Helpful ReplyHot!Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland

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Davydd
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 12:15:12 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

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Ralph, I usually end up in Plymouth for work at the Devon dockyards but then venture out to Polpero and Looe at the weekends. Looe has the best Cornish pastys I have ever eaten. This is where I discovered the joys of cider. Unfortunately the Strongbow I buy at HEB is a poor second. 


I never found an opportunity to eat a Cornish pasty in our trip, unfortunately. We did drink quite a lot of cider - but we had trouble finding local cider brands; a few large brands seemed to be present everywhere.

Our 15 day London/England/Wales trip was almost exactly 10 years ago so I too get to relive a lot through you. We bought our one and only pasty in a bakery in Dogellau, Wales for our lunch in climbing Cader Idris Mountain nearby, the second tallest mountain on the British Isles after Mount Snowdon which we also ascended, but by rail.
 
My drink of choice was Guinness in hitting 20 pubs in those 15 days and seeking out either the most famous, significant or oldest pub in a town. The seek dispelled the myth Guinness was served warm or room temperature. Every single one was refrigerated. When we got to Dogellau, Wales we stayed at Doseral Hall, a country inn on my ancestor's lands. There, they were out of Guinness so the proprietor introduced me to Boddingtons Pub Ale and I have been a fan ever since.
 
Our trip was all self-directed. We spent the first 5 days in London, the middle 5 days at a hotel on Monkey Island in the middle of the Thames River near Bray on Thames, and the third leg at Doseral Hall. We rented a car after the London leg and used the other two places as a base for day trips.
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leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 12:38:58 (permalink)
When I go to England, rather than drink what is readily available in the states, I try the countless small companies that abound in England....most are excellent. You can hit 5-6 pubs on one block, and find different selections in each, a beer drinkers paradise!  Like Bottringtons, you probably missed so very many you might have loved.....when in Rome......!
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Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 12:40:28 (permalink)
"Hard" cider in England's West Country is called "Scrumpy"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrumpy
http://www.somersetmade.c...mp/ciderfarm-index.php
post edited by Twinwillow - 2014/06/23 12:42:34
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brisketboy
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 14:10:45 (permalink)
There is a lovely little town at Land's End near the Titangel Castle ruins (supposedly Arthur's birthplace) where I found this cheery old pub with a thatched roof and had my first Scrumpy and have been loving it ever since. One of the places we stayed was the Langdon Court which is an old manor house converted to a 15 room hotel. There was one room dedicated to Lilly Langtree who used to stay there as the story goes. Since we were there for two months we got on quite well with the owner who showed us the cellar where the beer kegs used to be stored to keep them cool. 
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mlm
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 14:43:57 (permalink)
Looks like St. Stephen's Pub is trying to preserve the image of lousy British Food. Blah. What did they do to those eggs? Looks like the yolk completely seperated from the white of the one. Maybe you'd be better off with a sandwich or a Ploughman's Lunch. How badly can you screw that up? Famous last words..? 
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Foodbme
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 15:56:42 (permalink)
There was a show on PBS last night about all the things that are under the City of London besides the subway lines. It was fascinating! Did you see any of those places? Like the Silver Vault? http://silvervaultslondon.com/
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Davydd
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 16:46:10 (permalink)
leethebard

When I go to England, rather than drink what is readily available in the states, I try the countless small companies that abound in England....most are excellent. You can hit 5-6 pubs on one block, and find different selections in each, a beer drinkers paradise!  Like Bottringtons, you probably missed so very many you might have loved.....when in Rome......!

I'm very much aware of that. I was on a mission to test Guinness when I was constantly reading it was served warm and it was better on the Island than the United States. I can unequivocally say bunk to that. I drank the house local every chance I could as well. A fresh Guinness is still one of the most satisfying stouts one can drink. A good stout seems hard to brew. If a craft brewer is going to screw up it will generally be with a stout, IMO.
 
