Skip Navigation LinksArticles > My UK Visit Visit my Blog  ::   Add to favorites  ::   Submit your comments  ::   Recommend to a friend  

 Related websites
My UK Visit

Following is the account of the short holiday-cum-sightseeing visit to UK written date wise which may be read with interest.


The last fortnight has not been very busy. Only yesterday we had been to a real outing. We went to London to see a few well known places of tourist interests. Around 11.30 in the morning after lunch we drove to the Bracknell Rly Station and got into a train to Waterloo Station which is in the heart of London. The train journey was itself a revelation. The train was as neat and tidy as you could ever imagine. Cushioned upholstered seats, clean high chairs, carpeted floors and all the fittings in chrome finishing, wide glass shuttered windows, the entire interior decorations as attractive as your drawing room, totally speckless and clean. The railway stations are so neatly maintained that you can roll on the floors and stretch yourselves on the waiting seats. Ticketing is smooth and the entry to the platform is through the turnstiles automatically. There is no mad rush to enter and there are always plenty of seats available. There is a guard in an immaculate uniform to regulate the entry and exit to the train with the sliding doors closing and opening by the press of a button. The train travels smoothly on electric traction which is on the ground between the rails and not overhead as in Madras. There is an electronic display on a running screen indicating names of the next station and the subsequent stations besides continuous announcement over the public address system. It took us about one hour to reach Waterloo Station from Bracknell. On alighting we switched over to the underground train at the Waterloo Station to reach the next station which was Westminster. The underground station which is called the Tube is almost half a kilometer deep down from the normal ground level reached by a series of escalators. You will feel that you are moving into the bowels of the Earth. We came out at street level again by escalators on to the Parliament Street where the majestic Parliament buildings with the Big Ben towering on top stood. It was an awe inspiring sight. There were thousands of tourists of all kinds of nationalities with everyone clicking away pictures every where. We had some thing to eat (I needed a coffee badly) in one of the espresso cafes. Suddenly the sky opened up and for the next half hour it was raining cats and dogs. Mercifully it stopped raining and there was brilliant sunlight. We walked on Westminster Bridge over the Thames River to reach the famous London Eye. This is a huge Giant Wheel painted entirely in white, but many times taller than what we would have seen anywhere else. A dozen egg shaped carriers made of glass each of which could accommodate ten to twelve adults took us to as high as a fourteen multiple storied complex from where we had a panoramic view of every important land mark in the City especially the long winding river Thames which is dotted with several bridges spanning at vantage points. You can see the historical London Tower at a distance. Those interested can go on a cruise in Boats and Ships in the River. We left it for another day. It was almost six o'clock by then but we were so tired we decided to get back home. On Saturday we went to the SHOPPING mall in Bracknell which is so well maintained and vast that our Malls stand no comparison at all. We visited the Library which is like any big book shop in Bangalore with all the books in excellent condition unlike our libraries. It takes more than an hour to go around the library Since Supriya and Sundar are members we could borrow books and also browse the daily newspapers. I took a Biography of Lauren Bacall, a Hollywood actress and Ambika took three heavily bound Norah Richards novels. In the first week we went round the Bracknell town and the Town Centre. Most of the residents here are naturally Englishmen with only a few other nationalities you can see around. The town is spotlessly clean with well maintained roads and sidewalks. The entire town is green.

Our flight here was quite comfortable with no problems either on the ground or in the air. The checking either at Colombo or Heathrow airports was very minimal and we had no problems anywhere as we were afraid of. The food served on flight was okay but I could not eat anything as I had an upset stomach. Ambika and Jaya took the flight well and had no complaint. Supriya and Sundar were at the Airport to receive us and we were home within an hour. The aircraft landed at 20.30 local time as scheduled. The drive from airport to Bracknell was great and the sights on either side of the six lane road are so green without any ugly building or shacks dotting on them. The climate here is very agreeable and there is plenty of sunlight. The day starts by 5.30 and ends by about 9.30!

Supriya's house is very nice and Sundar has stacked it up with every gadget imaginable. The area is very quiet (not a fly moves about) and very clean.

