Tag Archives: uk

The ornate topology of old English hotels.

It’s been a while since the last instalment of my tales-from-the-places-to-stay-side (hotels tag), mostly due to the fact that the places I’ve been staying in of late have been nothing to write home – or on a blog – about. But that changed recently, when we were in London!…

We stayed a night at the mighty Mitre hotel, which is right next-door to Hampton Court Palace, as it’s the perfect location for starting out early on the sixth leg of the Thames Path!…

A traditional English hotel:

  • Ornate if a little puzzling topology of the interior spaces;
  • Thin, steep, ancient, wooden, creaking staircases!
  • Old English musty-musky rug-and-fireplace smells (+ sounds);
  • You could shoot a period drama here with hardly any adjustments or decorations!

Read on…

Another London +1: Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace.

My recent trip to London was a busy one not only on the business front, but on the touristic-walktastic one too. We got a central London walk in, and we did a new – long – stretch of the Thames Path. Along the way on these walks we took in the dominating Battersea Power Station, the inevitable Big Ben, and a surprising… Edward Snowden mosaic. There was another dominating architectural object we passed, which looked too interesting to pass up on, and which I haven’t told you about yet (didn’t want to break the stride of the Thames Path reporting). So here, today – quick rewind to it…

‘It’ being… Hampton Court Palace. Cue – architectural appreciation + historical education…

+ landscape veneration! ->

Read on…

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Only admiration – for Battersea Power Station!

Hi folks!

Still in London – we’ve done the nostalgia and we’ve lamented geopolitics, but we refuse to get down. So we go give London yet further inspection!…

First up – Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. And we’re headed waaaaay over there, along the riverbank ->

A somber note…

Alas, the famous red telephone boxes are dying out. This one’s even got… a tree growing inside it! ->

There’s even a branch growing out the top! ->

Secure bicycle parking:

This building always reminds me of the cool British film FAQ About Time Travel (not seen it? Do so!). The house in the movie is smaller, but it still looks like they could be ‘twins’!

We’ve already walked quite far (there’s Big Ben in the distance) ->

And in the other direction – Battersea Power Station comes into view…

Suddenly…

Wait. But… How did he get here?! It got me thinking – better to be on the outside on a wall, than on the inside behind bars…

Battersea Power Station. Cult object extraordinaire. What a beaut! ->

However, as my travel companion, OA, pointed out: ‘Such a dominating architectural landmark really deserves plenty of space around it’. Come to think of it – he’s right: the modern office-shopping-residential complex built in recent years next to it is practically flush – it does take something away from the grandiose aesthetic. Still, I’m no city-planner/designer/architect, so what do I know? )

The view along the Thames:

And another look back at Battersea, after the pink lights become more noticable. Hmmm. I wonder why they chose pink? )

Just one thing missing: the pig on the wing ).

The rest of the photos from London are here.

The Thames Path – a segmented analysis.

Traditions come in different shapes and sizes. Some folks, for example, every New Year’s Eve go for a monster banya-session (at least in Russia!). Some folks – particularly adventurous Russians! – spend a month every summer in Kamchatka or Altai or the Kurils or some other similarly awesome part of the world. Other traditions are localized: like my tradition every time I’m in the British capital…

My London tradition is a hike along a section of the Thames Path, which is nearly 300 kilometers long, starts out at the Thames Barrier to the east of central London, and ends in Kemble, Gloucestershire, way out west – almost as far as the sea in the Bristol Channel. I’d completed several stretches of the path before over the years – from its start at the Thames Barrier (in 2016), to Hampton Court earlier this year. The next section would take us to the western edge of the Greater London Built-up Area, or just outside Greater London (confused? Me too:), which is just inside the M25 London Orbital Motorway, specifically – to Staines Bridge in the town of Staines-upon-Thames in the county of Surrey, which would take my total kilometers walked on the Parth to almost 80!

You might be thinking that walking along a path may not be fully… appropriate for one’s localized tradition in one of the foremost cosmopolitan, glamorous, etc. capitals of the world… But you’d be wrong! (IMHO!). For this is… the perfect path! I just like it so much I want to walk it over and over (and I do repeat some stretches, as sometimes I lose my way or it’s too rainy; more in this below). Even the sections I’ve already walked (sometimes twice already!) – I’d relish the chance to be pals’ guide: that’s how much I enjoy it. I mean, it even has its own tag on my blog – an exclusive status for a ‘mere’ path ). But before I get into my walk-report on this latest segment, let me briefly go over previous segments, as a summary review/reminder…

First leg

The Thames Barrier to Cutty Sark. Here’s the detailed walk-report. I highly recommend a read.

The Thames Barrier saves London every time the level of the river gets too high. There’s an information center there too:

Read on…

A walk down memory lane in London.

