|As we arrived late on Wednesday, there was only time for a walk around the Thames past Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament up to Cleopatras needle.
The first stop on the first day was Gieves and Hawkes, gentlemens tailor and Naval outfitter at No. 1 Saville Row! A very refined store with excellent, tasteful and expensive clothes - I can't understand why the naval section was on the second floor out of the road of the gentlemen. We also walked past Buckingham palace and visited the British museum. The Egyptian mummies and Rosetta Stone were the highlight. Unfortunately we had just missed an exhibition of maps collected by Colombus' son Ferdinand/Hernando Colon, whose tomb we had wondered over in Seville. We now understand that he was famous for something in his own right rather than just being son of the explorer.
Today we caught a boat ride to Greenwich and visited the Maritime Museum and Old Royal observatory. The clocks of Harrison were an amazing feat. A very eager guide dressed in period costume took us through some history but we found it very difficult to concentrate on the story after as he had a habit of pronouncing words wrong or back to front in his exuberant haste for example Royal Astromoner (every time) fixly firmed, and many more.
We had probably the best tour guide ever through the Royal Naval College. Upon arriving for the afternoon tour and finding ourselves the only takers for what turned out to be a free tour, the guide proceeeded to take us through locked doors, under the foundations and about the site for two hours. We heard the little stories about the history and got to have a turn of skittles in the wooden bowling alley built under the great hall by the bored War Pensioners.
Meanwhile, we got to hear the opera students of Trinity Music College undergoing their final exams in the naval chapel. The college rents one of the Wings and make full use of the awesome acoustics in the chapel and other old buildings, we could have sat all day and listened.
We were only able to see the Maritime Museum for a short time, quickly seeing Cooks portrait. Unfortunately we missed seeing Nelsons uniform with the hole from his fatal wound. We heard from the great guide above that he also said on his deathbed to "look after the boy Rivers". This was his cabin boy who, had he been on board at the time would have insisted he not wear the brightly coloured uniform that made him such a target. Rivers ended up changing over to be an officer and went through the Naval College.
18th of June....
Went to the Tower of London today and got a Beefeater tour. The history in the tower is so rich that you could spend two days in here really getting into it. The Crown Jewels exhibit is a bit of a lark for the workers as you have to pass through three rooms that have a maze of banner tape guiding you back and forth across the room to the next. Obviously people cannot stand to the side to look at the video presentation on the wall so it becomes quite an obstacle course.
As it is almost Midsummer here, Shakespere's GLobe theatre put on a midnight show on the Saturday closest to the Solstice, we were lucky enough to get tickets for it but as James has a flu, finally - but lucky not from HK, we took the chance to have an afternoon nap and get out of the quite hot day. It has been described as a 'heat wave' here, three days of about 30 deg C and all of the locals have stripped the t-shirts off of their pasty white skin and decided to give everyone else a hell of a fright.
Anyway back to the Shakespere.... We saw "The Tempest" but with only 3 actors rather than about 9-11 which would comprise all of the parts. It was really very good as they had a small chorus behind the stage who were all dressed as Roman gods. After the two hour show we finally flopped into bed about 3am.
The following and final morning we trooped ourselves up to Buckingham Palace past acres of sunburned Londoners to see the changing of the guard. In the heat those men really do earn their money.
One final thing before we depart London. One of our close friends dubbed the holiday 'The bun in the oven tour', we are happy to say we did get a bun in the oven but we'll let you look at the photos to figure the little mystery all out.