Unfortunately ten years ago I wasn't into photographing the food we ate. My photos ran to scenery, castles, buildings and such.
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Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 18:57:47 (permalink)
Foodbme

There was a show on PBS last night about all the things that are under the City of London besides the subway lines. It was fascinating! Did you see any of those places? Like the Silver Vault? http://silvervaultslondon.com/

Hah! Now you're speaking my language. As we were primarily antique silver dealers, we knew and bought from most all the better dealers in London's Silver Vaults.
The things we bought were never on display. Those items were for "the tourists".
Because of my association with the London Silver Vaults, I plagiarized the name and named our retail silver shop in Dallas, "Silver Vault". We were open for 25 great years.
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Foodbme
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/23 20:53:14 (permalink)
Twinwillow

Foodbme

There was a show on PBS last night about all the things that are under the City of London besides the subway lines. It was fascinating! Did you see any of those places? Like the Silver Vault? http://silvervaultslondon.com/

Hah! Now you're speaking my language. As we were primarily antique silver dealers, we knew and bought from most all the better dealers in London's Silver Vaults.
The things we bought were never on display. Those items were for "the tourists".
Because of my association with the London Silver Vaults, I plagiarized the name and named our retail silver shop in Dallas, "Silver Vault". We were open for 25 great years.

Small World!
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 13:55:30 (permalink)
leethebard

When I go to England, rather than drink what is readily available in the states, I try the countless small companies that abound in England....most are excellent. You can hit 5-6 pubs on one block, and find different selections in each, a beer drinkers paradise!  Like Bottringtons, you probably missed so very many you might have loved.....when in Rome......!

 
We tried to do that, but we found it surprisingly difficult. Ireland in particular seemed to have the same selection in every bar: Guinness, Bud Light, and Heineken - not always Guinness, but always Bud Light and Heineken.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 14:02:46 (permalink)
Davydd
I'm very much aware of that. I was on a mission to test Guinness when I was constantly reading it was served warm and it was better on the Island than the United States. I can unequivocally say bunk to that. I drank the house local every chance I could as well. A fresh Guinness is still one of the most satisfying stouts one can drink. A good stout seems hard to brew. If a craft brewer is going to screw up it will generally be with a stout, IMO.

 
I had also heard that the Guinness in Ireland was so much better than the Guinness in the US. I noticed no difference myself. I even drank a Guinness at home the day after we returned to compare them as closely as possible, but noticed no difference. (Of course, I have a very coarse palate; it is plausible that there are differences I did not notice.)
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 15:15:03 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

Ireland in particular seemed to have the same selection in every bar: Guinness, Bud Light, and Heineken - not always Guinness, but always Bud Light and Heineken.
A friend of mine visited Ireland a number of years ago and was similarly surprised at the prevalence of Budweiser and Bud Light.  Unfortunately I can't remember if his visit was before or after InBev took over Anheuser-Busch so I can't claim it as a factor.
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 16:56:23 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

Davydd
I'm very much aware of that. I was on a mission to test Guinness when I was constantly reading it was served warm and it was better on the Island than the United States. I can unequivocally say bunk to that. I drank the house local every chance I could as well. A fresh Guinness is still one of the most satisfying stouts one can drink. A good stout seems hard to brew. If a craft brewer is going to screw up it will generally be with a stout, IMO.


I had also heard that the Guinness in Ireland was so much better than the Guinness in the US. I noticed no difference myself. I even drank a Guinness at home the day after we returned to compare them as closely as possible, but noticed no difference. (Of course, I have a very coarse palate; it is plausible that there are differences I did not notice.)


A Rugby story is...........When the English/Ireland game is in Dublin, there is a bar called Kitty O'Shea's.  Because the Guiness there is so thick, the bar can't keep up with the initial surge after the game.so........pre hordes..they fill a huge array of pints 1/2 to 2/3rds full and stack them pyramid style, behind the bar. Then as "the boys" descend for song and libation, they top each off.
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 18:18:44 (permalink)
A couple of my thoughts on what Ralph's posted so far (I am Lori, aka "Ralph's wife.)
 
The Artful Dodger is alive and well in London...and got my phone out of my purse without me noticing it. I felt stupid, but was assured by many folks that it happens all the time and the thieves are very good at what they do. I was at least glad I'd put a lock code on it. I still changed every password I thought might have been relevant, just to be safe.
 
I quite enjoyed my Sunday roast (beef) at The Prospect of Whitby, and the summer berry pudding was delightful, as was much of our trip. 
 
I really enjoyed soaking in as much of London's history as I could while we were there. It is a fascinating city! 
 
