If there is one event that encapsulates “London”, many would argue that the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is it. Our children certainly had it on each of their “must see in London” lists, and judging by the number of people congregating outside the palace this morning, plenty of others also had this on their list! Even arriving an hour and a half before the scheduled “change” we had to work hard to secure viewing places that allowed us even a modest view of the palace forecourt. Unfortunately, despite the day being cloudless and blue this also meant most of us being in the shadows of a large pillar, and I have to say that October in London is NOT HOT… in fact, downright COLD in the wind. MamaBear had managed to secure the little girls a fantastic position directly in front of the main gates by talking nicely to a generous American man who let the littlies stand in front of him. The rest of us took a variety of positions around the black wrought iron fencing. So we waited, and waited – and finally ended up in a decent position to see the changing of the guard; while the little girls wanted to return again, the rest of us were actually underwhelmed with the experience (although the brass band was appreciated by some).
Our position in front of Buckingham Palace might have only been average, but we certainly got it right later that evening when we managed to secure eight “return tickets” to see a show at The Globe Theatre. We were just fortunate that our walking route into town from the hostel took us directly past the Globe, so even though we had previously enquired (twice) about tickets, and had been told everything was completely sold out, and only if some pre-booked tickets were returned would we have a chance at getting in. Thankfully that did happen, so we found ourselves (minus the two little girls and GrandpaBear, who had already walked too far this day) in the absolute best places of the standing stalls for the 7:30pm showing of Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew – for only five pounds a ticket! Now I remember studying this book at school and do not have fond memories I must confess – but hear me now… if you are ever in London you HAVE TO get along to the Globe to take in one of the shows. It was quite simply the best theatre production I have ever seen – in fact, that any of us have ever seen (sure, the kids haven’t seen that many – but it was fabulous). Everyone loved it – Lboy12 and Mboy10 even asked if we could come back again tomorrow! It was witty, it was professional, it was interactive (Kgirl13 had her eyes covered by one of the actors at a particularly lewd bit, Mboy10 had his cheek pinched by another and Lboy12 was asked some questions….I tell you, we got good spots!), the atmosphere in the globe was incredible, and it brought Shakespeare alive… so trust me, you MUST get along to a show!
The view of St Pauls across the Thames at night was also stunning. And our day of adventure was not yet over. During the day, the hostel staff had agreed to move us from our room above the pub, to another large dorm up on the third floor. We were one thankful bunch I can tell you! We almost couldn’t wait to go to bed to NOT hear the sound of pub music thumping away! There always has to be a twist though – correct? Yep. Always. And the twist in this tale was MamaBear waking up at 1am to find our duvets dripping wet. Why? Quite simply, because the roof leaked and there was a steady dripping of water coming down onto our bed! Needless to say, we hurriedly did some re-arranging of bedding, and positioning of rubbish bins to catch the small waterfalls.. then fell back into bed. I am not sure that we were laughing last night, but by the morning we could all see the funny side. However, if you want a strong recommendation of which hostel NOT to stay at in London please read my previous posts . Having said all that, the staff were brilliant, embarrassed and apologetic and we now have a big pile of towels to mop up the flow which continues into our room… and I tell you – the constant dripping of ancient water torture beats loud pub music any day of the week!
PS Highlight for the kids in the morning would have to be the squirrels in St James’s Park. Even the adults had to agree that they were very cute and amusing as they scrambled amongst the fallen brown leaves, hiding acorns and nibbling nuts taken from our outstretched hands. Having never seen squirrels up-close-n-personal before, we were amazed at the way their tails are bushy yet feathery at the same time, and how they quiver as the breeze blows through them.
Tags: 2012, postcard: England