A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday in London is special

semi-overcast 19 °C

My dad who was born in Liverpool, used to always tell me that Sunday was always a very important day for Poms. Firstly, it was the day that "changing of the guard" always took place at Buck Pal. Secondly, it was the day that people visited the local "noff" shops for a Sunday lunch. And lastly, it was the day of the week that everyone had a bath; whether they needed one or not.

So, our Sunday started with a visit to watch the changing of the guard. Certainly a long drawn out affair which Aussie military could complete in about 5 minutes. Albeit not with as much ceremony; just handover the keys, chew the fat for a couple of minutes and out of there......

Not the Poms. First they had to ride the horses around the block to mess up the streets a little.

Horse racing Buck Pal style

Horse racing Buck Pal style

Then comes the band; check out the horse shit they have to cope with in their nice clean boots. As if its not hard enough trying to keep in step, in tune and in the parade; they have to keep upright.

Band horse manure and all

Band horse manure and all

And then the grand finale, the guard. They only had to deal with not running into the band and those idiot tourists encroaching onto the roadway to take a photo.

The boys arriving to watch the tourists and Buck Pal fence. I get by with 1 dog.

The boys arriving to watch the tourists and Buck Pal fence. I get by with 1 dog.

March on the guard and band. From the right; quick march......

March on the guard and band. From the right; quick march......

Liz's place for a sunday roast

Liz's place for a sunday roast

The whole process takes about 2 hours and whilst no one does POMP better than the POMS; we left after 30 minutes. Sneaked away from the marching to visit Trafalgar Square. There were too many tourists there yesterday and we figured that most would now be trying to get a peak at Liz and her dysfunctional kids.

Trafalgar square was still pretty packed so on our walk tomorrow we're going to do a walk to both it and Piccadilly Circus for some photos. Not sure if Nelson does it for me like he does for most Naval Officers.

Nelson at Trafalgar Square

Nelson at Trafalgar Square

All this touristy stuff made us hungry so it was off to lunch. Decided on a cuban restaurant near to our hotel and the food was just superb. Can't even begin to describe the slow cooked pork thingee that we had but it contained chilli and was to die for.

I was starving.....

I was starving.....

And Mandy had an entree size....

And Mandy had an entree size....

With lunch ticked off the list of to do's for Sunday, it was off to wash. In our case anyway, do that much anticipated task; laundry.

Tonight is an early night because after our walk in the morning, its off to Brighton to visit the beach.......this should be good.

Posted by mandt0413 13:21 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Mandy decides to test the Poms Security

rain 16 °C

With the Olympics only 2 weeks away and security services a little "testy" it was probably not such a good time for their arrangements to be tested. A visit to the Crown Jewels, 10 Downing Street and Picadilly Circus was probably not such a good idea in hindsight.

All was going swimmingly until I suggested a photo opportunity outside Australia House (Patriotic guy that I am, couldn't help hunting down a little bit of OZ).

Australia House London

Australia House London

I said, "Mandy stand under the front entrance and I'll take a photo of you". I didn't say, "Mandy put down the parcel that you're carrying outside the entrance and then I'll take a photo of you". There is a big difference. Note the parcel that my goddess deposited outside the entrance, to her right hand side in full sight of the security monitors.

Mandy decides to test the Poms Security

Mandy decides to test the Poms Security

Well to cut a long story short, we got some attention.

Metro Police immobilise on two aussie tourists

Metro Police immobilise on two aussie tourists

I sorted out the mistake by offering to undergo a strip search. Why the hell won't anyone take me up on this. I've watched the shows on TV, I know what it's all about.

Next stop the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels, if the Royals protect their Crown Jewels like I protect mine, this should be good.

Based on a conservative estimate, I would reckon that we walked about 25 km. That's what we enjoy anyway.
Arrived at the Tower of London about an hour after opening thanks to the previous incident......the rain was steady as has been the case since we arrived. Certainly appreciate the way of life here when they talk about rain. It starts, stops and then you have sunshine for half an hour then it starts again. Crazy.

Mandy has this thing about icons above her head.....

Mandy has this thing about icons above her head.....

A pretty wet day but at least I'm staying dry

A pretty wet day but at least I'm staying dry

We joined onto a tour of the Tower of London. The Beefeaters (not the gin which is Mandy's favourite) are all ex-service with a minimum of 22 years service and with the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, provide the security and tour. The rain was such that the "eater" gave us his lecture (just like the Australian Defence Force services) in the chapel. He was just like we remember sergeant majors to be like; full of themselves and arrogant.

The typical Beefeater.

The typical Beefeater.

My feeling is that the "jewels" are replicas and not the real thing. Amazing that such wealth was being given to the Royals whilst their people were being transported to Oz for stealing bread out of hunger...Lucky I'm not a labour man.

