Regular readers might have noted that things have been a little quiet on this blog for a while. The reason is pretty straightforward…I am away from my toys and paints in foreign lands.
For our annual winter holiday this year we have travelled almost exactly half way around the globe to London before we head across to eastern France where amongst other things we will be visiting four of the Franco-Prussian War battlefields.
While I have transited London on several occasions in recent years I haven’t spent any significant time in the city for thirty years. I did have a brief stop here in 2008 on the way back from a meeting in Lisbon, but that was just an afternoon and an evening before a meeting the next morning and flying home that afternoon so I would hardly rate that more as any sort of time in the place. This time we have nine days in the city. This "Report from the Front" will focus on the military rather than the many cultural activities of the trip.
Arriving on the Saturday in sunny weather with 32C temperatures we had a bit of a wander around near the hotel, down through Waterloo Square where the Guards Crimea monument took my attention.
We soon found ourselves near Westminster Bridge, where the crowds were so suffocating that we quickly retreated to the hotel bar before turning in early.
The schedule for Sunday had us visiting the Palace. Regrettably the Queen was not at home but we had a good look through her place anyway. We caught the Changing of the Guard along with what seemed like five million others.
The Queen's Gallery had a display of the gifts brought back by the Prince Of Wales on his visit to India in 1875. One item was this collection of 18th Century brass model soldiers, presented to the Prince by the Raja of Peddapuram.
The next day, Monday, we made for the Tower of London. We got there early...right on opening time actually and managed to beat not only most of the tour groups but also the real heat of the day. Her indoors wanted to see the the crown jewels, but I wanted to see the collections in the White Tower, with the medieval and ECW armour to the wall of cuirasses from the field of Waterloo.
Next on the list was Hampton Court. There in the apartments of William III was a room where the walls were covered with maginificent displays of captured muskets, pistols, swords, daggers, pikes, armour and bayonets.
On the way back to the hotel we detoured to the National Army Museum, with which I was sadly disappointed. The only point of interest for me was the Siborne model of the Waterloo battlefield.
Next on the agenda was the Churchill War Rooms and Guards Museum. The weather had changed and it was a chilly 17C and raining. I was dubious about the War rooms. The entry fee was £21.00 and there did not seem to be a lot to see...until we entered the Winston Churchill Museum that is. This place was a mine of information and well worth the visit.
Next up was the Guards Museum. I had no trouble in getting her indoors to agree to go since her maternal grandfather served in the Coldstreams. What a great adults museum this is, not dumbed down to child level and it made up for the disappointment at the National Army Museum, although sadly no photography was permitted. Having completed guards units for my Crimean and Egyptian armies, it was great to see artefacts, uniforms and weapons from those eras in the flesh.
Our Friday morning was spent in Greenwich where we went through the Maritime Museum. Again I have to grumble about the dumbed down displays, clearly designed to let primary school children complete their school projects or rush the tour groups through in 20 minutes, but completely ignoring those with a level of intelect that allows them to discover things for themselves. I did find a few thing of interest like Nelson's coat and a painting of a certain Frenchman surrendering to the British on HMS .