The British Museum would take a year to see well, I think. And the Millionaire Shortbread at the cart outside the British Museum is to die for! So was the nitrogen ice cream we had at the Camden Market. The ice cream's texture was perfect - soft but not quite melting, and a very creamy taste and feel. 
 
Now I want to go back! 
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 18:29:28 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken
Ralph Melton Ireland in particular seemed to have the same selection in every bar: Guinness, Bud Light, and Heineken - not always Guinness, but always Bud Light and Heineken.
A friend of mine visited Ireland a number of years ago and was similarly surprised at the prevalence of Budweiser and Bud Light.
The real surprise was the propensity of the natives to order Bud Light over the local brews.  If not for the tourists, there might not be anyone drinking Guinness in the pubs.
 
Buddy
post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2014/06/24 18:30:37
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Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 18:54:50 (permalink)
......Enjoying every comment on this lovely thread.
Thank you, Ralph & Lori.
 
I'd also like to add, I too never noticed any differences between Guinness served in England, Ireland, or the USA.
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lleechef
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 19:02:21 (permalink)
Great trip report Ralph and Lori!  Sorry you got hit by a pick-pocket, Lori.  When I lived in Paris I never carried a purse.....unfortunately Europe is known for this. 
Did you drink any Smithwick's???  I prefer it to Guinness stout.
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CCJPO
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/24 23:22:30 (permalink)
I think the Irish have a taste for imported beer. I am looking forward to the Ireland portion of the trip report. We have a small place out side of Moycullen, which is a small village outside of Galway. It was passed to us by my beautiful brides parents by way of her mothers' mother. They of the O Docrhaide clan of County Mayo and the d'Arcy Clan of south eastern Ireland. How they connected is a whole story, in and of itself. We spend at least a month there in the late fall or early spring. I, my self think that there is a great difference between the taste of Guinness in Ireland and Guinness in the states. Maybe it is in the difference in the freshness and travel distance, or perhaps the draw and serve times. While I enjoy Guinness, I do prefer Smithwicks - aka Smiddicks when I am in Ireland. Just my humble opinion.
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mamaduck43
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/25 09:46:20 (permalink)
I was fortunate enough to live in the UK for 3 years when my ex was stationed at RAF Mildenhall...  We lived in Suffolk County for one year and Norfolk County for 2 years....  We were fortunate enough to be able to buy petrol at US prices and we found ourselves traveling (mostly to London - 90 miles south) almost every weekend...  We loved the people, the food, the drink and just about everything about the place and I would go back in a heartbeat - - even suffering through the flights each way - - if I could...
The day that I arrived, a welcoming committee took us to a local pub for lunch....  I had had a LONG flught, after a couple of sleepless nights and I delighted in my first Shepherd's Pie....  And since I was not really wanting to start my sampling of ale, someone suggested that I have a pint of cider!!!!  And another......  And another.....   I was able to walk to the car, but just barely, and being on the 'wrong' side of the road was so unsettling and 'weird' feeling, that I had to keep my eyes closed all the way home, so that when I got there, I had absolutely no idea of where I was...  That did become my pub drink of choice, because at that time, beer and all was still served at cellar temp and the cider was always chilled....  And it went well with my usual fare - - an always unique Ploughman's lunch.....  Now I am craving Branston Pickle!!!!   Sheesh....
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wallhd
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/25 12:11:54 (permalink)
Great report and pictures as well.

Wife and I went to the UK about 20 years ago and I loved the place.

If the Good Lord is willing (and the creeks don't rise, LOL) we are planning on going to the UK IN October after my "summer" retirement job ends.

The current plan is to go for about 3 weeks. My wife has a cousin who lives near Reading, so we expect to stay there some of the time (if they can put up with a couple of Yanks !!) and hotels the rest of the time.

We plan to purchase BritRail passes for getting to and fro.

Hopefully British food will be more exciting than on our previous visit. I found that I really liked the Cumberland Sausages just as Ralph and Lori did.

Wally
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FriedClamFanatic
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/25 17:04:13 (permalink)
Wall.a suggestion....if you're staying in Reading, you may want to grab a car for a few days. There's not a lot in reading but tons of marvelous places for easy day trips. The problem is not a lot of local train/bus service
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 13:00:17 (permalink)
Tuesday in London began with a trip to the Tower of London. One of my misconceptions was already dispelled by seeing it on Sunday: I had thought that the Tower of London would be much taller in proportion to its width.

