Saturday, July 27, 2013

London 2013 – by Vicki

We really wanted to get to London and Europe, but with two children reaching high school we simply didn't have time to sail.  So, we have put the boat up on the hard in Trinidad and hopped on a plane to London. 

Sunday 14 July
Arriving in London thoroughly jet lagged, we store our bags at our central London overnight accommodation, have an LLD (little lie down) and hit the streets. Looping across the Thames to St Paul's Cathedral - the closest landmark over the roof tops – we see Londoners in their thousands exposing flesh to the sun.  Many are very sunburnt. At St Paul's we arrived for Sunday Evensong and stayed for the service - a contemporary sermon, beautiful choral singing, amazing organ pipes and trumpets. Following the service there was an organ recital.  Sitting under the soaring central dome we appreciate the sound and admire the architecture. Hundreds of tourists wander into the church, most only look and leave.  Crowd control during the service is managed by polite but firm elderly volunteer church attendants in "morning suits". Our return takes us past the (Shakespeare) Globe Theatre.

St Paul’s Cathedral – that huge dome is still a dominant city landmark.

Very impressive...

... and listening to the choir and the organ recital in this amazing space is a very special acoustic experience.

 Monday 15th
After one nights stay in central London we tube to the inner west to Gary's old university friends (Caroline and Kevin) place, drop bags and then head back into the city to the Natural History Museum. Nina got her fill of dinosaurs and mega-fauna. On our homeward journey we had a wander through Harrods.

Outside the Natural History Museum.

It’s another mightily impressive public building.

Inside it’s equally awesome.

But Nina has come to see her megafauna – here the Giant Ground Sloth.

Tuesday 16th
We spent the day at the Tower of London. Arriving shortly after the gates opened Zeke and Nina wanted to see the Crown Jewels first whilst the wait was relatively short. Security is tight, the vault doors to the chamber housing the crown jewels is very impressive. In the Armoury Zeke gets his fill of medieval suits of armour. We wander in and out, up and down till we are foot sore. Out through the river gate we wander to Tower Bridge next door and walk across it.

In the evening we joined Caroline on her river boat and motored down river from Shepperton through 2 locks as far as the Royal castle of Hampton Court.

You can’t visit London and not see the Tower!

Wind-up soldiers?

Armour to fit all shapes and sizes.

Wednesday 17th
We walk and walk - Wellington's Arch, changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey (outside only), Parliament House and Big Ben, Horse Guards, Downing Street, Admiralty Arch, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and British Museum. At the museum we focused on Roman History and artifacts for Zeke and Nina's school.

Wellington’s Arch.

The crowd attending the changing of the guard, Buckingham Palace.

Westminster Abbey.

Parliament House and Big Ben.

A Horse Guard.

Investigating Roman History at the British Museum.

Thursday 18th
To Greenwich via tube and light rail. We alighted at Island Gardens Station and used the foot tunnel under the Thames to arrive above ground at the Cutty Sark. The National Maritime Museum was a disappointment due to almost no boats on display (Gary said there used to be hundreds). However the Queen's House free guided tour more than made up for it. By late afternoon we were getting tired and hoped the crowds had thinned so headed for the Royal Observatory to stand on the Greenwich Meridian.


Walking to Greenwich under the Thames.

The Cutty Sark – wow!

Hanging out on the Greenwich Meridean.

Well it has been a very busy 5 days of walking. London is overflowing with tourists - Italian, French, German, Japanese etc. The museums are crowded with school groups on end of year excursions. The Second Test at Lords has just begun. And, royal fever is high as everyone awaits the birth of William's and Kate's first baby.

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