Back from a month in England and recovered from jet lag, I can now think over how my trip panned out. The first two days were spent in London. I wanted to use the time exploring many of the places I’d grown up hearing about and had seen on television and in films, especially those I missed last time around: Bloomsbury, Mayfair, Holborn, Soho.
Partly, having played monopoly with my family as a child, I wanted to cover as much of the board as I could: Oxford Street (also for visiting Selfridges), Fleet Street, Bond Street, King’s Cross Station, to name a few.
I arrived early, stowed my case at my hotel near King’s Cross (one off the list straight away) and, jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, I headed out. Needless to say, it was a bit much to fit into two days, especially as the second morning was taken up with a tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms and Mews. Still, I made a good fist of it.
I ended the first day at 221b Baker Street, home of Sherlock Holmes.
I returned to the hotel, collapsed fully-clothed on the bed and died, waking some time later to change and die again.
As a child, I stared in wonder at photos of the gold coronation coach, used to transport the young Princess Elizabeth to be crowned queen. A magical, fairytale thing, it sits in the Buckingham Palace mews, and this was my chance to see it in the flesh, so to speak.
You have pictures in your mind from childhood and my picture of the coach didn’t include cupids, paintings of bare-breasted women on the sides and large tritons (mermen) on each corner, naked, as mermen are, except for sea shells only just covering the essential bits. I was expecting something a little more tasteful for a coronation coach, I have to admit.
Though the interior is upholstered in red velvet, it is, apparently, not very comfortable. King William IV said being driven in the Gold State Coach was like being on board a ship ‘tossing in a rough sea’, and Queen Victoria refused to ride in it.
Still, it’s spectacular, if a touch over the top, especially when displayed with models of the horses and their riders in all their ceremonial gear.
It was pretty exciting climbing those same steps that William and Kate ascended after their wedding.
No photos were allowed inside the palace but suffice to say, royals live very well.
The afternoon was taken up with wandering from place to place, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, St. James’s Palace, going round in circles much of the time.
I finished the day in the garden opposite the hotel with a cheese and bacon roll and the company of a few lost souls that frequent the space and some kids playing basketball.
London is exciting but exhausting. I was very happy to be heading out in the morning to Cambridge.