Tag Archives: History

Round and Round

We arrived in London about midday and from the train station headed straight to our Hotel by the British Museum.

The Morgan, where we stayed in London

It was really handy to everything and only a block or so away from two of the Tube stations from significant lines.

The British Museum just around the corner

The next morning, we headed up the road to a bus stop for the Hop on Hop off bus or as many call it, “The round and round bus”. Armed with our London pass, we headed off down into the London traffic on an open top Double Decker bus and it was great.

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St Pauls from the traffic !

Down to Trafalgar Square and then we went left along the Strand and then to Fleet St. Here we hit the traffic and didn’t move for about 20 minutes!! It eventually let us past St Pauls and not long after that, we ended up at The Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.

From the Tower Bridge

Once we got across the Tower Bridge we hit the traffic again. It was almost gridlock and I think it took about an hour to get through to Southhampton bridge which is near where the London eye is.

There is a lot of construction going on down there with several new apartments blocks going up.

House of Parliament

We got across to Westminster where we got off the bus and headed for the Cathedral.

Fiona outside Westminster Abbey

What an amazing building and it just oozes history.

The audio tour is great and a must do but both Fiona and I struggled to understand what we were looking at as the Audio tour didn’t really line up with the map very well. We got there in the end and it was time to find a pub for lunch.

Just around the corner in Parliament St was the Red Lion pub which had an upstairs dining room. I had the biggest Cod and chips with mushy peas I’ve ever seen in my life with an English beer.
The fish was fantastic, the beer was fine.. it was called Londons Pride but not being a big beer drinker I was really just interested in a taste. I think I prefer Heinekin as far as beer goes.
Great service, resonable prices and nice food.. This was the first time I’ve had mushy peas and I loved them. Fiona had a chicken salad and that was great too. .. washed down with a quality English cider which neither of us can remember the name of.

The Household cavalry Museum

We left here looking for the Churchill War room but the queue was so long and in the heatwave sun, we decided to flag it and while Fiona headed for the Household Cavalry Museum, I headed towards the Marble Arch and got some images of Buckingham Palace and the arch itself.

Marble Arch

The Household Cavalry has a close association with the Coldstream Guards. Fiona’s dad served in Malaya with the Coldstream Guards under the then CO Sir Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Anstruther who Rafe is named after.

Buckingham Palace down the Mall

Fiona caught up with me at the Charing Cross tube station and we both headed back to the Hotel. It was hot. They were talking 30C! so we were pleased to get back to the air conditioning.

A good day and the bus is definitely the best way to see London.

Little Downham

One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

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The church at the end of the road

At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.

The Church

One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!

Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. “Oh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere 🙂 Good story anyway!!

Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.

Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.

I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.

The man at the Ministers Tavern

We were early to check in to the Lamb Hotel so we went for a wander around Ely...After checking out the Cathedral which is massive, we headed down the main street towards a market.

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Inside the cathedral

The buildings are amazing and the streetscapes just sensational. Everywhere you looked, there was a piccy.

The cathedral at Ely

We ended up in a pub called the Ministers Tavern right opposite from the cathedral and the Lamb Hotel along the road a bit. The barman was wearing a Lions rugby jersey and when I asked for a Chardy, he described it as cheap aussie stuff so I was really pleased to be able to tell him we were Kiwis but I’m sure he knew anyway.

Our friendly barman with the Lions jersey.

He was more interested in telling us that the Lions beat the Maoris with a huge smile on his face.
We talked briefly about the Lions tour and he was a real rugby follower. Nice guy too. He was pleased when I told him that the cheap Aussie Chardy was actually quite nice! It was the only Chardy he had! We checked in at a wine shop around the corner and they seemed to be light on the Chardonnay offerings too.

It was too hot for wandering around much more so we went back to the Hotel for a blob.

Trains past Baker Street

The night we’ve been packing for finally rolled around and we were off to the airport for our almost midnight flight to Singapore from Auckland. We’d dropped the car off with daughter in law, Sarah earlier in the day and caught a shuttle to the airport.

What we didn’t know was that both of our sons, Drew, his girlfriend Jenna and Alex were on the same flight up from Wellington. We could have driven our car to the airport and they could have driven it home.. never mind. The shuttle was booked and paid for and it was too hard to undo.

At Singapore with our A380 about to take us to London

We left Auckland at 11:55 and about 2am, we both finally got some sleep. I find it really hard to sleep on a plane and dozy bouts is as good as it gets. I end up tired and grumpy at the other end and after a decent sleep, I’m right again:-)

Arriving at Changi at 6:30 odd, we had two hours before the next flight left at 9am. .. 13 hours !!