It has been almost a fortnight since we are here (UK) and we are thoroughly enjoying the stay. Although we haven't been able to go out much for sight seeing as both Supriya and Sundar are very busy with their work we were able to spend the last Sunday visiting London and some important landmarks there. London is an hour's ride by the fast train from Bracknell where we live. Last Sunday we drove in Sundar's car to the Bracknell Railway Station which is about two miles from home. It costs about £ 7.50 per ticket to London but unlike any idea you have about a railway station in India, the station is a clean and well maintained building. There is no bustle and crowd either outside or inside the platform. Ticketing is very simple and the fare can be paid by credit cards. At the entrance you have to insert the ticket which is like our ATM cards into a slot which automatically opens the turnstiles gate for you to enter. The ticket has to be retained till you reach the London Waterloo station. The electric trains which run on electric traction between the rails and not overhead as we have in India, arrive every half an hour and you enter through automatic doors controlled by the smartly uniformed guards. There is practically no rushing for seats as there is plenty of room in the compartment. Somewhat resembling airline seating, the seats have excellent cushions which are very neat and draped in colorful upholstery. The flooring have well designed clean carpets walking on which is a pleasure. The train passes through the country side full of greenery and the cottages you see dotted on the vast area are very cute tiled houses resembling Kerala. We passed through half a dozen small stations (among which I spotted Wimbledon, the home of the famous Wimbledon Tennis Championships) before we reach the Waterloo station, a gigantic station with thousands of people dashing around all the time. From this station we take 'the Tube', the Underground Train to Westminster which is the heart of London. From the ground level you reach the Tube stations by taking several escalators more than two kilometers into the earth. You feel as if you are entering the core of the earth. You come back to the surface by the escalators and as soon as you step out you see the majestic Parliament House upon which is perched the Big Ben. It is an awe inspiring sight. We were greeted by a spell of rain which lasted for about an hour. We used the break to sip an espresso coffee in a cute little cafeteria and visit the loo. After the rain stopped, brilliant sunshine greeted us. We looked at the historical Westminster Abbey, crossed the River Thames by walk and reached the London Eye. This is a Giant Wheel which we see in Amusement Parks in India but much bigger and taller than any you would have seen. The wheel moves at lesser than a snails pace so that we can enjoy the panoramic view of London. There are about a dozen egg shaped glass cubicles each of which can accommodate about ten people. When we reach the top you can see all the landmarks like the mighty Thames River, Parliament House with the Big Ben on it, the Westminster Abbey, the Waterloo Station and many others. The ticket for one ride per ticket is £ 25/-! You can work it out in rupees. We took a train at Waterloo Station back to Bracknell as it was very late and we were tired.

Bracknell where Supriya has bought a house is in the suburbs and consists of nearly 50 independent houses. The houses are two storeyed and do not have balconies. All the houses have tiled roofs. There are small gardens and lawns in the back and front yards. The roads which criss cross the colony are spotlessly clean and well paved. I am told they are regularly swept by a vacuum fitted truck that does its job in the nights without disturbing the residents. The garbage from the residences are not to be thrown on the roads but should be kept in black plastic sacks which should be deposited in a special arena at a central place once a week. The garbage is segregated into degradable and non degradable in separate bins which will be sent for recycling. It was wonderful to see residents bringing garbage in black sacks in their cars to the disposal area. The garbage is also collected by a specially fitted garbage truck which will empty the bins into the truck These trucks visit the residential areas once a week. There are not many people walking around in the colony not even birds or stray dogs and animals.

Supriya's house is a neat two storeyed two bed roomed construction. On the ground floor we have the Hall and Kitchen. Besides there is a larder room constructed under the stairs. There is a toilet room also down stairs. In the upstairs there are two bed rooms with an attached toilet-cum-bath room and a work place and study for Sundar. There is a spacious Garden in the back yard and a garage for car parking. Sundar has filled the house with all sorts of gadgets. The garage which has an entrance from the back has a well equipped Gym and storage space for household articles not in use.


It is three weeks since we are here. Continuing our sight seeing outings, we drove 75 miles to Wembley to visit the famous Lord Swaminarayan Temple. The temple resembles the ISKON temple in Bangalore but slightly smaller in size. Built entirely of marble about 10 years ago, the stones were exported to India from Rumania and Italy in an uncut form and over 1500 artisans sculpted the different parts and sent them over here. The temple structure was assembled here. It took less than five years to build the temple at a cost of a few millions. There is no steel used in the entire construction.

The temple houses Lord Swaminarayan, the founder of the Sect who are devotees of Lord Vishnu. Lord Swaminarayan lived in the last century and was succeeded by his anointed swamijis. The present head is the fifth in line. Marble statues of all gurujis and idols in marble of Vigneswara, Ramachandra and Seetha, Lord Vishnu and his consort and Parameswara and Parvathi adorn the inner sanctorum. Adjacent to the main temple is another building designed like a North Indian haveli which houses the services centre. The entire complex is spotlessly clean and quiet.

There is a restaurant in the complex where we had our lunch of parotta and dahi poori. Only North Indian food (purely vegetarian minus onion and garlic) is served. We did a bit of shopping in the department stores attached. We then left for Wembley to look at the new gigantic Wembley Football Stadium which was recently renovated at an enormous cost. We drove back the 75 miles to Bracknell to reach home by evening.

