Monday in London was a bank holiday so we took the opportunity to spend the day with Michelle and Adam (who would’ve otherwise been working). On their recommendation we spent the day at Greenwich.
Louis and Elena on the Thames Ferry.
Nice view from the boat.
The Old Naval College, which I’m told was also the birthplace of King Henry VIII, and where they filmed some of the new Les Miserables film (which I still haven’t seen…)
Inside the painted hall, with Adam, Michelle, Luuk and the kids.
The guy on the right is the painter. He wasn’t paid for his labours and so added himself to the picture, with his open and empty hands a reminder.
We went to the maritime museum, which was well set up for keeping kids interested.
Louis played in the boat while we took lots of indulgent photos…
And here’s one of them: a strange collection of figureheads.
A champion waterman! Oh, the places you’ll go!
The HMS Implacable. Brilliant.
Louis crossing the Atlantic on his submarine.
After the museum we went for lunch and on to see Cutty Sark, an old ship that used to deliver tea, amongst other things, all the way around the world.
Michelle, learning about the Tea Trade.
Luuk and Louis look out a port hole.
Look closely (what’s that smell?)
Louis trying his hand at steering a ship.
Luuk and Louis, up top.
The rigging – and the brilliant blue London sky!
A proper view of Cutty Sark.
We walked up to the observatory, through a gorgeous park, and crossed the Greenwich meridian line (though not inside the observatory because they make you pay for that bit… and we spent our pennies on ice cream instead.)
The view from up by the observatory.
Eventually we decided on where to go for dinner and then sat by the pier and nibbled on a couple of classic english sweets (kendal’s mint cake and cream toffees) till the boat arrived.
On Tuesday everyone had to go back to work, and we had sights to see! First things first, the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace (Christopher Robin went down with Alice – gah! I can’t help it. Just slips out.) It doesn’t start till 11.30, so we went via Westminster Abbey.
Unfortunately the price put us off. 18£ each… ouch. Free if you go to a service, and I know these buildings have horrendous upkeep costs, but ouch. We wandered around the outside instead.
We particularly liked the statues of the saints over this door. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were among this group of modern martyrs, for want of a better title.
On we walked, in the direction of Buckingham Palace, and while we waited for Louis to catch up I checked online for the best places to stand for viewing the changing of the guard… and basically we’d missed any chance of getting a good view, arriving so close to the starting time.
Nonetheless, we took a few minutes to play pooh-sticks on the bridge over the stream in St James Park, on our way through. Not that there’s any reason for me to assume Pooh and Christopher Robin played this game on this bridge, but it seemed an A.A. Milne themed day, and so we did…
On to the palace!
There it is, the round-a-bout in all the pictures. Oh, and a palace. Flag up, Queen’s home, and some cobbers on horses for good measure.
Luuk and Louis, waiting for the show to start, enjoying the sunshine. There was a bit of a wait, but we were right by the railing and had our handy-dandy london bus toy for Louis to play with – a gift mum and dad brought back last year. We also had our sun block, having learned our lesson the day before (I have tan-lines on my feet!)
Gorgeous gardens in full spring colour, right opposite the palace. If you have to look out on a roundabout, at least it’s a pretty one, eh, your majesty.
And then the guards came marching (not two by two but I say ‘hurrah’ nonetheless.)
Oddly, each group of guards and band were escorted by mounted police. Surely the palace guard don’t need a police escort. But I suppose if some idiot cycles thorough while they’re blocking the path for the guard’s approach, it’s better a cop deals with them than the guards break form… NO! I wanna see those guards in action. (And yes, someone did try to cycle through. They were thwarted.)
A well-armed, uniform, but (let’s be frank) odd looking bunch.
The mounted guards, all shiny and ready to go.
Elena woke up just in time to see the last group march through the gates.
Here they come!
Fresh guards, on duty.
We found lunch nearby and wrapped up with a little tea and scones. I opted for iced tea because London was warm – I mean, seriously, the bad reputation was taking a long weekend elsewhere. The weather was amazing. And the scones were pretty darn good too.
Me with my tea and scone.
We took a train to the south bank and went in search of the Globe Theatre. En route, Louis found himself a play ground, which I’m guessing is actually a sculpture, but no one seemed to mind.
Searching for the Globe (via the borough market)
Hey! Found it. Nice. Unfortunately we couldn’t see inside because they have matinees most afternoons. We put it on the agenda for the next day and had a look around, in search of some other site to see. We weren’t disappointed:
Across the Millennium bridge we went, and up to St Paul’s.
St Paul’s Cathedral.
I was told, shortly after taking this photo, that we weren’t to take pictures inside. I missed the numerous signs at the entrance because we took the wheelchair/pushchair entrance… what can I say? Oops. And there’s the forbidden picture.
Luuk and Louis went climbing up to the whispering gallery and then up up up to the top of the dome. Meanwhile, I wandered around the sanctuary and down to the crypt. Evensong began at 5, so everything shut and I didn’t get a chance to see upstairs, while Luuk and Louis missed the crypt (wherein lies the Duke of Wellington as well as Nelson… or was it Napier… or both. I always get those two mixed up.)
We met up again on the steps outside and found a little afternoon tea at ‘Paul’, a totally french franchise, but familiarity… you know…
The eastern-facing entrance to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Then we went in search of a bank that would let us withdraw pounds from our French (euro) account… and after about an hour of near-panic and frustration, standing on busy footpaths in rush-hour, with a sleeping Louis and grizzly Elena, Luuk on the phone either on hold, worrying about his battery, or arguing in French, we got the helpful advice to try my card.
The bank, turns out, has some silly policy whereby there’s a limit on how much cash we can withdraw in a given week. Luuk’s card was basically useless. There was nothing they could do, though he told them that he was in London with his wife, two kids, and just twenty pounds… So very helpful. Fortunately, my card dished out the dosh, and then we were off to Nando’s to meet a few London-based friends for dinner.
We got to see the lights of London, which was lovely, and had a great catch up with a rather random selection of Luuk’s old work-mates, a cousin of mine, and a few others.
Which brings me to the end of day 3. Two more to go, but now I must get back to working on my play! Or I could take a nap…