 

One of the particularly fascinating bits of the Tower of London was the Beefeaters themselves. They are members of the armed forces, only eligible to become Beefeaters after twenty-two years of distinguished service. (There’s a lot of competition for the positions, also - our guide mentioned that there were 80 candidates applying for the most recent position.) So this guy who gave us our tour probably served in Afghanistan or Iraq in Bosnia (presumably in a different uniform). And if his service was more than usually distinguished, there’s a good chance that he saw combat then. It must be quite a transition to go from a life of combat-readiness to a life of guiding tours.


We took the extra tour to see the Crown Jewels, and it was well worth it. The United States really has nothing like them (which might be a virtue). They are well-presented, with a lot of historical context - and a moving walkway to keep people from gawking too long. Since they didn’t allow pictures, we ended up buying a book about the Crown Jewels.
 

As we were preparing to leave, we happened across an interactive drama happening in one corner of the Tower Grounds. A counterfeiter was being investigated, and eventually convicted and hanged. I’ve forgotten the name of the counterfeiter, but the Warden of the Mint who was investigating the crime was someone I’d heard of: Isaac Newton. Apparently he was given the job as a sinecure after his advances in physics - but he took the job very seriously and did an excellent job, including the Great Recoinage of 1696.


In retrospect, it should have been obvious: the Tower Bridge is so named because it’s close to the Tower of London.
 

Our other goal for the day was to get a nice English tea. I had formed a notion that the place to go for an excellent English tea was Fortnum & Mason. We got there and asked about tea - and we got horribly snubbed. The hostess at Fortnum & Mason made it very clear that we were not smartly dressed enough to be allowed into any but the least fancy of Fortnum & Mason’s tearooms, named the Parlour. (I looked for a t-shirt that said, “I got snubbed at Fortnum & Mason”, but did not find one.)

Tea at the Parlour was fairly nice, but the circumstances made it very easy to find fault. Service was really extremely slow and indifferent. And the only option for an afternoon tea came with mini ice cream cakes - which meant that you couldn’t linger without the ice cream cakes getting melty. The whole experience made us extremely cranky.
 

When we made it back to the inn, we were tired and grumpy - and, we realized, hungry, because scones and ice cream cake was all we’d had between breakfast and dinner. Julian the innkeeper recommended his favorite Indian restaurant, The Empress. (Although we thought that “just a few blocks” meant two or three, and our feet were hurting after six or seven.)

The Empress was a lovely dining experience. Our first sign that this was something special came when we were ordering. Lori ordered a korma (because she is very spice-averse) and the waiter murmured “that’s not very authentic”. Some diners might find this annoying. I can well believe that I would find it annoying sometimes. But for us then, it was a lovely thing to have a waiter who would make strong recommendations about the food. We got into a lengthy conversation with the waiter, and we followed his recommendations, and we had a great time. 

After some discussion about whether the “exotic spices” mentioned in the description would be too fierce for Lori, she settled on the Murgh Banarashi, a dish that I’ve never heard of in the USA. The most recognizable taste was pineapple, but there were a bunch of spices that I couldn’t identify. It was really tasty, though, with clear bright flavors - one of Lori’s favorite Indian restaurant experiences.
 

I ordered the Indian Shepherd’s Pie. The waiter didn’t say anything about it being inauthentic. I hope that he didn’t think I was too irredeemable to discuss authenticity with. But what I was really looking for was authenticity of a different sort: I wanted food from a British-Indian tradition. I’ve read British authors talk about Indian food as a normal part of their life (for example, Terry Pratchett’s Death says “I could murder a curry” in one of his first appearances, and Lister in Red Dwarf is a fan of vindaloo), and I wanted to taste Indian food that would be familiar to a Briton
I haven’t read a reference to an Indian shepherd’s pie, but I think I achieved my goal. It was a shepherd’s pie, with sauced ground lamb and peas topped with mashed potatoes and cheese, but it was all seasoned with Indian flavors and it was really tasty.
 

Between dinner and dessert, they brought us plastic tubes that were warm to the touch. We asked what they were: they contained heated moist towels for our hands. How refreshing!

