The London Ghost Bus Tour: Review and Giveaway

The London Ghost Bus Tour

Do you like a good scare? I certainly do and I can't get enough of scary films, books and TV shows. Recently life imitated fiction when we hopped aboard the famous London Ghost Bus Tour for an evening of scares and tall tales. Let me start by assuring you that we had a frightfully good time and I'm just glad that the menacing Mr Hinge managed to restrain himself from strangling me although he certainly seemed likely to at one point.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, am I not?

The London Ghost Bus Tour departs every evening at 19:30 & 21:00 from Northumberland Ave, just off Trafalgar Square. Booking ahead is essential and on the evening we were there, they had to turn people away and tell them to come on the later tour.

Ben Hale

Our host for the evening was the dapper Ben Hale and he regaled us with stories ranging from the terrifying yet fascinating to the gruesome and downright fantastic. For instance, did you know that they exhumed the body of Oliver Cromwell two years after his death, hanged him, beheaded him and displayed his head on a spike above Westminster Hall? London's history is nothing if not grisly and I love it.

We were also treated to several ghost stories, of course, and these are my favourites. The thing about ghost stories is we love to not believe them but when your attention is being held by a fantastic narrator weaving his tale about unexplained phenomena and shared experiences, it is hard not to believe just a tiny bit.

Most chilling for me was the story of Sarah Whitehead, the Black Nun. Sarah haunts the Bank of England but as a child we did not know that and she was the ghost that my friends used to keep each other in check. I was terrified of the roar of flushing toilets for years after being told a particularly nasty story about Sarah Whitehead coming up through the pan.

I digress.

Mr Hinge

The London Ghost Bus Tour is a lot of fun and is made all the more enjoyable by audience participation. We were joined on our tour by the seriously unhinged Mr Hinge and he was absolutely fantastic, despite the rather murderous glare he shot me when I tried, repeatedly, to get a decent photo of him.

Would I recommend the Ghost Bus Tour? Of course I would, so much so that I'd definitely like to go again one day. In the meantime, I have excellent news for you, dear readers - I have a pair of tickets to give away for the Ghost Bus Tour!  The giveaway will run for the next three weeks and you have loads of easy ways to enter.

Feel free to enter as many times as you like – you can enter using each of the options below and you can also gain an extra 2 entries per day by tweeting about the competition.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Ghost Bus

The Ghost Bus Tour – London
Departs daily at 19:30 and 21:00
Northumberland Avenue, just off Trafalgar Square
Fares : Adults £21 | Child, Concession & Students £15 Child | Family £57 (2 adults 2 child)

Visiting Krušedol Monastery in the Fruška Gora

Krusedol monastery doorway

When we were planning our time in Serbia, my friend Aleksa asked me what I wanted to do during my time there and I immediately knew my answer. “I want to eat lots of Serbian food”, I said, “visit some monasteries and spend as much time with my friends as possible”. He was pleased because he could help me with all three.

But visiting the monasteries was not without its controversies.

Serbia is primarily an Orthodox country and the church is important from a religious, cultural, historical and political standpoint but just like in any country with a strong, established religion, there are those who feel that the church aids in the oppression and exploitation of vulnerable communities. One of my friends decided not to join us on our excursion to the monasteries on these very grounds, citing a prominent patriarch who had blamed the recent catastrophic floods in Serbia on the fact that Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision song contest.

I completely understood and respected my friend’s point of view.

It was interesting because it made me examine my reasons for wanting to visit the monasteries. I am interested in both history and politics and have, for example, read up on Byzantium and the rise of the Orthodox church in order to understand relations in Europe during that period. I will often visit churches, synagogues and mosques in foreign countries because I find that it helps me to understand the history and architecture in a country.

Krusedol Monastery, entrance

I was also aware of the religious aspect of the difficult history of the Balkans and how it fed into the conflict in both the Second World War and the conflicts in the 1990s. In short, I knew just how important the Orthodox Church is to Serbians and I wanted to see the monasteries for myself. Little did I know what an emotionally wrought day it would turn out to be.