The Jewels or what they look like anyway....as if.

The Jewels or what they look like anyway....as if.

The tower is really a castle. It's where the royals lived prior to their holiday home at Buck being built. Henry the #8 was a real charmer when it came to females. This is a shot of his bedroom where he was apparently King of the Castle.

Henry the #8 bedroom has given Tony some ideas for renovations at home

Henry the #8 bedroom has given Tony some ideas for renovations at home

And I could see myself in his throne.

King Henry the 8th's throne, more like my recliner at home....

King Henry the 8th's throne, more like my recliner at home....

Having been through the tower and taking in all the information, the Beefeater asked for any questions. Mandy, as quick as ever responded.

hey beefmuncher, why we're the royals such chauvinistic pigs........

hey beefmuncher, why we're the royals such chauvinistic pigs........

and that's when security mark 2 were called in.

Who asked that question??????

Who asked that question??????

So off to Picadilly Circus, maybe they are a bit more laid back in that spot. A quick stop off at Downing street to visit the PM first.

Number 10

Number 10

Big Cam wasn't home so Mandy suggested that I give him a call at his weekender. We needed some tickets into the Lion King and he was surely able to get them for us at the right price.

Cam, you there mate?

Cam, you there mate?

No luck, so I suggested (wrongly given the days events thus far) that Mandy try to chat up the guard and get him to let us in. She admires Black Caviar and maybe this will give us some brownie points if she can win over the horse.

Mandy and Black Caviar what are you hiding behind your back Mandy

Mandy and Black Caviar what are you hiding behind your back Mandy

The Poms love to queue, and so when we found this queue at Trafalgar Square.....

Saw a queue and decided to join it....where will it lead?

Saw a queue and decided to join it....where will it lead?

London zoo!! The Poms have this fascination for africian animals. This group of monkeys were attracting a large crowd and we couldn't figure it out.

Monkeys made of steel

Monkeys made of steel

until we realised that literally they were made of metal. Can't understand what it was all about.

Anyway, back to the hotel whilst we still could. Mandy for the third day running whilst on the Westminster Bridge; asks me the time..........idiot that I am, pull up my sleeve; look at my watch and tell her reverently, 3:29.

The goddess, quite politely points out that I'm a dickhead.......maybe tomorrow when the same question is asked, I'll think to look up.

Big Ben is the largest free standing clock in europe

Big Ben is the largest free standing clock in europe

Posted by mandt0413 13:36 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

And then I said to Mandy-Prince Charles could be our next GG

rain 18 °C

Timing is everything

Timing is everything

They say that timing is everything. Here I was enjoying the sunshine (obviously to us a pretty rare thing over here) outside Liz's place surrounded by Yanks who were asking questions of the tour guide like..........does the queen victoria really live here and who's the King of the Castle. Mandy was trying to contain herself and I was trying to be quiet......you know how much I tolerate Yanks; when I said, "you know that big eared bastar....Charlie, he could be our next Governor General".

And then all hell broke loose. Mandy who is not as tolerant of my sense of humour since we began the trip, was about to give me a serve about my sarcasm, when on marched the guard and band. At last I can say "saved by the band".

There was an Aussie in the band that no one but I noticed.

There was an Aussie in the band that no one but I noticed.

I knew he was an Aussie because everyone was out of step with him. Plus, he was in khaki against all the other Poms that were dressed in pink.

Anyway it didn't stop Mandy giving me a gobful about how dare the Royal family should have anything to do with Oz. I love this woman she's so; so Aussie.

So the tour guide, who is camp as a row of tents, says something about "back door benny, the butler to the Queen Mother", and well I've now totally switched off and looking for something to interest me. That's when I've spied a local market place called the cuban. Atmosphere was just fabulous and the smell of the outdoor cooking much better than anything that backdoor benny could rummage up for the royals.

We visited St Pauls and this really got my blood boiling.

St Pauls.....maybe Great Britain isn't the right place for a cynic like me

St Pauls.....maybe Great Britain isn't the right place for a cynic like me

This is the place where the Poms place their idiot generals and admirals onto pedestals based on their birth status. It just astounds me. These are the same fools generally, that managed to sacrifice so many lives because of ego. General Percival comes quickly to mind. There were a few interesting points of interest notwithstanding my feelings e.g. Billy Hughes rated a mention. In terms of any cathedral, it was a pass.

Talking about losers, found this guard and a mate outside Charlie's place.

I wanted to tell him that his fly was undone but Mandy wouldn't let me

I wanted to tell him that his fly was undone but Mandy wouldn't let me

What the hell was he guarding? The big media beat up over here at the moment is the lack of security for the Olympics. They are employing school kids as security checking and have needed to bring troops back from overseas to undertake security checks. They might have been able to use this guy.

