehow hadn’t got the message that it was a circular tour and therefore not stopping at any of the other piers….. :) It’s as much fun to people watch on the boat as it is to spot the attractions of the city.

You really do get to see such a lot from the boat and its always fun to wave at other boat parties that cross our bow-waves…so to speak. :) The commentator was fairly good, regaling us with historical information, amusing us with anecdotes, pointing out landmarks: 45 minutes; 45 Landmarks…with one or two erroneous observations that I’m sure no-one besides a pedantic Londoner would have noticed….anyway, in my experience, by the time you get off the boat, you’ve forgotten 90% of what they said. Or is that just me??

The City Cruises Circular Tour, at 45 minutes, is just the right length of time, you get to see loads of landmarks and it’s so much fun seeing visitors reactions when they realise what they’ve just seen…”Oh MY God!! Honey….that’s St Paul’s…..” in a delightful American accent….

city cruises lunch tour london
St Paul’s Cathedral….always a welcome sight! :) passing beneath Millenium Bridge

I’m passionate about London and I adore the River Thames, I can happily spend the whole day just cruising along and I am now a fan of City Cruises…happy cruising!

city cruises circular tour
such a gorgeous view…

Thanks again folks for the terrific opportunity and to Julia, who is just about the most awesome Digital Marketing Executive ever for being so understanding when I missed the deadline on my first voucher. You guys rock!! or is that cruise? :) and as himself said…”I’ll be back…”

You can read more about the City Cruises Lunch Tour at http://www.citycruises.com/city-cruises-experiences-riverdays-lunch-cruises.aspx

Read more about our Lunch Cruise experience.

and while you are there why not think about treating someone to a 45-minute Circular Tour: http://www.citycruises.com/city-cruises-sightseeing-thames-circular.aspx

These links are direct to their site and not affiliate links.

The City Cruises Circular Tour leaves from Tower Pier which is next door to the Tower of London and NOT St Katherine’s Pier!! :)

city cruises lunch tour london
the majestic Tower of London

The nearest tube station is Tower Hill – District & Circle lines or Tower Gateway on the DLR.
Loads of buses service the area too and if you’re coming from the south bank More London Riverside area, the nearest tube and mainline station is London Bridge.

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

What you can see in the area (of Tower Pier)
The Tower of London
Tower Bridge
All Hallows-by-the-Tower Church
Trinity Square Gardens
St Katherine Docks

and across on the south bank
More London Riverside
Potter’s Fields Park
Butler’s Wharf
The Design Museum
Hay’s Galleria
HMS Belfast

remember to download your FREE #3DIL App today for Android Apps http://bit.ly/1049ZSl
remember to download your FREE #3DIL App today http://bit.ly/17y86CO iPhone, iPod, iPad

Use the App for information on London Events, Exhibitions, Embassies, Locations, recommended places for afternoon tea & much more,

A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th buses on all London routes will no longer accept cash.
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/buses/cash-free-buses?intcmp=17374

Please check their website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.
http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/oystercard/product/oyster-card.html

Types of refund
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.
To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post us your Oyster card
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays
Please note this does not apply to Travel Cards, one day or otherwise. It is only for Pay as you go Oyster Cards.

Please note that I am not an agent for TfL, this above information is provided simply as a heads up.  If you have any enquiries please head on over to their website.  Thanks and have a great stay in London.

 

City Cruises Lunch Tour; London

city cruises circular tour
everything stops for tea….

So there I was, a few of months ago (where does the time go?) early morning, just lazing in bed, chilling, drinking tea (as you do!) and scrolling through my twitter feed…..just checking to see what everyone was up to! I noticed a tweet from @CityCruises announcing their new Thames Circular Cruise and an opportunity to win a ticket for a cruise.

@CityCruises : “Today is the start of our new Thames Circular #cruise – tweet us 3 of #London landmarks along the #thames & win a #free ticket for today!”

