Sunday, 1 December 2013


We went for a day out to London yesterday. I had promised to buy Amanda some of her favourite perfume far too long ago, never got around to it, and so took this lovely and dry Sunday to put matters right. We had a couple of other things planned, but as always with these little adventures of ours, came across other things as we walked and talked.
After getting off at Waterloo station, we headed over the Thames, and walked through the gardens of Whitehall, before turning away from the river and heading to our first destination.
Banqueting House, the scene of the execution by beheading of King Charles I. Not just famous for this macabre event, but indeed many other things as well.

Our visit began with a short movie of the buildings history, held in the undercroft, originally built as a drinking den for King James I and his buddies. We had arrived early, and so had the whole place to ourselves. Shame we didn't have a couple of beers to continue the traditional use of the place.

The main reason that most people visit the hall now though is for that little something that I'm looking up at.

The breathtaking ceiling painted by Rubens.

Afterwards, we headed over the road to Horseguards Parade, where there appeared to be something going on. While strolling through the arch leading onto the parade ground, a severe looking sergeant major was loudly barking warnings and commands to errant far eastern tourists who were determined to take 'that special' picture of themselves with a guardsman, never quite getting it that these were real soldiers, with serious jobs to do, and weren't prepared to stop or change direction while marching. The SM must have been quite croaky by the end of the day. As it turned out, our visit had coincided with a ceremonial laying down of soil from Flanders. We wondered why the streets were filled with people and police with machine guns!
We carried on with our journey, and stopped at the gates closing off Downing Street. It was sobering to realise that the last time I was here was when I was 12 years old, and one could walk up the street and stand outside No.10, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister. We did however have a very pleasant and amusing conversation with one of the armed guards, and gained a little more insight into things.
So far, it had been quite a time, and a morning beer was needed. There's no shortage of fantastic pubs in London.

A little further on was Westminster, with it's wonderful cathedral. We had been here a few years ago, and so, escaping from the madding crowds, entered the courtyard behind, where Westminster School is situated. It was amusing to hear the school students talking to one another. All very well spoken, and yet still using the word 'like' in every sentence. That's probably only something the brit readers of this blog will understand.

A short tube ride, and we reached the place that I had originally planned the visit around, Jo Malone on Sloane Street.
And I became the best thing since sliced bread, as Amanda picked out a couple of different fragrances t take home.
It was now getting towards lunchtime, but we wanted to visit the second place on our 'wish list' for the day, and one that I in particular was keen to see, Leighton House on Holland Park Road.
Once home to the artist Frederic Leighton, it's rather an unassuming building from the outside, but inside it's one of Londons less known hidden gems.

I'm only showing the hallway here, as you all must see the rest for yourselves, but I think the pictures speak for themselves. We were lucky enough to witness an additional exhibition of different types of artwork from Afghanistan, and displays describing the skills involved in the making of the same.

The tile work is stunning, with some being Iznik, and quite unique.

                        The time was ticking on now, and a rather late lunch was had at  Sopranos Restaurant  on Kensington High Street, before setting off for the last leg of our adventure, Harrods. As usual, I had to keep a watchful eye on my wayward beauty as she took up position in various precarious places to take pictures. Can you spot the store in the picture?
We had both mainly come to visit the Food Halls this time, but I also wanted to find the Salviati Glassware section. First though, we walked around the building to take a look at the rather special window displays. All themed around the Orient Express.

The place was heaving with people, and we slowly made our way from room to room, and after a long search came across the rooms selling glassware.
There were pieces by all of the famous makers, and I discovered that unfortunately the one I was looking for was no longer there. There were others from Murano, but all rather gaudy. So, much to Amandas terror, I led her through display after display of expensive glass artwork, making her sweat every time I picked up a piece to look more closely at. The problem is you see, that my left hand has been hacked at so mant tmes by hedgetrimmers, saws and hammers, that it tends to drop things unexpectedly. And so, at the point that I picked up a large and very beautiful green glass leaf by Lalique, on sale at a meagre £21,489, and waved it around to catch the light, I was gently led away from my glass to handle less pricey goods in the Food Hall (After putting down the leaf of course.)
There were some lovely things on sale at Harrods, and so we had to leave with a memento of our visit. Mine was a pie with thich pastry, and Amanda took some quiche. Oh, the high life eh?
We made our way through the confectionery section, and once again joined the throngs out on the street, as it was getting time to go home.

A takeaway falafel for me, and a slice of pizza for my lady wife did us for dinner, and we strolled to Trafalgar Square as we ate. It made us thirsty, so yes, another visit to a pub for a quick one before finding the nearest tube station............

And then home we went.

It was quite a day.
Lawn mowing in Christchurch tomorrow, and back to reality. Another day, another dollar!


  1. A great look round. I'm glad you did it for me. I would love to see these sights but couldn't tolerate all the people.

    1. Hi Adrian,
      It is a photographers dream. We had to make do with phones and the Lumix as we wanted to travel light. I don't mind all of the crowds, as long as they're walking in the same direction ad me.

  2. What an adventure you two had. Thanks for sharing.

    I would love to have seen all of that glass, plus the paintings by Rubens on the ceiling.


    1. Hi Lorraine,
      We often find the most exciting times are when we just walk and explore. As for the glass, it was quite spectacular, and very scary, walking among the pieces.

  3. Very Christmassy
    I am off to London on the 20th

    1. Hi John,
      It was very Christmassy. Are you going for pleasure?

  4. What a great day out! You managed to pack in such a lot and how fortunate to be in the right place to see the ceremonial of the Flanders earth. We've never been to the Banqueting House and must put it on the to do list. Thank goodness you made it safely out of the glass department!

  5. Hi Rosemary,
    The ceiling was really quite lovely, and typically of Rubens, it was full of bums and boobs

  6. Thank you once again for taking me along on your travels. So many amazing places. One day I will go crazy trying to photograph it all!!!!!

    1. Sherlock, one day you simply must visit London. Truly an amazing city.

  7. Wow Gary, what stamina! I would never have made it through that schedule, country bumpkin that I am at heart! But we hope to be down in London in February, and you've given me some ideas for places to visit. I also want to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden - wrong time of year, I know. Have you been there?

    1. Hello Linda,
      The secret is to use the tube, and walk everywhete in between very, very slowly. Also, most of the good bits of London are fairly condensed.