Thursday, July 16, 2015

English Vacation Journal - Part 10 and the last one - London

Our second day in London and we got up early, went down to the restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of toast, fried egg, mushrooms, bacon, sausage, black pudding (I know this is not every body's cup of tea but I grew up on black pudding and it's a nostalgia food.  I can't quite get that same taste in the States, it's all what you're brought up with, and the only time I eat it is when I visit England).  We also had hash browns and orange juice.  


We walked through Green Park down to Buckingham Palace.  It drizzled the whole time we were out, but it was a steady drizzle and not a real bother.  It certainly didn't stop the tourists, or us.  



That circular road that is in front of the palace was blocked off to traffic because of Trooping of the Colour the day before.  This enabled us to walk across to the Queen Victoria statue, which we weren't able to do last year because of the heavy traffic circling the monument.  A day later the barriers were taken down and traffic was allowed to flow again.



We intend to visit on hopefully a more sunnier day before we leave.  Our photos were still a good memory but a little dark and I look forward to taking more photos with sunshine and blue skies. 



At one point we saw the Life Guard's Regiment (see added comment below) in their shiny helmets and bright red overcoats. Their horses were gorgeous!  



A whole lot of fun to see.  



Another interesting event was to see the Changing of the Guard at St. James Palace.  



They were also very smart in their bright red coats and Bearskins atop their heads (also please note the added comment below), but I couldn't get that close and I was really missing my other camera.


We would not have known except for this man who had set up a tripod across the narrow street, trained on the gates of St. James Palace.  Always pays to ask right, so I asked him what was going on and he told me?  He said sometimes they don't appear at all but if they did it would be in about half an hour.  Gregg and I decided to stay.  Slowly we were joined by other spectators, and then we knew something was happening when three armed police officers turned up, and two female officers on horseback.  The man with the tripod told us it would probably be a small contingency, as the Queen wasn't home.  There weren't many soldiers he was correct, but oh what a lovely sight they made.  

After they had marched away we walked only a few feet and stopped to read a plaque outside the Queen's Chapel.



A gentleman came by and told us that if we waited a few minutes, the boys' choir would be there shortly.  Gregg said that the look on his face signaled to him that it would definitely be very interesting.  Ten minutes later these sweet young boys walked across the road in full choral regalia.  They made an endearing sight as they walked through the chapel doors.  I would have loved to have gone inside the chapel but this must have been a special occasion.  The outside door was slightly ajar however and I heard their voices.  They sang like angels.

 

We walked back to the hotel but decided to pop into Patisserie Valerie.


I ordered a coffee, Gregg a Vanilla Milkshake and we shared a Napoleon. 



We walked up an alley, a short cut where there were a few interesting shops



.....and the second oldest pub in England.



On its doors it read, "Welcome to the Old Red Lion, reputedly the oldest license in the West End. The village pub in the heart of St. James."



There was a homeless gentleman lying on the ground wrapped in a blanket.  Gregg popped some money into his cup and we heard a very quiet but unmistakable "God Bless you mate."  Poor man, I wonder what his story is.

When we got back to the hotel we were both tired, put the 'do not disturb' on the door and slept for a couple of hours.  Before we had our nap we heard more commotion below from our fifth floor window.  Another procession was making its way down the same street as the cyclists.  This time we heard chanting and singing and recognized that this was the Hari Krishna.  We found out later the parade started from Hyde Park and ended at Trafalgar Square.


Today we heard that Gregg's Dad was ill and we were very worried about him.  We were due to go home in two days and decied to go down to see how he was doing as soon as we got home.  (This is still an ongoing worry for all the family and after a very tough time, he is now in a rehabilitation center.  All your positive thoughts and good wishes sent to him earlier has made its mark, I am convinced. So, thank you once again for being so caring for someone you have never met.  It reinforces my belief yet again how very caring our blogging community is.)



One of our favorite walks has been in James Park, just down the road and we have been there every day.  The bird life is wonderful, swans.....



coots (feisty little things, and just like the ones we saw in Devon, they chase everything away, including the swans), 



mallards, in fact so many geese.....



herons....



and even pelicans, these being an original gift from the Russian Ambassador in 1664.  Today we are seeing their descendants.



