It makes me so happy that our American friends are enjoying our country so much. The weather is perfect for sightseeing and being out and about albeit a little chilly in the evenings but who cares when you are having fun!
We have been here, there and everywhere attempting to show every aspect of our country and in doing so I have fallen in love all over again with some areas that I had not visited for some time.
Village life and going rural was the order of the day on Friday and we went over the Thames to the other side, Kent, which is always referred to as ‘The Garden of England’ because it is so lush and green and as you enter the county you are greeted with rolling hills and cows, and sheep and horse and lambs and rolls of hay standing in the fields….it really is very beautiful! The village of Faversham is very quaint with many buildings dating back to the 1400’s and beamed cottages galore next to country pubs with doorways so low you have to stoop so as not to knock yourself out as you enter and chairs and tables placed around roaring fires in the winter and locals who greet you and make you feel at homes within minutes.
Saturday was spent in London, one of my very favourite places in the world, I just love the hustle and bustle of it and am very proud of our capital with its glorious history which can be seen everywhere in the form of bridges and buildings structures that span the years and yet seen to fit together and form the history of this fabulous city.
A tour around the Houses of Parliament was a huge success mostly due to the guide who was a retired gentleman who spoke so eloquently and passionately about the history of the buildings and kept the group enthralled with his telling of the story over the years. He had a great sense of humour and had us all laughing at his telling of some of the events that have shaped our History. I think all of us ladies fell a little in love with this wonderful man who could create pictures for us by telling the story of the Houses of Parliament and how they came to be, I am so glad that the buildings both inside and out are being cherished and loved and kept as they were.
Then on to Trafalgar Square along Whitehall where we pass the mounted guards posted either side of the gate, the poor guards and their horses are constantly harangued by the photo taking public who flock there every day. These visitors stroke the horse and have their photos taken to remind them of their wonderful experience, it must be terribly hard for both horse and rider but they are both very well trained and the guard never smiles or speaks although the general public often do their best to make them break with tradition and protocol. Then a wonderful thing happened, the clock above the barracks on
the parade ground struck 4 and it was time for the guards to change. Everyone was shepherded behind the white lines and the guards marched out and stood to attention to be inspected by their superior, he checked every inch of the uniform both front and back and despite being in uniforms that do not amazingly comfortable to wear they stood stock still, sword in hand and pointing to the sky……at last they were allowed to move and after a few barked orders, they put the swords away with much clinking and ceremony and stood at ease. All this time the two guards who had been on duty were sitting on their horses waiting for their turn to go into the barracks for a much earned rest and strained to keep the horse still as I imagine they knew it was dinner time and were getting frisky (the horses, not the guards!).
Through the parade court and on to St James’ Park, taking in the colourful and extremely precise lawns and flower beds. Children and adults alike were delighting in feeding the pigeons and squirrels, who are so tame they eat from your hand. And then there was Buckingham Palace, a real sight when you first come across it, a very imposing building, guarded this time by soldiers on foot outside their sentry boxes and wearing the tall traditional bearskins who are The Queen’s Guard and have been doing this job since 1660. When the Queen is in residence the royal standard flies and there are 4 guards on duty, on Saturday she was in Windsor Castle so there were only two. Again, tourists by the dozen taking photographs at the huge gates that lead into the palace. From there back to Whitehall, this time via Birdcage Walk……..a stop at a pub for tea and on to The Tower of London, another favourite of mine. It was looking magnificent with the evening sun casting a soft light on the turret and through the castellations. The Tower sits at the side of the Thames and from there is a perfect view of Tower Bridge. London Bridge was sold and shipped lock, stock and barrel to Arizona where it was rebuilt…the funny thing about this is that Robert P. Mulloch bought the bridge believing it to be Tower Bridge, and the story goes that he was too embarrassed to mention the fact that he said he knew it was London Bridge that he had bought! There is also a replica of Tower Bridge in China.
It was then time to head home on the train, a long and tiring day but one with our friends loved and have hundreds of photos to prove it!
And today is Monday and I think it is a perfect day to head to Italy and take in Venice and Florence for the week which means that next week’s blog with be full of italian flavours. Until then, have a fabulous week.