Monday, August 22, 2011

Tootle pip to London

On my last day in London (Friday), I met Hayley at Green Park station and we walked over to the entrance to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. We were a little bit later than planned but still over half an hour early. We were a bit surprised to find that already, the crowds looked like this:

We managed to get what we thought was a decent spot at the front right by the Palace and even managed to hold our ground when latecomers started trying to elbow their way through. When the new guard arrived and marched into the Palace grounds through the gate furtherest away from us, we thought, 'That's okay, surely the old guard will come back out the gates on our side and we'll get a better view then.' 45 minutes later, they didn't.

All in all, it was a pretty disappointing spectacle. It was so sporadic - first a small marching band, then nothing for a while, then some men on horses, then nothing for while, then the guards marching in, then nothing for a while, then music from inside the grounds, then nothing... They spent most of the time inside the Palace grounds which only the people right up against the Palace gates can see. The thing we enjoyed most really were the police on horses. They clearly have a 'say it firmly put politely the first time, firmer but still polite the second time, then just yell angrily the third time' policy. People can be so stupid and there's nothing like being in a crowd to illustrate that. It must be very frustrating, you tell people to do something for their own good, e.g. 'Cross now in front of the horse' and they do the complete opposite, then look surprised when they get yelled at because they're walking into traffic around the back of a horse.

After the non-event, we grabbed some lunch and sat in the park to eat it. Some pigeons started hanging around us and Hayley warned them that it probably wasn't such a good idea considering my recent pigeon eating experience.

We then hopped on an actual old fashioned double decker bus, they still have a few running on certain routes. It's cute because the driver is separate to the rest of the bus so there's still a ticket taker who announces each stop himself, rather than the newer buses where the tickets are all electronic and a recorded voice announces the stops.

A red phone box from inside a red double decker bus - all of the icons at once 

We got off past the Albert Memorial and walked all the way back to Harrods, stopping to admire Albert and the very detailed memorial.

Queen Victoria really liked him. Which is nice.

I wasn't too bothered about specifically going to Harrods during my time in London, but because we were close we had to go in.

It was awful. It is so tacky - the Egyptian escalators felt like being on a theme park ride and the Princess Diana and Dodi memorial fountain (which we came across by chance as we went too far on the escalators) had people crammed around it taking photos. Some people were putting on sombre faces to have their photo taken beside it, and some were smiling. It was very strange. It turned out that the money thrown into the fountain went to a charity for traumatised children, and because I hate all the tiny change you end up with in the UK because of their ridiculous 1p coins, I decided to lighten my wallet by throwing some of my change in. I didn't throw far enough and it bounced back at me. Fitting really.

We called into Harvey Nichols, where there were some of the funniest displays I've ever seen in a shop, before getting the tube to Redbridge, so I could see where Hayley and Gareth are living.

The house Hayley and Gareth are living in is huge and really nice. Their flatmates are all teachers so most are away on holiday at the moment.

They have a lounge suite that looks like jam rolls.

After a cup of tea we went back one stop to Wanstead. As you get further out of the city centre the interiors of the tube stations seem to get older, as in, they haven't been refurbished for years. I loved the mint green tiles of this one. We went to a pub for dinner which was really big and quite nice with such cheap food! I had to have mushy peas to properly end my London times, and because they are actually really yum. I think I'm going to try making them when I get home.

Granted, they don't look particularly appetising but then neither do normal peas.

Then it was back to Archway, to collapse into bed with my alarm set for 7am to give me enough time to pack and get sorted before getting to King's Cross for my train to Edinburgh at 11am. Sounds sensible doesn't it? Well, the next installment shall explain how I came to spend the most stressful 45 minutes in a long time from approximately 10.10am to 10.55am on Saturday morning. The precursor to which was discovering that I am too nice and have bought too many presents, and that a fox mauled my shoe.

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