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Cheerleading

Today we went to see cheerleading in Best of the Bay Cheerleading Competition. I think cheerleading is something very American even if it exist elsewhere.

There was no time for the competition, it only said all day. We arrived when they had prize-giving for a couple of teams. But soon it was on with new competitors.

First team were all young but they had one small girl who was adorable. Entering the hall she stopped to look at the crowd in shock. She did all the moves but not when the others did. Her teammates ignored her and afterwards she was so proud.

We didn’t understand the mix between teams but think they might have been in different levels as there was a huge difference in performance.

Would have loved to see the older teams but we didn’t know how long we would have to wait.

Just before the prize-giving
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Davis Island from a roof terrace

Today Peter and I were invited to a gathering with YPO in Tampa. One of the members let them use his roof terrace for this and it was a spectacular view.

We met up with Henrik and Sanne at a place called CW’s Gin Joint downtown Tampa so we could arrive together at Davis Island.

CW’s Gin Joint
Waiting for our drinks at CW’s Gin Joint
CW’s Gin Joint
Monkey 47

When we arrived at the house we were asked if we wanted to use the stairs. I didn’t understand the question until we got upstairs and saw the elevator.

A lot of nice people and hors d’œuvre and drinks. They also had a bartender who taught how to make a few drinks.

We had a lovely evening and both going there and back learnt about fishing and Cuba.

The bartender
Tampa downtown skyline
Across the bay towards S Howard Ave
Down Bayshore Blvd towards where we live.
Part of the roof terrace
Panoramic view when sun is starting to set
We even got a goodie bag so we could create one of the drinks again
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Lunch at Picnic Island

This weekend is a long weekend for Peter as it’s Public holiday and they had Friday off and will also have Monday off. It’s Indigenous People Day which that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures.

We did go to the movie on Thursday to watch the new James Bond movie and Friday was a slow day at home. Saturday we went for lunch with some neighbours in St Pete.

Today Peter was installing a hitch on the car because we want to be able to take the bikes with us more easily than stuffing them in the trunk.

While he was doing that I took a long walk before I made a asparagus and broccoli quiche for us to bring to Picnic Island. We took a short walk in the area before we sat down to eat. A lovely day and the breeze from the bay was lovely.

These you can reserve and it’s a great way to get out from the sun and it has seating and tables as well as a barbecue.
You can spot dolphins here but it was to many small boats out today I think.
Downtown St Pete on the other side.
Nice view when eating.
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Octoberfest

Today we were invited by the German community to celebrate the Octoberfest.

We were at the American Legion Post 138 which is situated by the water. We even saw dolphins swimming by.

We had lovely German food and beer but I forgot to take pictures again.

On our way to the Octoberfest
The bridge over to St Pete
We were given badges
All ladies were given a cookie
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Sarasota Historical Downtown became Lake Seminole bike excursion

We did stay the night in Sarasota, we found a nice looking hotel online at a good price. Looked new and situated about 8 minutes drive from downtown Sarasota. We brought our bikes to be able to bike to downtown but due to road works it didn’t work out.

Driving to the hotel I asked Peter if he had booked an Amish hotel. He says no but everywhere around us it said Amish-this and Amish-that. The hotel was in Pinecraft which is an Amish area in Sarasota. The Amish were asked to come and use the land for agricultural reasons in the 1920s and has since become a part of the city.

The hotel was really nice and spacious, the rooms being huge. We had a home cooked breakfast and it was really tasty. I would certainly recommend it.

Carlisle Inn, Sarasota

Saturday we had planned doing the historic downtown but didn’t find it. Well, we found the signs and ended up in what is the historic part. But I guess we are spoiled because 10 houses slightly more than 100 years old was not that impressive.

We decided to head back towards St Pete and instead check Lake Seminole out. Nice park just off a busy area, we unloaded our bikes and biked around the area. The temperature is still high but the humidity is going down which means you can do things without getting completely wet.

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IKEA, coffee and rodeo

When we sold our house I packed some of my kitchen things into our “American” storage and the rest went to the new apartment. I must have, at some point, been thinking that I would bring some of my stuff from the flat as well. Six months later I had forgotten this part and when Peter unpacked our things here he has to buy a few things. Once I arrived I realised I need to add even more. So on Wednesday I went to IKEA – it’s empty!! Not completely but a lot of shelves are out of products. We are still waiting for a cabinet that was supposed to be in again beginning of August and now it’s some time between beginning of September and mid September.

