Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The royal treatment

The girls and I set out early (for us) today to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Many people go really early - at least two hours before the 11:30 ceremony - to get in a good position. We did not do that. And I'm glad. Take a look at the people in the good positions. We were across the street, and we still had other people's elbows in our faces. And it wasn't even a really crowded day, I'm sure. It's a weekday, school is still in session, and I could see large swaths of sidewalk behind us with nobody standing there.

Here are the Welsh Guardsmen marching into the palace grounds for the ceremony. I love the scale of the photo, with the guardsmen against the backdrop of the enormous monument.

Here's the palace, with the Royal Standard flying, meaning that the queen was in residence today.

After watching what we could from our vantage point, we left to find a snack. First we walked several blocks from the palace to get beyond the tour groups. The tour buses aren't allowed to get very close to the palace, so they all line up about four blocks away to let everyone out. After the changing of the guard, small groups like the three of us have to be wary, so as to not get trampled by groups of 50 or so people trying to keep up with their tour guides. Once clear of that craziness, we picked up some cake and drinks at a small cafe. Then more walking to see if we could find a little park to sit and eat our snack. I found a little park, sat down, turned around, and what did I see? Check it out! We just accidentally ended up right across the street from Westminster Abbey. Gotta love a town where that kind of thing happens every day.

We took advantage of our find and went on the tour of the abbey. It was great! They have an audio tour, so we all got our handsets and took off to see the church. I could have stayed there all day looking at the magnificent architecture. The ceiling in one area, called the Lady Chapel, was so fabulous that I wished I could just lie on my back in the middle of the floor and stare at it!

I hadn't realized just how many famous people are buried in the abbey. Kings and queens, of course, but also Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Ben Jonson, Thomas Hardy, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Rudyard Kipling, Laurence Olivier, and many more. Wow.

Upon leaving the church, I happened to snap this photo. What a perfect London sight - Big Ben with a London double decker bus in the foreground. London is just a wonderful town for sightseeing.


Granola Grrrl said...

I'm having a blast reading your posts! Really loving all the photos too :)

Chris said...

Your pictures and stories of tea reminded me of this last verse from Buckingham Palace by A.A. Milne

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
"Do you think the King knows all about me?"
"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea,"
Says Alice

Glad you had a great (but wet) day - but hey - you are in England :)

Pippa said...

Hehe I love how you call London a town. And what a fantastic shot - Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, a London bus AND the London Eye! Well done!