OK, our merry little band has just been in 11 countries, if I counted correctly, in less than three weeks. We were busy, to say the least. London is relatively new to Barry and I, but the ladies are repeat visitors – as recently as May of this year. We had four goals, in my mind, for our four full days in the UK; 1) make the stop in Portsmith (done), 2) visit Margaret Horley, 3) do very basic site seeing without an emphasis on churches and museums, and 4) begin winding down and relaxing.
We got off to a relaxed start this morning with no excursions setting off on a particular schedule. Marion got in touch with Margaret, and set up a lunch date for Monday. We also booked our tickets for the Fawlty Towers dinner show for Sunday at 6pm. So, today, we decided to do a bit of a walk-about, with the idea of seeing Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards, which according to the official website, was to take place on even days at 11 o’clock, and also visiting a couple of addresses where Granny lived, and St. Mary’s Hospital, where Mum and Norman met, and Marion and Alison were born.
It was a perfect day for walking around, cool, but not too chilly, and somewhat overcast, but not raining. And, we’re walking. First stop, Buckingham Palace – from outside the gate. It’s impressive. We got there around 10:15, and decided to hang out – front row center on the fence – until about 10:45, when an official put out a sign that said, no changing of the guard today. Bummer. As we were walking along the side boulevard of the palace, we came across a group of ceremonial horse guards, all dressed up and on these large beautiful horses. OK, we got something from our visit.
We moved on through Picadilly to the entrance gates to Hyde Park, which was very busy with walkers, runners, bikers, families, etc. Hey, it was Saturday, after all. It was good to see a large public park being used. Marble Arch was our destination, and from there, we worked our way over to Connaught Street, where Mum’s grandparents lived. It seems that the house was close to Mum’s school and not too far from Mum’s house. Now, the storefront is a rug store.
From there, we walked over to Praed Street, to the house Mum lived in. Her father was a furniture / repair shop owner. The store was on the ground floor, but furniture pieces were all throughout the house for customers to browse, so they always had to keep the house straightened up. Today, the storefront is a souvenir shop, and the basement, which used to be for material storage and a workshop, was lost just under 10 years ago to the subway system. The most impressive site to me was right across the street from the Praed Street house, and that is St. Mary’s Hospital, which still appears to be going strong. Mum was a nursing student and nurse at the hospital, and she met Norman Williams there at the hospital. Wow. And icing on the cake, St. Mary’s is where both Marion and Alison were born.
On the edge of the neighborhood, we came across a couple of police dressed in vests and carrying automatic weapons — not the norm for London. We casually spoke to the gentleman and learned that they were part of a protection detail for “a former Prime Minister” that lives nearby. Nice. All-in-all, we walked close to 5 miles according to Google Maps.
Along the way, we did come across a couple of characters – and some nice cars.
We stopped at John Lewis and bought a couple of prepared “dinner for 2” meals, and enjoyed a quiet evening.