Thursday I met up with some ladies from the base in Hyde Park Village for a coffee. Still restrictions on base for more than 10 in a group. It was nice and it was lovely to sit outside. I’ll surely do it again.

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Anna Maria Island

Today Peter took a day off. Instead of having all the days off from work during the summer he will take days off when we want to do things.

We drove down to Anna Maria Island which is about an hour away from us. We saw parts of the island, beaches and had lunch as well.

Anna Maria Island is a natural barrier island to the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida peninsula. It’s famous for it’s beautiful beaches.

Driving out to the island
Our lunch place
The view from Rod N Reel Pier to the left
The view from Rod N Reel Pier to the right
The view below us. He kept pulling out fishes but threw them back again.
A pelican
Manatee beach
Manatee beach
This bird was struggling with his lunch as long as we were there.
Dipping our feet in the Gulf

As we both had stomach flu earlier this week we took it easy as we felt that we didn’t have fully charged batteries. We will have to go back to see the City Pier as we didn’t do it today.

We have booked a hotel in Sarasota for the night and will do Sarasota tomorrow. But we had dinner in St Armand Circle which is located near Lido Key where we saw the sunset.

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Sunrise and breakfast

Friday morning we met with the other Swedes at Ballast Point Park to see the sunrise and have breakfast.

Peter and I took the bikes as it’s only 4 minutes away from the house. The pier was full of people fishing.

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Operation Helping Hands

I went to Hyde Park Village this morning for some coffee with other spouses. Rain was hanging around but not more than some drops.

I had to leave early as I had a board meeting at lunch time with Rödebygymnasterna. That went well even if our internet is not very good.

In the evening we were invited to a dinner organised by Operation Helping Hands. The started in 2004 to help and assist families of wounded active duty military. If the active duty is wounded and end up at the Veteran hospital in Tampa the family has to provide for themselves. They will get help from Operation Helping Hands who gets contributions from individuals, corporations and associations.

Due to Covid-19 none of the wounded took part in the dinner. Before the pandemic the dinner was held at the veteran hospital but had to be moved. Maybe it will be different in the future.

Peter and I was sitting next to a Vietnam veteran who’s 84 years old. He did 3 tours to Vietnam and retired after 15 years in the armed forces. It was nice talking to them.

The sponsor of this months dinner was the Tampa sheriff’s office. I didn’t take any pictures of the visitors out of respect for them.

Officers from Tampa Sheriff’s department
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Clearwater beach and the Mexican Gulf

Now I’ve been here for 3 months but not seen the gulf or the beaches at Clearwater. We’ve been around the bay but not the other side of the peninsula between the bay and the gulf.

We didn’t bring chairs or bathing suits as we thought it might be crowded as it was Labour weekend. Just took a walk on the beach before we drove south along the small island we ended up at.

We will have to come back another day.

Some mango juice to cool down after the walk.
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Cuban Sandwich Festival – or not

Today we wanted to go to Ybor City and the Cuban Sandwich Festival. We found a parking lot next to 7th Street and found it a bit strange it being empty. Half way down the street I asked Peter if he knew where it was happening as there was few people and no music.

Then he looked it up and it was on the other side of Ybor City by N Nebraska Str and not over by N 21st Str where we parked 🤪 We continued walking and reached it eventually.

If a festival for the Cuban Sandwich means one vendor selling the Cuban Sandwich, one selling shaved ice, two selling hemp products and a few more we found it 😱 After walking 25 minutes in searing sun and the “festival” having no shadow we decided to walk back and have a Cuban sandwich with a cold drink somewhere with A/C 😎

The Cuban Sandwich we had at Carmine’s was very nice.

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Lettuce Lake Park Boardwalk and Nature Trail

Peter and I explored a new place today that is located about 30 min drive north of us.

You entered the area and could then choose several different parking places within the area. From the parking you could walk on tarmac or nature trails and even a boardwalk through the marshes which was neat.

A young alligator
A young alligator
Could only film for 4 sec as there was an obnoxious boy talking loudly the entire time.

The area had several picnic areas – both with roof and without. All easily accessible and could seat quite many.

One of the seating areas

You can also rent canoes if you wish to share the water with alligators and snakes 🤪

We had a lovely morning out and the afternoon we spent at home enjoying the pool.

The tarmac trails
The nature trails

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St Petersburg

Today Peter and I went to St Petersburg for a few hours. We only saw a small part but took a walk at The Pier which was lovely.

