Mum & Greenwich…

17th October
Off to Greenwich. Before catching DLR at Bank, we dropped by Bank of England in order to sort out her out of circulation £50 notes. At the counter, she was requested to produce two kinds of identification with her home address. However, she only brought with her a passport. Her driving licence was left at home as she was worried about misplacing it. Upon finding out that no further form of identification could not be produced by mum, a young clerk shrugged his shoulders and left his desk to ask his superior if it was ok to process her application. After a brief chat with his boss, he returned with a smile and informed us that he would change the notes to current ones. Went without saying that mum & I greeted the news with a large sigh of relief. As we waited at the sofa in the middle, discussed how incredibly young the clerk who dealt with us. He looked barely old enough to be out of high school! Was he really young or had the portrait up in the attic? A silly thought.
After tidying up the business at Bank of England, headed to Greenwich via DLR. It was already noon when we arrived at Greenwich town centre. Decided to have lunch before it got crowded so opted for Jamie’s on Nelson Road.

Mum ordered pasta with fish ragu…

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And I had salad, Market Superfood Salad – avocado, fennel, beets, broccoli, cottage cheese, pomegranate, nuts & seeds. I also added free-range grilled chicken…

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A huge chicken breast was hiding underneath the salad. Mum’s eyes went wide as large as saucers when she saw the size of the salad. It was because eating salad as main dish in Japan was still uncommon.
After lunch, we headed to Royal Observatory. Walked through Greenwich Park and climbed up the hill. As it got nearer to the top, the path started to ascend more steeply and I was concerned if it was too much for mum’s knees. Had a breather and took a photo of her and Greenwich Palace in the distance…

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At the observatory, saw a room in which Samuel Pepys & Isaac Newton dined.
There were also numerous grandfather clocks on the display. A symbol of the progress of nautical navigation. Very impressive….

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Mum with Prime meridian…

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Then off to National Maritime Museum.
On the way to the museum, we encountered Mr.Squirrel at Greenwich Park…

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Mum was delighted because she hardly saw any squirrel in wild in Japan.

The National Maritime Museum was enormous in size and the amount of exhibits…

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And every one of items on display was accompanied by a very through explanation. The exhibition we enjoyed the most was “Ships, Clocks & Stars”. It was about the 18th century quest to solve the longitude problem. Very clever presentations captivated our attention throughout. Highly recommendable.
It was a shame that we couldn’t make it to Cutty Sark as the last entry to the venue was 4:30pm. The gift shop was still open and we could have a good view of the ship’s keel from there so took another snap of mum as well as from the outside.
At Old Street, we bought another pies & salad for dinner and walked home. Mum was especially tired because of we were on foot all afternoon…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Mum & The Abbey (& Churchill)…

16th October
We were off to Westminster Abbey. The weather had improved from the previous day but decided to take umbrellas anyway. From Old Street to London Bridge then changed to Jubilee Line for Westminster.

Mum & Westminster tube station…

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After paying for the tickets, we retrieved audio guides, a Japanese one for mum & an English for me. Despite a normal weekday, the place was busy with tourists. How much more crowded could this place be during the summer, couldn’t help wondering. Hours of queuing at the ticket office and then wriggling through the crowds to catch a glimpse of the tombs, hardly a fanciful prospect?
The audio guide was brilliant. A very thorough explanation was given at each spot. And we were even given a chance to participate in their noon prayer.

Mum at North cloister…

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A stained glass window at Chapter House…

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& their beautiful ceiling…

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Mum with their beautifully restored painted wall…

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Then, we made a beeline to the abbey’s cafe for lunch. On the menu, there was afternoon tea so opted for it. It was a usual affair – 2 scones with jam & clotted cream, 3 slices of finger sandwiches & 3 small cakes…

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For someone like us who weren’t particularly sweet tooth, those pastries were more than enough and, as the result, ended up leaving a scone each on the plate intact. Upon leaving our table, a middle age women at the next table asked us if we were to ask for a doggie bag for the leftover scones. Explained to her that we had enough of baked treats for the day, and, therefore, wouldn’t want to see the sight of it for sometimes. Then she said with a huge grin, ‘Can we have them then? It’s such a shame to waste it!’ Fair enough, handed over our scones to her while a waiter looked on our transaction gingerly. It was my business alone what I did with the scones I paid for, I reasoned. After browsing the abbey’s gift shop, moved on to the Cabinet War Room exhibition on King Charles Street off Whitehall.