We had a good conversation with the waiter about where he was from and what foods he missed from home. Sadly, although I remember that he was from Bangladesh, I don’t remember what foods he missed. I do remember that we chose our dessert because he said that it was a particular favorite of his. The dessert was shemai, another dish I’ve never encountered in the USA; the description said “Traditional Bengali dessert made with vermicelli, ghee, raisins, milk, sugar, and nuts”. My best analogy is that it was like a rice pudding thinned with milk and cream - it was very tasty.


The menu of after-dinner drinks includes Chili Naga Vodka. “Drink at your own risk; very very hot.” I didn’t try it.
 

We had a splendid time at The Empress. It was one of the best meals we had in London, and one of the best Indian meals we’ve had.
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leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 13:09:16 (permalink)
Did you see the site of the scaffold where Ann Boleyn was hanged? Some of the tastiest meat pies I ever had were served from a truck outside the Tower of London,
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Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 13:18:19 (permalink)
We always preferred the Indian restaurants in London that specialized in the cooking of Northern India and Nepal.
Very tasty indeed! 
 
If you enjoy Indian food, you can probably thank Idi Amin for kicking out all the Indians in Uganda during his brutal reign.
Most ended up in London opening restaurants around Tottenham Cross Road. And thus bringing Indian food to a new level of culinary appreciation.
post edited by Twinwillow - 2014/06/26 13:19:50
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lleechef
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 14:01:30 (permalink)
The best Indian food I ever had was when I was the private chef to Jean and Krishna Riboud in Paris.  (M. Riboud was CEO of Schlumburger.)  Their two house-boys were from Siri Lanka and always made curry on Sunday.  For me, the lamb curry was the best! 
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 14:56:56 (permalink)
leethebard
Did you see the site of the scaffold where Ann Boleyn was hanged? Some of the tastiest meat pies I ever had were served from a truck outside the Tower of London,

 
I think that we did, because we had the full Beefeater tour - but I confess that I've forgotten a lot of details. We have a picture of the memorial that marks the spot where Lady Jane Grey was executed.
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mlm
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 16:42:22 (permalink)
Great trip report. Seriously, did you 'sense' anything at the tower. Considering all that went on at the tower, the place must be crawling with spirits, psychic energy, whatever you want to call it. Although, I should think, there would be too many distractions to pick up much. It is too bad, that 'tea' turned out a bummer. They should try to make it special. Especially after ticking you off about what you were wearing. I'm sure it was expensive. Well, evidently there is good service and bad service in England as well as here. I must rely on such terrific reports in order to experience London. I can tell you my feet would never make it. You two must stay in good trim.
post edited by mlm - 2014/06/26 16:45:15
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 17:48:13 (permalink)
I did not sense anything of that sort, but I do not pick up on such things. Lori might be able to offer another perspective.
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FriedClamFanatic
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/26 23:42:29 (permalink)
Another great addition, Ralph! I had to grin about the F&M tea episode. You moved well out of the RF environment! I have done it both as a business guest of pretentious Brits on well padded expense accounts and on our own. It was decidedly different, but the same old food. You didn't miss much.  A much better High Tea or Tea can be found in a number of other places........with nowhere near as tight dress codes.
 
Of course, one would not expect to call upon Betty and Phil the Greek in anything less than full regalia including for the ladies, a hat made out of Alice in Wonderland rejects. And try sitting through an "official" dinner in a tux in the mid July where the sweat is pouring off of everyone until the sergeant at arms announces, 'Jackets off Gentlemen" !
 
I'm glad the Empress was so good; will have to try it next time. A lot of the "Indian' food in the UK is sort of like Chinese American here.  Vindaloo and curries the main culprits......British adaptions of things they had in the Raj.
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mlm
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/06/27 00:30:42 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

I did not sense anything of that sort, but I do not pick up on such things. Lori might be able to offer another perspective.
 
Interesting. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, although I've never actually seen or heard anything. Sometimes, though, I get the sensation that a place which should be vacant or empty actually isn't. I remember I felt that way when I visited the fort at Fort Davis, Texas with my parents about 30 years ago. It just felt alive somehow, as if there was more to it than a old fort in the middle of nowhere. Nothing I could prove but it's definite. I also felt it at an old hotel in New Braunfels, Texas. I didn't find out until later that the hotel is reputed to be haunted by the original owner. Nothing sinister, he's just still making the rounds, evidently.
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