October 23rd, 2011 London
I woke about 7 am and finished my journals before going down to breakfast. I took my laptop to breakfast and while we ate; uploaded the photos and then posted my blog. The wifi was working well with my computer this morning.
By 10:30 am Nancy and I were off to the park. Barbara is taking it easy this morning, going to the neighborhood beauty shop to get her hair and nails done while we’re gone. We’re to be back at the hotel about 3 pm. We found later that she’d actually started walking the neighborhood and had walked almost two hours on her own checking out prices on the various hotels in the Paddington area. She was napping by the time we returned.
Nancy and I walked from the hotel to the road that divides Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. We found a broad path that was on the Kensington side and strolled with the Sunday morning joggers, tourists and strollers through the beautiful and lush grounds. At one point we stopped to visit a training garden designed to teach people how to ecologically grow plants in small places; it was called The Allotment.
Soon we were at the bridge over The Serpentine Lake and crossed the road to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. This was my third visit and I still find it an emotional experience because of the story of her life they tell with the various flows of the water: rough, swift, noisy, so still you can hear your own breath and water so still it is hardly moving.
We continued walking through the park to the southern edge for a view of Queen Victoria’s memorial to her husband/consort Prince Albert. It is a glorious tribute with a golden Albert sitting on his throne.
Crossing Kensington we walked to the South Kensington Underground/Tube for a trip to St. James Station arriving at 11:15 am…we almost ran from the station to Westminster Abbey where we wanted to get into the 11:15 Communion Service. One of the ways to get into the Abbey on Sunday is to attend a service! We scooted in behind a group and said yes, we were with that group, when asked by the ushers.
We were seated in folding chairs in the Poet’s corner of the Abbey. It was a beautiful service complete with a marvelous choir composed of the Lay Vicars of Westminster Abbey accompanied by the organist…. the music of angels.
We were invited to participate in the communion service and it was interesting in that the entire service could have been in a catholic church except that a woman presided.
It was a truly marvelous experience for each of us. Afterwards we stayed as long as they would allow and saw many of the things that one would visit as a tourist. They don’t allow photos so the ones you see are illegal shots and not very good.
We started walking again toward Buckingham Palace by way of St. James’s Park. There were many families enjoying the park; a fence divided the path from the grass but people just stepped over it. As we crossed the bridge over the lake in the center of the park we had a view of Buckingham Palace on one end and many turrets and towers on the other end. Downing Street and government buildings are located there. We could also see the London Eye in the distance.
Continuing on we reached The Mall road and found the beginnings of a Military Parade….there is no changing of the guard today but this was even better. We decided we were really having a serendipity day!
After the parade passed we continued to Buckingham Palace; the Victoria Memorial in front of the Palace is under repairs and covered, disappointing but what can you do. We’ve found lots of that because of the preparation for the Olympics in 2012. Even Kensington Palace is undergoing a massive restoration and not worth visiting for the few things that you can see per the tour books.
Off towards Westminster Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral in London, we walked in the wrong direction and ended back at Westminster Abbey! Oops…but we did find Victoria Street that eventually took us to the Cathedral; a beautiful and unusual Byzantine style built in from 1895 – 1903. A stark contrast to the extremely modern glass building across the street.
Our tootsies were tired and it was 2:30 … time to get back to the hotel. We walked to the Victoria Station and caught the Tube back to the hotel. There we found Miss Barbara sound asleep. Woke her up and off we went to the Victoria & Albert Museum…by TAXI…a treat by Barbara! We didn’t have much time but enjoyed about an hour and a half of the acres of displays. One of my favorites was a beautiful cross reliquary for a piece of the wooden Cross of Christ that was about the size of a postage stamp.
Caught the bus towards Marble Arch after leaving the Museum and decided to go to a pub called Taylor Walker that had an upstairs restaurant called Rose & Crown Restaurant. We enjoyed a wonderful meal that was slow in coming because of the rush of customers all at one time; but worth the wait.
Back on the bus we arrived at Paddington Station that is only a block from the Hotel; we found that it is about a block closer that the one we’d been using. Home about 8:30 pm we spent the evening planning our next two weeks. We don’t have any reservations so it’s an open book! We have booked the same car service that we used last Thursday so our trip to Heathrow to pick up our rental car tomorrow should be an easy morning. No wifi in the room tonight so I’ll send this at breakfast.