The Pier
Nicest restrooms I’ve seen
A playground in the middle of the pier.
If you want to rest with a view
Three restaurants at the end of the pier.
A nice sundial
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A week with no extra happenings

Last week we didn’t do anything special. I spent my days in the pool reading as I was alone most of the time.

Peter has been working since last Sunday, early mornings to late evenings and I’m sure you know why.

Seems like we will have nice weather next week as well. At least warm 😉

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A month in Tampa

Now I have been in Tampa for a whole month but it feels like I left Sweden a long time ago. Life if fairly slow in Florida as we are under new restrictions or rather old one had to be enforced again as people don’t follow them and doesn’t get vaccinated as well. Here they even offers money if you get vaccinated to encourage more people.

Last week we have seen a rise of 300% in covid cases just in our county. Stores and other places ask you to wear a face mask even if you are vaccinated but a lot of people ignores this. Well most people don’t wear the mask correctly anyway but Americans really doesn’t want to be told what to do so a lot of people ignore the request.

I can understand that wearing a mask isn’t very comfortable when it’s 35℃ / 95℉ and hight humidity – I have to confess to having walk through a puddle without seeing as my glasses were all fogged =)

Tuesday we wanted to go to Green Lemon to enjoy their Taco Tuesday but we weren’t the only ones and after seeing the people waiting outside and not finding a parking spot fairly nearby we decided to leave it for another week. Instead we went to Sparkmans Wharf – a really nice place to visit.

From their website: Sparkman Wharf is a dynamic and vibrant piece of Tampa Bay’s downtown waterfront. We’re proud to be one of the top community and cultural destinations in the area, with an effortless blend of loft-style office space and ground-floor retail, along with an intimate dining garden, biergarten, and recreational lawn.The restaurants are located in shipping containers. No entertainment this evening but still it was nice.

Yesterday we went to a preseason game of football and to see the Superbowl Champions. I like to watch American football as it is called in Europe but this game was no good. They did NOT play as champions – it felt more like a practice game. Next time we will try to get tickets for when it is a college game.

A lot of people have a barbecue in the parking lot as well as some never enters the stadium.
On our way up to get some food
Downtown seen from the stadium
Leaving – we thought it might take time to get out of there but it was quicker than getting there.

Even if the arena wasn’t full it is so different to watch a game live or on TV. The atmosphere, the smell and the sound – hard to describe unless you have experienced it. It was the same going to Wembley Stadium or Vicarage Rd Stadium for a soccer (football) game or Twickenham for rugby – it makes a huge difference.

We were waiting for a hurricane to come up from the Caribbean but it took another direction and missed us but today we have no sun at all but still 28℃ / 82℉ outside.

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Sun, food and walk along the Riverwalk

Today I was invited to a welcome lunch by the neighbouring ladies. We went to Salt Shack by the Bay where the setting is wonderful, outside seating and lovely food.

After soaking in the pool for a while we decided to go downtown and take a walk along the Riverwalk.

At the end of it is Armature Works which is an old building from 1910 where the maintenance and storage for Tampa’s Street Cars use to be. Now it has turned in to a mixed-use commercial building which also hosts several restaurants and a large food court.

Arriving at the Armature Works we decided to have dinner there. It was hard to choose what to eat and we will have to go back again to try more 😉

This weekend we also drove to Coppertail Brewery Co. The brewery opened in 2014 in Ybor and they have about 20 different taps. You can eat there as well as book a guided tour in the brewery. We will do that at one point I think – this weekend it was just a short outing.

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A tour around Tampa Bay

Today we took a longer drive going around the Hillborough Bay and down to Mantee to cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

We stopped at the Manatee County Rest area to take a look at the bay and the bridge.

Peter and I with the bridge in the background.

The bridge was built in 1987 and replaced the old bridge that was built in 1954.

We continued to drive north passing St Petersburg and Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs has a large population of Greeks or of Greek descendants and a part has turned in to a small Greece.

The first Greeks settled in 1880 as sponge divers. That business is still going along Greek restaurants and tourist’s shops.

We had a nice lunch after taking a walk in the area.

It’s been hot today, the thermostat said 35C/95F but it felt like 40C/105F and it was nice to come home and enjoy the air conditioning to gain normal body temperature again.

We have a lemon tree in the back with 5 lemons on them.

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A calm week in Tampa

I’ve now been here for 17 days but it feels longer. We have had some rain but the weekend have been dry and warm so far.

The other day we went for an ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery where they mix the flavours while you watch – very tasty.

