Photos taken by London Guide Charlie
Photos taken by London Guide Charlie
I was trying to avoid all that Christmas dazzle as much as I could. November is way too early for all that glitter. But how can you miss this 15ft shimmering topiary reindeer?
Last Friday, while waiting for my friends, I was wondering around the Covent Garden market, notorious for its festive decorations, and then I realised, I can’t avoid it any more. So I gave in and enjoyed the sparkles.
And it felt very Christmassy to have mulled wine with friends under the Christmas tree, decorated with 50.000 twinkling fairy lights.
Last week was very special as I celebrated my Hawaiian hen do with my beautiful girlfriends back home. I was pampered, fed and watered, entertained and driven away on a Harley Davidson in the morning. Here are some beautiful moments from the celebration.
I wish I could turn back time and do it all over again!
Last week was awesome. I flew back home to Lithuania to celebrate my very own hen do, spend time with the girls and family. I only slept for 2 hours before boarding the plane and was feeling rather tired after a 2,5 hour flight. When my friend picked me up at the airport, I thought I will fall asleep in the car, but as soon as we started driving I couldn’t stop staring at the colourful trees along the way, as if I’ve never seen anything as beautiful before… I guess I just forgot what a proper autumn back home looks like… I only visit home in summer time and during Christmas, but never in autumn… Must do that more often! The weather was great, balmy wind, sunshine and golden leaves rustling under the feet. The Baltic Sea was still and I was so happy to be home.
The Open House London is a free and fun event in the capital. Hundreds of interesting, stunning, new and old places were open for curious Londoners and towns guests.
I really wanted to go inside the Gherkin, but I knew the queues would be massive so I kept it fairly low key and made my way in to the City – the quietest borough of London during weekends. I was happy with the choice and, as I suspected, the City was lovely and peaceful in the morning mist.
The first building on my list was Custom House on the north bank of the river Thames. The late – Georgian building is now occupied by H&M Revenue & Custom but was once the backbone of HM Customs and Excise. The London Custom House was built to deal with the busy trade on the River Thames.
The 58 m long neo-classical Long Room was the central reporting point for all London Customs business in the 19 C. The captain of every ship that came up the Thames had to come here. Until he paid his Custom duties he would not be allowed to unload or sell his cargo.
Just across the street from Custom House I popped into Billingsgate Roman house and Baths.
I wondered around one of London’s best Roman remains with a 3C bath house and tried to imagine what it looked like back in the 2 C.
To me Guildhall is one of the most beautiful buildings in London with its elegant white façade reaching for the sky. Guildhall is a rare example of Medieval civic architecture with post – war extensions.
I was most interested in seeing the medieval Great Hall where royalty and state visitors have been entertained. It’s like stepping into Hogwarts in Harry Potter. So impressed.
Let’s go down to the crypts.
Wow. East and West Crypts are the largest medieval crypts in London. Imagine having dinner here…
I was also intrigued that the Guildhall Art Gallery is built over remains of London’s 2C Roman amphitheatre, so I went underground for a little sniff.
I also popped into the church of St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall. I am sure it’s open all year round, but I’ve never been inside. It was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1966 and restored to the original Sir Christopher Wren’s design.
The last place, and I have to mention, the most delightful place I visited that day was Draper’s Hall. This livery hall first built in the 1530, twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt ,overwhelmed me so much that I had to take a deep breath and sit down. Victorian interior was just too much to take in in one go, so I wondered from one room to another in a circle. The décor is so over the top and incredibly beautiful at the same time with its shiny chandeliers, marble staircase, carvings and painted ceiling.
The Drawing Room, designed, decorated and furnished by Herbert William and John G. Crace in 1866 & 1870 remains much as they left it.
The Court Dining Room with a fine view of the Hall’s garden.
The Hall’s garden.
The Court Room.
The Livery Hall. The centre painting is a scene from The Tempest, the north and south panels contain scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I was completely blown away and sat in this room starring at every detail… it’s like a theatre!
And that was another great Sunday finished by a riverside picnic.
The market and spa town Knaresborough was our last stop before going back to Harrogate. After visiting the famous Mother Shipton’s Cave, we went for a little stroll along the towns scenic cobble streets.
One of the most beautiful features of this town, in my opinion, is Knaresborough Viaduct over the River Nidd, opened in 1851. However, architect Niklaus Pevsner described the impact that the new viaduct had on the Nidd Valley, as ‘one of the worst railway crimes in all England.’
Knaresborough castle is located quite high up on the top of the large cliff and it took a lot of effort to reach it, considering we were on the foot all day long, including rock climbing. History has it that many Kings stayed in this castle while hunting in Knaresborough forest.
But I have to say, the view was worth every painful step.
And it gets even better!
After a short walk we drove back to Harrogate where we had a lovely Thai curry before taking off for a long 4 hour drive back to London.
Mother Shipton’s Cave and the Petrifying Well was on my agenda soon after we confirmed our trip to Harrogate. After our fun rock climbing adventure we took off to stunning Knaresborough to visit the magical place. I didn’t really know what to expect, but as soon as we got into the woods, I knew I’m gonna love it.
Refreshing afternoon walk along the river Nidd.
Charlie and I walked along the historic paths of Sir Henry Slingsby’s Long Walk and Beach Avenue , where the rich used to promenade in 1700. How can you not like it? Apparently this walk is listed as one of the best preserved town promenades in the country.
The lovely walk along the river Nidd brought us to the England’s oldest visitor attraction, the Petrifying Well, previously known as the Dripping Well.
History has it that for many centuries people believed the well had healing powers and used to bring their sick members of family to bathe in the well and drink the miraculous water.
The water comes from a lake, about a mile underground and dissolves a great amount of minerals. The water then drips down the well turning everything into the stone.
If you look closely to the picture below, there are two lumps half way up the well. These are not just lumps, but a Victorian top hat and a ladies bonnet, recorded as being left there by a young couple on their way to York races in 1853!
A little commentary also mentioned that it takes about 5 months for a small teddy bear to be petrified.
Not far from the Well there is the birthplace of Mother Shipton, so called Mother Shipton’s Cave, where we listened to her life story. At the time Mother Shipton was born, people were afraid of the well, they thought if they come close, they would be turned into stone. Just to clarify, Mother Shipton was a prophetess, people believed she was a witch.
If you are going there, be sure not to miss The Wishing Well, but keep in mind, there are some rules to be obeyed.
There is a sign that tells you how to make a wish, dos and don’ts! So, do not wish for money or bad on anyone and your wish will come true.