London Day 9 – The last day – Saturday, August 23, 2014

Itinerary: St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Tate-to-Tate River Boat.

When we visited St. Paul’s it was on a Sunday and we could not take the tour. There are no tours on Sunday when there are mass services.

Victoria and I took the tour while Stefan and Daniela slept in. We got there right when the cathedral opened at 8:30 am. There are no photos allowed but here is a nice exterior shot.


Inside there is a World War II Memorial in a chapel. They have a book with the names of the fallen soldiers and each morning they turn a page so every name gets a chance to be displayed.

We also went up to the Whispering Gallery. After climbing 257 steps I was dizzy and out of breath. (There is no elevator.) I had to sit down before I could go into the Whispering Gallery. As much as I wanted to climb higher to see the views of London from the very top, I was physically incapable. (Not to mention we were running out of time. We had plans to meet Stefan and Daniela at 11 am near The Tower of London.)

The Stone Gallery is 376 steps up from ground level, and The Golden Gallery is 528 steps up. I must get into shape so that next time I am in London I can climb to the very top and see the views. Perhaps start from the top and work my way down.

To see the Cathedral floor from the Whispering Gallery was both frightening and incredible. I was too scared to go to the edge so I peaked over from a safe distance back.

Victoria and I tried the whispering trick from opposite ends, but neither of us heard the other one. It does work in Grand Central Station in NYC though.

After meeting up with our friends we walked to Tower Bridge and on the way saw the volunteers installing the handmade ceramic poppies around The Tower of London. They blend in behind the trees because they are also wearing red. I love this photo I took. Great coloring and it mixes old and new (The Shard) buildings.

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London Day 7 – Thursday, August 21, 2014

Itinerary: Banqueting House at Whitehall, WB Making of Harry Potter Tour at Leavesden Studios.

How scary and awesome is this? I can’t even imagine not having any fear when cleaning Big Ben.IMG_3881

After breakfast Victoria and I separated from Stefan and Daniela for the morning. We would meet up in the afternoon to go to WB Harry Potter tour.

Vic and I wanted to see the Banqueting House. We learned A LOT of history about the Banqueting Hall. We even sat in on a 20 minute lecture all about the ceiling paintings by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. We learned what story each painting tells, where they were painted and how they were installed, as well as the history of cleaning and moving them. There was so much fascinating information to absorb, especially if you love art history. Instead of going over all the details that can be looked up online, or read about in a book, I am just going to share a few photos. It really is a great place to visit. It is quiet, relaxing (they have bean bags to sit on), doesn’t take up the whole day and is quite affordable. The aesthetics are just beautiful. So if you are in London I highly recommended this site.

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Reviews: The Madness Underneath and The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson


Shades of London Book 2: The Madness Underneath After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Shades of London Book 3: The Shadow Cabinet
The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

I read the A.U.G. of Shades of London: The Madness Underneath two years ago after I picked it up at NYCC 2012. At NYCC in October I bought the published paperback of TMU and as a bonus was given the A.U.G. of The Shadow Cabinet. I reread The Madness Underneath because I had forgotten some details and I also wanted to compare it to the A.U.G. to see what was changed in the final print version.
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