A Travellerspoint blog

England

Visiting Buckingham Palace

Visiting the Palace of Queen Elizabeth II

sunny 20 °C

Buckingham Palace is only open for a short time every year while Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh take their annual holidays in Sandringham, Scotland. As we had visited many royal palaces on our long trip it was fitting to finish with the reigning Monachs Palace. We arrived at the allowed time of 11.30 am to be told we had to visit the Royal Mews and the Queen's Gallery first. We walked along the road to the Royal Mews not really knowing what we would see. First we got to see the royal state carriages. The ones that you see during royal weddings, Corinations etc. Also some cars on display. One of the Royal coaches quite modern designed by an Australian, as this is more roomy and comfortable it was the couch used for William and Kates wedding. We also got to walk through the emaculate stables, we saw some of the Queens horses being unloaded from a horse float. There were lots of horse paraphernalia on display from over the years all well polished. The best part of the Royal Mews was seeing the golden coach. This was so golden it glowed. It was well displayed with sculptured horses and riders. I could have stood there all day looking at it. After this we had some lunch in a restaurant we had already frequented. It was then off to the Queen's gallery. The gallery features art from the royal collections. This year the display theme was the Garden. The art works were chosen with this in mind. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were keen art collectors and often had art works commissioned. It was good to see some of these. Some of the Art work brought back memories of a trip to The Isle of White on a previous visit. There was some sculptures the one I liked the best was the boy with a prickle in his foot. There was a candelabra that came from Osborne House that looked like lillies. Getting into the Palace is like going through an airport. First you queau then your bag goes through a scanner. Geoff had to leave his backpack and collect it at the other side. We got a quided tour it felt a little unreal to be gliding up the stairs to the state rooms and actually being inside the palace. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of British sovereigns since 1837. And today is the administrative headquarters of the monarch. The Palace has 775 rooms. They include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedroos, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathroos. The Palace is the venue for Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures all organised by the Royal Household. We got to see rooms only before seen in the media. The Royal state dining room was set up as for the Singapore Presidents visit, he had visited earlier in the year. The tables completely set along with name tags, flowers etc I got to stand right behind the Queens chair and see the room from her view point. On display was an interesting collection of gifts given to the Queen on State Visits, one was particularly colourful and amusing. I am sure it gave the Queen a good chuckle. They had various cabinets set up showing how the household runs, like the kitchen etc. I liked the dressmaker one showing materials still to be sewn and a frock that the Queen resently wore. There were also other dresses on display. A great experience for us to do this visit. No photos allowed as you would expect. Soon we popped out the back where the royal garden parties are held there were large posters showing former garden parties. Here there were large temporary seating areas and a cafe. We thought we had better partake of royal afternoon tea where we could look out on the lawn and Gardens where the Queen has more than likely walked her corgis. Grandma and Grandpa Wooderson were very excited to receive an invitation to a royal garden party in 1952. It would have been Elizabeth II first garden party after becoming Queen, she was crowned in 1953. Grandma writes in her dairy of going to buy her dress with one of the Aunts they stayed with in London. Grandma and Grandpa were on the boat to England when the news came of King Georges death. They lined up along the Mall to watch his funeral procession. After our afternoon tea we walked out through the gardens. Of course there was a shop you had to walk through. Then more gardens to walk through before popping out in a completely different place to the entrance. Managed to find an underground popped down and found our way to Kings Cross Station.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 07:50 Archived in England Tagged palace buckingham Comments (0)

"They're Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace"

