2012 – The Sights of London

June 28- July 7, 2012

I actually made 3 trips into London during this visit.  The first was on a drizzly Sunday; the one day you can drive in central London without paying a congestion tariff.  We started out early and once reaching River Thames followed it on to London.  We saw the wharf (Rotherhithe) from which the Mayflower sailed and the clipper ship, Cutty Sark in Greenwich before stopping at Dickens Inn on St. Katharine’s Docks for drink and lunch.  We met some former Lagos expats and enjoyed catching up.  We then traveled on to London stopping to walk across London Bridge and see the Tower of London.  Back in the car past the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral to Trafalgar Square and to The Mall, however, the Mall was closed to vehicular traffic in preparation of the Olympics.  So we continued past Westminster Abbey and St James Park to Buckingham Palace.  Despite the rain and grey skies there were lots of tourists even though the Queen was not in residence.  That is when we discovered the Palace would be open to the public for 7 days only while I was in town.  So we booked tickets to see the Palace on the upcoming Friday.


Cutty Sark

A Cockney Pearly King and his cab.

London Bridge ready for the Olympics.

The tower of London.

Admiralty Arch

 Big Ben


The London Eye also known as the Millenium Wheel

The second trip was by train from Wadhurst to Charing Cross, about an hour’s trip.  The purpose was to take in a matinee and we chose Ronald Dahl’s Matilda which was at the Cambridge Theatre.  It was a truly delightful production, so enjoyable.  We took a quick walk through the Coventry Garden Market before the show.   We also did a quick stop at the National Portrait Gallery to check out the royal family exhibit.  We finished the day with a Chinese dinner in Chinatown.

Charing Cross Train Station


Showing Great Britians colors for the Olympics


Trafalgar Square

The third trip was also by train for a Day Out at Buckingham Palace.  We would see the Queens Gallery exhibit about Leonardo de Vinci.  Next we toured the Mews or what is the garages and stables of the Palace.  We saw the carriage Prince William and Katherine used in their wedding.  Since the Queen was out of town so were all of her horses but 2, they were to pasture for Holiday. Then we entered the Palace to see several of the state rooms and an exhibition of the Queens diamonds (in commemoration of the Queens Diamond Jubilee).  It is an awesome beautiful place, yet a working place as these were the rooms’ where the Queen greets and meets with visiting dignitaries.   But also these rooms display several of the Queens works of arts.  Unfortunately, no is allowed to take photos in the Palace, as it is not only where the queen works but where she lives.  The tour covers the first and second floor ending in the Palace Gardens. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to visit the Palace. London is a wonderful place to visit!

The famous kissing balcony of Buckingham Palace.
One of Queen Elizabeth’s carriages stabled inthe Mews.


                                The rear lawn of Buckingham Palace!

London 2012 – Canterbury & Kings Week

June 2012

 As a part of my London trip I was able to partake in the activities of King’s Week in Canterbury.  King’s Week is a unique festival of music, drama, art and recreation. Held every year in the last week of the Summer Term of The King’s School, it attracts thousands of parents, friends and visitors. Events, ranging from jazz to dance, from classical music to a variety of plays, and pupil and staff presentations, are staged in attractive settings around the School. For the hundreds of pupils involved in many capacities, King’s Week provides focus in the period after examinations and a glorious climax to the School year.

The arch leading into The Kings School.

I sat in the Great Cloister of Canterbury Cathedral to listen to King’s Serenade Choir singing acapella a varied selection of secular music from madrigals of the sixteenth century to present day arrangements.  It was a magical evening under the stars in the shadow of the cathedral.

In the Great Cloisters beside Cantercury Cathedral.

I also attended the Lark; a student play about Joan of Arc.  It was high drama to see Joan defending herself in a courtroom that eventually leads to martyrdom. This was hosted outdoors in the Mint Yard on a 4 sided stage.

The Parrot established 1370.