Never expecting to actually win the ticket…I answered and RT’d the message, really to give my followers a chance to answer and possibly win!!  So you can imagine my delight when I received a message to say I had won and could I send them my email address so they could forward the voucher!  Uhmmm….yes!!! :)

 

 

 

 

city cruises circular tour
our twitter conversation :)

I immediately sent my address and a short while later received a voucher for 2 Adults for their new Thames Circular Cruise launching that day.  As with all vouchers there was a deadline for the the prize!! ……..Like as in today; 4th April! Yikes!!! LOL….I jumped out of bed, printed the voucher and contacted my good friend Nika of myLondonwalks and asked if she would like to go with me…she did! :) Yay!

We agreed to meet at Tower Pier at 4.45pm for the 5pm tour, I quickly dressed and in due course headed off to the station with what should have been plenty of time to spare….except I didn’t bargain (silly me) on SouthWest Trains having a signalling problem and the train I wanted to get being cancelled, which put all the other trains behind!!  Fortunately the District Line also runs from my station so I ran like mad to get the next tube out and missed it by seconds!! When they close the doors, they close the doors! It’s a rare driver that would open them again….fair enough!

transport for london
to the trains

 

So I had to be patient and wait for the next tube out which was in 10 minutes time and by now I was late! I quickly phoned Nika to say the train had been cancelled and that I was on the next tube out with an eta of 16:55…to say that was cutting it fine would be an understatement. The last cruise for the day was at due to leave at 5pm! And I would still have to run from Tower Hill Station all the way to Tower Pier. I quickly tweeted @CityCruises and said “hold on…I’m on my way” LOL…. As if that would make any difference to their schedule!! No harm in trying.

 

 

trinity square gardens
Trinity Square Gardens

I finally get to Tower Hill, run like mad, helter skelter through Trinity Square Gardens, across the plaza in front of the Tower of London and find Nika patiently waiting at the head of the pier.  We run down the board-walk, now with only seconds to spare, and ask one of the City Cruises staff members which boat we’re meant to be on?   Only to be told we were at the wrong place and the Circular Cruises left from St Katherine’s Pier.  Now that should have rung alarm bells, but because I was already stressed, I didn’t think twice and Nika and I ran like demons to St Katherine’s Pier…..only to get there and be told that they were a different cruise line and we should go back to Tower Pier!!! Whatttt??? you have to be kidding me!!  By now, and bearing in mind that normally …I don’t ‘do’ running!! It’s quite simply not on my list of things to do! I was like, to heck with this and we walked back, spoke to one of the staff members at Tower Pier again who said they knew nothing about a Circular Tour and I must have the wrong information? Uhmmm, no! I showed her the voucher which still didn’t convince her, but….

As it turned out the last cruise had in fact already left……at 4pm!! I immediately emailed their offices to briefly explain what had happened and that we had missed the boat!!

tower of london drawbridge
Nika at Tower of London
tower of london drawbridge
me at Tower of London

After that Nika and I gave up and went for a catch up coffee at Costa’s instead. What a disappointment :(     But all was not lost, we decided to view the new drawbridge at the Tower of London…and may I say wow, it’s great.  We both took a walk across to the gate and back…..Personally, I’d like to watch it lifting :)  wish they could fill the moat with water, that would be super cool.

A few days went by and after no reply from City Cruises I emailed once again and got a lovely letter of apology and without further ado they offered me a voucher for a Lunch Cruise and a Circular Tour.  Poor Nika was so upset at the last effort that at the time she declined to take up any more cruises with me (sorry pet!) as well as which her dates didn’t coincide with mine.

So, since it was my birthday coming up soon (April), I decided to invite my daughter on the lunch cruise instead as a birthday treat for us both! Wow…..and on that note, I can say City Cruises came up trumps!!

city cruises lunch tour london
City Cruises River Days!

What a terrific afternoon. We were welcomed aboard their ship and shown to our table, perfectly situated in the corner (I love to sit in corners) and the boat set off. What an experience! I love to see the city from the river, it gives you a whole new perspective.

The dining area is well appointed with beautifully laid out tables; napkins and side plates, proper cutlery (not plastic) and flowers. Perfect! The dining area wasn’t jam-packed and conversation flowed quietly around us. We raised our glasses to City Cruises and said thank you…and then came the meal….. Oh My Gosh!!! it was wonderful, 2 courses of beautifully presented food and beyond delicious. My daughter had the chicken dish which she said was lip-smacking good and I had the vegetarian dish which was a beautifully baked pastry weave basket chock a block with mushrooms, oozing a yummy gravy and accompanied by fresh vegetables. I could so have ordered another one right there and then it was so good. The desert was a delicious mouth-watering chocolate slice with rich raspberry sauce….heaven on a plate.

city cruises lunch tour london
my daughter :) taking photos! what’s new?

