A terrific day in the capital today, starting at the London Eye and wandering down the Thames. As planes flew in formation overhead to celebrate 100 years of the RAF, JD was more interested in popping huge bubbles blown by a street artist while JiaJia was busy taking in a Picasso exhibit at the Tate Modern.
Later we explored the HMS Belfast before heading for my Aunt's house for a meal and sleep-over. Open-topped bus and river cruise tomorrow.
We spent a fun day up in London today in the company of my good friends Paul (the other one) and Elaine Bruton. I wanted to show JD the actual London sights that he'd become familiar with through a London-based storybook he'd been sent some time ago.
So we took the book along with us, pointing out the pages and the corresponding real places. We started at Trafalgar Square, where we got told off for trying to sit JD on a lion statue (unlike when I was a child and unlike the heroine of his story!). Then on to the changing of the guard at Horseguard's Parade. A salute from JD got the usual blank stare from the guard on duty, but a mounted policeman later let him stroke his horse and feed him (the horse!) a sweet.
We wandered down the Mall to Buckingham Palace and then walked back through St. James's Park, just about made it to the Houses of Parliament in time for Big Ben to chime 12. JD knows the tune off by heart as the supermarket down the hill from our Kunming house playes the tune electronically on the hour and we've paused to listen to it many a time. This was the real thing, though - a lot louder! Our attempt to take a river bus down to the Tower of London was thwarted by a police evacuation of the embankment, so we took a tube and saw the castle and Tower Bridge before a well-earned cup of coffee overlooking the Thames.
It was a tiring, but rewarding day. And great to catch up with the Brutons. Elaine was one of my best friends before leaving for China in 2005, while Paul is one of this blog's regular readers and most frequent commenters. Thanks guys for a great day.
(Bonus points for spotting the double meaning in this entry's title)
JD had his first taste of London today. Wrapped up against the cold, we took a train up to Trafalgar Square and then a boat down the Thames to Greenwich. JD wasn't that impressed with the Cutty Sark, but Jiajia enjoyed Greenwich market. We warmed up in the National Maritime Museum before heading back by boat and train once again.
I was delighted to see a live feed of the Jubilee Thames Boat Pageant on the BBC website last night. And it streamed very smoothly too, so I was able to watch all the 1000+ boats heading down the river for over an hour. The picture above is a screenshot from my computer, so you can see the quality. Despite not being a royal fan, it looked like a lot of fun. Shame about the weather though.
I got some photos sent through yesterday from the Sams family - a reminder of a fun day in Harrods, Hyde Park and ...errr something else beginning with "H"? This photo was taken by the Princess Di Memorial. Aled and Ben were exhausted after a "pulling silly faces" competition (which I won incidentally ....yeah!)
A second day in London today, starting with a spin on the London Eye - fast changing from a "must-see" to a "not worth the silly price". After lunch with my friend Cathy, Jiajia and I wandered down the bank of Thames to the Tate Modern art gallery. As ever, there was the usual mix of thought-provoking items and absolute tat (should that be the Tat Modern?). I particularly enjoyed "piece of paper and a biro" (I kid you not). Actually, I tried to take a photo of "chair and fire extinguisher" but the gallery attendant told me it was just where he sat and not art. What does he know? Jiajia, at least, was taking it all seriously and got very excited on spotting a painting by her all-time favourite artist, "Modigliani".
Later we crossed the Thames on the "formerly wobbly" Millennium Bridge and arrived at St. Paul's moments before it closed for tourists. I let Jiajia explore alone however, as the £15 entrance ticket seemed very steep for somewhere I used to go for free in my youth.
Ironically, people claiming to "simply want to worship" were still let inside, and for free. Any liars could always ask for forgiveness once inside, I guess?
Jiajia and I spent our first day up in London today. We just managed to get to Buckingham Palace in time for the changing of the guards, but Jiajia wasn't that impressed. Nor for the Palace itself or Hyde Park or Trafalgar Square. However, we hit gold dust with the National Gallery. As an art graduate in China, Ava had only seen world-class oil paintings in books. She loved seeing them up close, and it was a struggle to drag her away after a few hours. Covent Garden also hit the spot, with the "Lush Handmade Soap" shop parting her with a wad of money. Out with history and culture then and, next time round, we'll stick to oils (and lotions to remove oils).
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