Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday 31 January - Wallace Collection.

WE had to wait at least 15 minutes fir a Circle line train to Edgware Road. I was surprised to see that bullhead rail was still in use on the Circle line at Gloucester Road.  It must have been rolled many years ago.

We visited the Wallace Collection last year but it made such an impression on us that we decided to go again.  It comprises the collection of some five generations of Wallaces and it is now owned by the state.  It is housed in a beautiful large house and admission is free. The rooms are all beautifully decorated and the collection is well exhibited.  It is noteworthy not only for the depth and quality of the paintings, furniture, porcelain, armor etc. but every piece is properly restored and shown to the best advantage.  The rooms have been recently restored and the wall coverings blend very well with the exhibits.

This large room is very impressive, it stretches the width of the house

An old soldier returns home and has his nose tweaked bu a young child

There was a roomfull of Canalettos

The furnishings and colors here are spectacular

We found after a couple of hours that we needed a break and went first to a pub then to dim sum at a place on Baker Street. It was good and fresh but we had to order from the menu.

After this we wandered around and eventually finished up at Piccadilly circus.  Lots of expensive stores with well known brand names.  All with a man in a dark suit on guard at the door.

Some of the buildings were exquisite

Royal Arcade

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday 30 January - Oxford

On the table at breakfast - I wonder which treacle mine this came from

The weather forecast was for rain later today but although it was cloudy we saw no rain and had a good walk around Oxford.  I wanted to try out the new train service from London Marylebone to Oxford which has only been open for just over a month.  Getting to Marylebone on the Picadilly then Bakerloo lines in the rush hour was an experience. When the Picadilly train doors opened at Gloucester Road they revealed a solid mass of humanity. We hd no option than to put our heads down and charge in. There were not many hand holds available but these were not necessary because we were jammed in so tightly.  I cannot imagine having to do this on the commute every day.

At Marylebone the three car train to Oxford was badly overcrowded with Asian and Far Eastern tourists. There were with at least 20 people standing in each of the three cars.  At Bicester Village the train practically emptied out.  It seems that Bicester has one of the biggest discount malls in the country.

Once we were clear of the London suburbs the ride was through pleasant country although most people ignored this making full use of the on board wi-fi.  The last time I went over this line would have been on the footplate of Clun Castle.on 1 June 1965.

Chiltern trains at Oxford

The arrival in Oxford was unremarkable and we obtained a city map and started our walk.  Oxford has a lot of beautiful architecture, mostly in stone and demonstrating the stone masons' skills.  One needs to stop frequently to admire the features.  We went into the center then turned south an walked past Christ Church cathedral and along the meadows, coming back into town along the High Street.


Magdalen College from the Cherwell

We had a pause for refreshment at this pub.

The bottle glass windows gave some interesting images.
Waiting for the train to Paddington this container train came through on full throttle - it has just got a green signal.
We came back to London on the traditional route via Reading, passing Cholsey and Moulsford where I was Area Manager filling in for two weeks.  Back in London we took a bus ride across town to the Strand to do some shopping. Central London is almost devoid of private cars but the buses, taxis and delivery vehicles manage to create traffic chaos.  The sidewalks were jammed.  Not a pleasant place to visit.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday 29 January - Sunday Roast

A stone Victorian post box

Front garden decoration

Sunday lunch today was the shoulder of pork roast at the Hereford Arms.The slice of meat was thick and flavorful, especially the crackling, while the vegetables were properly cooked. There was even Yorkshire Pudding.

We shared a portion of sticky toffee pudding with ice cream
It was a miserable rainy afternoon. I went along to Paddington and fumed while waiting 15 minutes for a Circle line train in each direction the most we ever had to wait in the metro in Paris was five minutes.
The GWR directors balcony at Paddington.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday 28 January - Le Relais and Regents Park

We went first to Marylebone station to renew our Two Together Railcard.  The place was very busy indeed - certainly not the sleepy station I remember. Baker Street and Marylebone Road provided a great deal of interest to while away the time before lunch at one of the London restaurants of Le Relais de Venise.

A large banner in Marylebone concourse advertises the recently started service to Oxford.

The Golden Eagle provided a half pint while we waited for the restaurant to open.
Le Relais has the same formula as the original one at Porte Maillot with one or two minor variations. The steak was not as tender as in Paris but the fries were as good.  Portions were a little larger and the signature sauce was very good.