Our first stop was the distinctive red  Krušedol Monastery in the Fruška Gora. Krušedol Monastery was founded by the Despot Đorđe Branković in 1509 and he built it as a mausoleum to his family. The monastery was attacked by the ruling Turks in 1716 and many important relics were destroyed.

The church spire at Krusedol Monastery

The church steeple at Krušedol Monastery

The entrance to the inner monastery at Krusedol

The entrance to the monastery from the grounds

I have never seen anything like I saw in that church that day. Every inch of space on the walls, ceilings, arches and columns was covered in depictions of saints and important holy figures. The paintings are extremely old, some dating back to the 1500s, and they are badly in need of restoration.

The lighting in the church is kept to a minimum, to prevent further damage to the paintings and when the patriarch bent down to show us the age of a piece of work, paint and mortar crumbled away to the floor. It was painful to see and no doubt painful for the patriarch to experience.


For obvious reasons of conservation, there is no photography allowed inside the church and this is the reason I’ve included the post card above. Perhaps it would help to click on the postcard to view an enlargement.

I was able to take some of the outside of the church, depicting artwork from perhaps the last restoration in 1750.

Paintings of exterior of church at Krusedol Monastery

Paintings on exterior of church at Krušedol Monastery

The monastery was a quiet place, certainly a place of reflection and while my friends lit a candle and prayed, I observed the patriarch in a moment of peace. Well, to be fair, he was peaceful until he spotted me taking his photo and so I quickly put my camera away.

Grounds at Krusedol Monastery

Patriarch at Krusedol Monastery

After visiting the church itself, we decided to walk around the grounds. Krušedol is a self-sustaining monastery and the monks grow all of their own food, plus they own pigs and chicken too. I had a bit of a moment when I came face to face with a cherry tree. I had never seen a cherry tree before and assumed that they grew on smaller bushes like tomatoes or strawberries! We ran into another patriarch and a young monk and they encouraged me to help myself to a cherry. Oh my word, I can’t express how divine they tasted!

Cherry tree at Krusedol Monastery

I followed this up with a drink of water from the miraculous underground well. It tasted chalky and strange as it is full of minerals but it is said to have healing properties.

We knew that we had another two monasteries to visit before lunch that day and so it was with some reluctance that we made our way back to the entrance and towards the Velika Remeta monastery.

Krusedol church


Have you ever visited a place that was considered controversial or unfavourable by your friends and family? What were your reasons for doing so?

An Afternoon Tea at the Queen’s House, Greenwich

Afternoon tea with a view at the Queen's House

Have you ever had a perfect afternoon? Perhaps I can describe mine to you.

The Queen's House Greenwich

Two friends Kat and Mandy sit on a balcony of The Queen’s House, Greenwich.

Greenwich observatory

A sitar player performs on the lawn below as the friends chat and gaze over Greenwich Park towards the Royal Observatory in the distance.

Sandwiches at the Queen's House

Afternoon tea is served with the freshest of homemade sandwiches, delicious petit fours and the lightest of scones.

Peppermint tea

All of this is served in quaint, mismatched Paragon china and washed down with peppermint tea.

Steampunk couple at the Queen's House

All around them there is merriment at The Queen’s House for this weekend is the Steampunk summer fete. Next to the friends sit a Victorian couple in all of their finery…

Steampunk at the Queen's House

… while a walk through the house afterwards will introduce them to dashing gentlemen in waistcoats and pantaloons.

Steampunk airgun at the Queen's House

There is even a chance to spy an authentic Steampunk airgun.

Henrietta Maria Regina keystone Queen's House

After their sitting, the friends take a long walk around The Queen’s House to see the impressive selection of artwork.

Artwork Queen's House

In addition to the portrait of Queen Ann of Denmark, there are works by Gainsborough, Turner and Hogarth. One of the friends quite likes the puritans in the paintings on the right.

All in all it is a perfect afternoon and one that will live long in the memories of both of the friends. When later pressed, they might not be able to pinpoint exactly why it was so lovely. The food was certainly delicious and the atmosphere one of languid enjoyment but perhaps it will just go down as a moment in time, shared by two friends in London.

