Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday 24 September - Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge

 We took Docklands Light Railway from Tower Hill running alongside the electric line to Southend and Shoeburyness.  I fired steam passenger trains along this stretch.  Coming in I had to make sure there was enough fire to keep the steam up for the brakes to be fully charged coming into the stub end station at Fenchurch Street but not too much because we were not allowed to make smoke or blow off steam in the station. Coming out I had to have a good fire for the run back to the coast.
The Cutty Sark is magnificent. The vessel has been extremely well restored but it is also shown in an interesting manner. The whole  vessel has been raised so that one can walk around underneath it and sit with  a drink. The explanations were well done and very interesting.
There was some frigging in the rigging
We then moved back to Tower Hill to see Tower Bridge. The weather was fine and we were taking pictures from the side when a tourist mentioned that the bridge was about to be raised. A tall ships sail training boat came up with the crew ranged all over the boat and singing a special chant.

A couple of beers with scratchings was lunch at the Anchor and Tap, a good pub close by. No music, no TV, no games - just good beer and conversation.
We then took the tour of Tower Bridge. It allowed us to walk across the top section and the exhibit of other famous bridges was interesting. However the tour of the engines was good but the explanations were facile. Museums tend to dumb down their exhibits and try to make them into a learning experience.

 The Millenium Bridge was good and there are good views in both directions. We finished up at St. Pauls and took the Underground back to the hotel.
Dinner this evening was at the Stanhope Arms including a  Black Sheep  brewery Four Square ale.

Tuesday 23 September- Sevenoaks, Knole House and Deer Park

Took train to Sevenoaks changing at Orpington.  There was a steep climb up into the town but a latte helped.
We saw several deer before we reached the visitor centre. The house was interesting but many of the room were dark because of the dark wood and to conserve the delicate fabrics. The gardens were very interesting, they are only open on Tuesdays during the summer. The flower gardens had splashes of colour and the vegetable garden was very formal with privet hedges and lawns.
Vegetable garden
After a light lunch we walked through the deer park.  The grounds extend for miles and we came across several groups of deer.  Most were in small groups of does and fawns but we came across a stag with large antlers.

We walked through a grove of chestnut trees and the fruit was ready
The walk back to the station was fortified by a Shepherd Neames Spitfire bitter and we came back via Blackfriars to see the new station which has entrances on both sides of the Thames.  The concourse and circulating areas are excellent, well signposted and easy to use.
Dinner was at an Indian restaurant not very good.