London, United Kingdom
Sadly, my battle with jet lag continues and I have been awake since 3 am. I got up just before 5am and blogged a bit, trading and travel. Mark was up fairly early too and we were both in for a bit of a shock as, not long after, the sun made its first appearance since we’ve been here. We might even need sun glasses today.
We Skyped the kids and also caught up on some local news. It turns out that our trip to St Pauls yesterday was actually foiled by the Queen herself. There was a function at the Cathedral as one part of her many Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I hope she isn’t going to Cambridge today as that is where we are off to shortly. More later.
Our plan was to spend the morning out at the University town of Cambridge. The 45 min fast train from Kings Cross to Cambridge return cost 22 GBP each. The journey was a pleasant one though and we counted ourselves as very lucky to have such a beautiful sunny day for this excursion. Thankfully, it got us there in time for our 11am walking tour.
We had a delightfully eccentric guide named Janet for our 2 hr tour who seemed to have rather healthy competitive issues with that ‘other University’ (read here: Oxford). She guided us around the significant pubs, one of which was ‘The Eagle’ where Watson & Crick reportedly hatched their ideas for the DNA Double Helix. Now I know why they saw this as a double stranded complex! It clearly may have had something more to do with possible double scotches! She also informed us that the youngest ever British Prime Minister attended Cambridge and it was this gentleman who was responsible for introducing the first notion of income tax, a temporary tax at the rate of one penny per pound, to cover the cost of the Napoleonic wars. Apparently, even today, income tax here is still a ‘temporary’ tax that has to be passed by an Act of Parliament each year!
Janet didn’t need words at all though to impress us with either Queens’ or Kings Colleges. Both of these Colleges are a truly magnificent collection of the most beautiful ancient buildings,steeped in so much history. This was an absolutely delightful feast of jaw – dropping, sheer visual splendour. Think, ‘quadrangle at Sydney University’ but, then, magnify this a gazillion times and, also,add in several extra hundred years of amazing history. The King’s College Chapel is one of the most beautiful buildings that I have ever been into. It just seems to have the quintessential balance of grandeur, size, detail, light, stained glass, stone and wood and the most amazing vaulted ceiling, the largest in the world!
Our 2 hours was up in no time so we headed down to the local produce markets, which were rather disappointing and not as good as Moruya South Coast NSW markets, and then back to The Eagle DNA pub for Mark to sample yet some more beer. We decided to head back home to have a wander and an early dinner. Our apartment is truly in the most amazing part of Soho. It would take months to explore and try out all of the quirky little restaurants and trendy bars. We found this amazing little wine bar, just around the corner from our apartment, where we shared a cheese plate with some red wine. From there we ventured on to an Indian restaurant, Gopals, just opposite the Crown and Two Chairmen pub, which I can safely say produced the worst Indian food that Mark and I have ever tasted. I was rather annoyed that we had wasted a dining experience here when there was so much more on offer in the area. The only highlight of the place was the ‘After Dinner Mint’ that came with the bill! A rather sad indictment on the place indeed. The sign out the front said they’d been there since 1988 and we think that we must have been one of the few patrons through the door during that whole time!
We have an early start on Friday as we are taking a day trip out to Dover so we headed home rather early to, hopefully, get a good night of sleep.
PS: please excuse grammar and order flow issues as I am running on ‘sleep empty’!