The Jewel Tower, London

>>  Sunday, July 20, 2014

In our usual quest to find a cheap attraction in London, we visited the Jewel Tower.  It is owned by English Heritage and is one of the only surviving buildings from the original Palace Of Westminster

Considering it is in such a prominent position I've never really noticed it before, it is right next to where the news reporters stand to do their 'and today at Westminster' report.

It is only accessible by steps and inside is a spiral staircase, so not one for the less-abled or buggy pushers.  The official blurb is "It was built around 1365 to house Edward III’s treasures and was known as the ‘King’s Privy Wardrobe’."  It was basically the royal cupboard!  There's really nothing in it now.
But I was very interested to find out it was the testing centre for the Board of Trade's Standards Department from 1869 to 1938. There has been a set of standard coins, weights and measures since the 12th century, the Standards Department was in charge of checking accuracy and uniformity across the country. The Tower's thick stone walls meant that it had an even temperature and was then vibration free. But by 1938 the traffic on the road outside forced the Department to move. 

It really is only a stone's throw from Westminster Palace.  I wonder who threw the stone that broke this window.
But it was a peaceful and cool haven away from the crowds, which Cog sat and watched whilst I read the boards.

And she sat and chilled whilst I pootled around.

It is £4 for adults and £2.40 for children, but I had printed a 2for1 voucher from the Railcard website. (It is free for English Heritage members and London Pass holders.)  There is a small cafe and cool drinks and ice-cream but no toilet facilities.  (There are good clean toilets in Westminster tube station - entrance 50p  or the Methodist Central Hall is around the corner and those are free)  Check the website for more details and opening times before visiting.

I did wonder as I walked around in the quiet how many secrets the walls held and also how many people rock up here expecting the see the crown jewels!  They are in the Jewel House in the Tower of London.

For £4 it was a peaceful break in a busy day, in a busy area, not amazing, but different.


A visit to Battersea Cats Home

>>  Thursday, July 17, 2014

 On our latest sojourn to London, Cog and I headed down to Battersea.  It is famous for its iconic power station towers and also the Battersea Dogs and Cats home.

The home opened in 1860 and never turns a dog or cat away, it also doesn't have a time limit on a stay for an animal.  There have been 3.1 million dogs and cats through their doors since it opened.  There were 3000 cats last year.

It gets no funding from the government at all and is totally dependent on public donations to raise the £12.7 million in costs a year.  It also has 1000 invaluable volunteers.

Bob Martin has been helping us to care for our animals for 120 years.  The original powders from 1893 are still the basis for food formulations today. It is still a UK based family run business. They have partnered Battersea and will be providing them with 83,000 litres of cat litter over 4 years.  That's 28,000 full litter trays a year!

We can help with that by buying Bob Martins new Felight cat litter. You can't miss it's shocking pink packaging and it's marked with the Battersea logo.

We met the managing director of Bob Martin and some of his family (and Bob Martin's family too!), he's a really cool guy and they were also clearly animal lovers, enjoying the kittens as much as we were!

We were invited to see the cats home by them but it is open to the public.  It is £2 for Adults and a £1 for children, there is a cafe and a shop.  You can see the opening times and visiting details on their website.

 There are lots of bouncy kittens that refuse to stand still for a camera and lots of older cats that mew at the glass doors dying for a chin scratch or an ear pull.

Half of the cats here are strays but half have come straight from homes.  They come in because of allergies, moving house, money, tenancy rules and unwanted litters.
 I love cats, always have.  They are incredibly intelligent and don't need you.  It is a privilege when they choose to share their love and affection.  They know the cosiest spot in the house, the way the sun moves across a room and when you need a bit of company.  There is a mutual benefit from the contact of the leg rub, chin chuck and stroke.

We cuddled kittens and if we lived closer, this chap called Nemo would have been coming home with us!  He only had one eyebrow, that was enough to melt my heart!  He curled straight up into our arms and wanted so many cuddles.

We had a lovely afternoon.  After the cats we went to see the dogs.  There are many there from the small and waggy, through tall and gentle and into very large and frankly (to me) scary - although the volunteer playing with the large and scary said he was soft as anything and in fairness he was playing like a puppy!

There was a doughy eyed grey hound that touched my heart strings, they are so lovely.

If you are planning on being down that way, there is a Kitten shower on Thursday 24th July 10:30am-1pm and 2pm-4pm.  £5 for adults and £3 for children.  You can book to play with the kittens in the kitten crèche and learn about the importance of caring for a pet from the Battersea expert.

All the money raised goes towards caring for the animals there.

Just to let you know if you have a cat or dog from Battersea you are in posh company, Larry the current 10 Downing Street cat is a former resident.  As are a pair of Jack Russells now owned by the Duchess of Cornwall!  I wondered as I looked at the cats if they were thinking:

 'Walk on by love, I'm holding out for the caviare here not your sardine offering' !

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