E R or Elizabeth Regina or Elizabeth the Queen

When you are in England everything seems to be monogramed with “E R” Sometimes without the crown.

That is because the Queen owns everything…sorta. She is the Queen, the head of state, the top of the heap…..You get the idea…

To continue, most national (I said most) are royal, The Royal Mint, the The Royal Botanic Gardens, The Royal Mail…Oh yes…The royal Mail.

When I was in Guildford I was intrigued by a couple of mail (or post) boxes on the street.

Here they are; can you spot the difference?




Give up?
Look under the pictures.

This is what I think…AR is Albert REX (Albert the King) and GR is George REX (George the King)
It is possible that it was too expensive to change these post boxes or the town (not a city or a village, thats another story) of Gulidford just liked them and wanted to be reminded of past monarchs. I’ll never really know.

Think you know? Leave me a comment.


Always ask for a discount

Hamleys is a big toy store, it may be the biggest toy store in the world, at least that’s what people in London told me. I needed a gift for my nephew, something not available at home. I hoped I could find something interesting and different for him here.
I was right, I found a card game called Top Trumps. A simple game of choosing the best characteristic from a list and challenging your opponent, the highest score wins.

The cards were not too expensive, about 6£ a set, one set would be good, I did get him other stuff too.

As is my usual custom, I asked the cashier for a discount, Se pleasantly refused me. I tried again, What about a tourist discount? Again the answer was a polite “no” Not one to give up easily, I asked about a Canadian discount, again “no” OK, my last try, I asked for a cute discount, I am cute.

This time I won, she told me that she would give me a 10% managers discount, at least that’s what she told me it was. I laughed and thanked her. In return I gave her one of my Canadian flag pins. That got me a smile, as usual. She thanked me this time.

I managed to save a whole 60p on the deal, but it was worth it just for the fun of the game. Of course, I always ask for a discount.

Find out more about me day in London here: <a href="http://gofani.blogspot.com/2005/09/sunday-afternoon-in-london.html
” title=” Sunday afternoon in London” target=”_blank”> Sunday afternoon in London

They twisted my arm…ow!

OK, not really.

As you may remember/know, I had out small Canada flag pins. Some times as a thank you or just because.

While In the British Museum – see Sept 16, 2005 – trying to not step on any little people (numerous school groups) I came across a group of boys in the Egypt collection. One asked if I was going to take their pictrure, I really didn’t know what to say, its not often you get asked to take a stranger’s picture, especially a child’s in London. I said “no” because that seemed to be the right answer. I did ask why I would, the same boy replied that a couple of other people, another American, and someone else, had already taken their picture. I protested saying that I wasn’t an American. I received a puzzled look , I turned around to show them the Canadian flag on my backpack. Canada the said together, I smiled and offered each of them a flag pin.

We talked for a couple of minutes, and with the help of their chaperone they were urged to get back to work. Before I could go, again I was asked to take their picture, this time I couldn’t resist.

Can I get there from here?

HA! In the Tube stations there were signs telling you where top exit for attractions, this is good, I say to myself, I don’t even have to ask to be oriented! I was wrong, as soon as you have left the safety of the tube station you’re lost again, no direction sign. In most cases there was a direction sign pointing out the right direction…if I could have only found those sign posts. One station had more than 10 exits. People were sometimes confusing too. The would be quite helpful, telling me how to get somewhere, but neglecting to give me one important detail, like after you turn right, take the stairs up one level.

I also had other tourists asking me for directions…Could it be the Big Canadian flag on my backpack. Do Canadians have a better sense of direction than anyone else?


Don’t ask me about the streets, I spent so much time being “lost” it wasn’t funny. I would be walking down a street and look up to make sure I was still on the road I thought I was on, not only could I not find a street sign, but the name changed. It seems that every bend in the road means it gets a new name…it doesn’t surprise me what natives carry around a street guide. There is NO grid system in London, Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Most people were friendly enough when I would ask for directions, if they could figure out where they were themselves.

