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Winchmore Hill Sunday market

Although Autumn has arrived, today we have glorious sunshine and its warm again.  The Sunday market, next to Winchmore Hill station, is thriving. You can buy excellent cheeses both imported from all over Europe and made here in the UK, fresh vegetables grown organically on farms close to London and wonderful bread made locally. This market is a real asset to Winchmore Hill.   We encourage all our guests to visit it.

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Canal narrow boat trip through central London – highly recommended

Yesterday, I took my twin grandchildren on a delightful narrow boat trip along the Regents Canal, which runs through the centre of London from Little Venice (near Paddington station) to Camden Market.  Jason’s Trips www.jasons.co.uk operate an original narrow boat and share their knowledgeable about the history of the canals during the journey.   On arriving at Camden, I was rather shocked at how tatty the Camden Market has become and went on hurriedly to the Canal Museum near King’s Cross station (one stop on the Northern line from Camden). This is a fascinating museum showing life as it was lived when horse-drawn canal narrow boats were the only method of moving goods about the country.  What is more, you can step through the doors at the rear of the Museum and see residential canal boats lined up outside.  This is an ideal trip for children, and we adults thoroughly enjoyed it too. Near the Canal Museum is King’s Place, an arts venue with pleasant café and restaurant overlooking the canal.   Highly recommended.

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British Museum – two interesting special exhibitions

Many visitors to London are not aware of before they arrive that the major UK national museums and galleries are free.  So, you can explore the collections of British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, for example, without paying an entrance fee.

Special temporary exhibitions are charged for, but it is often well worth paying for a ticket.  At the British Museum now (from 10th September) there is Drawing in Gold and Silver – Leonardo to Jasper Johns.  This is about the technique of metalpoint.  The works displayed, gathered from many international galleries, are wonderful.  How did Leonardo and other artists make these extraordinary works of art!

Also coming up is The Celts – Art and Culture (24th September to 31 January).  Those of our USA visitors who trace their heritage back to one of the Celtic nations of the UK and Eire, may find this especially interesting. I shall certainly be visiting both exhibitions.

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Tourist beware!

When in London, in areas around the theatre district and Covent Garden, you may be offered rides in bicycle-driven “rickshaws”.  Beware! These vehicles and their riders are NOT regulated (as London black taxis are) and tourists have been asked to pay huge sums for rides of a short distance.  Never get in one of these rickshaws without agreeing a set price for the journey to a agreed destination or of a specific length in time.  If the driver demands more than agreed, refuse to pay and offer to call the police!  Personally I would advise against ever using these rickshaws, however attractive they might seem to you.

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Gypsy – A wonderful musical at the Savoy Theatre

Last week we went to see “Gypsy” at the Savoy Theatre. What a wonderful and moving show.  Imelda Staunton is fantastic in the starring role of Rose, the ruthless theatre mother who makes her daughters substitute for her own thwarted ambition.

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What’s on at the National Theatre – last chance to see

We have seen two wonderful productions at The National Theatre this Summer.  The first was Everyman, an adaptation by Carol Ann Duffy of a Medieval play.  What happens to Everyman when death comes to call and the life he has built for himself offers no protection. Time is running out as he searches everywhere for someone, or something to protect him. Riches, friends… … all desert him.  This was a wonderful theatrical experience. The last performance is 30th August. So you will have to hurry.  We also saw The Beaux Strategem, a light-hearted play about two charming but debt-ridden men’s attempts to marry for money.  Huge fun.  That play runs until the end of September.  When you are in London I recommend that you try and see a play at the National Theatre.

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Visits outside London – Stonehenge and Bath

This week I had a meeting in Calne (Wiltshire) with an expert on the pre-history and archaeology of that area, including Stonehenge and Avebury. His name if Laurence Davies. We agreed that many international visitors to the UK have very poor experiences when visiting these ancient sites. Coach tours from London involve hugely long road travel, often in bad traffic; they are exhausting and leave little time to spend at the monuments.  There are far better ways of seeing these sites. An expert guide who  collects you from either Bath, Chippenham or Salisbury stations, can make for a really memorable and informative tour.  And the cost is not much different to the large group coach tours. www.oldburytours.co.uk.  0044 (0)7947 488665. ring Laurence he will tell you what he can offer.

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The Old Bakery pays the London Living Wage

We believe in treating with respect those who help us to keep the apartments at The Old Bakery in the excellent condition our guests deserve.  So, we pay our cleaners and helpers the London Living Wage, which is currently £2 per hour higher than the minimum wage.  Our cleaners take pride, just as we do, in making sure the apartments look good and are beautifully clean when our guests arrive.  We know our guests appreciate the results of their work. Nina

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Gold Award for Chalkley’s

Chalkley’s apartment (sleeps 4) at the Old Bakery London has been granted a Gold Award to add it its 4 star **** rating in the category of self-catering accommodation in London.  This award is granted by Visit England’s / Quality in Tourism following their annual inspection.  We are delighted that the quality we offer our guests has been formally recognised by this award.

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The garden

A busy time in the garden!  This week, I have been planting the Summer geraniums and busy lizzies and tidying up the pond.  Clearing some of the leaves that have sunk to the bottom of the water over Autumn and Winter is always a muddy task. The climbing clematis are climbing vigorously over the walls and trellises.   The tortoise is happily marching up and down the garden and hungrily eating all the dandelions collected by my twin grandchildren , Elliot and Ariane (aged 4).

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