This morning I took a Virgin East Coast train to London arriving into Kings Cross at 1.00 pm, from here I hopped on the Piccadilly Line for the short journey to Piccadilly Circus where I’d arranged to meet my older son in the Virgin Lounge. I was first to arrive which gave me a few minutes to take a look at a black and white photo exhibition / fundraising event of street children in Kolkata that was taking place.
After meeting up and sipping coffees we strolled along Piccadilly, passing the Royal Academy and glancing in the elaborate Piccadilly and Burlington arcades which are filled with small designer shops featuring low mullioned windows. Moving on, we turned left onto St James’s Street then onto Pall Mall so that we could view the guards outside St. James’s Palace which is located just off The Mall on Marlborough Road. Here you will find two guardsmen and you can watch them marching between their sentry boxes. It’s an ideal location to take photographs as very few people seem to know about guards being here even though it’s just around the corner from Buckingham Palace. It’s nice to visit both palaces but here you can enjoy the courtyard to yourselves and take snapshots without anyone in the way. If you look at the guardsman’s bearskin hat you will notice a coloured feather on the side – this identifies the regiment, I believe these are Irish Guards.
Continuing along The Mall, we wondered why cars were being allowed to park there this afternoon, so being curious we asked a policeman who told us that the Queen was hosting an afternoon garden party and invited guests were permitted to park along the road. Walking towards the palace, a few minutes later, police stopped the traffic and we saw Prince Charles and Camilla being driven through the palace gates. It happened so quickly that unfortunately I didn’t have time to take a photo of them! Many guests were arriving for the garden party, some men wearing morning suits and top hats whilst ladies tottered on high heels sporting hats of every style.
I did take a few photos outside Buckingham Palace and of the Victoria Memorial with its gilded ‘Winged Victory’ standing on top of the central pylon and glistening in the hazy sunshine.
Our afternoon stroll then took us through the adjacent St. James’s Park – one of my favourite Royal parks, where we spotted some pelicans and herons by the water which was a good opportunity to practise using the zoom feature of my new camera. Standing on the park’s Blue Bridge there are some spectacular views across St. James’s lake to Buckingham Palace and of the London Eye looking the other way.
Leaving the park, we strolled along Birdcage Walk, so called because James 1 set up an aviary in St James’s Park in the 17th century. On our way to Westminster underground station we passed the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) with its iconic Elizabeth Tower clock, widely known as Big Ben after its main bell. This has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987. (See feature image above).
It was then time to check in to our hotel over in Docklands so we travelled there by Jubilee Line and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). After a short rest we headed out to Canary Wharf for dinner and a little walk around before returning to our hotel for the night.