Saturday, 23 October 2010


The half-term school holiday has come round quickly and yesterday we decided to visit London and Belfast, all in the same day, without leaving England. One of the benefits of being a Daily Telegraph subscriber is that I receive certain special offers. One was the opportunity of joint membership of the Imperial War Museum for the price of a single membership (£35). With children under sixteen entering free, this gives us the opportunity to visit the IWM museum sites in London and at Duxford (Cambridge) plus the Churchill War Rooms and HMS Belfast in London for a relatively modest outlay.

So yesterday we set off down to London on the train. The first bit of good news was, that when asking for two adults and a child off-peak tickets, the nice man at Marks Tey station said that we could have up to four adult tickets for the price of two, with Troy Junior effectively travelling free on the third adult ticket. So that was useful saving; and worth knowing for the future.

Although I used to commute into central London on a daily basis, yesterday was the first time this year that I've ventured into our metropolis. I was surprised to see three new buildings - the Heron Tower close to where I used to work on Bishopsgate, the beginnings of The Pinnacle also on Bishopsgate and The Shard being built near London Bridge. We took some photos of the work in progress. Here's the start of The Pinnacle with the completed Heron Tower in the foreground:-

And here is the The Shard in progress:-

A few people were hanging around the construction. We thought that rather than trying to see in through the glass windows, that we would wait until the building was opened - that seems safer!

But the main purpose of the day was visiting HMS Belfast at its moorings between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

I've been before, on my own, several years ago when Troy Junior was just a toddler. There are many many sets of very steep stairs onboard so it seemed best to wait until Troy Junior was much older before taking him. At the age of nine he can also appreciate better other aspects of the museum. All in all, there are nine decks to visit on the ship, from the engine room to the bridge. Here's a view from the forward deck looking "aft"

and a photo of Troy Junior doing his best to stop the anchor blowing away.

[Sorry! Mrs Troy has insisted that I delete this photo of Troy Junior so replaced by this view from the bridge]

There are many realistic "tableaux" onboard, using dummies, for example in the ship's galley, an onboard surgery and an onboard dentist.

When Troy Junior was younger, he used to get quite spooked when museums used fully dressed dummies and wouldn't go anywhere near them. Another reason for leaving our visit to HMS Belfast until he was older.

All in all, a very enjoyable day out! This link will give you more information on HMS Belfast.


Trish said...

We took Rory a few years ago to HMS Belfast - a great afternoon! Isn't it funny with children and dummies. We once saw a shocking version of Marie Antoinette in Paris with such bad hair it scared the living daylights out of me.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh, I remember those stairs... took Eldest ages ago, aged about 9!
I too dont go to London that much now and am always flummoxed by how much new building goes on. Esp. when you suddenly see an enormous great building which seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
Glad you had a good day. We're off next Friday for our London day... might just do the same. xx

Potty days! said...

Don't think Mrs Troy will be too happy with a 'family' members photo on your blog!

Troy said...

Trish - hope this brought back good memories. I'm glad T.J. has got over his phobia of dummies.

LWM - Yes the stairs are tricky; going down backwards. I let T.J. go first so there would be something soft to fall on.

Potty Days - sure Mrs Troy will be happy now T.J.'s photo has been deleted.

Lane Mathias said...

Looks like a fun day out.

The free child train ticket is worth knowing for the future too. Thanks!

bantambabe said...

I'm with Troy re the "dressed dummies", having taken fright and run out of Madame Tussauds as a child, and I've never been back! However, the "dummies" apart, looks like you all had a great time! About 7 weeks ago we, too, found ourselves on Bishopsgate looking up at the Heron Tower, quite a sight!

Troy said...

Lane - this 4 adults tickets for the price of 2 is something I haven't seen advertised anywhere.

Bantambabe - as a child I used to be frightened of a statue of Queen Victoria (in Harrogate) and wouldn't walk past it!

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

It's years since I was last in London - your photographs were a lovely reminder.


Joe Stein said...

Troy, I also work near Bishopsgate, no, not banking or financial stuff, before I start getting hate mail. I’m just at the bit that turns into Shoreditch (well, I would be wouldn’t I?) so I’ve seen the Heron tower grow bit by bit. It always amazes me that these towers seem to be going nowhere at all for years, then suddenly they're almost finished. I know it’s all to do with foundations, etc. but it still surprises me.
HMS Belfast is great, the kids always love it and despite the fact London travel is so expensive, there’s still things you can go to and do for free, or at low cost here. You just have to find them.
(And no, I don't work for the tourist board either!)

Troy said...

Suzanne - I guess its a long trip for you but it is certainly worth a visit.

Joe - At one time I used to park my car at the Bishopsgate goods yard and we had a factory unit at the city end of Bethnal Green Road so I know that area well. Given the amount of taxes that bankers and others in the financial sector pay, they ought to get thank you cards rather than hate mail. Only a few like Sir Fred at RBS and those granting 125% mortgages at Northern Rock deserve to be treated as villains.

D.J. Kirkby said...

Looks like a hectic day out. I wouldn't like wax figures at all and don't think I'll chance taking N3S there for just that reason!

Catharine Withenay said...

And there was I thinking we could have bumped into each other ... only I was really in Belfast. Still - glad you had a great day out!

Troy said...

DJ - there are a lot of waxwork figures so you are probably wise to avoid.

Catharine - well I try to put a twist into my blog titles. I've never been to the city of Belfast or anywhere in Northern Ireland even though I share my surname with a town on the Ulster coast.

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