June 11, 2016

Leaving Vancouver on June 10 we arrived at London Gatwick airport very early in the morning of June 11. After topping up our Oyster cards we caught the direct train to London Bridge station and after a short Tube trip we arrived at Caroline’s flat at about 8:30 am. By this time she had already left for yet another day of the Bar exam ordeal and an e-mail from her told us that she needed to spend the rest of the day revising for tomorrow’s exam. So we headed off to Kew Gardens on our own.

Ancient chestnut tree

Ancient chestnut tree

We had already purchased our tickets online and researched our Tube route, so off we went. It took almost an hour to reach the Kew Gardens tube stop, and once there we followed Kew High Street towards the Victoria Gate entrance. Inside the gardens we followed the main pathway which would take us past the most popular attractions. First stop was the Pagoda, which was completed in 1762. It is a 163-foot high octagonal structure made of wood, soon to undergo a major renovation. We sat there a while so that Rosemary could rest her knee, which had been injured in the Lake District back in April.

Kew Palace

Kew Palace

Carrying on from here we followed the path to the Queen Charlotte cottage, which is an 18th-century thatched cottage which was used as a private haven for the queen and her family. It is in a wooded area hidden away from the rest of the gardens, as it must have been in Queen Charlotte’s day. We were now at the far end of the garden so we headed back, following the path along the bank of the Thames. Across the river we could see Syon House, a large stately house which was built in 1547 and is now owned by the Duke of Northumberland.

Palm Conservatory

Palm Conservatory

Since it was nearly 1 pm we decided to head towards the main entrance to have lunch. At the White Peaks café we sat outside and had jacket potatoes with chili, a very filling meal for £4.95 each. Before we left the gardens we toured Kew Palace, which had been King George III’s retreat when he was suffering his bouts of madness, and then went into the Palm Conservatory. It was even hotter and more humid inside than the outside air, so we headed back out to the Princess of Wales Conservatory. This was a lot more tolerable and we spent a while looking through its ten computer-controlled climate zones.

Cacao pod

Cacao pod

But by now Rosemary’s knee was very painful so we headed back to Caroline’s place. She took some painkillers and we chatted with Caroline for a while, but she had to carry on revising the law books. We stayed up for a while before succumbing to sleep.

June 12, 2016

Today after breakfast we went over to Argos to help Caroline carry back some purchases. Rosemary’s knee was feeling reasonably okay until she jumped out of the way of a fast-approaching taxi, which caused an instant sharp pain. For the rest of the day she iced and rested the knee, but it was still very painful when we walked down to The Culpepper for their Sunday roast. Even though it was only 4 pm they were out of roast beef, so we settled for roast chicken, which did come with Yorkshire pudding. So we were pleased with that.

We spent the rest of the evening at Caroline’s; she carried on studying and we spent the time reading and icing the knee.

June 13, 2016

Rosemary spent a sleepless night because of the excruciating pain in the knee and could barely put any pressure on it. So we decided that the next part of our trip, walking on the Cornwall coastal path, would have to be cancelled. We would have to figure out something else to do.

So off we went to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to get the knee looked at. Caroline ordered us an Uber cab, which arrived promptly, but the trip to the hospital took over an hour because of the heavy traffic. Fortunately the waiting time at the Urgent Care centre was only 45 minutes; five patients were called at once, so Rosemary and the other four all hobbled down the hall to the X-ray area. A nice young doctor examined the knee but he could only feel internal swelling, nothing torn or broken. He wrote a prescription for Solpadol, which is the British equivalent of Tylenol 3.

We were surprised to find that even though we were foreigners not covered by National Health, we didn’t have to pay for this visit! Then we walked across the streets to Boots to fill the prescription. We were surprised to find that the prescription was for 100 tablets, and even more surprised to find that since Rosemary was over 60, we didn’t have to pay for the prescription!
Back at Caroline’s place we spent the rest of the day icing the knee again, along with e-mailing all of our B&B’s in Cornwall to cancel our bookings.

June 14, 2016

Last night Rosemary took two of the Solpadols, as per the doctor’s prescription. As a result she slept all morning and finally forced herself to get up at 12:30 pm. We couldn’t imagine what would have happened if she had taken two Solpadols every four hours, as he had suggested! We spent most of the afternoon resting and trying to find accommodations elsewhere, but everything affordable was already booked up. But then Paul’s uncle and aunt, Chris and Ruth, invited us to stay in Exeter with them for a few days, so we booked train tickets for the 16th.

June 15, 2016

After we finished our breakfast we walked down to the Liverpool Street station to pick up our train tickets for tomorrow. Rosemary’s knee was responding somewhat to painkillers, so a short walk seemed like a good idea. On the way back we followed a route through the Barbican Centre, and in the middle was a section of the old London city wall, near St. Giles Cripplegate church. Continuing onward we passed through Bunhill Fields Cemetery, where the mathematician Thomas Bayes is buried; his headstone is quite obscure but we managed to find it.

For dinner tonight Caroline made beef bourguignon with mashed potatoes, followed by a chocolate cake—it was our 44th wedding anniversary.

Next: Exeter