Tag Archives: England

A Visit to Noble and Noteworthy Northumberland

I wrote about my surprising adventures in Northumberland, England for My Itchy Travel Feet, a blog for Boomer travelers.  Please use this link to read about this wonderful location:


The Best Tourist Attraction in London: The Tower

Tower of London

A fall trip to London would be smashing. Europe’s largest city has enough to keep tourists busy for months.  But, what if you only have time to visit one site? Which would it be?  Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the House of Parliament, the British Museum or the Tower of London?  I’d pick the Tower of London and in fact, highly recommend returning on every trip. Sounds trite but the UNESCO World Heritage site truly offers something of significance for most everyone.

Want history and architecture? William the Conqueror began work on the Tower shortly after he won his crown in 1066 . That’s nearly a thousand years ago.  He wanted to protect his important London base. Over the centuries, the stronghold evolved into a symbol of English royalty.

Today, visitors find a complex of castles, fortifications, courtyards and buildings including the famous White Tower started back in 1078. The legendary Bloody Tower held two imprisoned princes, sons of Edward IV, who were likely murdered by Richard III. Stroll around to the former scaffold grounds where notorious beheadings took place, including those of Queen Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Moore.

Scaffold Site

Bird lovers enjoy the ravens who are guaranteed to be on the Tower Green. Legend says the kingdom will fall if they desert the property. Shh, the ravens wings are clipped.

The fortress acted not just as a royal residence and prison, but as a treasury and armory. Now a fantastic assemblage of medieval weapons and royal armor are exhibited. Those interested in religion are drawn to the simple Chapel of St. John, the oldest church in London, and a fine example of Norman architecture.

The Crown Jewels are securely stored in the Jewel House underground. They attract a line of visitors waiting to ogle over the vast collection of priceless gems and royal regalia.

Photographers shoot the view of Tower Bridge, seen from the  edge of The Water Gate, better known as Traitor’s Gate. Queens Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth 1, entered it as prisoners.  And no visit to London is complete without a snapshot of the flamboyantly costumed Beefeaters or Yeoman Warders. They guard the Castle grounds and give lively tours.

The Tower is London is, in my opinion, the city’s best landmark and its location is ideal for anyone looking for hotels in London city centre. The subway offers easy access via the Tower Hill stop. Even if time is short, don’t miss this historic and enthralling site.

A quizzical look from a Yeoman Warder

Hear ye, hear he: The Tudors are Back

Henry and Anne
“Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Lived.”  A tour guide at Hampton Court taught me that saying-an easy way to remember the fate of Henry VIII’s six wives. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now for the Proclamation of the Day:  The new season of The Tudors begins tonight, April 5th at 9:00 PM ET, on Showtime .  Fireworks please.

Never fear, if you haven’t watched the first two seasons you can jump right in. Henry divorced first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who later died, and wed Anne Boleyn.  He breaks from the Catholic Church (because they won’t grant the divorce) and creates The Church of England.

Things don’t go well for Anne and he has her beheaded at The Tower of London. His two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, one from each former wife, are now declared illegitimate.  Juicy, I’d say.

This series is packed with fantastic acting and gorgeous actors (like Henry Cavill, who plays the King’s friend, Sir Charles Brandon.) The costuming is worthy of a museum exhibit (I would love to see them go on tour), authentic castles and countryside, high definition filming and expert production. But, the story itself is the winner: lust and sex, friendship and betrayal, births and deaths, religion, greed, power, war, as well as medieval torture.  What more is there?

Season three begins with Henry’s third wedding, this time to Jane Seymour .  But here’s my secret:  use this link to watch the new episode on your computer right now.  Not as good as big screen TV, but a tantalizing taste.

Seymour Salad
The Tudors Beet and Orange Salad

And speaking of food, to publicize the season premier Showtime asked Sara Moulton of the Food Network to create a royal feast .  I saw the photo spread in Gourmet magazine and  was enticed to make the beet and orange salad.  The dish was so impressive I’m featuring it and the recipe on my food blog .

It’s a royal day.  Please kind sirs, don’t call me tonight, I’ll be with Henry and Jane.

Bonus: You can catch up on the story with The Tudor Timeline.