We chatted and ate (when we could sit still long enough) and took hundreds of photos, dashing from this side of the boat to that taking in the views and capturing the moments; memories are made of this!!!

The boat left from Tower Pier on what was to be a leisurely 2-hour journey; heading upstream to Westminster Bridge along the way cruising past many of London’s most iconic buildings,

city cruises lunch tour london
Tate Modern & Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Bankside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we saw the Tower of London (twice :) ), More London Riverside, HMS Belfast, The Shard, Southwark Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Tate Modern and many more London attractions

city cruises lunch tour london
the majestic Tower of London
city cruises lunch tour london
St Paul’s Cathedral….always a welcome sight! :) passing beneath Millenium Bridge

cruised beneath historic bridges

city cruises lunch tour london
London’s most historic bridge; London Bridge

and marvelled at Big Ben

city cruises lunch tour london
Hello Big Ben!! :)

and the London Eye…no matter from which angle you see it, it’s always amazing.

city cruises lunch tour london
I spy the London Eye

We did an about turn at Westminster Bridge and set off back downstream….fully expecting the boat to pull in at Tower Pier…but no!!!

We sailed right on past…and under Tower Bridge…marvel of marvels, we were headed downstream……

city cruises lunch tour london
looking back….Tower Bridge & City of London

To our absolute delight the Lunch Cruise travels all the way to the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf. Wow, what an amazing adventure. We took hundreds of photos between us!!  There are some of the most quirky little houses and buildings along the East End banks of the Thames, located in historic areas like St Katherine’s, Wapping and Limehouse on the north bank, and Rotherhithe on the south bank, with quite a few historic pubs scattered along the way; The Prospect of Whitby for one and The Mayflower for another….both centuries old and a must visit. Seeing the buildings on the banks of the river from the boat is charming, you would never see the exteriors of some except from the river. And there were some seriously quirky places!!

city cruises lunch tour london
quirky buildings in the East End

Arriving at Canary Wharf at any time is amazing, but approaching it from along the river is just fabulous….seeing those towering buildings glinting in the sun as you approach is wonderful and you get such a marvellous view from an angle you would not otherwise see. The boat then turned just before the bend that would take you to the O2 and headed back upstream. Bliss!

city cruises lunch tour london
Canary Wharf

We ran back and forth across the boat enjoying the vistas that opened up before our eyes and after a leisurely journey we were headed back into the Pool of London…sailing right beneath Tower Bridge once again. Only my favourite bridge, so to sail beneath it twice in one day….what more could I have asked for.

city cruises lunch tour london
Cruising beneath Tower Bridge

We left the boat, satiated, thrilled to bits with all we had seen and waved goodbye off the ship by their wonderful staff.

The weather was perfect too (thanks City Cruises), I for one will certainly be back……

….and so I was..on the 31 May to be precise. I finally got to do the Circular Tour which was just as wonderful.

I’m passionate about London and I adore the River Thames, I can happily spend the whole day just cruising along and I am now a fan of City Cruises…happy cruising!

city cruises circular tour
such a gorgeous view…

Thanks again folks for the terrific opportunity and to Julia, who is just about the most awesome Digital Marketing Executive ever for being so understanding when I missed the deadline on my first voucher. You guys rock!! or is that cruise? :) and as himself said…”I’ll be back…”

You can read more about the City Cruises Lunch Tour at http://www.citycruises.com/city-cruises-experiences-riverdays-lunch-cruises.aspx

and while you are there why not think about treating someone to a 45-minute Circular Tour: http://www.citycruises.com/city-cruises-sightseeing-thames-circular.aspx

These links are direct to their site and not affiliate links.

The City Cruises Circular Tour leaves from Tower Pier which is next door to the Tower of London and NOT St Katherine’s Pier!! :)

The nearest tube station is Tower Hill – District & Circle lines or Tower Gateway on the DLR.
Loads of buses service the area too and if your’e coming from the south bank More London Riverside area, the nearest tube and mainline station is London Bridge.

