I must admit I’ve been looking forward to this for as long as I can remember. My father is from Manchester and would tell my sisters and I stories about Big Ben and the Thames when we were young and couldn’t sleep & we’ve wanted to visit ever since. I must admit, thanks to a love of Mary Poppins and Enid Blyton stories, I’ve always had a fairly romanticised view of London (I even loved Dick van Dyke’s awful attempt at a cockney accent!).
Be warned, I am unabashedly touristy in this blog and I make no apologies for it. My first excitable London moment was seeing the Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral as we pulled into Charing Cross station. I literally had a surreal ‘Feed the Birds’ moment and couldn’t stop singing the song all morning :)
As we got off the train the frst order was to have a Cornish pasty and a coffee. So, on The Strand and clutching my Starbucks latte I decided to ring Mannie and sing ‘London Still’ by the Waifs down the phone. We were still laughing when I hung up, although he gave me a bollicking for not saturating the site with blogs! I miss my Mannikins and can’t wait until we meet up in a few weeks. Big Nuala hugs to you, my Eamon :)
But I digress. It was a gorgeous clear autumn day, so we decided to check out the enormous London Eye. We walked along the Thames and passed Big Ben! Cue big grins from Bridge & I and much photo snapping. I absolutely adore the architecture of the Houses of Parliament.
Anyway, onto the London Eye - I have resisted the temptation to visit that great city landmark in Queensland, the Brisbane Eye, considering it’s almost half the size of this one and broke down on the first day! I came away pretty impressed by the London Eye.
The lines are long, but the waiting isn’t as the crowds are constantly moving which gets a great big tick in my book. The view was as expected, incredible, and security is ever present - attendees check all ‘pods’ for explosives before and after your trip.
At one point I looked up and exclaimed to Paul and Bridge about the number of sky-writers and there must be some sort of convention going on. I lived in my sky-writing fantasy for another 5 seconds before Paul laughed and told me the sky-writing was in fact the paths of enormous planes at 37,000 feet crossing England from places like Brussells. I was a bit red-faced, but still appreciate the marks left!
We diverted to Covent Garden for a swifty and a snack. The infamous buskers didn’t disappoint either, they were brilliant and I loved it. Bridge & I are on a mission to try a different cider at every pub we come to, and so far we’ve been successful :) Needless to say I am hopeless at ‘swifties’ and after downing a pint in 10 minutes was pretty trousered.
Must work on expanding my liver capabilities! Much walking ensued in order for me to burn off the alcohol and we visited Soho, Regents Street, Piccadilly and Leicester Square.
I had another touristy moment seeing the real parts of the Monopoly board :) The plan is to hopefully see a show in West End (my fingers are crossed for Wicked!) when we come back again at the end of the tour.
Yesterday we came back for another crack at London, this time doing the Tower of London & Buckingham Palace. I was quite keen to visit the infamous Tower, but not too keen on paying £17 to get in! Yeah yeah, castle upkeep etc. Next time just rob me properly you fecking footpad.
I’ve always been fascinated with the story of Henry VIII and the ongoing debate of whether he was a great king who did a lot of great things for England or an egotistical bastard with no respect at all for women. Friend or foe? You decide. There was an exhibition with Henry’s actual armour, and when he was young it was quite impressive (and slim), although after seeing Henry’s sizeable armour when he was pushing fifty I immediately decided to go on a diet. If I was a soldier and saw that enormous barrel-chested podger coming at me I think I’d fall on my sword just to avoid a collision. We walked around and checked out the family jewels, sorry, *crown* jewels. Lizzie’s got herself an impressive collection of bling in the vault! The armour exhibition really was worth the visit; the rest was interesting but pretty commercial. I am glad I went though, just to see the ravens on the White Tower.
So, the verdict: No contest. I utterly love London, the accents, the cabs, the architecture, the pretty much everything about it. It’s a grand city. When can I move in?