Geoff went down with Joyce to the Palace

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Wherever I go in England I seem to get reminded of songs with the place names. When out and about in London feel like I am making progress around the monopoly board. This morning after a sleepless night managed to sleep in. Not good when we had plans to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. We fast walked to Kings Cross Station to catch the underground. Had to figure out which train to catch. We realised we could catch the circular line. But which direction would be the fastest as our destination half way around. Our indecision at the beginning meant we had to wait another 10 precious minutes for the next train. It was frustrating watching the clock tick around as seemed to stop at endless stations. Soon we alighted near Hyde Park and had a fast walk through the park. It was a little wet but we had dressed for this. Managed to make it just in time. I managed to wriggle myself to the front though one man was taking up a mighty lot of room beside me. There are always crowds of people watching this. The last time we had seen this was almost 11 years ago. It was on our first trip over to the United Kingdom when our three daughters, their partners and two grandchildren lived and worked in England. We had arrived the evening before. All the family were camped out at Sharleen and Adam's home in New Malden. Katrina and family who lived out of London suddenly decided it was the changing of the guards and wanted to see it. We were out of the house in quick time and almost ran through Hyde Park to make it in time as well. Zara was barely 6 weeks old at the time. So back here we were. Just as they were to come into view wammo I had a selfie stick thrust right in my range of vision by a young girl standing behind. "EXCUUUUSSSEEE meeeeeee" said I with a glare. The offender disappeared. The man taking up a lot of room moved over a bit I think he thought I was talking to him. Well worth the effort of getting there to see the changing of the guards again. We then thought we would get tickets to see Buckingham Palace. You can only do this tour for a short time every year when the Queen is on her annual holiday to Sandringham and as we were in London thought it would be a good chance to do it. We queued for a good half hour for tickets even those who had bought tickets on line were in another shorter queue. We then found out that we couldn't do the tour till 1.30 pm. We decided to book for the next day. We headed down the road for lunch. Later on we headed back to our accommodation, had a rest, then glammed up to head to Prince Edward Theatre by the underground. We had left plenty of time to have a leisurely meal before seeing Miss Saigon. We found a Japanese Restaurant where the waitresses were dressed in saris. A short walk to the theatre another wine and soon the show began. We were able to shift seats when a tall person sat in front so ended up closer. We sat on the first tier. We never can work out the best place to sit. This was good as most of the action in the first half seem directly in front of us. The show was full of action and the sets were amazing, and the acting and singing were great. It was a very entertaining evening, we were pleased with our choice of show. Soon it was back out on the street on a pleasant evening into the underground and back to our accommodation. Another great day in London. We were enjoying London and as we had seen most of the main sites in London on previous visits so didn't feel pressured to be seeing everything. Sometimes it is nice just to wander around absorbing all the atmosphere.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:49 Archived in England Tagged the palace at changing guards buckingham Comments (0)

Convent Garden, British Cycle Tour Finish, London

Street Entertainment on a sunny Sunday

sunny 20 °C

After a sleep in we decided to catch the underground to a subway near Prince Edward Theatre. Once we found the theatre where Miss Saigon was being held we headed off to find a booking office, several near here. We found one that was selling tickets at a good price. It is a bit different to years ago when you would have to queau for tickets. There were so many shows on in London. There were lots I would have liked to see but a decision had to be made and we hadn't seen Miss Saigon before. It was a sunny Sunday and I knew we were close to Convent Garden. With the help of my phone we soon found it. What a great way to spend a sunny Sunday. As well as the colourful interesting markets there were lots of street performers of a high standard. We spent a long time watching the street entertainers. We put a donation in the containers of those we spent time watching. There were the knife jugglers. One of these was on a ladder with only one rung it was a long way off the ground. He took off his shirt, not sure why he did that we had to watch his quivering flesh. There was a good Mr Bean Impersonator. He was charging for photos taken with him. We liked the dog in the kennel he was funny. I posted a video of that on my face book page. The Charlie Chaplin Impersonator was very good, he did a long stint and was funny. He certainly picked on people in the crowd so we were keeping our distance. There were various other acts as well. We watched a sculptor sculpting a young boy. I was very impressed with how still he sat. His mother dressed very fashionable and he looked very smartly dressed as well. We eventually headed off to find barriers everywhere and we were marooned. I am not sure how we missed this action earlier must have approached from a different angle. We stood by the fence and chatted to some nice young English people and found out it was the finish of the Cycle Tour of Britain. Fancy that, first we catch the end of the Tour de France in Paris accidently, now here is the finish of the British Tour. Events just seem to follow us around. We decided we might as well stay and watch. They certainly fly by and it didn't take long for each round. It was fun watching the support vehicles whizz past and the ambulance where the passenger seemed to be hanging on around the corner where we were. People realised that the finish was across the street but by then you couldn't get across, we wandered around and found net barriers on our side, someone had conveniently torn a big hole in one barrier. The interesting part here was watching an angry young man have an altercation with a security guard on the other side of the barrier. Obviously angry about the netting he tore a big hole in another screen. The security man was right in his face and was well out of order when he took a swing at the young man's nose. Luckily no blood. The security man about to take action but of course by then the young man had disappeared into the crowd. Why put the net up in the first place the barrier was enough. We finally walked to an underground station and found a train to take us back to Kings Cross Station. Six flights of stairs to negotiate to our room, at least we now weren't setting off the fire alarm.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:27 Archived in England Tagged city siteseeing Comments (0)

