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Friday, July 7, 2017

Gone a-courtin'

Heart attack on a plate. The almost-complete British breakfast, including the tea but minus the fried tomatoes, at the Arosfa Hotel

As they say, the third time's the charm. 1974, 1996 and now 2017 - Hampton Court Palace always seems to end up on the itinerary each time I find myself in London. This last time the decision to go was made by my daughter, which is how we found ourselves on a hot Monday morning in front of England's most famous Tudor structure:


Some history: the palace was constructed by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514, before being "gifted" in 1528 to King Henry VIII. In the 17th century famed architect Christopher Wren built an extension, and the palace served as home to the Stuart kings. The last monarch to reside at Hampton Court was George II; Queen Victoria opened it up to the public in 1838. We began our tour in the Tudor Kitchens:


Real meat being cooked in conditions a lot more sweltering than those of Tudor England, when Europe was in the midst of the Little Ice Age:



The King's Staircase, described by Lonely Planet as "a suitably bombastic prelude to the King's Apartments:



A few scenes from the apartments:







The Clock Court:



The Great Hall:




Steak-and-ale pie and lager for lunch:


The gardens, 24 hectares in size, are another highlight. I had a look while the girls took a break from the heat:








Any visit to Hampton Court has to conclude with getting lost in the 300-year-old maze:



The headline said it all as we rode a very stuffy train from Hampton Court back to Waterloo Station:


At my wife's urging, we visited Borough Market, where Shu-E and Amber tucked into a plate of Dorset scallops. "We fish it - We shoot it - We serve it":



Living with two native Mandarin speakers means I'm often interrupted before sentences are concluded and statements can reach their logical conclusions. If it isn't being expressed in Mandarin or Taiwanese, it isn't worth listening to, as reflected by the expression on my face:


It was after five by the time we finished at the market, and London Bridge was crowded with commuters heading to tube stations for their commutes home:



So we took a walk along the Thames in the direction of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in order to wait out the Monday evening rush hour queues:





In the end, we decided to have dinner just outside the Tower, at the Perkin Reveller. Fish-and-chips is best eaten from takeaway corner shops, wrapped in newspaper and applied with liberal does of malt vinegar, but the upscale version was also acceptable:



The view from our table:


London old and new:


That evening, after returning to our hotel, I took a long walk, making it back to the Thames and savoring my own Ray Davies moment:





London, my late mother's hometown...









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