Monday, October 20, 2014

Changing of the Guard and Other Fun Stuff in London

We had been to the Changing of the Guard on a Saturday and arrived 90 minutes early at the recommendation of many on-line posters. There were only small crowds that day, which I thought was surprising for the weekend.

Buckingham Palace with the Victoria monument in front...

Victoria doesn’t look too amused...

This was one of the bobbies keeping his eyes on the crowds. Some of them get understandably angry with the tourists who are lolling about outside the barricades in front of traffic. One of them ran down the street yelling at people "Get inside or I’m going to chase you.” At least some of them still have a sense of humour.

Clearly, we should have read the memo on the Changing of the Guard. I really had no idea what was happening. Bands went one way; bands went another way.

I believe these are the Queen's Life Guards who went down the Mall from the Palace.

And then this band came back up the Mall and went inside the gates of the Palace...


This is as much as I could see of what was going on inside the gate. You almost have to go twice. Once to see the guards coming up the Mall, and a second time to be close to the gate where the changing of the guard takes place.

Next thing these other guards came from a different direction...


This was the crush of people at the gates, so there was no chance of getting in close to see what happens inside. We decided to try it again on Monday, only this time we would position ourselves at the gates.

Being as the Saturday hadn't been that busy, we figured it would be even quieter on a Monday, so we only left ourselves about 30 minutes before the ceremony began. Mistake! There were crowds of people and many tour buses on Monday and we couldn't even get close. Next time...and we will read up on it.

We decided instead to walk to Harrods...cue Google maps to lead the way. That worked really well until Google kept telling us we were there and we couldn't find it. We walked around the same block twice and I was thinking "Who can't find Harrods!"  Google was having a moment I guess. After entering the address instead of just the store name, Google finally decided to lead us there. Success!

I was taking a photo of the storefront, and Jim was telling me to take a photo of the Ferrari. "Where is it?" I asked. Oh, right in front of you go!

I looked through ladies' wear and checked out the lovely washrooms. I didn't think things were unreasonably priced, but more money than we wanted to spend on anything, so off we went to a place we could afford...the food hall! Now, we were talking! Everything is so clean and beautifully presented.

The London Collection…cookies, shortbread...look at those teddy bears. Definitely for the tourists...

The sweets section...

Look at these veggies...yum! We made a few purchases including a yummy macaron that barely made it out of the store before we devoured it. Caramel and sea cannot go wrong.

We went to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. It was really funny...totally irreverent and politically incorrect.

We decided the next day to go back to Piccadilly Circus and also to visit Covent Garden. We walked past the Gherkin...

This quartet was playing to a crowd of lunch goers in Covent Garden...

Mixing classical music with humour...


And there were the usual buskers performing...I guess I was more interested in the buildings than the buskers.

Across the street, I could see a sign for St. Paul's Church. In my mind I was thinking St. Paul's Cathedral and kept looking for the big dome. Suddenly I clued in that they are two different churches.

But they were having a charity sale so we popped in. Many different charities were selling Christmas cards and other items. We found some pretty ones to support the MS Society.

Back on the street, we wandered by a book store. I had been stalking James and Street Cat Bob hoping he would be doing a book signing somewhere near us, but it wasn't to be. Buying the book would just have to do.

Now we were in Leicester Square. The London Hippodrome opened in 1900 as a place to showcase variety shows and animal acts. It is now a casino.

One of several casinos in the area...

Often you would look down a small street and see a little pub; this one was called the Slug and Lettuce. Loved it!

OMG Cinnabon...I was off like shot.


The fountain in Piccadilly Circus. There were lots of people and lots of buskers.

Piccadilly Circus is supposed to be like New York’s Times Square, but on a smaller scale.

We walked back to Trafalgar Square where these two guys were drawing flags of the world. People were throwing coins on the flags for the country of their choice.

Aiming for Canada, I hit it and the coin promptly rolled off onto Peace & Love. Oh well, that's good too.

These buskers seemed to be the new thing. I have no idea how they are elevated. You can see the guy giving the busker a backward glance “how the heck is he doing that?”.

These kids were trying to get the busker to smile without much luck...

 We got our Fitbit steps in that day. Back at the flat with my Cinnabon and Bob book...a great day!

Tomorrow we're heading to Southampton to meet up with Barb and Ed...

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