We had grand plans for our first full day in London. Checking out the markets and lots of shopping.
This was all thrown to the wind when I checked Twitter and found out that the Queen would be opening Parliament that day and there would be a full procession down the Mall to Westminster. I was literally jumping out of my skin. I saying over and over to Bill – “WE ARE GOING… WE WILL SEE HER… OH MY GOSH!”
We got up early and had our first breakfast upstairs in the executive lounge. Wow – it was amazing. I took full advantage of the chance to have real English breakfast sausages and eggs and awesome porridge. The best part of this was filling up on breakfast meant that we were never hungry at lunchtime.
We quickly made our way down the street to the Mall and the flurry of activity. We were in a great position just past the Queen Victoria Memorial. So we stood there and waited patiently, then the procession started.
Everyone waiting along the Mall -
Oh look – it is a brunette Polly from The Bill –
Here we go…!
Playing God Save The Queen -
I cannot describe the surge of adrenaline that you feel when you are viewing something so amazing. I am getting goosebumps just typing it now. The marching bands, the pomp and ceremony – it is amazing. Especially when you realize you are seeing something that has happened for so many years.
I kept craning my neck thinking “Is it her? Is it her?” It was then that we saw a carriage turning the corner.. I was SO excited yet it was then we realized, it was her crown. Yes, in it’s own carriage.
Then, we saw her. Sitting in the carriage, waving to the crowd and it all happened so fast. In all my time living in Australia, I had never seen her and I had never seen her while I lived in London either. Yet, here we were – seeing Queen Elizabeth in her Jubilee year. It was exhilarating.
Here she is!!!!
Before we knew it the procession was over and the crowd were dispersing. I was still looking at Bill saying “Ohmigosh we saw the Queen!” and he was just as excited. Then we heard a HUGE bang. I jumped back and screamed – then we realized. In Green Park they were firing cannons. A full 41 gun salute. They were amazing historical canons on little carts and in the fog that was surrounding the park, it was like we had been transported back in time. There were cannons firing and not many people paying attention so it almost felt like it was just us and the military. It was awesome and then seeing them wheel the canons back to the assembly area – truly a moment where we forgot that we were in 2012. It was THAT good.
Here is a Bobby ushering us away -
So here is a video where you can see the Queen going past, where you can experience the full calvary and then also the cannons firing in Green Park. It is long but worth it, especially for the horses!
After standing for so long, it was time for some adventures so I decided to take Bill back to the first neighbourhood that I lived in London – Holloway! We boarded the tube and everything fell into place. The announcements, the station map. My heart was bursting – it was wonderful to be back as I had basically avoided London for 13 years. Getting off the train at Holloway Road it was almost like I was living outside my body. I could picture my 21 year old self walking these steps, so far removed from all I knew in Australia but now, I was walking the same route as a New Yorker, a nearly American and with my wonderful husband. WHAT???!!! It was a crazy experience and when we got outside the station, everything seemed smaller than I remembered. Busy roads in London are nothing compared to what I see in New York, yet for a 21 year old from Melbourne, I remember just being mesmerized at all the people, the traffic and the transport. It is amazing how things change. I looked over my shoulder and saw the ticket window. It was where I got my London Underground ID photopass and bought my first monthly train pass. There were bits of my own memories scattered all over this town and it was weird to be reliving them again.
After trying to jog my memory, I found the old place where Fiona and I first lived. This is a story in itself. I remembered our horror the first time Fiona (who I took this London adventure with) and I saw it. Two young girls from Melbourne, arriving off a long haul flight, now standing on the other side of the world. We had to meet the owner at a laundry nearby, then they would take us to our new London home. I was sitting in the back tray of the ute/pick up truck of the owner as it sped through the streets. (How am I even here to recount this story??!) Remember people, this was organized in 1999. The internet wasn’t the bevy of information and photos that it was now. We found someone offering this place and were able to ensure we had accommodation when we stepped off the plane so we took it. I remember dropping our bags and then Fiona and I found a phone, rang our parents and cried down the phone that we wanted to come home. Mum suggested we go and get breakfast, that we were tired and everything would be better tomorrow. Of course, she was right but I still don’t know how we did it!
How our place looked from afar -
Our flat was the one on the ground floor on the far right –
So this was my little London dream home… before we moved to South Kensington! Looking at this picture reminds me of being excited to pick up the latest issue TNT Magazine from a pub around the corner, racing home from work to watch Blind Date with Cilla Black, discovering Ambrosia Creamed Rice, walking blocks to an internet cafe (that I could only afford to use once or twice a week for an hour) and my first ever Indian restaurant experience.
I wish I could go back and stay in Holloway for just a few weeks to rediscover this little pocket of London. The funny thing is, by the time we were due to move to South Ken, Holloway had actually grown on us and we had got to know the area.
Our tube station -
Holloway Road -
I remember getting dinner from this Chinese restaurant on the corner -
Down our street -
On the other corner of our street -
So after that little tour, Bill and I jumped on a bus just to see where we would end up. Up on the top deck, right at the front, London zipped past us. It was relaxing and a great way to see the city.
We then ended up in Harrods. It was different to how I remembered it and now, apart from the Food Hall, it pretty much just plain ol’ tacky. While we wandered around, we both had the same reaction of “We are not buying anything in here..” and we were both happy with that decision. If you want to experience the best of London shopping, Harrods is not it and it is just a shame that so many people think that that epitomizes London. Ugh. Harvey Nicks or Selfridges please.
By this time, it was pouring with rain and we made it back to the hotel for a room service dinner and a lazy night in… Jason Donovan was on TV so that just about sealed the deal. It was such a great day – I finally saw the Queen and I still couldn’t believe it!