48 hours in ‘The Athens of the North’

Earlier this year, we set off to 'The Athens of the North' to visit some of my old haunts, see the key sights once again - and watch a rather important rugby match. In the early 1800's Edinburgh re-branded itself 'The Athens of the North' to reflect its growing importance.  It has been the capital [...]

Kensington Palace – a history of Prince Harry and Meghan’s home

We're not going to let the major Royal event of 2018 go without a mention!  Referring of course to the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the 19 May at St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle.  Once married, the couple will live together in the second largest apartment of Kensington Palace - moving out [...]

Enjoy gardens? Visit a seventeenth century secret garden in London

Stroll around a seventeenth apothecary’s garden, followed by afternoon tea at the café.  The Chelsea Physic Garden is a micro climate tucked away in Chelsea.  It is the oldest in England (after Oxford) and is open to the public (closed Nov-Jan).  If you’re near the King’s Road, take a cab for the 5 minute journey [...]

How New Haven upset the Merry Monarch!

The Restoration man!  This is a portrait of King Charles II attributed to Thomas Hawker.  It is an oil on canvas, painted circa 1680 that you can see in the National Portrait Gallery, London.  You wouldn’t think he was called the Merry Monarch from this portrait!  It was painted near the end of his life [...]

Virginia – the ‘Old Dominion’

This is a portrait of the 'Chief of Men', Oliver Cromwell, by Robert Walker.  It is an oil on canvas and was painted in 1649 – the year King Charles I was tried and executed.  Cromwell was a country gentleman who took up arms against King Charles I in order to protect the rights of [...]

Where 007 started out

This is one of a collection of buildings in Whitehall that was the centre of British naval power from the mid-1700's to the 1960's.   It is officially called the Admiralty Extension, and is on Horse Guards.  Completed in 1904, it was the workplace of Ian Flemming; creator of James Bond (and Chitty Chitty Bang [...]

A Wren in Westminster

Behind a wall to the north of The Mall is a house built in 1711 for the 1st Duke of Marlborough - the same 1st Duke of Blenheim Palace. This was his London home!  The architect was Christopher Wren - who also designed St Paul's Cathedral in the City.  'Brick and stone trimmings he called [...]

Somerset House – neoclassical skating!

We joined a tour of Somerset House in central London recently.  Here’s how it went. Somerset House was built by the Duke of Somerset and protector to the young Edward 6th in the later 1500’s – on land occupying a Tudor palace. Subsequently used by the Danish Queen of James 1st but then sadly burned [...]

Pelicans in the park!

Three royal pelicans in the centre of autumn London today! There have been pelicans in St James's Park since 1664. It's Charles 2nd's influence again! Such tranquility in central London - that's Buckingham Palace in the distance. Tip: visit between 2.30pm and 3.00pm each day and see them fed fresh fish - at the far [...]