Madam Tussuard's, Primrose Hill and Swiss Cottage

Revisiting some favourite places in London

sunny 24 °C

It was Saturday in London, we set off first to visit Madam Tussuard's. We found our way to Kings Cross Station. At our entry point to our underground destination they had just stopped the train line due to someone on the line. Police and medics running everywhere, we never did find out what happened. Plan B. We found another way to get there with one train line change. At the beginning of our big trip when we were in London we found the buses worked well from our accommodation. But as we were near Kings Cross Station the underground certainly worked better for us. Kings Cross a local and international station. We headed to Madam Tussuard's to join lots of other tourists on this very sunny Saturday. I enjoyed my last visit here about 10 years ago. The displays are constantly changing. It always surprises me that you can get up so close and personal with the wax figures. David Becham no longer in footie clothes and pose but now in a fancy suit posing beside his wife Victoria, famous for the Spice Girls and now her fashion empire. Kylie Minogue on surfboard replaced with Miller Cyrus sitting on a long tongue. There was a feature of some of the young singing stars. Beyonce was the head feature with 3 models of her along with Lady Gaga who wouldn't have existed on my last visit. Also Britanny Spears looking very glam. I was amazed how small Madonna was she isn't very tall, she always seems larger than life in real life. Freddie Mercury still there, his Song Barcelona with the Spanish Opera singer still the best Olympic song ever. A little bit of home New Zealand's legendary rugby player Jonah Lomu striking a great pose, possibly on display with the Rugby World Cup taking place in England. With my interest in art it was good to see some of the famous artists on display. The Royal family pose now controlled with an official photographer. You can still take your own photo. Of course I had to do that pose for my late Grandma who was such a royalist. It is rubbing off on me as have had a rather Royal time this trip. Lady Diana no longer attracting queues but replaced with queues to do the selfie with Kim Kardashian. I admit I did this pose. Interesting how the moody Kane is relegated to the back. There were all the usual world leaders, sports stars too numerous to mention. A new area was showing the making of the wax figures, with Beyonce featured here. Also there was a display of the history of Madam Tussuard's. She was the tiniest little lady. We did the London Taxi ride through various displays that flash past. Soon we were queuing to head upstairs then waiting upstairs to go into the 4 D theatre. We were so hungry by then the only drink we could find was some sugary icy drink the cup was threatening to collapse we had with a bag of crisps. The 4 D was based around saving Buckingham Palace. You got sprayed with air and mist at the correct time, jabbed in the back by your chair, vibrations through the floor. Puff of air where you would least expect. After this we ended up in a Star Wars exhibition. I am not sure how this got added to our ticket. The Grandchildren would like this part. We had a very late lunch. Afterwards we decided to walk through Regent Park to Primrose Hill. Daughter Janine and Tim's old stomping ground. London rather flat, Primrose Hill gives views over London. A few families up here, lots of tourists and the younger generation up here. Young lovers of every orientation up here as well relaxing. Londons certainly enjoy lapping up the sunshine when they get it. Then there was us the two oldest up the top of Primrose Hill. For nostalgic reasons we then decided to walk to Swiss Cottage where Tim and Janine lived while in London and later along came baby Joe, now a big boy. We spent lots of happy times at Swiss Cottage on our previous 3 visits to the United Kingdom. We found new apartments, the favourite Costa Coffee Shop still there as is Alex's Hairdressers. There were lots more restaurants across the street from the flat and a very nice restaurant at the nearby sports Centre. We found our way to the underground where we used to catch the Jubilee Line, here we managed to find a train heading to Kings Cross Station.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:56 Archived in England Tagged city siteseeing Comments (0)