The Vacharin was good although the Chantilly cream was heavier than in Paris, the ice cream was good.
 We had intended to visit the Wallace collection after lunch but with the weather looking good this afternoon and not so good tomorrow we decided to walk around Regents Park.  There were a great number of water birds, swans, geese, ducks, herons, moorhens, grebes, coots and gulls.
There is a large heronry in the park with at least 12 nests.

Feeding frenzy

It was good to see a large number of tufted ducks which come here to winter
With all this avian activity there was also a lot of human activity, several rugby and football (soccer) games were in progress.

We took the 74 bus back to Gloucester Road riding the top deck to see the sights. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday 27 January - Travel by Eurostar Paris to London

After ten weeks in Paris we were both reluctant to leave having a good feel for the way things run. Metro lines 2 and 4 took us quickly to the Gare du Nord where we found that our train had been put back by 12 minutes.  There was not so much confusion at the Gare du Nord as I have noticed in the past and we were quickly through  check in, French Customs, UK Customs and security.  We had a good wait but lined up in good time to ensure we were some of the first to board because baggage space can be difficult. As it was we had one of the original Eurostar sets which are being replaced by new trains and scrapping has started.
This was the train that took us to London. Behind it is a new 320 Eyrostar and a Thalys TGV
The French countryside through Lille to Calais is unremarkable, the 20 minute ride through the tunnel is boring while the Kent countryside is nothing special. The least said about the Thames marshes the better. When we crossed the river Medway I really felt back at home. The Medway bisects the county of Kent from north to south. Those born to the west (like me) are Kentish Men, while those born on the other side are Men of Kent. Suffice to say, in spite of a possible track circuit delay, we arrived in St. Pancras on time. The overall roof is magnificent. A walk through the domestic station into Kings Cross and we found a table in the Parcel Yard for an excellent lunch.
A pint of Fullers London Pride went down very well before the steak and mushroom pie with chips arrived. A nice drop of wallop.
The Picadilly line was not crowded but the train was extremely noisy. The Millennium Gloucester was expecting us and the room is quite comfortable. Had a pint of Fullers Jack Frost at the Hereford Arms and made a reservation for lunch on Sunday.

There is an hour difference from Paris and we are both tired.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday 26 January - Last day in Paris

We did our packing today and had lunch at Le P'tit Canon.  As usual the food was well prepared and served in a very friendly atmosphere.
Vegetable soup with lardons was very good and contained a great deal of bacon

Gigot d'agneau with pureed potatoes
Mary had those shown above while I had the terrine and confit de canard, also very good.  With a complimentary glass of kir and a half of Chinon this was a memorable way to end our stay here.

Late this afternoon I went down to Saint-Lazare to get a couple of next months magazines and look at the evening rush.
This blazon was on a stainless steel electric

817071, a unit I haven't seen before on this trip, brought in a train of empty stock.

It went out, in push mode on a train to Mantes la Jolie via Conflans
The turn round on some of these trains is extremely short.  In some cases the platform was announced just four minutes before the departure.

I caught a train to Pont Cardinet and found these young railfans watching the trains pass underneath.  At one point I could see nine trains in the trench - a personal record.

In the Square des Batignolles there was a heron in the pond.  He surely could not have been fishing for carp which are bigger than he is.
We have had a good time here and will be sorry to leave.  What is surprising is that although we have been visiting Paris annually for at least ten years we are still finding new and interesting places to visit and things to do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wednesday 25 January - Le Petit Palais

Le Petit Palace is across the street from Le Grand Palais. It is small only in relation to Le Grand Palais.  Le Petit Palais was built for the 1900 International Exhibition and has subsequently been used to display the collection of the City of Paris - paintings, sculptures, furniture, porcelain etc. It is truly magnificent - especially as it does not charge admission to view the permanent collection. The building has been renovated in recent years with beautiful new wood floors and the displays are such that one does not feel overwhelmed.
The entrance is impressive in itself

The main rotunda is enormous

The large spaces do not feel cluttered

Unloading a truckload of flour

Les Halles - This painting  is 20-25 feet long

The collection includes a large number of impressionist painters and others including Corbeil, Renoir, Sisley, Pisarro, Degas and Cezanne.
This is the decoration on top of a spire or dome - a finial

There are two beautiful circular staircases

The mosaic tiles have been very well restored.
In addition there is a beautiful garden and a restaurant. A very worthwhile visit.
These children were coming to visit as we were leaving.