I had Banana Caramel Crunch 😋

And tonight we went to a local outdoor restaurant called Big Ray’s Fish camp and I had blackened Grouper Cheek salad. Grouper belongs to the same family of fish as sea bass and lives in warm salt water. It was very nice but a huge portion. The girl taking our order asked if we were Swedish – she too and she thought she recognised the language. She moved here 10 years ago with her family.

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Circle B Bar or alligator scouting

On Sunday we went east to see some alligators. At Circle B Bar Reserve by Lake Hancock you can walk the trails and you will come across alligators.

At the entrance to the reserve

The trail were you’re most likely to see them was closed today due to them nesting. You’re not recommended to come between an alligator mama and her baby. We saw one gator, a raccoon, a sunbathing turtle and several birds.

The walk was warm but still nice – in and out of the shadow from the trees and some breeze.

By the entrance
Lovely walk on the Oak trail
Dragonfly
Sunbathing turtle
I believe this is some type of Egret
The head and back of an alligator
A Great Blue Heron
I think this is a Little Blue Heron
Lake Hancock
Dragonfly
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Ybor City

Today we went to Ybor City (pronounced Eebor) which is located northeast of downtown Tampa. We were lucky to have some clouds while walking down 7th Street but it was still HOT!!!

The arch at one of the entrances to 7th Street

Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District and founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor in the 1880s. He along several other cigar manufacturers as well as immigrants from mainly Cuba, Spain and Italy.

7th Street is the home of several restaurants or cigar shops. Ybor City was unique in the south as a successful town almost entirely populated and owned by immigrants.

Beautiful street signs.

We also tried the street car which you can take from Ybor City and down to downtown Tampa and back.

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Coffee morning

Today I went to my first coffee morning with the other spouses. It was the first in a long time apparently as the last one they had was in March last year a couple of days before the base went in lockdown as well as rest of Tampa.

My contribution but picture’s from the internet.

The afternoon was spent in the pool – even I’m starting to enjoy it. Went in twice today 😊

Not a big pool but enough for us
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Driving alone in Tampa

Yeah, today I took the car and went shopping myself.

I found my way there and back but not like Peter showed me 🤪 I was so focused on finding the way avoiding the larger street that I missed it and had to take the larger road. Was easy going there but coming back I couldn’t remember the name of the street I was supposed to be taking so I found a new way 😊

Spent the afternoon in the pool ☀️

First visitor arrived today 😉

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Welcome to Tampa

Now Peter and I have started our next adventure in Tampa. Peter actually arrived already in February. He was home for two weeks to see family and friends and we travelled back together.

The flight between Copenhagen and Washington was long and boring but on time and went smoothly. We had a few hours at Dulles before heading south and everything went nicely until everyone was seated it was time for take off. Apparently a hatch was broken and needed to be fixed and then approved before we could take off. That took three hours sitting in the plane waiting and a two hour flight all of a sudden became a five hour flight. Glad to be picked up at the airport and driven straight home. We went straight to bed and by then we had been up for 24 hours. Not much sleep on the flights either even if the Atlantic flight wasn’t fully booked.

First day was driving around to learn how to find my way around. The street system is fairly easy to remember and traffic similar to London. We also saw some of downtown Tampa before we went grocery shopping.

Along Bayshore towards Tampa downtown.

The next day Peter worked but came home to get me to fix a ID at the MacDill AFB and then later meeting the bank to get a debit card. Later in the evening we took Peter’s assistance to the airport.

Saturday we went to St Petersburg to sign the papers for Peter’s motorbike which should have been delivered several weeks ago. But due to the pandemic the factory had problems to build it in time. We had lunch at the beach and it really felt like being back in Mombasa. Not the best food (good enough) but the atmosphere makes up for it.

The Getaway
The Getaway
You could sit “indoors” if you preferred.
Peter’s enjoying the view
Shrimp ceviche

Today I drove for the first time and did find my way to both places we were going and without the navigator.

Cooling down in the pool
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It’s time to leave London

We have now been here for 3,5 years or rather 1333 days, we have been travelling to Wales, Scotland, Cornwall as well as other places in England. All together we have made about 440 outings while we’ve been here, met a lot of people and gained new friends.

We have enjoyed being here and would have loved to stay longer – we haven’t done everything yet =) But it is time to leave, Felicia have finished her GCSC, Emelie want to apply for university, I have got a permanent position at the school I want to work at and Peter has been offered a really good job back home. It will be nice to be closer to family and old friends but we will be back and visit those of our friends who are still here. The other friends we will visit where they may end up and they are always welcome to come visit us in Sweden.