York to Stegness, Stegness to Kent, Kent to London

Travelling from York to London

semi-overcast

All good things come to an end, it was time to clean and vacuum our York house swap. We said our goodbyes to Harley the shared cat and left his bowl full of food. You would think he would be overweight with the volume of cat food he consumes, remembering that the neighbour was feeding him too. Soon we were in the car and heading South. We stopped at Drewtons Farm Shop for lunch. This place had a huge shopping area one part selling farm produce, lots of cheeses and meats and another area selling other crafty things etc. There was an extensive newish Restaurant, the whole building looked quite new. We had a tasty lunch and good coffee. This place was an estate a large farm. The manages did all sorts of things like hunting parties, weddings, accommodation as well. Soon it was time to head to somewhere for the night, we ended up in Skegness. Skegness was a seaside resort. First we tried one place but got a bad feeling about the place so curtailed out of there and headed the other direction. We found a family run Guest House. The lady here very nice and the room was good. No lifts just lugging cases to the 3rd floor. Most places we stayed several floors up most had lifts but not all. Some lifts the size of cupboars that is when I decide Geoff can take the lift with the bags and I'll take the stairs thank you. We walked to an old corner pub for a meal. It was rather late. After our meal walked all over town, found a suppermarket still open for supplies. There were lots of amusement archades open with very few people in them. I am not sure how they all manage to make a living.. Breakfast wasn't included with our accommodation so we ate cereal off our plastic plates in our room. The next day we drove from Skegness to Eden. We passed a lot of market gardens on very flat land, England very flat and rolling. I had visions of staying in Windsor where we had visited before, at this late stage the prices there of accommodation very pricey. We finally found a guest house called Buckingham Hotel just out of Eden. This place just 15 minutes from Heathrow Airport where we were dropping off our car the next day. We walked into town about 20 minutes walk, needed the exercise, past a pizza place near the hotel and the silly thing was we ended up eating pizza in Kent. Kent seemed to consist of huge shopping malls that seemed very new all attached with a railway station. A bit of the old town remained. We headed to the town the next morning to find a post office in the old part of town it took a w hIle to findicate a park found a praking building in the end. The next morning after visiting the Kent township we headed to Heathrow Airport to drop off our hire car. Still no scratches to the car, no mean feat with some of the roads navigated. Eight hire cars and no scratches. It was a different story for the other young couple who caught our cutesy bus. He was saying we should have taken more before photos, she was saying what about the curb you hit and the hedge you scrapt. A few phew moments during all that time driving in so many countries for us but us and cars were still in one piece. We caught the Eurocar cutesy van to Heathrow Airport, just had to get in the lift and negotiate our way to Heathrow Express train. Managed to stow our luggage and get a seat. Only about 20 minutes and you are in Paddington Station. We spent some time here had lunch before catching a taxi to our hotel near Kings Cross Station. I like these London cabs so easy to pull your luggage on and off, no boots to have to lift your bags into. A short distance was our Guest House called Sudios2let. This time we were on the top floor, lots of stairs to negotiate, no lift. A porter grabbed my bag and ran up the stairs with it. Accomodation good and reasonable, we had booked it well in advance. It was only a short walk to Kings Cross Station, one of Londons main stations. The good thing is it had a kitchen. There were lots of quaint shops and eating establishmen's near us and a newish shopping complex with a supermarket. We bought groceries and went back to cook dinner. I Thought I could smell smoke Geoff opened the oven and smoke poured out setting off the fire alarm first one then the other. I had visions of the fire engines turning up and people half naked standing on the foot path. It was late. Finally got the alarms off and retrieved the charcoaled chicken. My ears were sore for ages after. Checked the oven again later and this time all the fuses blew, I was in darkness while Geoff went and found someone to fix the fuse. Polish people running this place a little translation problem at times. Finally the fuse fixed and someone came to repair the thermostat the next day. The first day back in London caught the train to Picadilly Circus and spent some time in central city.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:31 Archived in England Tagged driving Comments (0)

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