I strolled the old cobble streets of Canterbury window shopping and looking for souvenir spoons.  We stopped for drinks and dinner one evening in The Parrot established in 1370.  At one time it was 7 dwelling inside the building which of course is now the pub.  It still contains the staircase from 1470, low ceilings with large wooden beams.

The Jazz Concert was an exhilarating evening.  Held in Shirley Hall this is a student directed concert featuring the Big Band, Modern Jazz, the King’s Men and the King’s Swingers.  The music was truly delightful and toe tapping!

Wapole House Leavers 2012

Here at Kings, I was then honored to attend the Leaving ceremonies of a friend.  It was a beautiful day that started with a service in Canterbury Cathedral, then moving to a champagne reception on the school house lawn with family and friends.  Next it was time to remove all the students’ belongings from the boarding house. Finally to cap the evening with a Leavers Ball held out in the country on a beautiful estate lawn filled white tents and chandeliers.  The Ball was a feast for the parents and lots of music and dancing for the students.  I think this tradition of Leaving Kings is even better than a graduation ceremony.

Our garden setting for champange and lunch – The King’s School

The King’s School sits in the shadow of Canterbury Cathedral and has from the beginning of time been associated with education.  In 1170 Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and soon afterwards miracles began to take place.  Thus Canterbury Cathedral became one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage sites.  Today the Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and still very much a living working church with daily services. For Anglicans worldwide the Cathedral is their Mother Church.

 Canterbury Cathedral as seen from King’s School.

London 2012 – Leeds Castle

June 2012

Leeds Castle sits on a 3000 acre estate in the rolling hills of Maidstone, Kent and is known as “the most beautiful castle in the world”.  This castle is still surrounded by a moat and dates from 1119. It has passed from queens and kings until it went into private ownership in the 16th century.  The last private owner, Lady Baillie, left quite a mark on the castle as she did a complete refurbishment in the 20th century. She used the finest French architects and designers to create an elegant country estate filled with her personal arts and antiques from her travels.  There are 24 bedrooms most with a bath. The castle is ideal for picnicking and walking the gardens and maze.

Leads Castle – a great view from our picnic spot


Castle front entrance


Fireplace in the Henry VIII banquet hall.




The chapel was commissioned by King Edward I in memery of his wife Eleanor of Castile. It is consecrated as a Chapel Royal and services are still held here.


The ruins of the Barbicon an essential part of the castle’s fortification.


One of the carpeted gardens.


Black swans are the symbol of the castle – first introduced to the UK after being imported from Australia in the 1920’s.


London 2012 – Lymden Oast

June 2012

A visit this summer to London has afforded me the opportunity to visit and stay in an oast house.  An oast is a kiln that was designed for the drying of hops as part of the brewing process.  Oasts are generally seen in southern England in the Kent (also known as the garden of England) and the Sussex area.  Oast consist of 2 or 3 stories on which the hops were spread out to dry from the hot air from a wood-fired kiln below.  The drying floors were thin and perforated to allow the heat to pass through and then escape in a cowl on the roof which turned with the wind.  Once the hops were dry they were raked up, bagged and taken to the local brewery.  Hops today are dried industrially and many oast have been converted into dwellings.   This oast house has two oast from the 19th century in the distinct circular form with conical roof topped by the wind driven cowl.  Each oast is 3 stories tall connected to a 2 story rectangle building and situated in a valley next to a creek surrounded by rolling hills, fields of grain and flower gardens.


The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure

June 16-23, 2012


Each year the GOBA route features a different part of Ohio traveling through peaceful countryside and stopping at exciting tourist destinations.  This is the 24th year for the GOBA and my brother-in-law, AJ has ridden every year!  The highlights of the 2012 tour include 5 days of cycling 45-55 miles from town to town and 2 optional days of loops.  The terrain is considered “rolling with some hills” and primitive tent camping at fairgrounds, schools and parks.  This year I am joining the adventure with Pam & AJ.  Granted living in Nigeria there are more stationary bikes than the kind you ride out doors but I did train both inside (mostly)  and out  (a bit – the cobblestones of Banana Island are wearing) from May 1st onwards. 