In a few hours, we are driving on to the ferry taking us to Hook of Holland and tomorrow morning we are driving back to our house. Thank you, UK, for a lovely time and we will never forget you – we will come back and enjoy you even more.

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Buckingham Palace and Royal Mews

Our last outing in UK before heading back to Sweden, Buckingham Palace is only open during the summer when the Queen is not living there. The palace was called Buckingham House when it was built in 1761 by George III for his wife Queen Charlotte. In 1826, it was changed into a palace and Queen Victoria moved in 1837 and since it has been the official residence for the royal family.

The palace has 775 rooms and include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. As the Queen is not at the palace everything has been changed into a display area to also show some of the gifts she has received over the 60 years as a reign.

We also went to the Royal Mews to see the carriages and coaches and we also saw 4 of the horses. They run transportation for the royal family by both cars and horse drawn carriage. They also still train the horses that are used for pulling the royal carriages.

At the mews, we could take pictures but at the palace we weren’t so the pictures are borrowed.

Front of Buckingham Palace

Ball room (royalcollection.org.uk)

Blue Drawing Room (royalcollection.org.uk)

East GalleryBlue Drawing Room_royalcollection.org.uk

Grand Hall (royalcollection.org.uk)

Grand Staircase (royalcollection.org.uk)

Buckingham Palace garden

Two of the horses we saw today

Royal Mews

The girls infront of the Semi-state Landau

Queen Alexandra’s state coach built in 1865

Irish state coach exhibitied in 1851

The glass coach acquired in 1911 for the coronation of King George V

Scottish state coache was originally built in 1830

One of the royal cars

 

Gold state coach

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Museum day with the girls

Today the girls and I had a day at Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A Museum. Peter was also supposed to come along but as we are moving in a few days he was fitting the car roof box yesterday and saw that the fittings don’t match the roof rack…. Well he didn’t look very sad when we left him.

All museums are too big to do all of it and frankly 3000 stones don’t interest me that much. At the Natural History Museum, we saw the dinosaurs and the earth exhibition and at Science we did Engineer you future and Who am I but wanted to do Mathematics: The Winton Gallery as well but didn’t want to go up the stairs again when we came down.

We took a quick visit to V&A Museum as well but by then the girls where done with museums and we left. They did have energy for some shopping so we went to do that before returning home. A nice but warm day!

On our way into the middle of the earth

Dinousaur at Natural History Museum (well not the girls)

The world at Science Museum

Reading at Who I am

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Battle of Britain bunker again

Today I had booked a visit to the Battle of Britain bunker in Uxbridge for Peter, some colleagues and friends. The only reason this bunker has been preserved is because it was still used up until 1974 when it was closed but someone was clever enough to suggest it would be kept as a memory of the battle.

We saw the table where they had some idea of where the enemy’s and their own planes where, how it was done and everyone’s duty, visitors such as Churchill and all the activities going on. We also saw a documentary done in 1990 with pilots that was on active duty during the battle. Sadly, they are no longer around but it’s great that they did the recording when they did.

When we were done our group went for lunch at the White Bear in Ruislip where we had a lovely lunch before everyone had to head back to work or free time.

A replica made out of plastic as the real one was used for spareparts

The map where they could see where the enemy where but as well where their own pilots.

The board where they could see which squadrons that were ready to fight or needed to return to base.

 

Children were sent to the country side to survive the bombings of London

Famous word from Mr Churchill

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Middle Temple Hall Lunch

After been to the Middle Temple Hall and seen the impressing hall, where they serve lunch every day for members and guests, we decided to go there for lunch. It was a three-course lunch and a salad buffet as well – today they served pumpkin soup or pea soup as a starter, for the main course you could choose between steak with roasted potatoes, fish & chips or a vegetarian dish and for dessert there where 3 different cakes (chocolate, lemon and carrot) as well as fresh fruit and berries. If we could have eaten more we could also have cheese.

The lady who showed us to our seats became our private informer, we asked her several questions about the hall but also about the main table and the only table with a white tablecloth. It is only high court judges who are allowed to sit by the main table and if they want to have lunch with their wife or other guests they have to sit by the table with the white table cloth.

 

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Spencer House tour

Today I visited the Spencer house.

From its conception Spencer House was recognised as one of the most ambitious and splendid private palaces ever built in London and is today the city’s only great eighteenth-century house to survive intact.

They started building it 1756 and was done by 1766, the 1st Earl of Spencer ordered it and the land is still owned by the Spencer family (Lady Diana’s family).

Some of the pictures are from their website.