There were mounted police officers patrolling the park.  We saw them often and their horses were always well groomed and beautiful!



We got on the underground to take us to a camera shop.  I had left our charger for our main camera at home.  



(It was on the breakfast bar waiting for us on our return, all ready for me to pop it into the camera bag, along with the spare battery which was still in the charger.  And I thought I was so organized, even had a list.) We now have a camera charger in our collection for the next time we go to the UK.  Which is great as long as I remember to pack it!  



We had a three-day pass for the Hop-On-Hop Off tour company. We got off at the Tower of London but didn't go inside as it was near to closing.  We figured we would go back (we didn't).  We did pop into the gift shop.  I bought a jacket as it was really cold and I didn't have a warm enough coat - another thing to think about when traveling again.  I was trying to keep our luggage down thinking the weather would be like last year, warm and sunny. 



We met a young man from Brazil today.  Gregg was trying to get my attention so that I could smile for the camera, but I was distracted, wondering if that was the bus we needed to catch.  I was tired and ready to go back to the hotel.  He gave us the rabbit ears and when Gregg saw the photo he showed it to him.  He in turn took his camera and took a photo of our photo and so the three of us started talking.  He was on the sales side of the bus tour, and we chatted for about 20 minutes.  A nice young man and enjoyable to talk with.  He put us on the right bus when it arrived and we left him helping an Italian tourist who seemed a bit lost.  He spoke to him in Italian and the pleased look and relief on the man's face was evident.  

I looked at my health app on my iPhone.  We had walked over 12,000 steps today.  The suggested amount of steps is 10,000 a day so we did very well.  My niece introduced this app to me.  She had it on her phone and said I should too, so when we looked there it was.  I've been using it ever since.  

We love the city and have found everyone to be nice and polite. Even when one cabby yelled at Gregg, in a relatively polite fashion, (we got swept up in the swarm of people at one traffic light) "Oye mate, the little red man means don't cross!"  In such crowds at all traffic lights I just held on to the back of Gregg's belt, tried really hard not to close my eyes and crossed my fingers.  City traffic can be very intimidating when you are not used to it.



Today we started our daily walk off, as we have been doing, in James Park and eventually found ourselves in Parliament Square.  We loved seeing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.  



Earlier we had visited Winston Churchill's War Rooms at Whitehall.  



It was fascinating and I was glad I saw it.  



We saw the Changing of the Guard again, also in Whitehall.  Thanks to Roy (please also see added comment below) I now know that these are from the Blues and Royals Regiment.  



Very impressive, all the shiny armor glinting in the sun, and their handsome jet black horses.  



June 17th, 2015

This last day in London and laid up with a bug.  All the places we have not seen that we intended to get to today were not to be. Gregg said, as did I, rather today than tomorrow.  So I stayed in the hotel room all day as I felt really bad. I have loved London but now am looking forward to getting home and we are anxious to see how my FIL is doing.  

June 18th, 2015

We are home.  I slept six hours of the flight which made it a very short journey.  Isn't it wonderful to be able to sleep in your own bed after being gone for a while?  Gregg is leaving in the morning to visit his Dad.  As I am still under the weather I will follow as soon as I can.
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And there my friends is the last of my holiday journal.  I have loads more photos to share and I will be doing that for quite a while.

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In case you have missed any vacation posts, I have added a link to the previous ones below.


Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.
Part 6 here.
Part 6 continued here.
Part 7 here.
Part 8 here.
Part 9 here.


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Added note to the above post.  It is a very welcome comment from Roy of Roy's Nature Blog was nice enough to correctly identify some of the ID's I made on the soldiers above.  Here is his comment:

"Hi Denise, I do hope that Gregg's Dad is recovering now and will be home soon (thanks Roy).  I enjoyed your tour report.

The Queen's Calvary.  The Soldiers with the white Plumes on the helmets are the Life Guards Regiment.  The others with the red Plumes are the Blues and Royals Regiment, that was Prince William and Prince Harry's Regiment.  Don't let a Guardsman hear you call the tall hats 'Busbies", they are really called "Bearskins".

Thanks Roy, I truly appreciate you correcting my mistakes :)