The Retirees go Abroad – Visiting Richard III – Leicester

I have been trying to fit in a visit to the tomb of Richard III after having visited Bosworth Field where Richard was killed and Henry Lancaster acquired the throne of England by conquest. Leicester is only 55 minutes from Keresley in the Cotswolds so it was important that I take the time to visit.

The visitors centre is in part attached to the carpark in which Richard’s remains were excavated and alongside the Cathedral. The entrance is part of a new square developed because of the reburial of the remains. After paying the entrance fee, we sat through a video presenting the early life of Richard and the last days of Edward IV. After that there was a series of picture boards starting with the capture of the Woodvilles transporting the young Edward V and his brother Richard to London to be crowned (the lost boys in the Tower). Then Richard was crowned and he placed the boys in the Tower from whence they did not return (a mystery to this day) and from which Richard earned the reputation of a cruel king. The display had a computer programme which gave various facts around the missing boys and what may have actually have happened to them. It also identified those most likely to have killed the boys (motive, means and opportunity). No definite conclusion but interestingly a public voting system on the most likely villain for the missing boys acquitted Richard and accused the mother of Henry (Henry was hiding out in Brittany at this time).

The display then gave the story of the Battle of Bosworth Field and the achievements of Richard during his short reign (about 5 years). The display continues on the next floor where a guide shows you from a viewing platform the carpark where the excavation took place. The place where the remains were found is under cover and can be viewed through a glass floor. The rest of the display described the investigation and discovery of his remains. Interestingly and coincidentally there was an “R” painted on the bitumen in the carpark and the remains were found under the letter “R”. The “R” stood for reserved. The display included a scan of the bones showing the injuries he suffered in the battle (the wound that killed him and the wounds that were inflicted during the battle and one after he was dead), there was a suit of armour that is like the one worn by him, the facial reconstruction, his disfigured spine, and how they found his maternal relations to test the DNA. Fascinating!

We then went across to the Cathedral (St Martins at the time of Richard) where the Presbytery has been converted into a tomb room to hold the royal remains. We returned to the car passing the Guildhall which according to the historic information on the building claimed the hall had been constructed in 1390AD.

Despite some anxious moments over Kerry’s lost purse and my lost cap I am so glad I made the effort to go there. We have been living in that part of England where English history has been made everywhere we turn. Whether it be battle between Kings or the creation of the industrial revolution, it is all here.

The Retirees go Abroad – London in July – Tower Bridge and Globe Theatre

We had attempted a visit last time we were in London with David and Veronica and missed the opportunity by being diverted. Not this time.

From Tower Hill tube station we walked past the Tower of London down to Tower Bridge. Built 1886–1894 it is a combined bascule and suspension bridge crossing the River Thames The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical components of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whilst the bridge’s twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

Entering upon the bridge from the north bank we proceeded to the first tower and after paying our fee we entered an elevator taking us to the top of the tower and a video presentation on the creation of the design for the bridge. From there we walked on the eastern gangway to the other tower stopping to view the river from the glass floor and to take pictures of London high above from the middle of the Thames. From the south tower we circuit back across the western walk way and then down the stairs and onto the engine rooms. As we do a boat travels through the open bridge. Quite a remarkable structure.

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It is then quite an easy walk along the south bank past Hayes wharf where there is a metal work sculpture of something that looks like it is out of a Jules Verne novel onto Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Here we did a guided tour after visiting the museum. Unfortunately I could not take photos as they were doing a rehearsal for that night so we got to watch the last three scenes of the play.

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Now completely exhausted we dragged ourselves across the Millennium Bridge over to Blackfriars tube station and home

Remembrance Day

It is the 11th hour on the 11th day 100 years after the Armistice.

The strength of support for Remembrance is tremendous. The similarity with ANZAC Day in Australia is phenomenal and the pride of the nation for its fallen servicemen is tangible. Everywhere there is silence as we remember those soldiers, sailors, and airmen sacrificed for the security and stability that British people enjoy today.

