Month: May 2017
Eating Out in London
London visitor surveys have shown that food, surprisingly, only gets a 46% satisfaction rate. This, despite the fact that London has some of the best cuisine in the world, certainly the most diverse.
Many London visitors choose a vacation rental so they can self-cater for some of their meals. But whether you eat out only one or twice, or you go out for every meal, some prior planning will make for a much more enjoyable experience.
London has over 7,000 restaurants covering all styles, cuisines and price ranges. Invariably some will disappoint, some will be over-priced, some will have poor service, some will be over-crowded.
So, rather than take pot-luck and dive into the nearest establishment to where you happen to be at the time, plan ahead, look for the hidden (or not so hidden) gems that will give you a memorable experience rather than just provide fuel. These places need not be expensive, just good.
How to find them? Use a good restaurant guide, here are a few:
Hardens – The Gastronome’s Bible! Generally very reliable, you can search by location, price, type of cuisine facilities, number of reviews.
Square Meal – also searchable by price and cuisine.
You will of course sometimes get good fare from a fast food operator, but you’re more likely not to be disappointed if you do some prior research remembering the old axiom: “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”
ROYAL BRITAIN – CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The sentries that look after Buckingham Palace are called The Queen’s Guard and are made up of soldiers from the Household Division’s five regiments of Foot Guards. The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats. Although undertaking such ceremonial duties, these are regular soldiers in the British Army, who serve normal tours of duty in parts of the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the minds of the majority of people, the ceremony of Changing the Guard is associated solely with Buckingham Palace but it actually takes place between three locations – Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks.
Also known as Guard Mounting the ceremony takes place outside Buckingham Palace from 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11am. The Buckingham Palace Old Guard forms up in the palace’s forecourt from 10.30am and is joined by the St James’s Palace Old Guard at around 10.45am. The New Guard then arrives from Wellington Barracks and takes over the responsibilities of the Old Guard in a formal ceremony accompanied by music. The Old and New Guards ‘Present Arms’ before the Captains of the Guard ceremoniously hand over the Palace keys. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the security of the Palace’s from the Old to the New Guard who will then be The Queen’s Guard until relieved.
The ceremony is free to watch and currently takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, weather permitting. There is no ceremony on days when large events are held in the city centre. The ceremony schedule should be checked on the Household Division’s website before planning a visit. Being a very popular event, it is also necessary to arrive early to secure a spot with a good view.
To check the schedule go to www.householddivision.org.uk/changing-the-guard-calendar
For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london
London for Free (part 1 of 2)
Unlike the museums and art galleries of most capital cities, in London, among other attractions, they are free!
Well known among these gems are The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The British Museum and Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens.
Here are some lesser known, but just as interesting, free attractions:
The Bank of England Museum
It may not explain how the banking profession got into the mess it’s in now, but the museum dedicated to the profession is still worth a visit. Vintage bank notes, art work and antique furniture from the bank make for a small but dense collection. Current exhibitions include one on Gold – and the opportunity to lift up a solid gold bar!
Visiting a foreign city is always fun but so much more enjoyable if you have people to stay with, who will look after you well, give you advice on anything you are interested in doing or seeing, but leave you alone to do your own thing. But finding a good and friendly bed and breakfast with a kitchen in London can be a nightmare – you can easily end up in a cheap and nasty down-market hotel, or find yourself living embarrassingly close to the owners of a private house and your fellow guests.
The Coach House, which is in a quiet, safe, fashionable part of town is a bed and breakfast with a difference.
There’s still some summer availability at The Coach House, but you’ll need to be quick.
LONDON FOR FREE – TATE BRITAIN
Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art from 1500 until the present day. Some of the Gallery’s more modern works from the start of the twentieth century were transferred in 2000 to the new Tate Modern Gallery, which was established in the converted power Bankside Power Station.
The Tate Britain collection was first opened to the public in 1897 in a specially constructed gallery, which is situated on the banks of the River Thames at Millbank and which is about ten minutes walk from the Houses of Parliament. The Gallery was originally named the National Gallery of British Art but from the start it was commonly known as the Tate Gallery after its founder Sir Henry Tate.
Housing a substantial collection of the art of the United Kingdom from Tudor times, it is the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world Works in the permanent Tate collection, which are usually on display in the Gallery, include works by Constable, William Blake, Millais and Whistler. In particular there is a large holdings of the works of J. M.W. Turner, who bequeathed to the nation all his own paintings, which were still in his possession at the time of his death. More recent artists include David Hockney, Peter Blake and Francis Bacon.
The Gallery also stages many specialist exhibitions, for which entrance fees are charged. It is recommended that any special exhibition is pre-booked. Currently there is an exhibition devoted to the works of David Hockney, which ends on 29th May.
Another exhibition entitled Queer British Art 1861 – 1967 will run until 1st October. It features works relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans identities. On display are paintings, drawings, personal photographs and film from artists such as John Singer Sargent, Dora Carrington, Duncan Grant and David Hockney. These works celebrate the diversity of ‘queer’ British art as never before.
For further information go to www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain
For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london