Saturday, February 11, 2012

Genealogy, Jack the Ripper, and Fish and Chips

This is just a travel album of our recent trip to England with a few captions.
All pictures were taken with a cell phone, in most cases my iPhone 4S

(As usual, click on any picture to enlarge it.)

The trip had two parts.  First, Barbara's genealogy research in Suffolk, followed by some time in London, long one of our favorite cities.
We flew on frequient flyer miles; lots of seats available in January.  The weather was actually pretty good.  Not cold, and only one day where we needed our umbrellas.  Pictured is the black bag with our passports and British Pounds that was transiently lost.  We were actually being deplaned when it was found.  Our trip was almost over before it began!
 David, our driver, met us at Heathrow arrivals, drove us to Ipswich, kept our luggage in his car, picked us back up later in the afternoon, and then drove us to Lowestoft.  He was great!  Also, his mother's name was Dickerson and from the same place where Barbara's Dickersons' had come from . . . probably a distant cousin.
The Victorian school building in Ipswich where the county records were maintained.  Barbara's  Dickersons, Coopers, and Paines sailed from Ipswich in 1637 on the Mary Anne (link to list of passengers.)
Searching the microfiche files.  Old English with strange script and quill pens that tended to grow faint at regular intervals is not easy reading!
  The Hotel Victoria in Lowestoft; our digs for 3 days of research.  Our room was the middle balcony on the left.
 View from our balcony of the hotel grounds, the prominade, and the beach.
Bath houses on the beach below the hotel.
 One afternoon we took the train from Lowestoft to Norwich to visit Rachael's grandmother and uncle.  Here, Adam is serving the fare he provided:  Scotch egg, meat pie, and an assortment of wonderful UK cheeses; served with Suffolk cider, beer, and wine.   We had a great evening of talking, even extending to politics and religion.  We got so involved we never even took a picture of granny Margaret.  Glad we didn't have to drive home.
 Changing trains in Norwich on the way to London
 Our London place was a 2 BR condo that Barbara secured (for a great price) in a charity auction.  It was located in the East End, convenient to two underground stations and a block from the huge East London Mosque.  It was an interesting part of London in which we had not spent much time previously.
 We were surrounded by Turkish, Pakistani, and Bangla restaurants, as well as a couple of decent pubs.  All in all this was a great "foodie" trip; lots of different, excellent, and relatively cheap meals.  Meat at a nearby restaurant, Maeda, was being cooked on wood coals.

 The first day we did a river cruise on the Thames, downriver to Greenwich, then back up to Parliament.  Big Ben is shadowed against the evening sky amongst other assorted elements near Westminster.
 Coming out of the Tower Bridge tube station, you are presented with 2000 years of history, starting with the Roman wall on the left and extending to the Tower of London in the center.
We popped into the Minaries Pub (in the arched brick rooms of an 1840 train station) just to rest our feet and get a half-pint, but when they came by with the fish and chips for the next table, we decided to join in as well.
On Sunday, Clive Moore traveled up to London to meet us for lunch and for a nice easy stroll from the Sloan Square area along to Knightsbridge.  Clive was our landlord when we lived in Suffolk, and has been a wonderful friend since that time.
We also visited more recently-made friends from Southgate one evening.  Anthony and Christine Campbell joined us for lunch during our last trip to England, and during this trip kindly entertained us at their home for dinner.  Christine is Greek, and of course the economy was much discussed.  Anthony is a renaissance man, (link to his blog here)  and we so enjoyed our evening with them that I never took a picture.

Since 1420 there has been a bell foundry outside the old city wall near the Aldgate underground station (Aldgate was the eastern most gateway through London wall leading from the City of London to Whitechapel and the east end of London.)  This particular foundry dates from 1570, and within the relatively small confines were cast Big Ben, the original Liberty Bell, the US bicentennial bell, and the 9/11 commemorative bell, as well as many major church/cathedral bells around the world.
The entry to the business offices of the foundry is on the left.  The main entrance to the family house is one of the only still surviving on Whitechapel Lane.  The family still uses the upper floor as a residence.
The original wood crane was recently used to lift a 2 1/2 ton bell onto a truck.
The Museum of Natural History was a marvelous structure on it's own accord.  It is huge, and this entrance is a small part of the structure.
The size of the great hall is hard to grasp.  Numerous, very large galleries extend to both sided.
Close to the Natural History museum is the magnificient Victoria and Albert Museum.  Barbara is standing in the Raphael Gallery of the V&A.
The "Egyptian Escalator" at Harrods Department Store.
The memorial to Diana and Dodi at the foot of the Egyptian Escalator.

Matt had given us an head's up on the Neals Yard Dairy.
Martin seemed determined to offer us a sample of everything in the shop, and ultimately we settled on several cheeses to take with us.
Lunch; more fish and chips at the" Rock and Sole Plaice"
An evening walk with the "Eye" on the left and Parliament on the opposite bank of the Thames.

For the last three days of our stay, Brian Bruns, a young writer we have known for years crashed in our condo.  Shortly after his 20/20 interview he came to London to receive his 3rd place prize for the 2012 London Book Festival.  Brian did his own thing the day of the award dinner, but the other days he patiently explored various corners of the city with we older, slower folk.
We returned to the Natural History Museum to visit a special exhibit on Scott's South Pole attempt. ( That's Brian on the arched bridge with his arms extended.)

Checking out the Still and Star Pub with Brian.  Classic Brit pub with Bitters pumped from cask and darts being played in the back.
Ally or small lane we came across in which one of Jack the Ripper's victims was found.  Barbara was aware that the Ripper murders happened in the area of London we we staying in, so we checked out several of the notable locations during our walks that week.
This pub was one of our stops on our own Jack the Ripper tour.  It was a brothel at the time.  A story with some credibility is that the series of murders stemmed from a cover-up of an encounter between a noble/royal personage that resulted in a pregnancy.This site has just about all the existing reference material about the Ripper.
Most friendly and talkative barman in the Ten Bells.  (Everyone will willingly talk to Barbara!)
Across from the Ten Bells is the Spitalfield Market.
Just my luck!  It was the day for the antiques dealers to display in Spitalfields.

St Paul's from the Millennium bridge.  We were generally lucky with weather this trip, even though it was winter.
On our last night we explored the Wapping Docks area, and had a pint and snack in the Town of Ramsgate Pub on the ThamesIt has a very interesting history if you follow the link.
  This sampling of pictures is not comprehensive, and does not begin to cover all the places and experiences of the trip, but will hopefully give you some of the flavor of our time there.  This will save you hours of boredom as you will have an excuse not to see all of our pictures when you visit!