Exploring London

We have spent the last couple of days taking it easy and catching up on some chores such as washing. It has been cool here with showers for most of the days.

However, Wednesday 10th was sunny and we decided to take advantage of the nice day to walk around some of the city. We caught the tube to Embankment and then walked up to Trafalgar Square. It was teeming with students who were protesting about expenditure cuts to the education system. We beat a hasty retreat and headed down through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace.

Not far down the road, we saw a unique statue of Captain James Cook. We have seen statues to the brave navigator all over the world, but this is the only one that I have ever seen that didn’t have a seagull sitting on his head.

We deviated to walk across the Horseguard’s Parade Ground, giving my compliments to the RSM on the way. I nearly suggested to an officer walking the other way that he should take his hand out of his pocket, but I didn’t think that he would take much notice of a Colonial, let alone an ex Private Soldier. There were none of the guards on horseback at the front of the Horse-guards, just one guard on foot. However, on the other side of the road was the main body of the student protest. It blocked half the road all the way towards the Houses of Parliament and was complete with a variety of signs, shouted chants and the glares of motorists trying to travel the other way. The traffic was at a complete standstill. (In the evening, we were interested to see the news reports of the protest on TV and the amount of damage that the students had caused).

We beat another retreat to the quietness of St James Park and it’s pond full of birdlife, including pelicans. We enjoyed the sun (although the breeze was chilly) as we wandered along the lake looking at the birds and the busy squirrels hunting for food. There were some lovely autumn colours amongst the trees and these gave the environment a lovely golden aura.

Buckingham Palace looked just the same, although there were more police officers than soldiers on sentry duty. They were actually far more colourful in their bright fluorescent yellow jackets, compared to the guards in their grey winter overcoats. The small crowd seemed to be very interested in a few random cars that were coming and going. We didn’t see them, but we did notice in this morning’s paper that the Queen was hosting Mark Donaldson VC (Afghanistan), Keith Payne VC (Vietnam) and Michael Pratt GM (Victoria Police) amongst a group of other VC’s and George Cross recipients gathered for Remembrance Day.

We enjoyed more of the sun as we wandered through Green Park and then along Piccadilly to Piccadilly Circus. Somewhere along the way, we wandered along Burlington Arcade and it’s dozens of boutique shops selling fashion, estate jewellery, antique watches and shoes. This was a very classy establishment and provides shopping for the seriously wealthy.

Near Piccadilly Circus was the National Geographic store. This is the type of shop in which I could buy at least one of everything. We stopped for a coffee and a glass of wine. I bought a NG cap, using the excuse that I need to protect my head from the sun and Jill bought another bag using the excuse that I bought a cap. We already have enough of these, but you can always use one more. Just around the corner, in Jermyne Street is the shop of TM Lewin, a long established tailor and manufacturer of men’s shirts. I have bought a number of their shirts on-line and they are very nice. I didn’t really need another one; I just wanted to visit their shop.

We had a quick look at some shops in Regent Street and came across Uniqlo, David’s favourite Japanese clothing store. Then it was back home on the Tube and out for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant. There are a lot of them near here, but when we saw one with a sign in the window saying “The Owner Eats Here Too”, we decided that it was recommendation enough for us and we went in. Both the food and the service were very good.

I’m finding that prices, in general, are not as expensive as I had expected. On a previous trip, our exchange rate was terrible (about $1 = 40p) and everything was 2 1/2 times the price, once converted. For this trio, $1 buys 63p, so we only need to add 60% on to the displayed price to convert it into Australian Dollars. Our dinner last night was only a little more expensive than we would pay at home.


Bruce is a keen traveller and photographer. This web site describes his travel and family interests

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