On Sunday we did some gardening and lawn mowing in the morning. Later in the evening we drove to the 2500 acre spread of Bracknell Forests. We spent an hour inside the thickly wooded forests where driving by car is not permitted. You either walk or cycle. We walked for about a mile. The entire forest has only tall branchless pine trees growing very closely to each other. The drive to the forest through long stretches of road with thick forests on either side was indeed enjoyable. As I had already mentioned, the roads every inch of them beautifully maintained and not a speck of dust can be spotted anywhere. On our way back we saw Supriya's old residence in Ogden Park.


A visit to Lincoln where Sriram lives and works was part of my itinerary when the UK visit was planned. Accordingly Sriram was requested to take me to his home after my spending about three weeks in Bracknell, Supriya's home. He took me in his car on a three hour drive to northern England through some of the beautiful countryside. On our way we passed several historical landmarks such as Oxford, Grantham (where Sir Isaac Newton was born), Stratford-on-Avon (Shakespeare wrote some of his plays here), Silverstone Race car track where a F1 Racing was held a few weeks ago etc. Of course we didn't have time to spend any time there. Lincoln is a typical English town steeped in over hundred years of history with its cute homes built almost in identical designs very well maintained roads and side walks with well manicured lawns and bushes lining on either sides. There are quite a number of malls dotting in the shopping district where they sell almost everything under one roof. This is very much unlike our towns and cities where umpteen numbers of petty shops and unkempt stores cater to our requirements and which are totally absent here. On my first day in Lincoln I visited the famous and historical Lincoln Cathedral built in 1092 which retains most of its old world charm. The towering Cathedral standing perhaps over 270 feet in height overlooks the entire town from its perch on top of a hill. The twin tower of the Cathedral on either side of the central tower (at one time over 500 feet in height) is visible from every nook and corner of the town and beyond upto 20 miles. A magnificent sight indeed, inside and outside. The Lincoln Fort was built in Roman times remnants of which still stand on one side of the Cathedral. The town itself abounds in several buildings some of which are over 400 years old. A part of the recent Hollywood film Dan Brown's DA VINCI CODE was filmed inside the Cathedral. An exhibition of photographs and sets used for the film are kept in the Cathedral. It took me two days to explore all these. We did a little bit of shopping on the High Street the main shopping centre which looks like the Commercial Street of Bangalore. A 400 hundred years old shop constructed mostly in wood stands over a thirty feet wide canal passing under the street at one point. The University of Lincoln stands in the middle of the city. The Guild Hall (where the Lincoln Town Council has its offices), the ancient looking Railway Station, the only theatre in town the ODEON, the wharf side of the river, the hospital are some of the sights worth looking at. The fort area brings you memories of the time when Normans and later Romans ruled the place. The medieval Bishop's Palace close to the Cathedral is another tourist spot. A magnificent statue of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet (remember the Charge of the Light Brigade) who lived here in the 11th century erected in the lawns of the Cathedral is another sight to see. We also saw the place the original Magna Carta is preserved but as the document is on an exhibition tour of Australia we could not see the same. On the following Monday Sriram and. myself traveled over 40 miles to Nottingham to witness the third day's play of the second test between India and England at Trent Bridge. We had a wonderful outing and I was able to take in the atmosphere of the famous ground which is steeped in cricket lore.

After returning to Bracknell on Saturday, we went to London again on Sunday for more sight seeing. This time we went by train to Waterloo London and by tube (underground train) to Baker Street. Baker Street is where the famous detective Sherlock Holmes had his home which is still well preserved. We then spent the rest of the day in the world famous Madame Tussouds Wax Museum also located on the Baker Street. The Museum displays life like wax statues of many famous men and women, artists, musicians, poets, actors, writers, film and sports stars. They are so life like that you could easily mistake them to be one of you. They are placed in the several halls in all sorts of spots which would give you the feeling of mixing up with them at a party. Besides the wax models, there was a planetarium show where objects like stars come alive all around you, a dungeon (a house of horrors) where you are scared out of your skin by sights and sounds in semi darkness. There was also a tour of London's streets and sounds for the past four hundred years or so, all simulated.

As it was very late in the evening and we were very tired we returned home. Next week we intend to go sight seeing to other interesting places by the tourist bus.


The last week end we drove over a hundred miles to East Ham to visit two temples typically South Indian in design and rituals with regular pujas performed by archakas in true Brahmin tradition. One was the Mahalakshmi temple. The temple was not that big and sort of congested for lack of space but the idols were beautiful and nicely decorated with flowers and precious stone and silver/gold jewels. We performed archanas and bought prasadam (laddu). There after we visited the Lord Murugan temple located about a mile from there. It was also constructed in the true Tamil architectural style and had archakas doing regular pujas. The Muruga idol and all other minor idols were in typical South Indian style and were decorated profusely with flowers etc. In both the temples there were crowds of devotees mostly of South Indian origin.