I arrived at my sis’s a few days early to test the bike out and to take a few short rides.  We rode the wonderfully paved bike trails in the area….what pleasure and smoothness!

The GOBA adventure began at 5am on Sunday morning (as we elected not to camp Saturday night but instead drive straight to the start line) with a drive to Hillsboro for registration, drop the luggage and start biking.  Well it was killer hills right out of the gate but then smoothly rolling hills for the first 13 miles when the rains started. It rained slowly but continued to gain on us till we came upon a beautiful old covered bridge.  Once under the bridge the rains stormed so about 200 of us cyclers took refuge in the bridge for 10 minutes or so…before heading back to the rain and hills.  After 3 hours the rain stopped and the roads turned into bicycle trails. We were cruising along with my goal to be in the park for the day by 1pm when sis noted a flat tire.  Pam & I had tubes but no pump, however a gentleman came along fixed the tire for us which is quite nice when it is just 2 girls out for a ride!   We made it to a beautiful riverside park in the center of Chillicothe about half past one.  We discovered our tent was up thanks to AJ, and headed to the shower trucks for hot water to revive us.   Afterwards, we found the closest bar for beer and nachos! Then it was time for a stroll around town, some coffee, read the local paper, do a little shopping and check out the local sights.  

Leaving the covered bridge after the rain. This is a one lane bridge built in the 1800’s.

Monday was a rest day…or loop day.  We elected to bike to a local sight, the historic Adena Mansion & Gardens, and take a tour.  According to the town folk it was a 2 mile walk away…..somehow it took us on a 10 mile bike ride to get there….but it was a nice downhill ride 2 miles back to town & camp.  Later that evening we caught the GOBA Grand Prix races through the center of town.

Tents, tents and more tents every where you look!

Thus our daily routine was up at dawn, pack and take the tent down, load luggage into the trucks and on the road at 6-ish.  The temperature was predicted to by 93-95 degrees the rest of the week.  It sounded better to ride early versus in the heat of the day.  We rode paved county and township roads 90% of the time with very little or no traffic.  The scenery was stunning…..fields of corn, soybean or wheat with rolling hills of green and silos and windmills in the sky.  There were generally 3 stops: breakfast, lunch and pm snack.  Those stops were in parks, in schools and in fire stations with a variety of hot and cold food and drinks. However, it is difficult to each lunch at 930am so that became a water stop instead.  Beer and nachos are a great pick-me-up after riding. 

Follow that orange sign to breakfast. Towns closed streets as they opened their hospitality – today it is a firehouse!

The local libraries were generous with computer usage for email checks and most towns had bargains or discounts on meals or shopping. All of the towns threw traditional street parties with loads of food and bands playing. We saw the view that inspired the Great Seal of Ohio and the famous 7 bullet holes in the Washington Courthouse courthouse door.  We visited a bar in Ashville so overwhelmed by 2000+ cyclers that the locals stepped up to tend bar while the bartender became the cook, but boy was the food good!  We pedaled through a tunnel of trees on our way to Wilmington and ate Buffalo Wild Wings with AJ’s friend.  On the last day we visited a Lavender farm which was developing an earthen home out of the mud and recyclable products including tires, bottles and cans. 

Julie (Rider 1062)

By the time we returned to Hillsboro, I was getting used to pedaling the hills.  At the finish we were greeted by an arch of bicycle parts and whistles and cheers.  The highlight was finishing the ride (for me ~ 280 miles) and never getting sagged.  Of course, screaming down a long hill at 31.2 miles per hour was definitely a heart racing milestone and a bit scary!  I am so looking forward to next year!

GOBAville also known as the information tent.

GOBAville the worlds largest moving town is complete with its own mayor.

Main street GOBAville is complete with GOBA souveniers and multiple bike repair and supply shops!