Its been raining on and off all day so tomorrow we are hoping for a change. Don't expect it.

Posted by mandt0413 14:12 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Paris to London (Mandy sleeps on)

It must be the movement of the train because it couldn't possibly be my company that puts her to sleep..........

Mandy wake up your missing the best part

Mandy wake up your missing the best part

I was in the Eurostar TGV explaining to Mandy that its length was 393.72m or 1,291 feet 8 inches, that its width was 2.81 metres and is trailer truck pivot spacing was 18.70 meters with a truck wheelbase of 3.00 meters when next thing I know she's having another granny nap.........what the? She must surely want to know that the operating weight is 816,000 kg.

Anyway at a top speed of 300km per hour, I'm having a ball and the goddess is snoring. I should have said that I was going to ask questions.

I've probably jumped ahead of myself again (probably something to do with the 6 beers in the club lounge here in London). We left the Sofitel early this morning and we were the only Aussies on the bus and train. I did my usual take the piss out of the god damns (yanks) and now Mandy is angry with me. I can't help being sarcastic and they can't help believing everything that I tell them. Too long in the Navy having to spend time with them.........

Anyway, the train to London was great we were not with the Yanks because they didn't travel first class. Cleared customs and immigration without being subjected to an internal body search as per the television shows....damn missed out again; very disappointing especially when the olympics are about to start.

London St Pancras Station

London St Pancras Station

The trip was only about 2.5 hours long and I was totally absorbed in my book and music........not much else to see under the English Channel.

A quick bus tour around the city on the way to our hotel included us going by Regents Park, Buckingham Palace (readers of my blog earlier might remember my photo with Liz for her anniversary) and then past the houses of Parliament to our hotel.

Mandy is once again talking to me after seeing the room that I secured with my research and membership of the various hotel clubs. The view on entering our room left her breathless (nothing I'm sure to do with the fact that it's on the top floor and the lift was broken). The club lounge is up there with the best especially given that it serves Stella Artois beer and Beefeater Gin. Perfect for London (Belguim Beer and Local Gin)

Room overlooking Big Ben

Room overlooking Big Ben

Big Ben nothing, at the moment it's big tony and his internet powers......

The hotel is really very modern and nice. We have a suite that has a view comparable to any in Nowra. Really cool interior.

Big Tony overlooking Big Ben

Big Tony overlooking Big Ben

Funky Living Room - who designed this place......

Funky Living Room - who designed this place......

Inside the lounge looking up to the 11th floor

Inside the lounge looking up to the 11th floor

So this is London, the birth place of my Dad. It's summer, raining and 14 degrees no wonder he moved to Oz and never had a desire to come back.

Posted by mandt0413 12:03 Comments (0)

Shopping day in Paris

all seasons in one day 20 °C

We put in for an early wake up call at 6AM, had a quick shower, into our runners and out onto the street. Raining and very cold. Back to bed and slept until 8 then headed down for breakfast. By the time we had completed a leisurely repast, it was off shopping. Walked down the Champes Elysees which is around to corner and down to the Seine. Passed lots of photo opportunities on our way to the Gallaries Layettes for some shopping. Paris is getting ready for their big day on 14 July where the military march down the Champes Elysee. A big day indeed and preparations are clearly underway. Over 300,000 people expected to line the route with fly overs as part of the celebration. The flyover was being practised yesterday and very noisy. Pretty hard to miss the route one would think but I suppose practise makes perfect.

Look for this spot on the 14 July. French Pres and nobs celebrate National Day

Look for this spot on the 14 July. French Pres and nobs celebrate National Day

March Past for 10,000 military

March Past for 10,000 military

Champes Elysees

Champes Elysees

The shopping is pretty good at the moment as this is the end of financial year and fashion week. Got Tyson some designer sunglasses for a steal. Ellie, sorry you would have loved the clothes and pricing, but we are running out of room with your shoes and we have left room for your camera.

We could have shopped all day for less than $500 but no room left to bring it home.

Stopped for a few cups of coffee and to count our cash reserves (maybe we can make some more room for clothes).

Coffee Mademoiselle

Coffee Mademoiselle

I think we can afford some more Ralph Lauren shirts and ties

I think we can afford some more Ralph Lauren shirts and ties

We think that we've found the secret to a decent cup of coffee in Europe. Will hold our thoughts on this for next visit to confirm the theory.

A nice late afternoon nap was on the cards because we are still pretty stuffed. Tomorrow is an early start for London so tonight I took Mandy out for a romantic final dinner in Paris.

I had Le Hamburger and Heineken

I had Le Hamburger and Heineken

Mandy had god knows what, I couldn't even pronounce it let alone spell it........she also had a Heineken.

Posted by mandt0413 13:15 Archived in France Comments (0)

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