I was in London only a month ago – but, since if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life‘, I was back in the UK capital just the other day!…

And – just as I prefer it – we arrived with plenty of time to spare before our business program was set to start, so, naturally – first things first – walkies time!…

Handily, our hotel was in the center of the city – a stone’s throw from the River Thames and not far from Buckingham Palace – so off we set for some London side-street strolling. But before we’d hardly gotten started, suddenly…

…Hold on… I think I recognize that building. Yes, it’s the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, where – precisely (!) 10 years ago (November 2011) – I took part in the London Cyberspace Conference, after having been personally invited by the then-foreign secretary, William Hague!

Read on…

Thames Path – pt. 5.

Having just completed a vacation-till-you-drop tour of the Caribbean and Bahamas – up early every morning, late to bed every night, daily flights between the islands, sore index finger from all the snapping – it was time for a complete change: of continent. But the island theme, arguably, continued, for we were headed to London, capital of the UK – another island nation.

I find myself in the British capital frequently – our European HQ is here, so there’s always plenty of business needs seeing to. And seeing as though I’m here often, and have been known to enjoy a lengthy, brisk stroll if I can fit one into my working schedule, I decided a few years back to walk different sections of the Thames Path at different times, whenever I can. You can’t do the whole Path in one go as it’s just too long – nearly 300km! Well, I’d done four sections to date, with the last one taking me as far as Richmond Lock. Now, it was time for the fifth installment…

So, setting off from above-mentioned lock, the first things we come to are two bridges:

Conveniently, practically all bridges along the route have paths or tunnels going under them beside the river, meaning you don’t have to climb up from the Thames to get past them.

Read on…

LCY – AMS: Quicker flight than the taxi ride to the airport.

Sometimes, trying to save time sees you spending even more of it…

Every now and then you hear a frustrated business traveler complaining about it taking longer to get to the airport than to fly to their destination. Well, this time that business traveler is me, for I’ve just set myself a record: a recent drive to an airport took twice as long as the flight itself! It was in London, but the airport wasn’t Heathrow or Gatwick or Luton, it was London City Airport – just 18 kilometers from our hotel near Hyde Park: a lot nearer. But we were driving for a whole 90 minutes! Oh my grrrr.

// And before you wonder why we didn’t take the Tube, let me just explain that we had with us fat and heavy suitcases to see us through a whole week of business traveling across four countries. Tried it before; the only conclusion: never again! The Underground is far too cramped for comfort with big suitcases.

Read on…

Thames Path – pt. 4.

Hi folks!

Since April 2016 I’ve been sneaking in strolls marches along the River Thames, since I’m lucky enough to visit London rather regularly on business. Not repeat marches of the same stretches of riverbank of course, but different sections – since there’s quite a lot of riverbank to be marched here. Here’s my first stretch, here’s the second, the third… so that makes this riverbank ramble my fourth already.

So what’s the attraction? Why a whopping four (and counting) visits (and saunters) already? Well, it’s mostly all down to something called the Thames Path – a neat and well-paved/tarmacked pathway that runs along the full length of the river – all ~300 kilometers of it!

Now, I’m never shy of extreme tourism, where there are precisely zero paths – plus zero civilization whatsoever, come to think of it – but when I’m short of time, and in London that’s always, I like to rely on paths to make sure our trekking is just that – straight trekking – not finding the way, losing our way, navigating tricky unforeseen obstacles and so on. Make sense? Alrighty. Just had to explain that in case you think I’m going soft :).

This time our Thames-walking took us away from the capital’s center – and turned into a veritable ‘London as you’ve never seen it before’ experience…

Read on: A green and pleasant land, floods, pubs, allotments, stormtroopers…

XIA – PEK – SVO – LHR – NAS – LHR – PHEW.

I’ve been getting about quite a bit this fall, and practically every day I’ve been as busy as a bee. It’s that slightly disorienting routine I get into every few months or so: each day something new – starting with the hotel room I wake up in.

But the other day it wasn’t a hotel room. Upon waking, my first question to myself was the usual ‘Where am I?’, but the answer this time came ‘in an Airbus!’ Indeed I was, flying Xi-an – Beijing – Moscow – London – the Bahamas – London over several days.

Such continent hopping in a short time with lots on the work agenda forces my happy-snapping habit into its minimalist regime. This isn’t so bad, as the pics that do manage to get taken are normally very much ‘greatest  hits’ and no padding. Thus, this post: ‘Greatest Hits of the Last Several Days’!

First, here’s a masterpiece from Petrovich taken at dawn at Danxia:

Before you ask about the fly, let me make the introductions: please meet our pet fly, whom we carry around the world with us in a jar and sometimes let him out for a walk fly :).

And now for a brief rundown of my recent continent hopping…

Read on: Asia > Europe > North America > Europe…