Both flights was pretty good though. I was watching the flight track and it was interesting to see that we flew over India and then up through Tajikistan and across to Moscow, out to the Baltic sea past Vilnius and then down to the English channel to Heathrow. .. well clear of the trouble spots!

The terminal transfer Train

Arriving at Heathrow was a doddle and what a massive airport. 5 Terminals all connected by trains in tunnels and you walk for miles between things.

Just to get our luggage was a hike through several buildings. I was expecting to get our bag and then go through Immigration. Not here.. you get in a queue, yep, they love their queues and once through Immigration, you get your bag. There wasn’t any customs that I could see.. we simply walked out, amazing. The immigration guy was a great guy and was more interested in having a chat about some of the strange photos he’d seen of people coming through than holding up a big queue 🙂 .. nice guy.

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We were both knackered and made our way straight to the airport Hilton (terminal 4) where we were booked for the night and crashed.

At Paddington with the amazing roof

The next morning, we were up early and caught a train to Terminal 3 where we caught an Express train into Paddington station.

People going for it at Paddington

Paddington is amazing with one of the big wired WW2 looking hanger structures over the whole platform area. Just like you see in all the old movies. Great for piccies so I took a few here. It was busy too with people everywhere.

We caught another train from here to Kings Cross and then changed again to catch our prepaid train to Ely. Kings Cross station is very like Paddington with the huge Hanger like look .. amazing.

A visitor from Hawkes Bay checking out the Baker street sign

On the way to Cambridge was the Baker Street stop. My immediate thought was  Sherlock. When we stopped, the double entrance doors perfectly lined up for the Baker Street signs and while I took a piccy a young girl wandered into the shot to photograph it herself.. all this without getting out of my seat ! My lucky day.

After lunch, we rocked into Ely.  A few trains, cabs and stuff but we’re here and its fantastic.

The Mission Estate

Leaving Kerikeri and heading west, I stumbled over the Mission House at Waimate. An amazing old house built by Maoris under the direction of Rev Samuel Marsden in 1832, the idea was to teach local Maori some of the European tricks of building and farming.

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The Mission House

As I came into the carpark, there was one spot next to the Church entrance where I could back Rafe in and leave the front wheels on the gravel.

Rafe parked by the doorway!

The church is fascinating with some of the oldest graves you’re likely to see anywhere. There is one spectacular gravestone what must have been a local chief or Kamatua that looks well looked after. It must be of some significance but there was no one around to ask about it.

Not sure whos grave this is but its impressive

After this, I went into the house. I’m a real sucker for things old and well looked after so this was really interesting. There was even an old woodturning Lathe there too.

Its amazing how well it was built given the construction methods of the day. The stairs were crazy. You’d never get away with those today 🙂

The living room

Well worth a visit and only $10 a head to have a good wander around.

Staying in a Train

I rocked in to the Dargaville Campervan Park and Cabins and was immediately greeted by Donna leaping out of her live in caravan with a big welcome.  She was fantastic. She and her husband Vic have been managing the Park for some time now and love it.

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Being the only Motorhome in the park in the middle of the week, she suggested I could park anywhere. Unique to this park are a couple of the parks that have an ensuite cabin for Motorhomes where you can park next door and have exclusive use of your own private shower and bathroom for the duration of your stay. The cost of my parking was $18 for the night on my own but on gravel and the bathroom facilities are amazing. There is also a dump station available.

Rafe parked next to an Ensuite

Around the outside of the Motorhome parking are about 10 “cabins” which are actually ex NZ Railways Good wagons converted to accomodation and done really well. With decks attached, small kitchenettes and full bathrooms, they’re fantatsic.

The park is right in the centre of town and with Countdown and the Warehouse at the end of the road, makes it very handy to everything.

You can’t beat the welcome from Donna and its a very comfortable place to stay in the centre of a neat town.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Dargaville at the top of the map

Historical Parking with a View

One of the places I’ve been wanting to check out while in Dargaville was the Museum at the top of the hill. The GPS was giving me strange messages that it wasn’t available but it seems they’ve changed the roading to get there. My GPS just didn’t know wbaout it!

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Dargaville from the Museum

Up the hill overlooking Dargaville is the Museum which provides Motorhome parking and also has a dump station and some outside Toilets near the parking with the most amazing view over the Dargaville area.

Museum parking

I had a quick nosey through the museum and it is amazing how much happened in this area with the river and shipping. The Gum Digging history is well documented too along with the Dalmation settlers who largely were involved with the Kauri Gum industry.

Its a great wee town Dargaville, lots to see and plenty of places to stay.

One of the murals on the wall of the Dargaville Museum

This would be one of the premo places to park for a night or two and the Museum is a must do too.