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V&A Museum tour

Today I was at the V&A Museum and got a guided tour through the British Galleries.

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Yearly visitors are here again =)

Evelina, Helen, Henke and Hampus flew with me back to London after I had helped my parents. We have had a few fantastic days together again and now they have returned to Sweden.

Me at SkyGarden

Felicia and Evelina at SkyGarden

Henke, Helen, Evelina and Hampus at SkyGarden

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Been helping my parents

Went 10 days to Sweden and helped my parents to pack as they are moving out of their house and into a flat. Found a lot of things I thought were gone a long time ago.

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Benjamin Franklin House

Today I visited Ben Franklin house, where Benjamin Franklin lived between 1757 and 1775. While lodging at 36 Craven Street, Franklin’s main occupation was mediating unrest between Britain and America, but he also served as Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies; pursued his love of science (exploring bifocal spectacles, the energy-saving Franklin stove); explored health (inoculation, air baths, cures for the common cold); music (inventing the glass armonica for which Mozart, Bach and Beethoven composed) and letters (articles, epitaphs, and his witty Craven Street Gazette), all while forging a hearty social life and close friendships with leading figures of the day.

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Middle Temple Hall

Today I visited Middle Temple Hall which is one of the four ancient Inns of Court. Inns of Court are the professional associations for barristers (lawyers) in England and Wales. All barristers must belong to one such association. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional accommodation. It is a self-contained precinct where barristers traditionally train and practice.

Middle Temple Hall was built between 1562 and 1573 and remains virtually unchanged to this day having survived the Great Fire of London and both World Wars. Middle Temple has one of the finest examples of an Elizabethan hall in the England with a double hammer beam roof carved from the oak of Windsor Forest and an elaborately carved screen made in 1574.

It was a fantastic tour and I will go back to have lunch there and make sure I visit the Temple Church nearby.

The entrance

The lamb and flag is the emblem of Middle Temple

The double hammer beam roof

One side of the Elizabethan hall with the carved screen

The Elizabethian hall

One of many nicely decorated chairs

The carved screen made in 1574 in the hall. The stained glass windows were removed at the beginning of WWII and stored. There was damage during the war to the window and the screen. All parts of the screen were gathered up after the WWII destruction and reassembled.

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Burn’s night 2017

Again we went to NHQ mess for the Burn’s Night where we had a three-dinner-course with haggis as a middle course. A fun evening in good company again!

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Whitechapel Bell Foundry

 

Today Peter and I went on a guided tour at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, known to be established in 1570, is the oldest manufacturing company in the UK. Bells of all sorts and sizes are manufactured, ranging from large church bells to musical hand bells, ship’s bells, level crossing warning bells, and a wide range of small bells for domestic clocks, pocket watches and musical boxes.

Two very famous bells came from this Bell Foundry: A bell originally cast at the Foundry in 1752 for the State House in Philadelphia and later known as the Liberty Bell and in 1858 they cast Big Ben, a 13,5-ton hour Bell at the Palace of Westminster.

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Poppy Factory visit

We went to visit the Poppy Factory in Richmond who supports ex-servicemen/women who has been injured or disabled in war. They get help to find a new career and some of them work in the factory but they do help a lot more.

It’s a charity and has been around since 1922 when they started by helping the servicemen returning from World war 1. They make the royal wreaths and other wreaths that are laid down on Remembrance Sunday.

It was really interesting to listen to and really nice to see how the poppies are made – we even got to make our own.

 

 

 

The entrance to the Poppy factory

The machine cutting the petals for the poppy

Another cutting machine

The Royal Navy wreath

The original cross for the unknown soldier

The founder of the Poppy Factory – Major George Howson MC

The Royal wreaths – The Queens, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry

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A cold evening in January

Tonight I gathered my friends for another guided pub tour – as always a fantastic evening. Thanks for coming!

The Golden Boy of Pie Corner

Canadian and Swedish friends

Colleen’s gin & tonic at The Viaduct Tavern

Swedish and American friends

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Skiing in Sweden

This year we didn’t stay in Northwood to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve but went to northern Sweden to go skiing with Peter’s side of the family. His parents as well as his sister with her family had all driven to Björnrike to ski and celebrate Christmas.

The weather was lovely and even if I didn’t ski we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the lovely surroundings.

We drove down to our hometown to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends before we headed south to my family and then go back to London.

Beautiful sun set

We saw reindeers when driving to the resort

Peter and Felicia in the slopes

Another sun set

The girls <3

Even Santa was out skiing

The slop system at the resort

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Christmas Walk in London

I had a nice walk in a Christmassy London today.

