A Day in London: Lenin’s House, Greek Artefacts, Westminster Abbey!

One of the (admittedly very limited) perks of where I live is how fast you can access London while not actually living inside it. So when a friend texted me saying she had a ticket returning from London that she needed to use, and suggested a day together in London, I was all for it. To stick to our budgets, we planned the day in advance and had a list of things we wanted to see which went in a convenient line towards the Thames.

We were considering looking around the Platform 9 3/4 shop as our first stop, seeing as we would both be arriving at King’s Cross within minutes of each other, but as it’s the summer holidays, there was quite the queue going on. How I miss the days when it first arrived, and even when the trolley sticking out of the wall first arrived, and you could look around with no problems… Alas, those days are long gone. (Unless you arrive at King’s Cross around midnight after seeing a show at the West End on a Thursday night, in which case it’s usually deserted and you can take photos no problem. I’ve done this many times.)

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So, our first stop was the British Library. Neither of us had visited it before, and while you can’t see much of it without being a member, the atrium was pretty cool, and the shop was really good. A lot of the books they had on display at the front of the shop were to do with the 1917 Russian Revolution and the years afterwards, as they are currently running an exhibition on it.

There were some really ornate copies of the books as well; one of my favourites was this copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Once we’d spent a good half an hour or so having a nosy around and buying postcards and the like, we headed for our second destination of the day: the British Museum. We had travelcards, so we could have just saved ourselves the time (and the rain) by hopping on the bus or the tube, but if you’re having a leisurely day in London, why miss out on the sights? Plus, I’d brought my new camera with me and was determined to get some good shots, like this one of the Bloomsbury Coffee House:

And this one of Ghandi in Tavistock Square (a place which I had never heard of but hey-ho, that’s what exploring is for):

Not to mention that we also found, rather by accident, the former residence of Vladimir Lenin, who had spent a brief time living in London a few years after the 1905 Revolution. We found this rather fitting, considering the exhibition we had just left. It looks surprisingly humble, sandwiched between a B&B and what is now Albany Hotel. I would definitely recommend blue-plaque-spotting in London, even just for the amusing ones – two doors down from Lenin’s was Jerome K Jerome, an English writer with just a great name.

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Some considerable time later, we arrived at the British Museum. I’ve been there a few times before over the years, though not recently. We mainly just wanted to see the Greek and Roman galleries while we were there – after all, you can take history students out of the classroom and all they’ll do is find the history in the real world. Who isn’t at least slightly curious about those two ancient civilisations anyway? I won’t bore you with all the photos of the galleries, just the highlights:

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(You may notice, as I have, that a lot of the artefacts in the British Museum are either headless, limbless, or torso-less. A lot of the Egyptian artefacts are missing noses. We actually saw a sign in one of the Greek galleries which informed us that the heads of the statues we were standing in front of were in a gallery in Greece. That’s the real definition of being all over the place!)

Our third destination of the day was a particular favourite of mine: Trafalgar Square. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it just always has such a good atmosphere whenever I’m there. It feels a bit like its own little world, to be honest. We didn’t make it inside the National Gallery, but we did find two Pikachus, two floating Yodas, a floating Grim Reaper, and a Mad Hatter (who jumped out at me and made me scream) wandering around, together with a guitar-playing busker. There was also a thumb statue which I’m fairly certain wasn’t there two years ago, when I last visited… Trafalgar Square can be the most bizarre place.

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Time was moving on by this point, so we had to skip the National Gallery in order to make it to somewhere my friend was particularly keen to visit: Westminster Abbey. By the time we left Trafalgar Square, we had actually missed the standard weekday last entry to the Abbey, but on Wednesdays they have half price late entry until 6pm – again, highly recommend. I only have limited photos of Westminster Abbey as photos inside the building are not allowed, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of what’s inside…

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When you get inside, it’s a sort of one-way system. The first object (is object the right word?) of note is the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I, which was about as stately and extravagant as you’d imagine. You can walk all the way around it; it’s in a small room off the main floor. Next is Henry VII’s Lady Chapel, which includes the RAF Chapel and Battle of Britain window. On the other side of the Lady Chapel is the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots, again as extravagant as you’d expect. Then there’s Poets’ Corner, where you can find burials and commemorations of the likes of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens.

On the other side of the Abbey, you have Scientists’ Corner, where you’ll find Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. There’s the Grave of the Unknown Warrior and a Sir Winston Churchill memorial, and finally, the Coronation Chair.

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And that’s about all we got up to! When we left Westminster Abbey, we got the tube back to King’s Cross rather than walk all the way back up again. I love days exploring cities like this, I always find things I wasn’t looking for, especially in London. Here’s hoping for many more days like it in the future…

Katy x

Art, Prison, and Engines: Exploring Liverpool!

With my first year of university wrapped up, a friend and I decided it was finally time to explore. We’ve been so busy ever since we got here that we’ve simply not been able to. So, this last weekend, we set aside three straight days. Here’s what we got up to!

Friday: Walker Art Gallery

If you’ve ever been to Liverpool, you’ll likely have seen the incredible buildings across the road from Lime Street station. St George’s Hall, the World Museum, the Central Library, and Walker Art Gallery. I’ve walked past them dozens of times, and only really been in the library.

Stumbled upon a #monet painting #artgallery #landscape #beautiful #tourist

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So our first stop was the art gallery. It had around a dozen galleries, from medieval European art to contemporary pieces. There was an early copy of the Mona Lisa, as well as a Monet painting (above). I quite liked how low-key it was; compared to the museums and galleries I’ve been to in London, there was actually space to look and pause without being somehow forced out of the way.

