Pottering Around London

It’s rather nice having an apartment in a city as you can take it easy, sleep in and generally potter around at your leisure. Over our last few days in London, that’s just what we have been doing.

One day, we caught the train along the Circle Line to Piccadilly and then walked through the shopping area around Regent Street and Oxford Street. London has some decorations over the main streets that show the Twelve Days of Christmas and these look very pretty at night. We looked into a number of department stores including Hannley’s which advertises itself as the finest toy store in the world. But having recently been to FA Schwartz in New York recently, I felt that they were pushing a little above their weight. We caught the train around to Knightsbridge to visit Harrods. I guess that visiting this store is a part of being in London. It had a good Christmas Shop with some things that were quite suitable for the old ladies on our Christmas shopping list. It is an enormous store and it did have some spectacular Christmas window displays of fairy tale characters using designer label products.

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Another day, we started at the National Gallery and walked around to some of the outstanding sites in central London. I was looking for a painting that I was sure that had sure I had seen there on a previous visit which depicted the battle of Rourke’s Drift. This was a key battle for England in the Zulu Wars of 1879 and was featured in the movie, Zulu. I first remember being shown this movie during my recruit training as an example of fine military discipline. Obviously, I travel too much as this painting was never in the National Gallery in London, it is really in the NSW Gallery in Sydney. From Trafalgar Square, we walked along Whitehall to Horseguards. Now there’s a fine example of military discipline as these cavalry men (and women) sit completely still on their horses as crowds of tourists stand beside them for photos and try to pat their horses.

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From here, where the Olympic beach volley ball events were held, we wandered through St James Park watching the antics of the squirrels in the gardens. They are not at all shy and if you stop walking, they will come right up to your feet looking for something to eat. They are probably as well trained as the horses! Then it was along to Buckingham Palace for a quick photo stop (yes, another one), and through Green Park for the train home.

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Another day, we visited Westminster Abbey. We were inspired as on the BBC we had watched the first of a four part series about life at the Abbey. This episode had focused on the school that they run for the thirty, or so, choir boys. When we arrived, there were a group of boys playing football in the Deans Yard. We are sure that they were from the abbey school and some of their young faces looked familiar from the BBC show. As usual, the abbey was very crowded, but with a little patience and the help from the audio guide that was included in the entrance fee, we managed to see al the important things. It’s hard to describe the history of this place. Apart from the obvious coronations of kings and queens , it contains the tombs of royalty going back to Edward 1 and Elizabeth 1. There are memorials to so many important people. – dozens of them. I do remember seeing memorials to people such as Robert Falcon Scott, Robert Peel, Adam Lindsay Gordon and many of the British Prime MInisters. We had a bite to eat in the restaurant and just as we were leaving we could hear the choir rehearsing for a service that was due to begin in the next thirty minutes. I am not a great fan of organ and choral music, but it fitted beautifully into this environment, WE were unable to take pictures inside the church, but I found this via of the cloisters to be interesting.

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On our last day here, we had very lazy day. We slept in and packed up our stuff and then had a walk with around some parts of Kensington that we had not visited before. The streets here are row upon row of Georgian houses. We found a nice pub for a late lunch and then finally headed to the airport for our flight home.

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It was hardly a pleasant time at the airport as the queue to get to the security point was probably 500 metres long. It snaked right along two sides of terminal 3 and even did a loop over the bridge to the car park! It took nearly 90 minutes just to get to the bag checking point. Perhaps there is some reason for increased security at this time, bt is certainly a pain in the arse!

Right now, we are on the Qantas flight to Singapore. We have had a good flight so far and just woken for breakfast before arriving in Singapore., No upgrades this time, however. we have just had a chat with Rachel, the wonderful first class crew member who looked after us so nicely on our trip over. We knew that she would be on this flight and she came up from the first class cabin just to say hello to us. Alas, she did not tuck me into bed this time, but my memory remains and I will remember that experience for a long time.