Jenny & Frances in front of the Palace…a long time dream for both of us.
Jenny and her “special” friend
Jimmy & Jenny make a phone call in a smelly phone box.
While poor Michael stayed home and worked, Jenny, Jimmy and I caught the train to London and spent the day touring around the sights. We got to the Oxford station and Jimmy decided to get a smoothie for breakfast. Jenny and I laughed at the names of the drinks, including “Brekkie on the GoGo” and “Flu Fighter”.
The first excitement for the day came when we pulled into Reading Station, about halfway between Oxford and London. We sat at the station for a few minutes when the conductor came on the speaker and said that this train was being delayed and that we might want to “nip across” to the other side of the station and catch the train that was currently waiting to leave for London. We all grabbed our stuff and ran to the other track. When we got on, there was no place to sit, so we stood for the last 30 minutes of our trip. We were standing in the passageway that connects the two train cars….it was very loud and bumpy, but we made it to London faster!!!
The first priority for the day was to find Buckingham Palace. As we walked through Green Park, heading to the Palace, we noticed tons of people lined up along the Palace fence and saw a flash of red and black inside the Palace grounds. Realizing that the “Changing of the Guards” was going on, we RAN to join the crowds. We were originally at the back of the crowd, but people kept leaving so we were able to move closer to the fence. The atmosphere was wonderful as the band played selections from James Bond movies and the various guards moved into their positions. It was a LOT of pomp and circumstance and we really have no idea what was going on, but it was great fun to watch. At one point a young girl pushed through the crowd trying to get to the fence. She scared Jenny to death as she pushed past her legs….she said that it felt like an animal!! As the guards left the Palace grounds, all of the people moved away from the fence and we moved into place to take photos of the Palace. I reminisced about how many times I had seen photos of people standing at these bars and looking into the Palace, and now we were one of them!!!! As we walked away from the Palace and past the guarded gate, Jenny suggested “you tackle the guard and I will run!!!”
We then walked through St. James Park headed to St. Margaret’s Church, also known as Westminster Abbey. Jimmy pointed out that more of the guards were moving from the Palace into the guard house. We, along with everyone else, ran over to take photos. There was one family of three kids who were running at full tilt to get in front of the guards, with Dad following close behind with a camera. They ran into position, and then the kids posed quickly in front of the incoming guards. We were amazed that they could position themselves so quickly!!! It was fun to see Big Ben in the distance, along with the London Eye (a huge Ferris Wheel).
Westminster Abbey was gorgeous although a bit daunting to look at. There were hundreds of tombs of people that we didn’t know, so we just looked at the architecture and kept on walking. As we looked at the ornate tombs, I reminded Jenny that our Will says that Michael and I were to be buried in a manner in accordance with our station in life, and personally, I wanted a huge tomb!!!! We spent most of our time trying to figure out which area of the Abbey was where they held all of the televised functions. We did finally find the larger hall, complete with a “Quire” loft. We lit prayer candles and put them in place, alongside hundreds more. The funny thing was that there was a fire blanket at the end of each of the candle stands.
We left the Abbey and wandered down Parliament Street headed to Trafalgar Square. At one point we passed many guards and gates and realized that we were at 10 Downing Street. In another area, we ran into guards on horseback….who knows what they were guarding.
We stopped for lunch just outside of the Square, and had a contest to see who could eat the most and whether we could leave with NO leftovers. We came close, but still left a small amount of food.
As we were eating, we realized that we hadn’t been able to see a Palace guard up close, so I retraced my steps from last week and we ended up at the back of St. James Palace where two guards were standing. Jenny and Jimmy took turns taking photos with the unresponsive guard….Jenny told him “thank you” after the photo session.
We walked to Piccadilly Circus and looked briefly around the square. The area is lit with many large video boards, mostly advertising US companies!!!! We then caught the tube to Kings Cross with the idea of finding Platform 9-3/4 (from Harry Potter). We found platforms 1 through 5, but gave up and headed back to Paddington Station and caught our train for home.
For dinner, Jimmy and Jenny walked to High Street and bought Kebabs from a street vendor and brought them home. We enjoyed eating them and then watched a new episode of “The Last Detective”, a very low-key British detective show.