Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Researching A London Visit

Gosh, how pleased am I that I didn’t need to go to London by train last week? The various rail disruptions were all on the line that I use into Liverpool Street Station and I’m not sure how I would have made it into town! Those poor Essex commuters who have no option!
Over the weekend I planned my next day of London sightseeing and discovery and had hoped to do my tourist bit yesterday. With the continuing overhead train problems and President Bush visiting from the USA, it seemed sensible to wait until later in the week when normal order will hopefully be restored!

Thankfully, the London Pass isn’t date specific so it is activated when it is swiped at the first place you visit. But if you have a multiday pass it does have to be used on consecutive days so, if you use it for the first time at 4pm on Monday, that will count as day 1. (In other words, if you want to make the most of the London Pass then start using it as early in the day as possible!)

My London Pass guidebook has become something of a sightseeing Bible for me. I use the maps and information provided to decide which attractions I’m going to visit and, generally, plan geographically. I don’t really want to be chasing across London to different places in one day so, as you know, I have been concentrating on places of interest near the Tower Bridge end of the River Thames and along the Southbank.

Last time, I didn’t plan my day until I was sitting on the train to London and, as a result, I hit a problem. When I arrived at the Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee I was told they no longer accepted the London Pass and that the museum wasn’t really open anymore! The rather flustered chap in the tea shop let me have a look around the museum in exchange for buying a cup of tea (which I would have bought anyway) but it was clear that the incredible collection of tea and coffee memorabilia was somewhat neglected. It seemed such a shame so while I waited for my cup of Earl Grey I asked a few pertinent questions! Apparently, Edward Bramah passed away in January and the landlord of the building decided to keep the tea shop open but was unable to run the museum too. However, there are plans to relocate the museum to a neighbouring building in the future. The chap doing his best to keep things going was, in fact, the odd-job man (his words, not mine) who had been drafted in to make the tea! A lovely cup of tea it was too! (pictured right)

When I got home, I went on to the London Pass website ready to register my complaint but, when I clicked on the Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee page, I found this message:
“Due to unforeseen circumstances the Bramah Museum will be closed from 01 April 2008 until further notice.”
Hmmm…I should have double checked with the website before leaving home! So I think the lesson here is not to use the guidebook or website exclusively. In addition, it is worth checking the main websites of the attractions in case opening hours have changed or there are unforeseen closures. This is a particularly good idea if you are visiting places outside of central London or away from the main sightseeing areas. Also, certain attractions and tours may require booking in advance even with your London Pass so make sure you check to avoid disappointment!

So Sparkly Songbird’s advice for a successful trip to London is to research and plan your time carefully and utilise the information available on the internet. Do your preparation in advance and you should have a stress-free and enjoyable time in London. It’s probably a good idea to check the weather forecast too!

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