Thursday, July 31, 2008

Today is Thursday, this must be Bath

Bath is a masterpiece of urban design. John Wood (1704-1754) saw an opportunity to provide accommodation for London's chattering class, for their "season" in Bath. His genious, however, was to insist that builders used his facade patterns, and only local limestone (the same stone that was used to build Buckingham Palace).

The result is elegant medium density housing, four to five storeys, with not a detached bungalow in sight. My favourite is the Circus (1764) which was actually completed by John Wood's son; confusing also called John Wood.

Oh yes, there are also Roman baths, and very fine late gothic abbey, and a Pret (no image).

We took a 2 hour guided walking tour of Bath. Wonderful.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The Eurostar takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to travel beween London and Paris. It is quiet, comfortable and pretty fast (up to 300kph). This is St Pancras station in London.


Salisbury is magnificent. Not only the wonderful Salisbury Cathederal which dominates the town, but the old quarter surrounding the cathederal and the charming city centre.

This is a list of all deans of the cathederal, since 1092. The current dean is June Osborne. This seems to be a departure from tradition.

Romsey, Hampshire

I think I detected a hint of frustration in Beryl's voice today. In the main her directions from Gatwick (where we picked up the car yesterday) to our B&B near Romsey, Hampshire, were clear and accurate. Today, however, I think that she was troubled by our reckless determination to drive across fields to reach our B&B. It was, in fact a perfectly serviceable track but, hey, what does a SatNav know about tracks?

This aside Sylvia likes Beryl, and is happy to have her and her screen join us on journeys.

This is our B&B - Woodpeckers. Very comfy, with a delicious breakfast.

Romsey is small but beautifully formed. It has a rather old abby, and a pleasant town centre. We liked it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Retrospective - The British Motor Show

Nick, Gavin and I went to the motor show. Mother and daughters had quality time at the Sound of Music (no, not Julie Andrews).

Sorry, no photos of SoM.


Four days in Paris. Hot, expensive, exhausting and shambolic.

But there were some enjoyable moments. Let me see. Some moments at the last stage of the tour on the Champs Elysees. Our fellow spectators insisted on standing up even though they could see perfectly well seated. This became a little tedious after 16 passings of the peleton, especially for Sylvia who could see nothing. There was, however a big screen.

The Musee de Louvre is spectacular. Apart from the works of art, the building is facinating and somewhat impressive. Of particular interest was the morphology of the building, as explained in a wonderful exhibition.

I have to concede that Paris is a very beautiful city, and there was free wifi at the hotel.

The Musee d'Orsay has 58 Monets and 28 Renoirs on exhibitions at the moment, but it is not open on Mondays. This is a pity because it was a bit of an effort to get there by bus.

The outside of the Musee d'Orsay on Monday

Note: Sylvia does not necessarily endorse these comments.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hotel Sydney Opera

This is Hotel Sydney Opera on rue des Mathurins, Paris. This was our Paris home.

Le Tour de France

We watched the tour go past 16 times. Robbie didn't win. Cadel didn't win. Still, it was good to be there.

This is Robbie's and Cadel's team - Silence Lotto (Ridley bikes with Campagnolo components)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A modest collection of paintings and other nick nacks in Paris

The curators of the Musee de Louvre are masters of understatement. This is one of the many "large format" paintings in one of the enormous galleries. By the way the Mona Lisa is "small format".

One of the more important visitors on the day, pictured below.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Eurostar to Paris

We took the 7:30am train from St Pancras station in London to Paris. Its a fast and comfortable journey to close to the centre of Paris. After a tiny hassel getting a taxi we arric=ved at Hotel Sydney Opera (no, I'm not making this up) at around noon allowing for the 1 hour time difference. The hotel is small, quiet (so far) clean and comfortable. What's more, its only a stroll to Place dela Concorde and the Champs Elysees. Its even coser to the Galerie Lafayette (department store) and lots of cafes and restaurants.

We already have our Australian flags ready to wave on Sunday afternoon when Cadel Evans glides past in yellow (subject to a trivial formality in tomorrow's time trial).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

High above London

St Pauls has about 3 million steps, most of which need to be negotiated to reach the top of the dome via the whispering gallery. But it was worth it to see the London skyline thirty years on.

The incense from the daily eucharist service in the trancept below was a bonus, but did not inspire Lyndal much.

Tate Modern - not many steps but crazy art.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Harrison's clocks - at last

After seeing Lyndal and Nick (and later, Amy and Gavin) the other main reason for our trip was to see John Harrison's clocks (H1 H2m H3 and H4). They are found in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. That's the building with the red ball that drops at precisely 1pm every day. It is also at longitude 0 degrees. The line is marked by a string of tourists with one foot on each side while others take their photos. Sadly there wasn't room for us, but that of course meant that there were few people in the room with the clocks.

After coffee and cake at the teahouse nearby, Lyndal, Sylvia and I dropped in at the National Maritime Museum. Lyndal's flat is just across the River Thames from Greewich, conveniently linked by a pedestrian tunnel (yes, under the river).

Afternoon was spent in central London - Liberty, Carnaby Street, and Westminster before returning to Lyndal and Nick's place by ferry.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We are here at last. The flights were fairly good for long ones and I think Singapore Airlines has a bit more leg room. I managed to watch about 10 movies and stitched. The stopover in Singapore for a sleep was well worthwhile.

So exciting to see Lyndal and Nick after 6 months away. Lyndal and Nick came to meet us at the airport and that was wonderful as they knew their way around. They are well and we had a fairly good sleep. We were very tired! Lyndal has today off so we are going exploring in London.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One sleep to go

Bathroom scales have a purpose after all - to ensure we don't exceed the baggage weight limits for our flight to London starting from Sydney airport tomorrow.

First stop is Singapore where we spend the night before flying on to London at 9am on Sunday. The first leg is aboard an Airbus A380. Looking forward to a new experience. We have seats upstairs (no, not business class). Since I hate longhaul flights I will be armed with drugs (herbal, of course) noise cancelling headphones, and eye shades. Sylvia has pointed out that its basically an evening flight, so we don't need to sleep, but I'm not convinced.

Lyndal and Nick will meet us at Heathrow on Sunday afternoon. Can't wait. Lyndal will take Monday and Tuesday off work so, we will have some quality time with her in London. We will see Amy and Gavin a few days later when they return to London after their European odyssey.