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

What you can see in the area (of Tower Pier)
The Tower of London
Tower Bridge
All Hallows-by-the-Tower Church
Trinity Square Gardens
St Katherine Docks
and across on the south bank
More London Riverside
Potter’s Fields Park
Butler’s Wharf
The Design Museum
Hay’s Galleria
HMS Belfast

remember to download your FREE #3DIL App today for Android Apps http://bit.ly/1049ZSl
remember to download your FREE #3DIL App today http://bit.ly/17y86CO iPhone, iPod, iPad

Use the App for information on London Events, Exhibitions, Embassies, Locations, recommended places for afternoon tea & much more,

A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th buses on all London routes will no longer accept cash.
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/buses/cash-free-buses?intcmp=17374

Please check their website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.
http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/oystercard/product/oyster-card.html

Types of refund
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.
To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post us your Oyster card
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays
Please note this does not apply to Travel Cards, one day or otherwise. It is only for Pay as you go Oyster Cards.

Please note that I am not an agent for TfL, this above information is provided simply as a heads up.  If you have any enquiries please head on over to their website.  Thanks and have a great stay in London.

 

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum

Pots and Possibilities at Petrie Museum

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

On June 7th in celebration of their 25th anniversary, ‘The Friends of the Petrie’ Museum held a special programme of events;
‘Festival of Pots’ at the museum.

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
a baby’s drinking pot

I was kindly invited to attend this event by one of the ‘Friends’ Jan Picton with whom I have corresponded on and off
since my first visit to the Museum. With a series of talks and hands-on events from sequence dating, learning more about
Egyptian magic, conservation of the pots excavated by Petrie, and trying your hand at archaeological drawing, you could
learn so much about the ancient skill of making pots, how they were made and fired. Throughout the morning you had the
chance to learn more about some of the pots in the collection, with a special focus on the pots made by the ancient Egyptians, Sudanese and Nubians and their various uses.  The collection at the Petrie Museum comprises some 80,000+ objects including  the fascinating finds made by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie.

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
extraordinary jewellery

 

“An exhibition of work by artist group Studio Manifold responding to the Petrie Collection was also on display. United by
a passion for materials the work spans the playful to the educational, the conceptual to the edible offering a deft,
respectful and celebratory response to the collection.”

Petrie Museum ‘Festival of Pots’ was a precursor to their latest exhibition; Pots and Possibilities. “Everything happened
in the pot. The pot contained the life and death of a whole civilisation.” Ellie Doney.

Visit the Petrie Museum between now and the 5 July 2014 and discover more about the pots made and used by the ancient
Egyptians, Sudanese and Nubians.

A fascinating collection of highlights amongst which is the rediscovered ‘Libyan Pot’ found in a garage in Cornwall…yes
in the UK!!   Taking centre stage for the moment in a special plinth case near the reception, this remarkable 5,500 year
old pot was unearthed whilst a garage was being cleared out, rather battered and broken, albeit stuck back together with super glue some years ago.  Learn more about how it’s history is being ‘unearthed’ and how it is being restored and conserved for the future. This pot is on loan to the museum so it won’t be here for long.

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
a 5,500 year old pot

At the museum you can discover more about ancient Egyptian magic and the link to cobra demons, the famous Luban feeding
cup (which I found to be so poignant) and many more extraordinary finds that give us a glimpse through a portal of time, a
story of the Nile Valley from prehistory to the rise of the pharaohs to the emergence of Islam.

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
used for burning incense

A key piece of technology in Egyptian households, pots had endless uses; from leavening bread to burying the dead. The
ancient Egyptians were the first to make leavened bread.