How would you describe your perfect afternoon? Would you join me on mine?

Afternoon tea at the Queen’s House will run throughout the summer on Sundays and selected Saturdays until the 28th September. Booking is essential but I would say that this is the must-do event of the summer.

Afternoon tea at the Queen's House
The Queen’s House Loggia
Romney Rd
SE10 9NF

Cost: Afternoon Tea £22, Prosecco tea £27.50, Tea & tour £30, Prosecco tea & tour £35.50
Open: every Sunday and selected Saturdays. Sittings 12.30, 14.00, 15.30

We were guests of the Queen’s House during our visit. As always, I promise to share sincere and honest opinions with my readers.

Explore Kent: 7 Must-Sees in the Garden of England

Hall Place facade Bexley

I know, I know, I’ve been super chatty this week but this will be my last post and then I’ll leave you in peace for the next couple of days! It was just one of those weeks where so much was happening and I had so much to say. This month my lovely blogging pals Emma, Kelly and Rebecca have invited me to co-host the monthly travel link up. The idea is that you write a post each month on a particular theme – it is Staycations this month – and then you can meet all the other bloggers joining in the link up and hopefully make some new blogging friends!

I’ve decided to focus on Kent in this post mostly because I adore my chosen home the Garden of England but also because I wrote a very similar post about Johannesburg just a couple of weeks ago. And so without further ado, I present 7 things you must see if you are ever in Kent.

Hall Place, Bexley

Hall Place Bexley

Bexley was an ancient parish in the county of Kent, or so Wikipedia tells me. It is also home to Hall Place, a stately home built for Sir John Champneys in 1537 and famously constructed with materials taken from the destroyed Lesnes Abbey. Today Hall Place is more famous for its topiary garden of Queen’s Beasts which were planted in 1953 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Lesnes Abbey

I thought I’d better mention Lesnes Abbey, even though I haven’t been there yet myself. If you take a look at Google Earth or Google Maps satellite view, you will see a perfect, giant footprint of an abbey on the site of what was once Lesnes Abbey on the edge of Abbey Wood. The abbey was destroyed by King Henry VIII as part of his famous Dissolution of the Monasteries but the ruins are in remarkable condition considering that they are not actively preserved. One day I’ll make the effort to visit this site which is less than 20 minutes drive from my house!

Leeds Castle

Leeds Kent

You might remember the time I famously ruined a pair of boots so that I could get that photo of Leeds Castle from across the lake. Leeds Castle is located in Maidstone, Kent and was built as a Norman stronghold in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur. It was most famously used by King Henry VIII as a residence for his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Ightham Mote

Ightham Mote

This medieval moated manor house is located near Sevenoaks in Kent. It would once have been home to a feudal lord or landed gentry and the moat would have provided protection against local thieves and ruffians. Today Ightham Mote is most famous for having the only Grade I listed dog kennel in the United Kingdom.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury is one of the most important cities in south east England, with a rich history dating back to prehistoric times. After the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170, Canterbury became a place of pilgrimage for Christians and this was why Chaucer’s pilgrims were making the journey there in The Canterbury Tales. I would definitely recommend a day out in Canterbury but I’d especially recommend that you take in the Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral – it is very special indeed.


The Sun Inn, Faversham[8]

On the way from London to Canterbury, Chaucer’s pilgrims passed through the town of Faversham. Faversham is famous for the annual Hop Festival but it is also home to Shepherd Neame Brewery, Britain’s oldest brewer. I’d highly recommend the brewery tour and be sure to pop into the Sun Inn before you leave for lunch and some real ale.

All Saints Tudeley

All Saints Church, Tudely, Kent

All Saints Tudeley is the tiny little church near Tunbridge Wells known for its stained glass windows painted by none other than Marc Chagall. Chagall was commissioned to design one window in memorium to the daughter of a wealthy local couple. He famously entered the church and exclaimed “c'est magnifique! Je les ferai tous!” (It's beautiful! I will do all!) and so it is that all twelve windows in the tiny church were painted by the renowned artist.