We spent a good couple of hours at this gallery, just taking it in. I will admit, we were a bit immature for a little while when we discovered that Snapchat filters would respond to the paintings… I won’t put those photos in…

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Saturday: Cathedral and Many, Many Miles

Saturday brought our trip to Chester! If you recall, I first visited Chester back in February and wrote a post about it, but that time was very purpose-orientated for a module I was studying. This time, we hopped on a bus, and had no agenda. We walked around the entire city wall, struggled to find the cathedral entrance, found out Google was sadly misinformed and that the castle is closed to the public, and ate food in a Grade 2 listed building.

A little side note, but I am impressed by the bus fares up here. It was £2 for a return journey that took over three hours in total, probably closer to four. At home it’s about £2 to go all of ten minutes.

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The weather the whole weekend was gorgeous. It rained a tiny bit but other than that, it was great. My friend happens to have an extremely friendly face and gets stopped all the time by people asking for directions etc., so when we were on our way out of the cathedral she got stopped for a survey. Of course. The woman asking the questions seemed quite amused at the fact we weren’t on a trip, but had simply sat on the bus from one end of the line to the other!

During the course of the day, we managed to walk almost the entire circumference of the city wall. When we reached the Phoenix Tower/King Charles Tower, the small room inside was open, so we sat there for a solid 40 minutes discussing which periods of history we’ve covered so far – yes, we’re complete nerds… The member of staff there found us amusing, though, so there’s that.

Sunday: Prison and A Lot of Rope

Directly opposite Lime Street Station is a huge building with a war memorial in front of it. That building is St George’s Hall, previously an ambiguous building I’d walk past every time I went into town.

Turns out, it was an old prison, courthouse, and hall for various events! The cells have certain sections of the walls preserved, where inmates wrote their names and sentences. The corridors have a lot of information about past practises carried out by prison guards, and the various forms of punishment. It was actually really fascinating. Oh, and the hall here is where part of Fantastic Beasts was filmed, just FYI.

Afterwards, we wandered down to Albert Dock. I’ve been here fairly regularly, but not done a whole lot. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find we could go on a couple of the ships docked there! The first one was a proper pirate-y ship, ropes and all.

Out and about and ended up on a ship! I love Liverpool 😂 #tourist #explore #albertdock #smoothsailing #nofilter

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The second was a ship that’s been through a lot. The guys on board told us a lot of its history. It was built in 1903 (before the first flight – woah), has very similar engines to the Titanic, spent years falling into disrepair, and took over £3 million to restore.

They took us to various parts of the ship, including the engine room, which was really amazing. It’s really an incredible sight, to see where the magic actually happens. I’d highly recommend seeing a ship’s engine room if you can, it should be a bucket list thing. I can’t imagine much of what’s produced today lasting the next hundred or so years, but back then, things were built to last.

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We finished the day (and our weekend of exploring) with the Museum of Liverpool across the other side of the dock. It incorporated a huge amount of the city’s history, from the First World War, to the Beatles, to now. The pair of us are history students, we can’t help but be attracted to all the historic places and activities of the city.


So there you have it! That’s pretty much what we got up to over the last weekend. I know Liverpool has a raging reputation for the clubbing and nightlife available here, but if you do come visit, I’d really encourage you to explore the way we did. Even though Chester technically isn’t Liverpool, but y’know. The history of this city is amazing, and the sights are great.

Before you go, please feel free to go follow me on my Instagram and Twitter accounts – it’s where I’m most active!

Katy x

Stepping Stones & Statues

This Saturday just gone, I finally went to Sefton Park for the first time since I arrived at university. It’s one of those places people always tell you you should visit and I’ve kind of nodded along like “yes, I’ll go at some point” but been too busy to go (plus winter weather… not always great). But I woke up that morning and it was just so sunny outside, and I finally had the option of taking a day off essay writing, so I grabbed a friend and off we trotted.

You can 100% expect me to be uploading pictures on my blog soon 😍 #inlove #dayout

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If anything will make you feel like hopping like a child, it's stepping stones over water 🌈 #parklife #keephopping

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#nofilter #sun #summer #spring #liverpool #trees

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Sefton Park turned out to be about a 40 minute walk from my flat, but I was glad for the walk. Despite being here since September, I’ve yet to really branch out into different areas of the city, so it was fun to have a look around and go off in a direction I hadn’t before. Plus, the walk there was actually a lot prettier than I expected. Some of the houses were a bit of an illusion; they looked super thin from one angle but it was only because they came to a narrow corner. Reminded me of some West End buildings in London, actually.

The weather the whole day was absolutely gorgeous, and as someone who finds the winter darkness really quite difficult, I couldn’t have been happier about it (despite being of Irish descent and so, of course, got burned).

Our day at the park essentially consisted of ambling around, eating food and taking photos. It was seriously needed after the stress of the previous few weeks, that’s for sure! I brought my mini-speaker with me, so when we plonked ourselves onto the grass for a while to read (yes, yes, we still did uni reading, but it wasn’t much) we listened to a bit of Imagine Dragons – praise be to Spotify premium, which I did have on a 3-month 99p deal but have just purchased a contract to…

 

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I grew up in a town a little above London and around the corner from my house was a place we all referred to as “the lakes”, which I later realised that to every other person in the country this meant “the Lake District”, but it was basically a big park of open fields, hills, too many rabbit holes to count, and two large lakes. As such, I’ve sort of been accustomed to having wide open space near me, so this was really nice.

I would say that the park could do with expanding their Oasis Café, however. It seemed rather bizarre to have people queueing far beyond the doors and extremely little space inside. But it didn’t matter too much – we’d brought food with us for lunch on a bench overlooking the water, which was so nice.

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If you get a chance to go to Sefton Park for an afternoon, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s much bigger than I expected, and there’s no hint of being in a city! It’s like its own little world inside those gates.

Katy x