I had a wonderful couple of hours there, listening in on various talks, perusing the myriad cabinets with their
extraordinary reminders of civilisations, lost to the mists of time except for these wonderful and often times poignant
pieces; pieces that someone thought of, made and used thousands and thousands of years ago. A bit like ‘Time Team’ it
gives us the chance to look into the lives of the ancients. The event started in the morning with the talks and from
12noon till 4pm the festivities moved out doors where you could join a drumming workshop, help to decorate a BIG POT,
paint your own Egyptian ostraca, make flower garlands or write your name in hieroglyphs and book a healing ritual session
involving scent, smell and spices….sounds heavenly. There were decorated ‘Egyptian’ cupcakes :)

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
scarab beetle cupcakes

There was an opportunity to taste freshly made Egyptian sourdough bread baked in pots and ‘discover’ the results of ancient brewing in pots (sounds merry to me!!), there were drinks to be had and Egyptian street food bubbled away in one of the tents, the aroma wafting through the air made my tummy growl and my tastebuds drool ;) (I tried a small ‘pot’ of the food provided
by Koshari Street…oh my gosh!! Delicious!)

Good thing I had another appointment to go to…..! In all a fascinating morning and I was really sorry I couldn’t stay for the afternoon events.

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
…and the band played on…

Although the special exhibition; Pots and Possibilities ends on the 5th July 2014, the collection will still be there and
the museum will still be open to discover more:

pots and possibilities festival of pots petrie museum
The Dynasty 5 Bead Dress

 

Besides the amazing collection of pots you will find a bead net dress from Dynasty 5 c2500BC made with 127 shells around the fringe and may have been used for dancing, tiles, sculpture and art from Amarna – the home of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, jewellery, a large collection of mummy portraits from the Roman period and an extensive collection of everyday objects such as hair combs, clay bowls and textiles which provide an insight into the daily life in ancient Egypt.

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Universtity Colllege London, Malet Place, London, WC1E 6BT

Website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/petrie
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 679 2884
fax: +44 (0) 207 679 2886
email: petrie.museum@ucl.ac.uk

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 13:00 – 17:00
FREE to visit but donations are welcomed.

 

Nearest tube station: Goodge Street – Northern Line. Warren Street – Victoria & Northern lines or Euston Square – Metropolitan, Circle or Hammersmith & City lines.

Buses: 10, 18, 30, 73 on Euston Road, 10, 24, 29. 73, 134 on Tottenham Court Road (northbound) and Gower Street
(southbound).
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

By car: the museum is within the Congestion Charge zone and parking nearby is difficult…considering using public
transport.

What you can see in the area:
Blue plaques are mounted on the exterior walls of many of the houses in this area, look out for them.
The British Museum is a five minutes walk away.
The Pollocks Toy Museum is close to the Goodge Street Station.

remember to download your FREE #3DIL App today Google play store for Android Apps http://bit.ly/1049ZSl
remember to download your FREE #3DIL App today iTunes iPhone, iPod, iPad  http://bit.ly/17y86CO
info on London Events & much, much more

A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th buses on all London routes will no longer accept cash. Please check their
website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/buses/cash-free-buses?intcmp=17374
Types of refund
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any
Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.
To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post them your Oyster card
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays
Please note this does not apply to Travel Cards, one day or otherwise. It is only for Pay as you go Oyster Cards.

bowl of fruit with a melon

Presenting the King with a melon in May

I was invited to a Press Preview at Hampton Court Palace yesterday to see the newly restored and already well-planted Kitchen Garden, soon to be opened to the public.  Its always a delight to receive these invitations and never a hardship to visit the palace…any excuse right!! ;)

Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
Hampton Court Palace

The newly restored Kitchen Garden, originally built for William III and Mary II in 1689, and one of 6 1 acre plots of land, is right next door to both the Formal Rose Garden and the Tilt-yard; made legendary by Henry VIII, who was the undisputed king of the joust!  Apparently this area and the other 5 acres were all part of Henry VIII’s jousting area and sported not only the one tower that can still be seen today, but another 3 towers…the remains of which they have not yet uncovered…but give them time ;)

Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
a small part of the original Henry VIII Tiltyard where you can now find the Tiltyard Cafe and the only remaining tower (best viewed from the other side of the wall)

However, by 1702, with the passion for royal tournaments long faded, Queen Anne ordered the site to be dug up and cropped with ‘severall varietys of Eatables, the most proper for her Majesty’s Use“.

The area used for the palace’s Kitchen Garden, fed not only the queen and her court but everyone at other royal residences across the capital….no pressure then!!  I learned more about vegetables yesterday than in my previous XX years…who knew that there was such a thing as green manure, scurvy grass or costmary aka bible leaf…a fairly pungent, scratchy type of leafy plant, the leaves of which were purportedly inserted between the pages of bibles; the idea being that the smell would keep worshippers awake in church!! Hmmm, urban legend or what?

Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
What Why How – the restoration of the Royal Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
Vicki – Kitchen Garden Keeper & vegetable historian

A group of us were shown around the garden by Vicki who is ‘the keeper of the garden’ and a vegetable historian! Bet you didn’t know there was such a person!! The garden has been recreated using paintings and drawings of the gardens back to the period between 1680-1840, based on historic evidence and John Roque’s plan of 1736. The vegetables grown on what was then 6 acres of ground was used for royal palaces until 1860. As part of the restoration they have kept as close as possible to not only what was grown, but how it was grown/planted/laid out during those times.

After a lot of archaeology that sounded much like Time Team (my favourite TV programme next to Coast) they have laid out the gardens according to how they were laid out in the past, faithfully recreating the paths, furrows and beds as they would have been. They have also planted herbs and vegetables that were grown back then, some of which have not been heard of for decades or more. They are also experimenting with using a crushed brick surface on the pathways as was done back then…the only barrier to that would be the number of people that would be walking through the gardens may disturb the gravel enough to disperse it into the beds which would not be ideal.

Did you know that going back some years, potatoes and tomatoes were considered a luxury crop!? A useful source of information with a list of crops to grow, was apparently a book dated from 1706 called ‘The Retir’d Gard’ner’.   The gardeners at Hampton Court Palace are using traditional growing aids and original tools, many of which are apparently very similar to what they are today, traditional gardening methods and no plastic!!! (hooray!).

They plan to follow traditional methods and seasonal planting with a 12 year crop rotation, but one thing they won’t be doing, is injecting mercury into peach and apricot trees to kill off the aphids!! Yes, believe it or not apparently this was in fact done at some stage….probably those innovative (crazy) Victorians!! We still love them though (the Victorians)!   Apricots, nectarines and peaches will return to the garden in their original fan shapes too….some will be grown against the south-facing Victorian hollow brick walls that absorb the heat of the day and continue to provide heat well into the night. In days gone by the gardeners grew peaches, pears, apricots, apples and nectarines.

Now, one of the snippets that did amaze me completely was the fact that back in those days the gardeners would/could ‘force’ the ripening of their produce!!! I truly thought that was a new trend (well newish anyway) to satisfy our current consumer demand for a variety of vegetables all year-round.  Now, before the discovery of pineapples, melons were a sign of prestige in Tudor times and in the 1680s – mid 1700’s melons were the thing of the day. Historically gardeners were expert at forcing crops; imagine being able to present the King with a melon in May! That could make your name as a gardener of worth!!!

bowl of fruit with a melon
Jakob Bogdany, A Still Life of Peaches on a silver Tazza with a Melon, an Apple, Grapes and Figs on a stone Ledge

And talking of melons; as done in the past, they are being grown in what is known as the ‘melonry’ separated from the rest of the crops in their own little enclosed space… sturdy upright wooden fencing to keep out the foxes, the plants resting in hot beds of straw & fresh manure from the stables, contained in coppiced boxes, pretty neat huh!   ….and just to stir things up a bit ….apparently in those days, women who were menstruating were not allowed near the melons as it was believed that they would kill off the melons!!! Hmmm, imagine the feminists taking that lying down today!!

Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
the ‘melonry’

Now I have to admit that finding out that the Tudors grew vegetables to the extent that they did surprised me, of all the paintings of food tables I have seen, mostly they depict game, meat, fish and fowl, I have seen platters of fruit and pastellised sweets but seldom have I seen bowls of steaming vegetables!  although I’m sure they had the likes of carrots, beans and parsnips in stews and soups.   Next time I have the opportunity to peruse such paintings I will be sure to take a closer look at the tables!!  It also surprised me at the variety of crops and also of the number of vegetables that I mistakenly assumed were relatively modern….so to speak!  Things like courgettes and aubergines for instance…who knew!! One of the ‘keeping with traditional tools’ aspect that I really liked were the clay pots being used to identify the different plants…no plastic boards!! Hooray!! apparently this was Vicki’s idea…clever girl!!

