August 29th was the date set by Jane for her monthly Photo an Hour meme. For once, I have an interesting and exciting day planned! Many thanks to Jane for organising this.
5:30am | I've been up for half an hour, I've washed, am dressed and in the kitchen getting my breakfast. It's going to be a long day but I've been looking forward to it for months and am excited that the day has arrived at long last. I haven't slept well so am tired and today of all days my joints are painful, but even that can't dampen my spirits.
6:30am | I've arrived at the bus stop and thankfully the coach is early so I won't have to stand for too long.
7:30am | The coach is full today so an hour after I got on we are just stopping at the last pick up point.
08:30am | We're on the motorway and making good time. I need the loo but don't like using the one on the coach but we'll be stopping at Fleet Services in about 30 minutes so the situation isn't too desperate ... although this cup of hot chocolate probably wasn't a good idea!
09:30am | Still on the motorway and a pretty boring photo ... sorry!
10:30am | We've arrived at our first stop in London - at St Paul's Cathedral. This stop is quite short and really just enough time for a comfort break and to get some food in the crypt cafe. I've chosen to wander around and take some photos.
11:30am | We're back on the coach and a Blue Badge Guide has joined us to provide the commentary for a guided tour around London, the theme being 'Royal London'.
12:30pm | We've been dropped off on the Southbank for a lunch break. I've spent some time wandering around the street food market trying to decide what to have and settled on a Caribbean chicken curry from the Curry Shack. It was delicious!
1:30pm | We're back on the coach just about to go through Admiralty Arch to arrive at the main event of the day ...
... the Buckingham Palace tour. There are no photos of the actual tour as you're not allowed to take photos inside the Palace.
I've wanted to do this tour ever since it started over 20 years ago. It lived up to my expectations and more ...
- being amongst all that history and walking where not just our current Queen but all the previous generations of Royals have walked.
- walking up the Grand Staircase!
- the excitement of seeing the original of paintings that I've only ever seen in books or on TV
- seeing the table set for a state banquet ... such an amazing sight
- seeing some of the Queen's dresses and realising just how small she is
- learning about the chandeliers and how they clean them (that episode from Only Fools and Horses came to mind!)
- learning about the roles of the numerous staff involved in the running of the Palace
- being able to say I've eaten at Buckingham Palace, even if it was only a cream tea in the visitor's cafe!
I'll definitely repeat the tour at some time in the future. I would have like a lot more time, particularly in the Picture Gallery, to see everything and to just have the time to enjoy what I was seeing.
4:30pm | Walking through the Palace Gardens, towards the exit. It had just started to rain and, although visitors are restricted to one path, it was still possible to get some decent photos.
5:30pm | We've been sitting on the coach for the last 30 minutes waiting for two ladies to turn up but are now on our way home. They were eventually found and helped back on the coach by one of the Palace staff - apparently, they'd lost their way and had been found by the Palace Police wandering where they shouldn't have been. The Police were armed and they were both a bit traumatised by it all!
7:30pm | There's no 6:30pm photo because I forgot, but here's a poorly focussed shot of the reason for a quick stop at the services!
I didn't bother with any more 'on the coach' photos as the light was failing and there is a limit to how many 'through the window' shots I want!
21:15pm | The key in the door. I'm surprised I summoned up the energy to take this photo - I'm absolutely shattered and won't be that long out of bed.
It's been a fantastic day and it's another thing crossed off of my 101 in 1001 days.