“Jolly Old London – Beefeaters and all!”
Posted by kiki under England, London
After a wonderful last night in Paris, complete with send off party at the Eiffel Tower, which I saw glitter, we left for our last port of call on this epic voyage: London. We were quite tired when we arrived so we stayed in for about a half hour and then we decided that Magnums and exploring were in order. So we set off toward St James Church and then quickly realised that London is actually a lot smaller than Paris and distances on maps are not deceptively small. So we found ourselves at Buckingham Palace and marveled at its beauty and Beefeaters.
But the Beefeaters at Buckingham Palace proper are nothing. They are behind the fence and you can’t see them very well. So as we wandered aimlessly down the road away from the Palace we saw more, vigilantly guarding a cordoned off area and generally looking pretty cool.
(They were babies – couldn’t have been more than 23, and trying very hard to look older. – M.)
We quickly fell in love with one who we have aptly named Smirks. As his name suggests, he does not have the traditional Beefeater stoicism. He kept shooting his eyes in our direction and grinning like a Cheshire cat. But his stealth training paid off in the fact that, though he smirked cheekily at us at least five times, we failed to acquire photographic evidence.
After spending at least thirty minutes having lovely conversation about Smirks and his Senior Officer right next to them as if when they go on duty they suddenly become deaf to idiot tourists, we mosied down to Trafalgar Square where we had our dinner.
The Sherlock Holmes [Pub & Restaurant] just roped us in and we were quickly in love with it. We had traditional English meals: I had Shepherd’s Pie and Mer had ham and eggs and chips.
With the enthusiastic support and help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s family, the pub was filled throughout with various artefacts and pieces recording the adventures of the Master Detective, including such diverse items as Dr Watson’s old service revolver, original cartoons and the stuffed and mounted head of none other than the Hound of the Baskervilles.
The main attraction however is a replica of Holmes’ and Watson’s sitting room and study, which relate to Sherlock Holmes and his exciting escapades. This room is given pride of place adjacent to the restaurant, where diners are able to view the whole area through a large glass partition. . .
The exhibition items have not changed since they were first installed, and are now complemented by an interesting and nostalgic collection of television and film stills, featuring the famous actors who have played the Great Detective and his trusty sidekick, Watson, down the years.
. . .Old Scotland Yard is just across the other side of Northumberland Avenue, and the Turkish baths that Holmes and Watson used to enjoy were right beside the Hotel. It is still possible in fact to see the entrance, which now forms part of the wall of the bank in Craven Passage. With Charing Cross Station immediately beside the pub, one can just imagine the duo dashing off to catch a train into the countryside on one of their hair raising adventures!
We chatted and laughed and I got sentimental about our group from Woodstock in Paris and then Mer quickly brought me back down to earth when she reminded me of who we would have been stuck with had we stayed, and I decided that Woodstock was only good because of the people.
We walked back to the hostel and I was outside after Mer had gone up; there was a huge group of Spanish tourists checking in and they all had at least two rolling suitcases to put in the lift which only can handle four people at a time, so we got separated. I was standing and waiting to get in and I look over and I see a blonde girl walking down the street and my heart starts to hurt a little bit, because I thought *gasp* it’s Johanna (an awesome Finnish girl from Woodstock). And then she smiles at me and I realise IT IS JOHANNA. So I had my reunion and I’m quite happy.
Now I can enjoy London.
UNSCHOOLING EUROPE tag