I also learned that in the past they had posh sounding vegetables like ‘crown prince’ squash, ‘romanesco’ artichoke (very Shakesperean), ‘champagne’ rhubarb, ‘vulcan’ chard (Star Wars?), ‘parsley’ peas!! When is a french bean more than just a bean? When it’s a ‘birds egg’ french bean!!!

Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
‘birds egg’ french beans

And did you know that Cromwell fed ‘carlin’ peas to his troops? Anyone for ‘turkish orange’ aubergines? These and many, many more are all being grown in the Kitchen Garden….how fascinating.

Now I’m sure you must be wondering what they plan to do with all these crops! First up much of the produce will be used in the Tilt Yard kitchens, so you and I would be able to eat freshly grown vegetables from the gardens… I love that idea. They are also thinking of possibly having a barrow where visitors can buy the fresh produce (love this idea too!), and also use some of the produce in hands-on interactive presentations for children….school groups etc.  The garden will be open to the public free of charge and will also provide a valuable educational resource for the local community, visitors and school groups. Historic Royal Palaces hopes to be able to run vegetable growing classes at the palace too! That should be fun!

The Kitchen Garden will be open to visitors from 07:00 – 20:00 daily in the summer and 07:00-18:00 the rest of the year and as mentioned previously they will be FREE to visit and look around. I’m sure that in due course you would be able to buy some of the produce too.

Access to the palace’s famous Formal Gardens and Maze are included in the normal price of an admission ticket.

Hampton Court Palace Kitchen Garden
the Rose garden at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court, KT8 9AU

http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/planyourvisit/gettingthere
35 minutes from London Waterloo – calling at Vauxhall, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Wimbledon, Raynes Park, New Malden, Berrylands, Surbiton and Thames Ditton before arriving at Hampton Court.
Hampton Court is in Zone 6 and you can use Oyster Pay as You Go on trains to Hampton Court or a one-day travel card.

Bus routes from Kingston: 111, 216, 411, 461, 267, 513.
Bus route from Richmond Station: R68 via Twickenham, Teddington, Hampton Hill and East Moseley and alos passes many entrances to Bushy Park.

Palace opening times:
Summer:
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 18:00
Last admission to the Palace: 17:00
Last entry to the maze: 17:15
Last admission to the formal gardens: 17:30
Winter:
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 16:30
Last admission to the Palace: 15:30
Last admission to the formal gardens: 15:30
Last entry to the maze: 15:45

The Wilderness, Tiltyard and Rose gardens are open all year round from 07:00 to 20:30 in summer and 07:00 to 18:00 in winter.
Hampton Court Palace and it’s grounds are closed 24-26 December.

http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/

What you can see in the area:
Bushy Park
The house where Christopher Wren lived (private and can be viewed from the street only)
The house where Michael Farraday lived (private and can be viewed from the street only)
Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare – open to the public Sunday afternoons 14:00 – 17:00
Hampton Court Bridge
East Moseley Lock
East Moseley village which has loads of restaurants and coffee shops.

 

Jakob Bogdany, A Still Life of Peaches on a silver Tazza with a Melon, an Apple, Grapes and Figs on a stone Ledge

http://elogedelart.canalblog.com/archives/2009/07/05/14306421.html

My interest was piqued at the mention of Carlin peas… apparently the tradition of eating carlins goes back to the days of Robert the Bruce in 1327, and the Carlin pea, a traditional drying pea, seems to date way back in the English medieval monasteries and certainly used in Elizabethan times. Carlins are associated with the North and Especially North East of England where they often eaten on Passion Sunday. Legend has it, that they saved many Northumbrians from starvation during the Civil war of 1644.  So I did a bit of research and found these really informative and interesting blogs:

http://www.countryproducts.co.uk/carlin-peas.html – surprising to me, you can still buy carlin peas today

http://www.ecwsa.org/milsoldiersfoodandutensils.html

http://carlinpeas.tripod.com/id9.html  (this website had really annoying advert pop-ups)

http://asenseofplaceblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/in-clitheroe-from-a-high-hill/

http://oldvarieties.com/contents1a/2010/04/carlin-peas/?doing_wp_cron=1402570661.0095651149749755859375 (this website also had adverts)