The Tube

I have been using the Tube almost since I arrived in London. Its simple, figure out where you are, then where you want to go; not so simple. The Tube is HUGE, lots of lines and lots of stops. Add to that the DLR and the train, you have a mess. In some cases there are multiple routes to the same place; some with no changes, others with two or three changes; sometimes you want the shortest route, other times you just want to sit for the longest period of time. It is comforting to know that even native Londoners have the same problem; I would usually find a couple of other people staring blankly at the tube system map trying to figure out where to go. Another thing, the Tube is HOT! One friend I met carries an extra shirt because he always sweats so bad on then tube he NEEDS to change when he gets to work.

Switching between lines is always a gamble because sometimes the distance between lines through the rabbit warren of tunnels could be as long as the walk to where you were trying to go.

I’m Home

Sigh…it was nice to be away from home and work, no worries and no (work) stress for a while. I’m glad to be back home though, it was time to go and get my life back together.

I am still in a bit of a fog – jet lag will do that to a person.

As you may have noticed there are a few days missing for my daily updates, have no fear, as soon as I can think again I will add my reports from St Paul’s Cathedral, The Museum of London and guilford where i explored a castle and St Catherines chapel

I’m off work again for the Jewish new year, so that will help my brain and I look forward to being back at work.



I spent my last full day in the UK in Guildford. My host works in Guildford and I needed a relaxing day before I left. Guildford is another one of the UK’s (really) old towns dotted around the country. Another feature of the town was there is a castle to see; well, the remains of a castle.

I wanted to see a castle!

Guildford turned out to be a very charming (I can use descriptive words too) town. You know it’s a town and not a village because villages did not have market days, only towns and cities did. To continue, I walked into the town center; down the path and over the bridge, and towards the tourist information center. I needed to know what to see and how to get there…didn’t I?

Well, I tried to get to the castle, but they were repaving the paths and all signs indicated I should try another entrance, except all the entrances had the same sign…POO! This was not going to work; I walked down to the Guildford Museum; a small historical museum all about Guildford…who’d a thunk it?

The museum had local artifacts and information about the people that lived in the area. There was also information about Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. He lived there, although he didn’t seem to be home….can’t understand why.

With instructions from the museum, I tried the castle again, success…sorta, I just walked on the newly paved walkway to the entrance.

The castle was amazing! Another 900-year-old building!!

The newly erected main floor made it easy to see the possible layout of a Norman castle. I was also able to walk up to the tower using one of the spiral staircases. The view from the roof was comparable to what I could see from the top of St Paul’s or the London Eye.

I wanted to see the Guildford Cathedral, but distance made it impossible; I did get some pictures from the roof of the castle.

I wandered down to the river to take some pictures of the locks and the birds, ducks and swans almost everywhere. With most of the “wild” animals they did not fly off as I approached. I didn’t have anything to feed them. They would have to look for food the way nature intended.

Time to head back. I found my bearings and made my way back to where we were going to meet to go home. I was a bit early and there was nowhere to sit. I decided to follow a footpath to see where it would lead me. I had nothing to lose, except my way (no bread crumbs) I followed the path along the backs of a row of houses towards a clearing, and then I walked through a small field and up a hill. As I turned to continue going up the hill, I saw an amazing site. I had no idea what it was, except that it was the ruins of a building. I’m pretty smart that way.

I was in awe of what was there, and completely unexpected. I was not able to find out more about it until I got home. Unfortunately there is not much information out there. Here is what I was able to find:

St. Catherine’s Hill and Chapel On the summit of this hill stands the ruin of St Catherine’s Chapel built in the 13th (14th?) Century by the rector of St Nicolas’ church. The chapel was abandoned by the end of the middle ages, the church can be seen from across the valley and river and the hill makes a fantastic viewing platform.

Some (very) brief information about Guildford

The historic town of Guidlford is home to an historic guildhall and clock, castle gardens (the castle was built by the Normans, and at one time a palace of Henry III stood on the site), and the home of Lewis Carroll’s family—author of Alice in Wonderland. The Guilford House gallery is located in a 17th century townhouse, built between 1660 and the 1680s, that houses an art gallery. A museum houses artefacts and gives details of local history.

Here is some information about Guildford Castle.

