It’s spring and if you are an avid gardener, you could go to the Royal Horticultural Society Worlds Most Famous Chelsea Flower Show for between £58 to £116, depending on the session. Or you can take the freebie option and check out the amazing exhibits at Chelsea in Bloom and Belgravia in Bloom held the very same week. These displays have been an unexpected gem. Wandering about these posh suburbs and seeing these amazing, artful displays was such a treat!
The themes this year are “Flowers on Film” for Chelsea and “Into the Wild” for Belgravia. The artists do an incredible job working with flowers and natural items like bark and twigs to create amazing sculptures. It is wonderful to be able to walk around these suburbs enjoying the spring weather and viewing these artworks!
Considering the crowds, a visit to the historic Tower of London seems to be a “must do” for anyone visiting London. This building complex which dates back to 1066 has been used as an armoury, the Royal Mint, a dungeon, a menagerie, the home of the Crown Jewels and the site of a number of executions. Amongst the executions are some of the wives of King Henry VIII. Here are my tips for a good visit.
Are you a Tower Hamlets resident?
The entry fee for adults is £33.60. For those lucky enough to live in the borough of Tower Hamlets, you can get into this attraction for a mere £1. Go to the ticket booth with your Ideas Card (i.e. your library card), proof of address and your identification.
Go at opening time.
This is a major tourist attraction for London and is always inundated with visitors. The queue for tickets is long, the queue to get into the complex is long and the queue to see the Crown Jewels is ridiculously long. Get there at or before opening to reduce the wait times. Pre-purchase your tickets online to avoid the ticket office line.
Bee-line for the Crown Jewels.
If you have heeded my tip to go at opening time, make a bee-line upon entry to the Crown Jewels. You might be able to get in at this point without waiting. Dilly-dally and the queue will build and build and build! By midday, the queue can be 2 hours long! It’s quite crazy that the queue is so long considering that a conveyor belt has been installed inside to move tourists past the Crown Jewels at pace to avoid any loitering.
Don’t miss seeing the Crown Jewels. Photos are not allowed so I cannot show you how ostentatious and priceless these pieces are but it is definitely worth looking at. It’s not everyday you see this many precious gemstones of such prodigious sizes!
Go on a Yeoman Warder Tour
The Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower of London since Tudor times. They are also called Beefeaters. These days, to even apply for a job as a Yeoman Warder, you need to have completed at least 22 years of military service and be of good character. There is a Yeoman Warder tour every half hour from 10am. They are very entertaining and informative. It’s always interesting to know where the two princes were buried and where Anne Boleyn was executed!
The other interesting fact about the Yeoman Warders is that they live at the Tower of London with their families. This means that there are children who grow up playing in the grounds of the Tower of London and popping in to see the Crown Jewels after school.
There is quite a lot to see once inside the Tower of London complex, especially if you are a history buff. Plus, it does cost a fair bit to get in. It took me 5 hours to see everything. Pack some water and snacks to keep yourself going so you can enjoy the visit.
London is gorgeous in springtime. People start to wear lighter jackets and sometimes you even see some shorts and skirts with bare legs! The flowers that sprout up everywhere are simply joyous. These flowers can be observed just doing everyday things around London. No special trip to some pricey gardens required. Just keep your eyes open and feast them on the cherry blossoms, daffodils, bluebells, hyacinths, tulips and all the other plants bursting into life to celebrate a new year of growth.
Lots of big world events happen in London. Preparations are in full swing for the coronation of King Charles! The London Marathon with 42,000 runners only just happened recently!
In true London style, around every corner, there is some beautiful architectural building, picturesque view or interesting detail to catch the eye!
The white cliffs of Dover is famous but there is nothing like seeing something like this in person on a beautiful, blue sky day! The cliff-side walk is really stunning. Best to pay for parking up near the cliffs. You could search for parking close to Dover town but then you would have to climb up the hill to get to the cliffs!
I kept my eyes peeled on the water for some whales or dolphins but I didn’t see any but is that France I see? The high location also gives a stunning view of Dover port.
Stretch your legs on the drive home from Dover by stopping in Canterbury for a look at the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral. Tickets are about £15.50/adult or you can time your visit for a service so you pop your head in for a quick look for free!