We had coffee at the Saravana Bhavan restaurant catering 100% to South Indian customers. In fact I am told that the East Ham County is thickly populated by Indians of all denominations and the shops etc. cater mostly to South Indians. The place could almost pass off as a South Indian town.

It was a long drive and we were so tired. We had coffee and eats on the way both ways in a fully developed 'service centre' as they call them here a little away from the main road high ways where travellers refresh themselves. They resemble a posh and huge lounge of a five star hotel.

These service centres are located at vantage points near the highways for long distance travelers to refresh themselves while driving long distances. It was an altogether enjoyable outing.

The weather is gloomy and chilly. Looks like the winter is setting in slowly. It is also raining intermittently.


This week end we drove about a hundred miles to the south to a sea resort called Brighton and spend the whole day there walking around taking in a lot of sea air. There must have been two piers jutting into the sea one of which had collapsed a long time ago. They have strengthened the other one and converted the half a mile long pier into an amusement centre right in the middle of the sea. There are over a hundred stalls selling mostly food and a number of gaming shops where all sorts of betting games are played. There are many rides like Tora Tora, Merry Go Round and the like some of which are very thrilling. Although these are similar to the ones we used to see in the Handicrafts Fair in RBANM's ground (Bangalore) every year they are more advanced technologically. This old sea side town is basically a tourist centre but quite a large number of people live here predominantly retired persons enjoying the healthy sea air. There are a large number of tourist hotels dotting the entire length of the sea shore. Hundreds of tourists throng this town on Sundays and holidays. On Saturday we visited a famous park in Bracknell which although called a park is more like a huge forest with well laid paths. As you walk into the park the deep woods with a variety of trees some of which several feet tall and several inches in girth give you an eerie feeling. We spent a whole afternoon there. The previous week end was rather a quiet affair when we visited a town called Reading (pronounced Redding) which has a large Indian community and even a full fledged Indian Restaurant where we had Rava Dosai, Pav Baji and a few other Indian dishes. The Town Centre is a busy area with huge Malls and shopping centres,

Next week we intend visiting London for a tourist bus ride through the important landmarks there including Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park and many other centres.


The last week end was hectic. We had chalked the plan to finish most of our sight seeing and be free in the next two week ends before our departure. We first visited the magnificent Windsor Castle which at one time or another was the residence of the British monarchy. It was a 45 minutes drive from home. The Castle has over a thousand rooms big and small and spread out into three wards, the Lower, Middle and Upper Wards. There are a whole lot of the Royalty's possessions like regal clothes, jewellery and armaments on display. There are also umpteen numbers of original oil paintings large and small dating back to four centuries all well preserved. It took almost three hours for us to walk the entire castle with brief rest. The next day we went by train and Tube to reach London and embark upon a sight seeing Bus Tour and see a number of important land marks including the Buckingham Palace where the Queen resides. We witnessed the Change of Guards, a ceremonial change of the Palace Guards of over 50 well liveried guards in front of the huge Buckingham Palace accompanied by music. There were large crowds swarming all over the place controlled by police on horsebacks. We spent an hour there and had our picnic lunch on the lawns. Thereafter we continued our bus ride through all the important thoroughfares of the city and stopped next at Trafalgar Square. It is here that the huge Nelson Column is erected in memory of the famous commander who after winning many wars for England was killed in the Battle of Trafalgar at this very spot (now a tourist spot.) At the top of over the 600 feet tall column is the statue of Nelson and on the ground are the statues of many other commanders. The National Museum and Art Gallery another monumental building faces the Column. From here we went to the Thames River embankment from where we took an hour long cruise through the mighty Thames River and looked at a number of important landmarks on either side including the well known London Bridge and the Tower Bridge. We had a last look at the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey from the boat. Later we walked over the Tower Bridge a historical master piece constructed right on the river. We returned home by 8.30 in the evening dead tired. The next day we drove to Wimbledon the famous home of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club where the annual Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships are held in June/July. Before going on a conducted tour of the 45 acre arena with over 20 courts laid and used for the Championships, we went to a temple of Lord Ganesha run by Sri Lankan Tamils which is a major attraction for the expatriated Sri Lankan population. We had our lunch here. I accompanied by only Ambika went on the tour of the Wimbledon courts, museum and shop selling Wimbledon memorabilia. It took nearly two hours for us to see the hallowed place where great tennis stars of yester years to the present day stars walked. I saw the place where the commentators were seated, the Press Room where the stars were interviewed after each day's play and felt in awe of the place which we have seen only in T.V. For a tennis buff like me it was heaven.

That's about all for this edition of my tour diary.

Home  ::  Press  ::  Comments  ::  Autobiography  ::  Articles  ::  Blog  ::  Site map Powered by