Vancouver, what more can I say?...

Jul 31, 2016 by

Looking to explore further afield, when my son got the chance to work in Vancouver, I began to plan my visit straight away. I would recommend booking your flight early. I tried playing a game, by waiting for the price to drop around a magic date. When it did drop, I dithered and then it went back up again. I ended up booking a flight with Air Transat, a Canadian budget airline.  If you like a lot to eat, it’s a good idea to bring some extras, but I was fine with the free stuff, which was snacks and drinks, including a glass of wine and seconds were offered, when there was food left over. So all in all, not a bad choice of airline. Except for my case arriving home three days after me....

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Darwin, Down and Downe

Jul 31, 2016 by

 If you’re travelling to Down House, home of Charles Darwin on public transport, you need to know that buses to Downe are very infrequent, by which I mean every 90 minutes Monday to Saturday and not at all on Sunday. I discovered this when I had just missed one. I had a nice 80 minutes at Orpington Station,  chatting to bus drivers and reading my book, but it didn’t make for good progress. It’s a 25 minute ride to Down House from Orpington, with various Hail and Ride sections along the way, so once out of the town, you make speedy progress into the countryside. Shortly after Downe village you need to ring the bell and tell the driver you want to get off at Down House. I think most people must travel by...

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Bethlem Museum of the Mind

Dec 13, 2015 by

In my experience, people find it hard to talk about mental health. A visit to Bethlem’s Museum of the Mind might help start that conversation.  Enlarged and reopened in 2015, the museum is situated within the large grounds of the Bethlem Hospital, a 15 minute walk from Eden Park Station (trains from London Bridge, every 30 minutes.) On your way, you can see how many different Art Deco features you can spot on the 1930s houses you pass. There are three parts to the Museum. On the ground floor there is a gallery of art created by people with mental health problems, often for sale. The first floor has a temporary exhibition space, which is changed three times a year and the main, permanent exhibition. A timeline curves around the head of the staircase...

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A Day out in Bexleyheath

Oct 9, 2015 by

  I picked a glorious day to explore two remarkable houses outside London. Trains run to Bexleyheath frequently from several London stations, and the journey takes 30 to 40 minutes. Danson House is the farthest from the station, about a 20 minute walk and is set in beautiful grounds which include a large lake, English Garden and many amenities for local people. Built in 1766 with money acquired from the slave trade, Danson House was designed by Robert Taylor. Passing through many hands and falling into decay, it was rescued by English Heritage and lovingly restored in 1995. It is now managed by the Bexley Heritage Trust. Watercolour paintings created by a  former resident,  Sarah Johnston were used to help the team when bringing the house back to its former glory. If you need an...

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Foundling Museum 3

Jun 27, 2013 by

When you next visit the Foundling Museum, take the time to have a good look around. I had a little explore last time I was there and made a few surprising discoveries. First I went to the top floor, where I found one of the most peaceful spots in London. All alone, I settled down in one of the acoustic armchairs, closed my eyes and listened to a selection of instrumental music by Handel. This room is the home of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, started in the 30s and given a home at the Museum because of Handel’s links with the Foundling Hospital, collecting £7,000 over 10 years and raising its profile in London society. Amongst the exhibits are a beautiful wooden circular timeline of Handel’s life alongside other cultural and international events...

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Eastbury Manor House

Jan 25, 2012 by

Joining the National Trust last year to help fund its work as well as with the aim of visiting as many properties as possible, Eastbury Manor House came to my attention as somewhere handy and one of the few NT properties in London. Owned by the National Trust but managed by Barking and Dagenham Council, Eastbury Manor has to pay its own way. It does this by holding open days and hosting school visits as well as being a meeting place for local community groups. The Manor is right in the middle of Barking and it’s pretty hard to picture the fields belonging to Barking Abbey that were there before Henry XVIII confiscated the lands.  They were bought by Clement Sisley who built the house in the 1570s. We were lucky to be given...

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