Today we caught the bus into town, which was great as we had a chance to have a look at our surroundings on the ride in. We got off at Kensington Palace, which was the home of Queen Victoria, and had bit of a look around. It was too early for a tour so we walked the gardens and had a look at a few of the monuments and sights.
There was a tree (or what was left of a tree trunk) loaded with little ornaments and statues like gnomes and animals throughout. It was pretty cool and we spend a bit of time doing a couple of laps, checking out all the inclusions.
We continued walking towards the city and found ourselves outside the gardens and in Notting Hill. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t see Renee Zellweger or Hugh Grant.
We re-enter the park and found ourselves in Hyde Park (it comes after Kensington Gardens on the way into London). There was a Half Marathon underway with half the British population either participating, or on the sidelines cheering. It was pretty cool. Almost made me want to consider running – NOT.
We went to the Princess Diana memorial fountain which was not at all what we expected. Rather than a fountain throwing water up into the air like a traditional fountain, it was more like a stream, in a circular shape, rolling over uneven ground. From the high point, water fell/flowed in both directions, across carved stone creating a ripple effect, meant to replicate her life. Its kind of hard to describe, but it was very special.
I’m not really a Diana tragic (Mum takes up that role), but being there made me reflect on the charity work she did, and where I was the day she died. It was a moving experience.
We left the park and found another Bike Hire station, so we hired some more bikes and headed towards Buckingham Palace.
Arriving at the palace was spectacular. There must have been 10 000 people there, all taking photo’s and admiring it. We spent about 20 minutes just staring at the fence, and the carvings and the building itself. I was even half plotting a plan to storm the castle and declare myself the new King of England. There were only two Beefeaters on Guard, so I liked my chances, but in the end I thought better of it. (Does anyone know if that would even count?)
We left the front of the Palace (through the Australia gates of course) and before long found ourselves at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Again, an incredible site, and an emotion thats hard to explain, being in front of symbols of Britain and democracy we had grown up with.
Big Ben sounded for 12 o’clock, and chimed 12 times, which again was pretty cool.
We tried to get into the Abbey for a look but it was closed (It was Sunday, its not open to the public on Sundays) so we just rode around it, in absolute awe of what we were seeing. The architecture and attention to detail on these buildings is so incredible, and so hard to describe. I can not imagine something like the Houses of Parliament every being rebuilt in our modern day.
Our second “Boris Bike” ride ended the same was as the first, with us spending another hour trying to find a spot to drop the damn things back. Riding bikes through London was excellent, but trying to find the stations (which are not in prominent positions rather tucked away in back streets and behind buildings) really did my head in.
We had arranged Sunday lunch/dinner with my two great Aunts that live in London so once we found the bike station, we grabbed the Tube and headed to their place for Dinner. A traditional Sunday Roast. It was nice, and especially interesting to reflect on how family works.
One of the Aunts I had never met. The other, only a few times, and not for more than 10 years. Both are my Grandmothers sisters. And yet, like families do, we talked and laughed and joked and shared stories like we had know each other for years. After being away from home for a few weeks, it was great to have someone other than each other to speak to, and to be in a family home, with personal effects and belongings instead of hotel/apartment style accommodation.
Second day in London complete, and I love the place. I’m scoping our locations for an office and trying to work out what I might be able to sell in this city.