We feel we have been part of this remembrance and glad that we have involved ourselves. Our involvement started with assisting the British Legion with its Poppy Day fund raising through the Rotary Club of Nottingham. For two hours we sold Poppy Day mementos at Broadmarsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham. Our shift, 4.00pm to 6.00pm meant that we saw people of Nottinghamshire coming home from work (the rail station is accessed through the shopping centre) all stopping to donate or buy a poppy, badge or wrist band. One of the styles of poppies on sale was a knitted poppy. We had not seen these before. All individual but based on a standard pattern. We learned that these had been created by members of the public following a request by one of the local radio stations that 11,000 be knitted for the 11,000 Nottinghamshire soldiers lost in WW1.

Kerry delighted in relaying this story to the many women who picked through these poppies looking for the right one. I am not sure if they were interested in the poppies or just wanted to hear the Australian talking. We were visited by one surprised Aussie who heard the accent and had to ask what the hell we were doing raising money for the British Legion.

We were visited by Val Lievers, a past District Governor for this Rotary District. Val is one of the originators of the project and she continues with organisation for the British Legion and has cemented the relationship between the organisations. Busy and bubbly, Val was surprised to have a couple of Aussies on the stand. Below are the snaps of us on the stand courtesy of Val. According to Val tens of thousands of pounds will be raised through this effort by the Legion and Rotary.


Val also told us that the response from the public to supply the knitted poppies was overwhelming with more than 100,000 poppies being donated from Nottingham.

We also had present servicemen visit and donate. One in particular stopped with his wife and family to talk to me as we shared a common interest – it is probable that he encountered our son Adam serving with the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan. This fellow is currently in his 30th year in the service, having started as a Private and risen in the ranks to Major and having served a number of times in Afghanistan, Iraq and Falklands.

Our next encounter was when we went to the Tower of London to see our Poppy. For those of you who are not aware the British Legion has arranged the sale of hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies (almost 900,000 in fact, designed and made right here in Derbyshire) to represent the British soldiers, sailors and airmen lost in the WW1. The poppies have been planted in the moat of the Tower. These poppies are about 4 feet tall and cost 25 pound. We hope to receive ours in January 2015 as the display will be dismantled after today. The vision of these poppies is spectacular and has been visited by over 4 million people according to press reports. A picture is worth a thousand words or so the saying goes. I agree in this case and here are my photos.


Here in Britain they remember on Remembrance Sunday. This is the Sunday before the anniversary of Armistice Day and they have two minutes silence at 11.00am on the 11th as well. I was not aware of this and by accident came across the Long Eaton Memorial parade and service returning from Tescos. On returning to the flat, I told Kerry and both of us hurried back to the Memorial. Marketplace Rd and Tamworth Rd were closed and now filled with people. We had missed the parade but the formal service and wreath laying was taking place. There were dignitaries on the official dais beside the Memorial in the centre of town. It was hard to see what was happening from the back of the crowd but the audio was crystal clear. I don’t know who everyone on the dais was but there was clearly a priest who conducted the service and probably the Mayor for the borough in mayoral regalia. There were representative units from the Army, Navy, Air force and Commandos, and other community organisations laying wreaths.

The priest gave a moving and interesting address about the first two minutes silence. Someone, and I cannot remember who, put the idea to King George V shortly before the first anniversary of the armistice. The King approved of the idea and through the Times requested that on the 11th hour of the 11th day that everyone stop their daily activities for two minutes silence in remembrance of the fallen. Even with the short notice, the country came to a standstill. Traffic stopped. Trains delayed their departure. Pedestrians stood still in the streets. And every year thereafter this ritual of remembrance was performed until Remembrance Sunday was announced for the remembrance of those lost in war, as well as the two minutes silence on the anniversary. With the completion of the ceremony the parade reformed and marched out down Tamworth Rd. I have captured some of it for you.


Lest we forget.