Tag: Sculpted Lions

London Nursery Rhymes Going Through My Head

London Nursery Rhymes Going Through My Head

My daughter and I had the opportunity to travel to the U.K. last summer (2018). Three weeks of visiting three United Kingdom countries, plus Ireland! It was awesome. The only one we missed in the U.K. was Wales.

  

Can you see the Queen looking out the window of Buckingham Palace? No? Neither did we.   🙁

We began with a week in London and the whole time we were there, various London-based nursery rhymes randomly popped into my head. Notably “Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the Queen.” Well, we didn’t get to see the Queen, but we saw her residence. I believe there may be other Royal families residing there as well. Officially, it said ‘Royal Residence’ on the sign, and it was behind tall locked gates that threaten dire consequences for those who trespass.

Since it wasn’t prudent to climb over the fence and invite myself in for tea, I contented myself with being one of the many spectators. Especially since there were uniformed guards with machine guns on the other side. Not to mention I am not physically able to climb the fence, nor am I crazy.   

Disappointingly, none of the guards were wearing those lovely red uniforms, nor the furry fifty gallon hats on their heads as seen in pictures. These just looked like ordinary fellows who happened to be wielding weapons of mass destruction. Real guards with real guns. Nothing ornamental but the gate itself, which had an impressive Coat of Arms partially covered in gold.

As seems to be our custom when visiting new countries, we arrived in London during an atypical heat wave. It was the middle of July and the temps soured into the 90’s. Not the most ideal for sightseeing by foot, but per our typical touring-on-a-shoestring budget, we did a lot of walking.

The main tourist attractions and well-known points of interest in London are mostly downtown in Zone 1. This is a place you do not want to drive even if you can afford a rental car. Trust me. Not only is there a congestion charge on top of any rental car fees, but as the charge suggests, it’s a monumentally congested area. Very little parking. Tons of taxis and buses clogging the streets. So walking is a good alternative. That, and buses, metros, and taxis, all of which are plenteous. Buy an Oyster Card from the train or Tube station and you are good to go for most every trip you take for the duration of your stay in London. But don’t forget to take a taxi at some point just for the experience of riding in one. The inner design is fun and different than those in America. The taxis were often black on the outside, but some were painted fun colors and designs. So were some of the buses.

                                       

Since our hotel was situated near Regent’s Park and probably nearer Zone 2 than the main attractions on our bucket list, we found the Tube to be an excellent mode of transportation to the general vicinity of each day’s agenda. Then if needed, we would hop a bus or switch to a different Tube route. One could also hail a taxi, which we didn’t prove to be very good at. Thankfully my daughter was very savvy with Google Maps and the Tube signs. She was always able to figure out where we needed to go and which mode of transportation and route we needed.

London’s underground, a.k.a. the Tube, is reached by going deep into the bowels of the city and always amazed me each time we rode it.  Some of the escalators went very far down and sometimes we took two or three of these at a given stop, descending further and further to catch the train we needed. The thought of these metro trains crisscrossing over and under each other was disconcerting. How did they even manage to dig all the tunnels and install the tracks with the city and other tunnels existing up above them? It boggles my mind. The further down we went, the worse the air quality was, but over all they do an amazing job of pumping fresh air into the stations’ various levels.  What was most disconcerting to us however, coming from the Pacific coast of the U.S. where earthquakes are not uncommon, was the worry about how unlikely it would be to survive if there was an earthquake while down there. I learned later from a London native they don’t have earthquakes. At least she had never experienced one and never worried about it.

                                  

 

The day we arrived in London, we had walked a very long way along a beautiful canal that skirted Regent’s Park. We kept thinking we were closer than we actually were to our hotel, vastly under-estimating the sheer enormity of the city, and were completely tuckered out. Perhaps due to the heat, or jet lag from the long plane flight, I wasn’t feeling well. I was also discouraged. I had already managed to lose my cell phone and didn’t have my downloaded directions available. (I also lost the pictures of that lovely, though long canal, which were on that phone. I think it ended up in the canal when we crossed over the footbridge, but perhaps it was found later by some lucky person in London. I never got it back.) So we ascended to street level and hailed a taxi. But none stopped for us. We finally humbled ourselves and asked a passerby if there was some trick to it that we didn’t know about. She assured us there wasn’t but pointed out we were on the wrong side of the street for where we were wanting to go. We tried again from the other side and were soon picked up by a lovely taxi driver who fascinated us with history and conversation til we arrived at our destination.