Guildford Castle started out as a Norman motte and bailey castle, built soon after 1066. The wooden defences were replaced by stone ones during the 12th century, and the motte acquired first a shell keep and then the strong but not very large towerGuildford Castle keep that survives today. As the only royal castle in Surrey it became the centre for administration and justice, with the keep converted to use as the county gaol. The royal apartments were moved to a palace in the bailey below, which under Henry III became one of the most luxurious royal residences in England.

After Henry III’s death in 1272 the castle fell into decline, and the palace buildings were allowed to fall into ruin. In 1611 the castle was bought by a Guildford merchant, Francis Carter, who attempted to convert the keep into a private residence. This proved unsuccessful, and in 1630 the roof and floors were removed. In 1885 the ruins were bought by Guildford Borough Council.

Other Buildings of note in Guildford

The Guildhall is a Tudor building to which a 17th century facade has been added (1683). The most prominent feature is the clock overhanging the street. The date on the clock is 1683, the inner works were much older (c 1560) but over the years as parts have worn these have been replaced. The original bell, now cracked and replaced with a new bell, came from St Martha’s Church (on the ridge above Chilworth). The iron balcony is used for important proclamations. Within, in the old court-room are a set of standard measures presented to the town by Elisabeth I. These measures are one of the few complete sets in existence.

Abbot’s Hospital (Hospital of the blessed Trinity), an imposing redbrick building was founded as an almshouse by George Abbot, a local man who rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

On the top section of the High Street lies the Royal Grammar School. Founded in 1509, granted a charter by Edward VI in 1553. The school contains a chained library, started with books bequeathed to the school (1573) by John Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, a native of Guildford. The books include Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World, written whist he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. A document (1598) referring to a match of cricket played by the boys (c 1550) is one of the earliest references to the game. Two models of the earliest cricket bats are on display within the library.

Natural History Museum

OK, I seem to have neglected talking about the The Natural History Museum

I was as impressed with the building as with the actual collection. As with most things in London, the museum has been around in some form or another since 1753 …when physician and collector of natural curiosities, Sir Hans Sloane, left his extensive collection to the nation… The current building dates from about 1883.

The collection includes:

  • 55 million animals, including 28 million insects
  • nine million fossils
  • six million plant specimens
  • more than 500,000 rocks and minerals
  • 3,200 meteorites in our collections

Well…thats quite a bit, isnt it?
Needless to say, I didnt see everything.

Fossils, plants, animals, insects, the human body and how it works, rocks, minerals, gold, silver, copper, diamonds, iron, the earth and how it works (there is a giant spring in the middle that has to be kept wound) and numerous school groups.

This leads me to a story.

As I wandered through the museum, I noticed that lots of the boys, in high school, wore their ties very short and some had pins at the bottom. I asked one boy about the pins, he explained that there were for various school sports; this case he was the captain of the cricket team. Dont ask me about cricket, Ill just refer you to the Insect collection. I thanked him, before I could offer him a flag pin, he was gone.

Later, in the gift shop, where I didnt buy an 8 £ mug, and while waiting at the cash, I asked another boy about his short tie, he response was quick and too the point…Fashion I had my answer.

He asked if I was from America, I responded that no, I was from Canada, and offered him a flag pin. I also offered the other kids around (3 or 4 flag pins) He was very cheeky, asking me more questions in the 4 or 5 minutes were together than I could answer. I did my best.

We all paid and went on our way, less than a minute later, a small group of students from the same school surrounded me asking for pins, of course I gave them each a pin, more smiles and more rapid fire questions. How did they know about the pins? The boyfrom the cash.

Their teacher tried to get them together, but without much luck. I moved into a corner to pack myself to get on my way and again more students. I had a problem, there were 8 or 9 of them, but I only had 4 pins left. I wasnt happy, and I know I was going to disappoint some of them. I explained that I only had 4 pins and that couldnt do anything about it. I reached out and put the 4 pins in 4 hands. I apologized again, they thanked me and started to walk off to join their classmates, I had to find out who told them about the pins, boy number 1 again. I laughed and told him that I didnt have any more, so dont send anyone else.

They and I were finally on my way out, we ended up walking to the tube station together, more questions and more of the teachers trying to control them.

I would have loved to chat with them, given them a lesson about Canada, but that was not part of their teachers plans.

We went on our separate way at the Tube station.

I didn’t get much else done, museums are exausting.