Off to London to see the Queen - or not

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
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Trip End Aug 02, 2009


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, July 19, 2009

Up early today, 5am, it was light already.  It gets light here really early in the summer and stays light until late into the night, which probably explains why I'm awake at 5am every morning!  Just while I'm on that subject, as I'm writing this I'm feeling slightly jaded after a late night and a phone call at 3am UK time from a Kiwi at home trying to get hold of someone in Australia - thanks for that, whoever you were!
Anyway, I digress.  We arrived in London around 8am (left home at 6am) after spending time on various motorways.  We left our car at the Premier Inn where we were staying, and found the nearest tube station.  An all day ticket off peak which includes Saturdays and Sundays for zones 1-4 cost 6 pounds 30, as opposed to a single fare of 4 pounds.  First stop St Paul's Cathedral, then it was off down the streets of the City, dodging heavy showers.  Without knowing it we soon entered the City of Westminster.  We took in the Changing of the Guard at Buck House - or what we could see of it with five deep crowds around the whole of the entrance, then we wandered off through Hyde Park.  As we entered Hyde Park I noticed several columns in a grassy area, made of what looked like marble, and one of them had something about New Zealand on it.  I stopped to read it, while Ray and UK Sue meandered off.  I have to confess I had an intensely patriotic moment or two while looking at this, the kind of moment you have when the All Blacks perform the haka or we win gold at the Olympics, it was a very moving thing to come across out of the blue.  Have a look at the background of it here http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/278855.  One of the inscriptions was:
"This memorial commemorates the enduring bonds between New Zealand and the United Kingdom and our shared sacrifice during times of war.  It is a symbol both of our common heritage and of New Zealand's distinct national identity."

After that we wandered along the river and eventually found Princess Diana's Memorial fountain with children paddling in it and enjoying themselves, which is what she would have wanted.  There had been a fun run on in the park in aid of breast cancer and all the runners were dressed in pink.  It had just finished as we were walking through.  I did suggest to UK Sue that if we had known about it we could have taken part but I don't think she was impressed with that idea.  As it was I think we probably walked around 7 or 8 km that day anyway.
I don't know where the day went but by the time we had done Harrods - omg, they were having a sale and it was crowded, and I didn't find anything to buy! it was getting on.  Ray and I wandered into the Westminster Abbey cloisters, the Abbey itself was closed except for worship as it was Sunday, and as neither of us were in a worshipping frame of mind we just went into the lower chambers.  Came across some fascinating things, including a grave of 26 monks who had died in the Black Plague in the 1300s!
On the way home to the hotel on the tube was a gorgeous dog, Staffy bull mastiff cross by the size of him, his name was Goofy and he was 14 months old.  His owner was from Slovenia and they were travelling back there for a holiday next week.  He was so docile, just sat on the tube and when I went over to him he rolled over on his back for a belly rub. 
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