We started the day on seriously humorous note! Irellan went next door to Darcy & Fiona's room and came back knocking on the door. Unusual as she has her own key or sea pass on a lanyard round her neck. We let her in and she started looking for her key. We could not find it and she went back to her parents room to look for it. She was back with the news that she had left it in her purse after dinner last night and her Mum had packed it in the suitcase that was now probably on the dock. You need this key to get on and off the ship. We were not sure what would happen! She then started to look for her shoes and discovered that they, too, were in her suitcase shipped out the night before! Talk about over efficient! She ended up wearing the complimentary slipper supplied by the ship for her Mum - obviously, many sizes too big.
We were already docked when we got up and we got the last things packed and went to the concierge's lounge and had breakfast. There were several groups waiting to leave the ship. We came back and got our luggage and went down to disembark. I had had my Swiss Army knife confiscated one of the times I came back on the ship and Darcy a multi-tool and David his Skean Dhu, so we were diverted to another gangway to collect them. Meanwhile the rest of them got off - that is except Fiona and Irellan who had to go through the formalities of disembarking without her sea pass. All the while Fiona was juggling the chocolate anniversary cake. We eventually all met up at the luggage claim and went outside to get taxis to the railway station. We had planned to get the 9:13 am train, but were in time for the 8:13 one. We were among the first on and the train was quiet. We had quite a pile of luggage and stacked it on a table and facing chairs. The luggage area was taken up by bikes.
We settled in and the train got busier with each stop till eventually all the seats were filled. We were asked to move our luggage, but there was really very little space to move it to. One elderly and obnoxious Englishman got quite abusive as we tried to free up the seats, evidently not fast enough for him. He suggested we put it in the overhead racks, which was clearly impossible as David's camera bag barely fitted. He backed off quickly when David and Darcy appeared to help Dawn and I move our things! We eventually reached Gatwick and got all our bags - and people, and cake - off safely.
We located the shuttle bus and got to our hotel. The family rooms were not ready, but David & Dawn's was, so we left all our luggage there and set off for London. This entailed taking the shuttle bus back to the airport and the train to Victoria Station where we picked up sandwiches and had lunch in the station. We went outside and walked to Buckingham Palace where we had a look at the guards and other points of interest before boarding the Big Bus hop on hop off tour bus for a ride round London, locating the points of interest as we went. The children were thrilled to see in real life landmarks they had heard about or only seen in photos. They were astounded at the crowds of people, exclaiming, "I have never seen so many people!" It was especially busy with the end of the Olympics coming up.
We left the bus more or less where we had got on and walked through St. James's Park to Whitehall. But the route we had planned was blocked off, again due to the Olympics. So it took us a while longer. We saw 10 Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister and Horseguards Parade. We had hoped to be there in time to see the changing of the guard, but it was just finishing as we reached it. It was also a bit disappointing as the Lifeguards were not mounted as they had been when we last saw them.
We walked back to Westminster Bridge to get photos of the Houses of Parliament then took the tube back to Victoria Station where we went to the Thistle hotel and had our last dinner together before going our separate ways. We then caught the train back to Gatwick. David, Dawn, Christine and myself went to enquire about storing bags while we go to Portugal and, in our case, Spain. It proved to be quite pricey and we contemplated shipping it home. Our enquiries had led us to the North terminal of the airport and we exited to catch the shuttle bus there. When it came, the rest of our party were on it, so we all got to the hotel together.
I went to make arrangements for shuttle tickets for today and tomorrow and asked for ideas about storing the luggage more economically than at the airport. The hotel offered to store them for free, even though we are not staying there on our return. This was a considerable saving as the airport wanted 8 GBP per item per day - and David and Dawn had two pieces for 8 days and we had one for 28 days.
We gathered in Fiona and Darcy's room and the cake - which had travelled unscathed - was duly cut and consumed. It was delicious.
We all went to bed. Tomorrow David, Dawn and ourselves will catch the plane to Porto in Portugal. The Hilkewiches will meet Graeme in London and spend the day there with him. He has been there on business. They will fly home to Edmonton on Monday.