A stiletto in Golden Square

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Northwood Liberal Synagogue

After my English class today, I joined the tour at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue. Very interesting!


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Winter Ball 2016

We had a wonderful time at the Winter Ball at the NHQ. The girls thought the best was the chocolate fountain =)

We weren’t really impressed by the reindeer they had by the entrance

White chocolate fountain enjoyed by the girls

Peter and I at the dining table

Mary, me and Colleen

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Dick Whittington tour

I was on a tour today that was all about Sir Richard Whittington who was an merchant and politician during the latter part of the medieval time. He is also the real-life inspiration for the English folk tale Dick Whittington and his cat, which has very little to do with the real Whittington as he didn’t come from a poor background nor if he ever even owned a cat.

He was a member of parliament and a sheriff of London as well as he was Lord Mayor of London four times. He financed different public projects, such as a hospital ward for unmarried mothers, and drainage systems in the poorer areas of medieval London. He also donated his fortune to a charity which, nearly 600 years later, continues to assist people in need.

But as usual we heared a lot of other history on our walk around London.

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange

The Gresham family crest is a grasshopper

Dick Whittington and his cat

The house where Sir Richard Whittington lived once

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Embassy of Finland in London

Tonight, Peter and I was invited to the Finnish Ambassador’s residence here in London for some Christmas drinks and nibbles together with other defense attachés. A nice evening with nice people.

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Lucia in London

It was time again for celebrating St Lucia together with other militaries stationed here in London. The department of Defense at the embassy arrange it every year and it’s really appreciated by everyone that are invited.

The Lucia train consist of the middle school students at the Swedish school in London, they come and sing and the guests will applaud after each song if not told that you do that once they are done.

In Sweden, it is done on December 13 and everywhere – schools, pre-schools, care homes, work places, shopping malls and churches, from the youngest to the oldest it is liked. We do not only listen to them sing but also eat Lucia buns (with saffron), ginger snaps and drink glögg (a sweeter mulled wine).

Photo by Claudia Gründer – Claudia Gründer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3221537

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A birthday weekend in Edinburgh

When Peter was in Sudan he worked with a British officer (among others) and last time we were in Edinburgh we had dinner together. Peter has also met him in London when he’s been here.

We were invited to his birthday party at Craigiehall, outside Edinburgh, together with a large group of whom we had not met any before. We had a lovely evening and enjoyed the food and company. We stayed at Craigiehall overnight and after breakfast the next day we went back to Edinburgh and did visit the castle.

We didn’t do that last time as it was the tatoo at the time and so many tourists. This time we took our time, only thing was that we had to carry our bags as the line for leaving them at the station was too long. It’s a nice castle and different from other castles we have seen.

Craigiehall

Craigiehall – close up

Edinburgh castle

 

Mons Meg – she kept enimies of Scotland at a distance 500 years ago.

The dog cemetery – for officers dogs during Queen Victoria reign

 

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Hindu Temple

Today I went on a tour to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir here in London. No passports were needed to go to India for a few hours. 

The whole world is one nest” – Atharva Veda

”We are the birds of the same nest.
We may wear different skins,
We may speak in different tongues,
We may believe in different religions,
We may belong to different cultures,
Yet we share the same home – Our Earth.
Born on the same planet, covered by the same skies,
gazing at the same stars, breathing the same air,
we must learn to happily progress together
or miserably perish together.
For humans can live individually, but can only survive collectively.”

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NAWC visiting Northwood HQ

For some time, the NAWC ladies have asked if it would be possible to have a guided tour at the base. Many of the ladies have lived nearby for years and years but know nothing about it or have never been there. For us who can go there anytime it’s nothing special, there’s a coffee shop, gym, hairdresser, church and a thrift shop, but they were curious.

The tour ended with a small coffee morning that ladies connected to both the base and NAWC helped out with.

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Northwood School

Been to the new Northwood School where Felicia go, Emelie only attended the old one. The school is well planned with every department having their needs met. Especially the science floor – my fellow teachers in Sweden teaching science would love this.

Lecture Hall

 

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Fashioning a reign @ Windsor

I went with some friends to see Queen Elizabeth’s fashion over the years. The exhibition was held in 3 places but we chose to go to Windsor.

 

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Fleet Street & Middle Temple

From Lloyds Bank Law Courts Branch

Two Temple Place

The Edgar Wallace pub in the corner

The Devereux – 2nd Earl of Essex

The sign for St Clement Danes and fire insurance

The lamb and flag of Middle Temple and some former gas lamps.

