Lily made this video about our big day sightseeing in London
We had one sightseeing day in the city and being old London hands, that we would use the tube and bus network to show the kids around.
We dropped straight into Euston and I was immediately struck by the speed with which everyone moves. Even at 11am on a weekday morning, crowds stride rapidly through the station and climb the escalators on the left. I used to move through London like that quite naturally, knowing exactly which carriage to sit in to alight the train next to the exit at my destination, but with country kids unused to public transport and with my knowledge of the tube map and interchanges being a bit rusty, it was a different story. Still I declined help from the kind TFL employee. I KNOW my tube map, honestly I do, it just might take me a minute.
We popped up at Buckingham Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard and several carriages in procession.
Then we wandered through Green Park, where Simon reminded me that this used to be my commute. When we lived in Borough, I rode my bike along the Southbank, over Westminster Bridge, around Parliament Square, past Westminster Abbey, along Horseguards’ Parade (and the back of Downing St), up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, through Green Park, through Wellington’s Arch and into Hyde Park, past Kensington Palace and through Kensington Gardens then down Notting Hill through Holland Park and Shepherd’s Bush, to work.
It was the best commute ever and we got to follow quite a lot of it. As we crossed through Wellington’s Arch, which is in the middle of a large roundabout, police outriders came up roaring behind us tooting and flashing their lights. We and all the other flummoxed tourists stepped to the side as a motorcade crossed through the island at speed, containing the unmistakable hairdo of Princess Anne.
We went up to Kensington Gardens for lunch in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, which was completely overwhelmed by school groups. Then we caught a bus to Piccadilly so Tom could purchase a cricket bat to cart around all day, walked to Trafalgar Square and hopped on the good old number 15 bus. We remembered this as an informal tourist bus route, whizzing us past my old work at Bush House (an historic building that was home of the BBC World Service from 1941 to 2012 and from which Charles de Gaulle sent daily messages to the Free French after France fell to Nazi Germany), past the Royal Courts of Justice, Fleet Street, St Paul’s Cathedral and Monument to the Tower of London.
By this time it was quite late in the day. We had forgotten how long it takes to get around London on the bus! It was also incredibly hot as this was the week of the European heatwave (the worst since 2005). We only had 90 minutes to zip around the Tower, take in the Crown Jewels, the armoury and the dungeons.
We left the Tower at closing and walked onto the riverside, just as Tower Bridge was opening up, great timing for the kids. We walked across the bridge to the south side, for a wonderful dinner at Strada with dear friends from BBC days, with a magnificent view of Tower Bridge. The long light evening fooled us and we didn’t get back to Berkhamsted until 1030. Oops. Sorry kids.