The congenial group on this Tour definitely felt both inspired and enlivened by our enjoyable, action-packed programme which encompassed history, architecture, culture, gastronomy, horticulture and much more.
We began with a river trip down the Thames with wonderful views of the City, Canary Wharf and the vast amount of new development in Docklands. Even tower Bridge opened in front of us! After a good lunch in Greenwich and a tour around the magnificent Painted Hall, we were shown the important buildings and labyrinth of lanes and passages in the City, our guide regaling us with amusing anecdotes. The first evening ended with bubbles and canapes on the balcony of the Club and a gastronomic dinner in the newly refurbished dining room.
On day two we were taken to the Royal Hospital Chelsea to be guided by a most amusing 75 year old pensioner, one of the 283 who live there in their recently updated en-suite facilities. A vast improvement, he told us, on the original 6’ by 6’ cell-like rooms. He entertained us with tales of the exploits of the Pensioners, (including ‘Grab a Granny Night’, which has become less popular since 13 lady Pensioners have been admitted, and the fact that the Pensioners are the oldest Boy Band to have entered the UK Top 10!) He conducted us around the handsome Wren buildings with their most impressive chapel and dining hall.
An excellent lunch in the Chelsea Physic Garden was followed by a tour around what was formerly the plot where the Apothecaries’ Company grew their medicinal herbs. It is astonishing that the ground rent for this beautifully peaceful four acre haven remains £5 per annum. Our eventful day ended with a real treat – a stirring performance of il Trovatore in Covent Garden’s elegant Royal Opera House.
On the final morning we visited the 1185 Temple Church, built to house the treasures of the Knights Templar, and a tour of the Inns of Court. With their elegant buildings and attractive gardens the Inns offer an oasis of calm amid the city’s bustle, and it was here that we saw Izzy, the Harris hawk who is used to scare the seagulls.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable and well organised tour and we would like to thank Lisbeth Rune for arranging it and our Chairman Richard Butler and his wife Sue for accompanying us.
Lucy & Brian Lock