Temple church (where part of Da Vinci Code was filmed)

Inside St Dunstan-in-the-West

17 Fleet Street

Dragon guarding the City

Lloyds Bank – Law Courts Branch

My exploring took me today to Fleet Street and Middle Temple.

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Visit to FGS Karlsruhe

We were invited to the German ship FGS Karlsruhe who was visiting London. It was moored outside HMS Belfast in River Thames, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

We had a lovely evening with a lot of food and company. It was the ships last visit to London before being decommissioned next year (2017).

Picture from Wikipedia

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Guy Fawkes @ Cassiobury Park

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

On the 5 of November England is still celebrating/remembering what happened in 1605 when Guy Fawkes was caught guarding gunpowder that was placed under the House of Lords. He was part in a plot to kill the King, James I. Talk about not putting the past behind you =)

Me, Felicia and Robbie went to Cassiobury Park in Watford to see the fireworks as this was the first year it didn’t rain on the evening. First they burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes and then there is fire work. There were so many people we could see the fire but not the effigy.

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Kings Cross Rejuvenation

Kings Cross has been an area for a long time where people only went if they had to, it was a red-light district. The city decided to claim the area back when the Eurostar started to operate out of Kings Cross station. Even if this started already in the 90s they are still building and bringing it back to its old glory where the trains delivered coals among other things. They are keeping the outer walls of some of the old buildings and builds new behind.

The area is called Kings Cross and the train station is called Kings Cross/St Pancras.


John Betjeman was one of the founding members of Victorian Society who worked to save Victorian architecture, which St Pancras is.


Sir Nigel Gresley was one of Britain’s most famous locomotiv engineers. He designed fast, elegant and powerful locomotives including the Flying Scotsman and Mallard, the fastes locomotives in the world.

One of many companies having their headquarters in the area.


Paul Day’s sculpture The Meeting Place


The base of Paul Day’s sculpture The Meeting Place

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Hampus and Emma spends the weekend in London

My cousin’s son and his girlfriend came to visit. I picked them up at the airport and when they walked out my first thought was that they missed getting their luggage as they had no bags. But they had forgotten to book bags for going to London, luckily, they had it booked for going home. They just needed to by bags so they could take everything home they shopped here.

It was nice to have them here even if we just saw them for breakfast and when they came home to sleep. I’m glad that they came!

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Nordic Defense attaché dinner

Tonight, we were invited to the Finnish defense attaché and his wife for dinner with the other Nordic and Baltic attachés and their wives. The hostess had together with the chef put together a lovely dinner with food from all the countries – Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Norway and Sweden.

The food was delicious and looked amazing. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the food…

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My parents visiting

As mum and dad have now sold their house and is going to move beginning of next year they decided to come visit before all the packing and then unpacking. We had a few lovely days together where we did mostly spend it together but also got to do some outings. Took them to Sky Garden as they have never been there and I thought it would be something they both would like to do.

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Bombay Sapphire Distillery visit

Together with some other Swedish friends we went to Bombay Sapphire Distillery for a guided tour. First part was with audio guide but then the last part inside the distillery it was by a lady who gave us the insight of how to make gin.

A part of the tour was to smell a range of different ingredients used in making gin, you were there plotting it on a piece of paper what you liked. After the tour you take your paper and give to the bartender, he then makes you a gin drink based on this ingredients. As I was driving I got a small bottle of gin and Fevertree tonic to go.

 

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Bloomsbury & Foundling Hospital

Today I went on a tour in the Bloomsbury area with my women’s club.

The clockmaster that invented the chronometer that allowed sailors to navigate more accurate.

Outside the site where Rossetti, Morris and Burne-Jones lived in 1851

She was an English crime writer as well as a poet and translator

Thomas Coram was a sea farer and the founder of the Foundling Hospital

A piece of art that symbolises the hospital and the abandoned children.

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell outside Great Ormond Street Children Hospital. SirJames Barrie donated his royalties for the play version of Peter Pan to the Hospital.

Russel Square

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Anzac Cemetery in Harefield

Today we went to Harefield and the Anzac Cemetery. The hospital in Harefield, Harefield Park was during world war l used as an Australian military hospital. Those who died there were buried with military honors in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church.

Being there we met a man from Australia who asked Peter to take a picture of him and the stone – his grandmother’s brother was buried here. He was told by the family that they wanted a picture.

She is the only staff that is buried here.