Mum at Parliament Square…

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Amongst numerous exhibits, we saw the jacket worn by Winston Churchill himself which sported a noticeably wide girth. He must have been a portly man, we giggled. Upon emerging from the underground bunker, noticed the rain was stopped finally and we made our way home. At Old Street station concourse, we bought pies & salad for dinner…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

11am, The 11th, November…

A very poignant moment, indeed.
Last Friday, I went to Tower of London to see the poppies.
A moat carpeted by the sea of red poppies greeted me as I approached it from the Tower Hill end…

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It was a spine-tingling sight.
An every single poppy represented a solider who lost his life during WWl. The thought dug into my heart and I felt an acute pain. And probably, my reaction was not an unique one as I could see many other visitors were gazing at the sight in a contemplated manner…

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The young men whose flame of life was violently extinguished in the battlefields…

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What was their final thought as they laid dying on unfriendly, lonely, barren no-man’s-land? The thought pained me as I looked their proud and determined faces. The only thing I could say to them in my heart was ‘I am very sorry. Please rest in peace…’

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The Armistice installation at Tower of London was undoubtedly the best and most powerful artwork I had ever seen in my life. However, it was not because of how it was executed but what the installation represented and what message it intended to convey. The sacrifices made by the soldiers and their loved ones should never be forgotten. The message and the sight of the poppies were etched on my heart forever…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Mum & River Bus…

11th October
To Tate Britain for Late Turner exhibition with mum & Paul. Lunched at their cafe, sharing a table outside with two ladies from Kent – discussed about the by-election won by UKIP.
The exhibition was impressive. Saw the real painting of the raging seascape, titled “Snowstorm”, allegedly produced by Mr.Turner tying himself to the mast of a ship. Lots of watercolour sketches produced during his European trips. Fantastic works with light and abstraction. We all gushed how very much we looked forward to watching the film “Mr. Turner”.
Fancied tea & cake but found the cafe was packed and therefore, decided to move onto Tate Modern via river bus. Only after 10 minutes wait, a river bus arrived and we were all aboard. Mum enjoyed a riverside view greatly…

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Then, we alighted by Glove Theatre and walked along Bankside which was choking with pedestrians.
After waiting in the queue at Tate’s ground floor cafe, we were seated at the table by the window. To accompany our latte, we ordered mango tart for mum, raspberry macaroon for me & banana cake for Paul…

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Then, off to the third floor gallery for the Malevich exhibition. Enjoyed refreshingly avant-garde arts by Kazimir Malevich during the period between the post-revolution and pre-Stalin…

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Came home by cab and went to the Eagle for dinner. We all tucked in their fish & chips & beer…

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Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Mum & (old) Rolling Stocks…

Sorry for deserting the blog yet again for a long time. After mum had returned to Japan, I had a few knitting projects to go through as well as getting my fitness level back for the coming hockey season and, therefore, my plate had been laden rather heavily. However, I kept my journal during the absence and I would like to share it instead of writing a bland new blog post.

10th October
We were off to London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Had known about this museum for ages but never had an opportunity or excuse to visit. So very glad that mum were willing to get onboard!
Saw a large sculpture at the Piazza. How it was held up, had no idea…

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At the entrance of the museum, we saw a large Tokyo subway map printed on the wall and mum was very excited. ‘Take a photo of me & the map!’, she begged…

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Loads of old rolling stocks were on display.
When I moved to London in the early 90s, smoking on the public transport was still permitted, the double-deckers were free to hop on & off from the rear, and the train doors were not automatic but self-service slamming doors which let passengers hang on in daring & nonchalant style while the train glided into the station. Hooray to all the relics of pre- health & safety madness! While in & out of the trains & buses, I reminisced about London which no longer existed…

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Then off to their gift shop as mum needed an inspiration for gift ideas for her friends in Japan. After much pacing back and fro between the aisles, she settled on 12 double-decker fridge magnets. Together with them, she also bought a tea towel and two trays.
For lunch, we decided upon tartine at one of the restaurants at the Piazza. The tartine was rather tough to cut but it tasted good…

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After lunch, we shopped at COS on Long Acre and mum bought a zipped knit blouson which suited her well…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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