Thursday, 17 October 2013

London, baby!

Queen's Guard on sentry duty outside St James's Palace
Last weekend we went up to London as an early birthday treat for Lucas.  I've been to London loads of times, but I've never 'done' Buckingham Palace or any of the Royal Parks so we decided to play tourist for a day.

Since the Jubilee line was part-closed--honestly, is this line ever fully open?--we walked from Bond Street tube past lots of amazingly luxurious shops that I really need to go back and have a proper browse in.  (Assuming the doormen/bouncers think I look rich enough to enter!)  I loved the window displays at Fortnum and Masons.  Isn't this the most fabulous badger you've ever seen?

I'd totally go to this badger's tea party!
We walked through the grounds of St James's Palace and turned onto The Mall where we could just glimpse Buckingham Palace in the distance.  A few yards up the road there was a crowd of tourists, so being nosey we rocked up for a look, too.  And there they were!  Two members of the Queen's Guard resplendent in their scarlet tunics and bearskins. standing at their posts in front of sentry boxes.  (A quick Google tells me that these fine gentlemen belong to the Grenadier Guards regiment.)  This is now the only place in London where you can get up-close to the Guard and they really are rather splendid.  Note the bayonet on their rifles--these are serving soldiers, and smart as they look, they're not decorative!

Lucas and I in front of Buckingham Palace
From the sentry boxes outside St James's Palace, it's a very short walk to Buckingham Palace.  As you can see from the Union Flag flying atop the Palace, the Queen was out.  (When in residence, the Royal Standard flies instead of the Union Flag.  In other fun facts, when the Queen is not in residence the posted sentries (Queen's Guard) are reduced from four to two.)

(L) Buckingham Palace (R) Canada Gate, Green Park (B) Victoria Memorial
While we were gawping at the Palace I noticed a mounted police officer shouting directions at cars and wondered what was going on.  Lo and behold...a few minutes later the Queen's Life Guard trotted past, breastplates and helmets gleaming in the sunshine!

Queen's Life Guard
After the Guard had passed we decided to go for a walk through St James's Park which was really pretty.  (As it should be, since it is one of London's Royal Parks!)  We were followed around for a while by a goose who was rather disappointed that we didn't have any bread or bird seed, and Lucas spied one of the famous pelicans on the far bank of the pond.

Goose or gander? Who was bold as brass, though
My sense of direction takes a bit of a holiday whenever I'm in London so I was utterly surprised to suddenly find Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament looming in front of me on the other side of St James's Park!  (I think all the hustle and bustle disrupts my delicate brainwaves.)

Big Ben & The Houses of Parliament
And just round the corner is Downing Street!  I had no idea that all of this was in such close proximity!

Rather than walk down the Embankment which we always do, Dave took us for a wander through Whitehall Gardens which was leafy, green, and above all else...quiet.

(L) Statue of Icarus in front of the MOD, (R) a rather fairytale-looking hotel
By now our tummies were rumbling, so we squeezed onto the tube and headed back to Bond Street, and Patty & Bun, for lunch.  Mmm...burgers.

Later on Little Apple Tree...shockingly nude statues at the British Museum ("Cover your eyes, Mummy!"), the best gelato in London, and dinner in Bloomsbury.

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  1. This sounds wonderful. I do love being a tourist in London. Lucky Lucas :)

    Don't suppose you've watched the famous St James' park pelican attempting to swallow the pigeon on you tube. Sure Lucas would love that :P

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Jenny!

      We hadn't seen that video of the pelican and the pigeon. I feel so sorry for the poor pigeon--I'd assumed that it would escape, but no! Down the hatch it went. It's a bird eat bird world...

  2. My sister is in London right now! I am so jealous. I have a list of candy and Doctor Who stuff I want her to track down for me.

    1. Is she visiting one of the original police boxes outside Earl's Court tube? It's a different design from the TARDIS but it's lovely to see one still on the streets.


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