Sunday 9 June 2024

London Day 3

 June 8th. Woke to blue sky but it is chilly.

Went out again for breakfast at Pret A Manger ( reasons for that in tomorrow’s post) and I had a lovely pot of creamy porridge with honey, while Little Sister had Bircher Muesli and fruit.   Their tea is good too and comes in a large cup so is very satisfying.

Then we caught the bus to Westminster Bridge and my photographer, Little Sister, obliged with a photograph 

while I had flashbacks to English classes at High School and learning Wordsworth’s famous “Earth hath not anything to show more fair.”   At the risk of insulting citizens of the UK, my last five weeks have indeed proved that there are many many places far more fair and yet I was still greatly moved to see in real life the sky scape that has existed for so long in my reading and imagination only.

We walked around to the entrance to Westminster Abbey and oh dear!   Tickets for the day were sold out and the red robed lady was most firm in telling us “come back on Monday”.  I wish!   

Instead we walked along peering through the railings and then into the Abbey Shop where a lovely young man sold me a couple of postcards and a precious souvenir to remind me of this Totally Enjoyable trip.

As we’d come in we had seen policeman in large numbers both on foot and others on motorbikes.   Police vehicles were parked at many roads which were closed off.   Then we heard the sirens and saw a police convoy and a large vehicle bearing a flag.  Perhaps it was King Charles returning from the D Day Celebrations?   Who knows but I’d like to think that I glimpsed something special.  It was all over before I could even get my phone out.

At this point we decided we needed a cup of tea so started walking down Victoria Street.   Given that it has many office buildings associated with the UK Government I expected to see plenty of cafes fuelling these hard working public servants, similar to the situation that prevails at home in Wellington.   But no, not really.   We walked for quite some time before I spied the white star of Pret A Manger and we had another lovely large cup of tea and from our seat in the window watched the world go by.   It was really the world too with tourists of every ethnicity and age walking blithely in front of traffic.    Fortified by our cup of tea we continued walking until we came to Victoria Station where we hopped back on our bus and hoped to get off at Hyde Park Corner.  Well, it was here the saga began.

We went past the statue of King Charles I which is said to mark the exact centre of the city and is the point from which all distances are measured.

People watching from the bus was fun.   We wondered if there was something on at the Palace when these people strode purposefully past in that direction.

And everywhere there were queues of people or of traffic.  

The skill of the bus and taxi drivers is equalled only by their patience as they share space with cyclists, pedestrians and at one point we saw an elderly man on a mobility scooter stop in the centre of the road when he heard an ambulance siren.   They negotiated cleverly around him and then he went blithely on his way.
 We went past Fortnum and Mason at just the time when their clock men did their dance.  Again camera delay means I only got the back.  This clock features Mr Fortnum on the left and Mr Mason on the right who every hour on the hour come out and bow to each other before retreating.   

Next door was Hatchards - the famous bookshop.  It was probably fortunate that I was on the bus and not on foot or I may have added to the weight of my luggage.

Today there was a Palestine Solidarity March from Russell Square to Parliament Street so there were many roads closed off and surrounding streets and lanes were crammed fuller than ever with public buses, sight seeing buses, taxis, cars, cyclists and yet more police and ambulance vehicles.   Our bus driver was listening to a traffic controller person back at his base and attempting to dodge the ever changing road closures.  A couple of the bridges were closed too so we traversed Southwark Bridge and Lambeth Bridge and saw more of London than the original tour promised. We joined the bus at Victoria Station at 1pm and finally reached Hyde Park Corner at 4pm, both of us bone weary.  We swapped to the Blue Route and took the bus around to the V&A stop where we finally said goodbye and thanks to the driver, posted the pocket wifi back into the care of Royal Mail and walked to the Creperie at South Kensington and had yet another pot of tea.  Little Sister went savoury with her crepe but I had the traditional lemon and sugar.

Then a walk back to our accommodation where we are both resting up weary from the nearly 30,000 steps we have walked these past two days.   

So the longed for UK trip is almost over.   Each new city or town has become my favourite and these past two days in London have been filled with new experiences, new memories, new sights and new tastes. What a rich diversity there is in this City.  I say farewell reluctantly.


Maggie said...

Sorry you missed out on Westminster Abbey. We booked one of the walking guided tours for the Abbey when we visited and our guide was very good and knowledgeable, I didn't realise that you had to book tickets at the door.
You have certainly had a varied taste of all things British and have some lovely memories and photos to take home with you. It's a shame the weather couldn't have been better for you but on the other hand, if it had been really warm it wouldn't have been good for walking around.

Anne W. said...

I've enjoyed every one of your posts from your fantastic trip! I have lived almost 8 years in West Sussex now and have only seen a fraction of the country (I work full time). I'm amazed at how many places you were able to visit, you're an excellent travel planner. Maybe I can do something similar once I retire.

Clare-Aimetu said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed our United Kingdom, it was lovely seeing everywhere through a visitors eyes. We are off to France tomorrow for a four week holiday, I will be posting on my travel blog

Safe travels onward

Cherie Moore said...

I have saved your travel posts and binged read them. Thank you! It has been wonderful following your adventures on this amazing trip of yours. I am now longing for tea! Your descriptions have brought to life so many places….again thank you!