June 21, 2016
This morning we stayed at Chris and Ruth’s in the morning and then Chris drove us down to Exeter St. Davids just before noon. Our tickets allowed us to travel on any off-peak train, so we hadn’t bothered to check out the train times. We only knew that there was a train to London about every 45 minutes. But as it turned out, the 11:39 am train was running 25 minutes late so we only had to wait five minutes before it arrived.
However this train was now “out of sequence” so it had to keep slowing down because it caught up to slower-moving commuter trains. And by the time we arrived at Paddington it was more like 45 minutes late. So catching that train probably didn’t gain us any time at all. Not that we needed to worry about that.
From Paddington we caught the Tube and headed over to Caroline’s place; Rosemary’s knee was quite painful by then. Caroline was out late so we ended up having dinner by ourselves.
June 22, 2016
We had a brief chat with Caroline before she went off to work, and then we had the rest of the day to ourselves. After breakfast we did some laundry and then walked over to Islington to see if the Sports Direct shop had any inexpensive walking shoes. But no luck—they had plenty of samples on the wall but they didn’t have anything in our size! We had better luck in the street market there, finding a light-weight foldable carry-all which we would be able to leave in Les Houches with our extra clothes while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc.
We stopped at the Tesco to buy sandwiches for lunch and then sat on a bench by the Regent’s Canal to eat. After lunch we headed back to Caroline’s to rest Rosemary’s knee. For some reason it was very painful today despite wearing the knee brace.
June 23, 2016
Last night our sleep was interrupted by a thunder and lightning storm; we could see lots of bright light lightning through the blinds. In the morning the weather was grey, but there was no rain. After breakfast we walked down to Boots across from Liverpool Street station, to buy some ibuprofen gel. Rosemary’s knee felt reasonably okay, so we continued onwards to London Bridge and then crossed to the south bank and the world of tourists. We walked back over Tower Bridge and then through some minor streets, where we passed by a branch of London’s public library. They had a book sale, so we bought three books at 25p each. More stuff to carry around Europe!
Rosemary’s knee was still okay so we set off to walk to Sutton House, a National Trust property in central Hackney. It took us just over an hour to reach the house, including some backtracking because we were looking for Mare Street but it was still called Cambridge Heath Road when we crossed it.
Sutton House is a Tudor-era house, originally built by a courtier of Henry VIII. In those days it was in the countryside beside a stream, so it was built from narrow bricks made from the clay and mud from the banks of that stream. Since then it has had a checkered career, being at times a girls’ school and a church institute and divided in half as a mortgage helper. And during the Victorian era it was enlarged and changed again.
There isn’t much furniture remaining in the house, but the wood panelling in several of the rooms was interesting. It was made in small sections which could be taken with you if you decided to move. Likewise windows, in particular the glass, were also designed to be taken along when you moved. We spent about an hour looking through the house, as well as having some tea in the little tea room.
On the way back we went along the Regent’s Canal and turned off by Shoreditch Park. Soon we felt raindrops, and noticed that the sky was getting very dark, which was not a good sign. Before we got back the heavens opened up. We thought of sheltering under a tree, but the tree started to leak, so we just zipped up our rain jackets and hurried on. There were flooded streets everywhere, we got splashed by two passing cars, and by the time we got back to Caroline’s we were drenched from head to toe and our shoes were totally sodden.
First stop at Caroline’s was the bathroom, where we changed out of our wet clothes and squeezed as much water out of them as possible before hanging them on a drying rack. Hopefully they will dry by tomorrow!