The Amazing Race

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, March 30, 2012

We had budgeted A$1500 for 5 days in London. The attractions can be stupid prices. For example a 24 hour hop on hop off bus A$120 (2 adults and 2 children), only problem the bus doesn’t run for 24 hours, so basically it’s for a day (more like 7ish hours) and that doesn’t include the travel costs to get into the city and back. As such, we embarked on our own version of ‘The Amazing Race’. Everywhere we went we ran, between attractions we ran, between public transport we ran.

Lots of really gross stuff has happened in London over the years. We spent 5 days running around trying to find out as much grossness as we could. To start us off we visited the London Dungeon. Here we learned many gruesome tales.

Firstly, Sweeney Tood, the hairdresser that took a bit too much off the top. The story goes that he had a trap door that dropped his customer/victim to a cellar below his barber shop. Here he chopped people to bits. His girlfriend then got rid of the evidence by putting the bits into her meat pies, selling them to unsuspecting customers. These two weirdoes got away with 160 murders before they were caught.

Secondly, Jack the Ripper, ripped the guts out of the five women he killed. He left a note to say he ate half a kidney from one of his victims. He was never caught.

In the torture chamber, we were given demonstrations of how torture was administered. One instrument was for pulling out a victims tongue, one for hooking victims up on the wall (of cause the hook could be stuck in various orifices) and another for castration. The later could be purchased from the gift shop. It came in small, medium and liar sizes. Bwahaha!!

In 1666 London burned like rotten sticks. The fire started at a bakers shop. Five days later more than 80% of London had been destroyed and it took fifty years to rebuild.  

Prior to the fires, London had been gripped by a deadly plague. Thousands of people were dying every week (hence the Monty Python saying “bring out your dead, bring out your dead” and they certainly did) and they were carried away each night to be buried in mass graves.  The little ditty ‘ring a ring a rosie, a pocket full of posies, a tissue, a tissue, we all fall down’, is from the time of the plague. The ring a ring a rosie was the red pussie gooey sores they got on their skin from the disease; people put posies in their pockets to ward off the plague (it didn’t work); a tissue, a tissue - sneezing; we all fall down - they dropped dead. The fires didn’t kill many people, but it helped finish off the plague.

As the city grew, the Thames River got dirtier. All sorts of rubbish, pollution and raw sewage were dumped into it. The water in peoples taps came straight out the same river. People had to start drinking and bathing in beer. At one point the smell from the river caused a national outcry. 

There were lots of rides and theatrics throughout the London Dungeon exhibit. Brandi-Chanel was trialled at court for weeing in wells on Wednesdays. She was found guilty and sentenced to the firing squad. She got off with it though cause she was just a kid - hooray!

We went on a 5D laser ride, as we spun around in the darkness, we had to duck, dive, dodge and shoot our way out.  

If all this wasn’t gory, disgusting and scary enough, all four of us were sent off to witness a hanging - our own. In the dark we were taken to hear our fait - then whoop - down we went - an absolutely terrifying, scream curdling experience.  That was the conclusion of our London Dungeon escapade.

Horrible Histories was playing live on stage at the Garrick Theatre. We got tickets and were entertained to a musical satire of Barmy Britain.  

The Romans, when they arrived, gave the English a MasterChef class. One of the new culinary dishes - the innards and gizzards of fish, placed in a jar, herbs were added and left to putrefy for three months and then eaten. Aaaggghhh!!

We knew Henry VIII had several wives that he did mean things to, but we learned how to remember what happened to each of them - divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

During WWI more soldiers died in hospital than they did on battlefields. Florence Nightingale (the Lady with the Lamp) came along and improved the mortality rate by 90%. Florence became sick herself and spent many more years needing care then she’d given.

The Brits loved a good old hanging and there was lots of stuff that you could be hanged for. Like stealing from a rabbit warren, impersonating a Chelsea pensioner, having your face blackened or wearing a false mustache.  Ooooo-er!

During Medieval Britain, people were so poor they might sell their baby to a baby farmer for as little as five pounds. One women had been happily collecting the dosh for 20 years before she was found to have been throwing the little bubbies in the river.

Guy Falks and his cronies were going to blow up parliament and had the gun powder to do it. In fact, he had enough gun powder to blow up equivalent to 25 parliaments. He got caught before it happened, but he’s still famous today for having tried.

Richi, Mila, Widuri, Hanif and Suhaylah dropped into London for the weekend which was splendid. They took us to the British Museum which was mind blowingly impressive and colossal.  We spent a few hours in the Egyptian wing. It would have been ten times larger than the King Tut exhibit we viewed in February 2011 in Melbourne (Oz) which cost around A$200. The British Museum was FREE! 

Richi and Mila shouted us dinner at an Indonesian Restaurant - it was scrumptious!! Widuri slept over the night - all three girls slept on the fold out dinette and got the giggles every time Bill kon-tot (fluffed). Thanks heaps for your visit!!

The next day we followed on the trail of the 60’s and 70’s rock n rollers. The Markie Clubs was where the bands would perform. They were not allowed to promote themselves however, so patrons would pay to enter a club and it could be anyone ... Jimmi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Elton John, Eric Clapton, AC-DC, the Rolling Stones ... One of the clubs had to be demolished because the vibrations from 20 years of music had made it unstable. 

AND YES - we strutted our way across the zebra crossing on Abbey Road and had our photo taken to prove it. Only to find out later we'd gone ass about - uh well!

From Abbey Road we went on to Kensington Palace, which happened to be opened to the public. William and Kate will be calling Kensington home. It was also Princess Diana’s and Queen Victoria’s home, as well as lots of others.  In the late 1600’s, Queen Anne lived there. She had 18 children, only one survived, William, and he died at the age of 11. We saw William’s bedroom and the bed he slept on 300 years ago - ghastly!

We went to Harrod’s - cause our friend, Fletch, told us to (and to buy hair ties). We looked at a wallet - it was 525 pounds.  Brandi-Chanel said, “If a wallet is 525 pounds, I don’t think we’ll be buying hair ties.” We bought lunch instead - 3 sandwiches, 1 cup of soup and 3 pieces of cake - A$50. It did get packaged in Harrod’s bags though, which we planned to keep, only we spilt the soup on the bags so threw them in the bin.

The essential London sites were also viewed:-

  • Trafalgar Square
  • Tower of London
  • St Paul's Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Big Ben
  • Thames River Cruise
  • Shakespeare's Globe
  • Buckingham Palace   
That concluded our 5 day frenzy of perpetual motion - Phew!!! 

PS We came in well under budget @ $A773.50 - Sheesh!!
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Jude on

Well how about me finding the link. It is fantastic that I can follow your journey as you look as if you are having a wow of a time and you all look relaxed and well. Alison you posted some great history as well as present info and I enjoyed reading it. Stay well and happy

joderekononhome on

Derek said he should have talked to you before you left and said where to go to get some more history.................... Thanks for the blogs

john &angie on

Great to read your blogs, sounds like you all are having a great time .we had a great time in Britain a few years back your detailed stories bring back some great memories .stay safe

Heather Knuth on

Oh Alison, I wish I could be with you now, how exciting!! Love reading your experiences. We bought a McDonalds meal and ice-cream over there and it cost $50 rip off hey. We did the red bus day trips to all the main sites, covered alot in one day but no time to explore. Are you having trouble finding places to stay or getting lost etc. It would be better if I could just go on your facebook page and view it all, took a bit to find a blog to click into to see, hopefully I'll figure it out.
Cheers, my friend Hi to the family xox Oh and Shane won the last election....

Cathy on

amazingly well written - sooo entertaining - thank you guys
what a history
great pics too

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