Around London: Hatfield House and HMS Belfast
London Travel Blog› entry 15 of 17 › view all entries
London! You know, I've always experienced this but I keep forgetting it - just how quickly the sun rises in the UK! By 6am, it's as bright as 9am. Which is good in a way. Let's you get up and get ready. And get ready I did: b'fast was dinner rolls (yep!) with some excellent Gouda Cheese I picked up at the local newsie, along with... Onken yogurt (yeah, you get the drill) and off I went for a slightly different exploration. This time, not walking up to Earl's Court station but instead, choosing to walk the other way around - walking on Bolton Gardens through Gloucester Road through Cromwell Street into Hyde Park. The whole walk took about over an hour, it was brilliant - bright and all. I'd never really spent time @ Hyde Park - isn't it funny how the supposedly more frequent travellers to London don't see the city's landmarks yet.
From Marble Arch, I took the train to Pic Circus and walked across to see St.James Palace. Gosh what an anticlimax! My friend had mentioned to me that you can't really go in, just see the changing of guards, etc. Even then, really all you can do is take a picture of it from the outside and that's about it.
I felt I had been walking for ever and ever, but I really had that enthusiasm to walk as far as I could, heaven knows it's not every day one gets to go to London. No, just 4 times in 12 months if you're Vikram <g>. Anyway, this time I really seemed to be so random, I was picking things off the Frommer's London 2008 book, and the next one I happened to choose was the Jewish Museum in Camden Town.
Anyway at this point, I headed to St.Pancras Intl to the place I wanted to go - Hatfield House.
The journey to Hatfield is fast, takes about 20 mins and heavy frequencies as well. As you alight the train, you see the entrance right across. I must admit it's rather pricey. The walk into the house is nice - very typical English manor'y so to speak.
I spent some time wandering around the garden. If Manor houses and big residential palaces were assigned grades, I'd give this one a B+ best case. It doesn't have the dramatic scenery of a Culzean Castle with the house by the cliffs, it doesn't have the grand ornate gardens of Hampton Court nor does it have the wide open greenery (well publicly viewable at least) of a Blenheim Palace.
So I said goodbye to Hatfield House, a quick coffee + bag of crisps and a train ride and I was back in London.
I didn't know where to begin, or rather, continue. So many places to go, so little time to spend. I was thinking of Tate Britain, thinking of a few other museums but the Victoria Line was closed as well, so attractions near those Tubes were out of question (I couldn't be arsed taking buses and all).
I'd never visited this part of London so just to be able to walk and spend time along the Thames was brilliant. I ended up walking past a pirate ship that's now an attraction, and then I was debating on whether I take the new "London Bridge Experience" show, or I go to a place I had avoided all these years - the HMS Belfast.
The HMS Belfast along with the HMS Edinburgh was commissioned before the start of WW2, and after having had extensive damages still served in the Korean War, before being retired in the 60s, and open to the public in the late 70s. Today, it's a part of the Imperial War Museum. I really cannot say enough ncie things about this place. Normally, when I visit a tourist attraction, I'm thinking "they say you need 2 hrs for this?", but this is one place where I really felt I needed more than 2 hours. Shame I got in around 445pm and they close by 6pm. The recreation of a ship in action was fantastic - everything from understanding the science to how the ship is built and used, to things like the kitchen, the quarters, the medical room, etc.
My next stop of the day was walking around the noisy parts - Oxford Street (bought some Thorntons), and the neighbouring areas. Returned to the hostel, had my Gouda cheese and a dinner roll for dinner and went out for a drink with a French roommate. The weather was a bit chill but still good enough for a walk. I was hoping I'd go for a nighttime walk around London town but I was chatting with the French crowd for quite some time and it was midnight. So I decided to head back instead, pack and call it a night by 1am.
I just love London! Gosh, I know I'll be back here again this year.