On our first full day of sightseeing, we took the Tube to a stop near Green Park which by walking through brought us to Buckingham Palace, as mentioned earlier. Novel tourists that we were, after admiring the front of the Palace and the Victoria Memorial, we attempted to walk around behind the Royal Residence to see if the back side was visible to the public like that of the White House is in America. We walked quite a ways and all we saw were businesses and gates with wicked looking spikes or barbed wire on top to keep nosy people (like us?) out. We concluded it was not available for view, and instead indulged in an ice cream cone and cold water, then headed for St. James Park.

 

                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint James is a beautiful, peaceful park with a huge pond where hundreds of ducks and geese make their abode. The bridge which crosses the center of the pond is situated so the Palace is visible at the end, seemingly rising from the water like a majestic castle. Gliding out from under the footbridge were several teenage goslings in their gangly stage, with pale, brownish, still-downy feathers. It was hard to imagine how they would soon become a beautiful snowy-white. Having never heard of a black swan before, we were amazed to see one sitting right next to the path on the other side of the bridge! The goslings could become either black or white! It would have been lovely to stay long enough to see them all grown up and see what colors they each became.

            

 

 

 

 

They reminded me of the story of the Ugly Duckling.

         

 

 

 

 

As we followed the ‘Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk’ through the park, we came to an adorable little Cottage in an English Garden. Nearby were more swans, plus pelicans and what I think was a blue heron!

                                         

 

 

 

 

 

From St. James Park we headed towards Westminster Bridge and right under Big Ben who was covered nearly head to toe in scaffolding. We didn’t even recognize it til we were on the other side of the tower. (That seems to be another tradition of ours – go when a main attraction is being renovated or cleaned stem to stern. It happened the year we went to Washington, D.C when the State Capitol building was also encased in scaffolding.) The bridge offered great views of iconic London. The Parliament Building (Westminster Palace), Big Ben and the beautiful County Hall Building are situated at the ends of the bridge. There is a great view of the London Eye from there, but the size of the attraction doesn’t quite hit you til you walk through the crowds waiting in line at the bottom and look straight up. (Each of those pods holds up to 25 people!)

          

Just past the Eye, we passed a fun area with entertainers, a lovely old Calliope, and a double-decker bus made into an eatery. There was a mime impersonating a robot at one end, and a young woman with an amazing voice singing at the other end. Check her out at Kate Loveridge Music. She was quite good. Climbing from the pedestrian thoroughfare at the bottom, to the bridge deck at the top via stairs or an elevator, brings one to a foot-traffic-only bridge spanning the Thames.

                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We crossed over and continued up the hill, passing a bike rental area and some lovely old hotels and restaurants. A short jaunt brought us to Trafalgar Square, a place teeming with folks from every walk of life. There are giant sculpted lions flanking the square, street musicians busking in the open air and a variety of performances across the street under the porticoes of other buildings. Here the tourists and locals seemed to rub shoulders, enjoying the sunshine and people-watching. If you’re into museums, this is also the entrance to the National Gallery, with several other attractions nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

After our adventure across the river, we hurried back to take our turn going up in the Eye. This was the coolest part of the day. Literally. It was the only air-conditioned location we experienced all day! It was lovely to be in one of the see-through capsules with cool air being pumped in, watching the scenery beneath us grow smaller and smaller til the capsule reached the top and started its slow, gentle descent. We never felt we were moving – the ride is that smooth. The view was great, though we were disappointed Big Ben was receiving a facelift and mostly hidden. Still, the Parliament Building was beautiful, as was the meandering river, and the London skyline near sunset. We meandered back to the Tube enjoying the lengthening shadows and people-watching. The culture in London is very diverse and we saw and heard many of them represented while passing through the crowds. I hope you enjoyed this intro to the U.K.. Please come back again when I present more of London and the nursery rhymes it brings to mind.

The London Eye is sponsored by Coca Cola

 

I know it has been a long time since I posted on this blog and I appreciate any of you which are still receiving it. I went through a very difficult time with one of my kids and just didn’t have it in me to write for the past couple years. During the interim, my poor blog was spammed by thousands of posts from scummy people out to cause trouble and spread filth. I am deeply sorry for not monitoring the site to protect you from their comments and links. I didn’t realize I had left it vulnerable to such attacks. I spent hours cleaning it all up and kicking their garbage to the curb. Hopefully it is safe from the scum now. Thanks for tagging along on our trip down memory lane to one small part of London.  If you like my blog, I would sure appreciate it if you would share it with more folks who you think may be interested. Stay tuned for more from that trip and others.