The sun was out and the squirrels were squirrelling in the trees on Friday morning as we began our London walkabout.
Jack and I met Tiernan and my friend Brigette in Heathrow airport the afternoon before. I was held up at immigration and was asked a lot of questions about Tiernan and when we are getting married – despite legitimately holding an Ancestry Visa which is in no way affected by partnership. The officer need to ask his superior before giving me my stamp. I assumed he was new. I mean, if I’m entitled to a visa in my own right, why would I go through Tiernan?
Safe to say we got through. Back to the squirrels. There he is:
Our hostel was in Tavistock Road – the Generator Hostel. We had a private room with two bunk beds. For two huge lads and myself, it was pretty cramped. It was also stifling as summer has finally come to the UK.
Generator has this useless security system as well where you need to show your room key card to get back in at night. Not your name or personal ID. Your room key. Your room with no identifying features at all. If someone robbed me and took my key card, they could present it and walk right in to the hostel. That is also by the by.
So, we walked from the hotel, passed Regent’s Park, down to the Strand and along to Trafalgar Square. This was the first point of interest on our DIY walking tour.
There was a piper busking on the square and you could tell no one had expected it to be so sunny. The sun meant there were horrific crowds everywhere. So we didn’t go in to the National Gallery or anything. We just spent about half an hour lazing around, taking photos. Tiernan was complimented on how well he scaled Nelson’s Column to get to the Lion.
Next we walked through Admiralty Arch and made our way up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
The Mall was lined with huge Union Flags in honour of the Queen’s official birthday. The Trooping of the Colour was to follow on Saturday. We probably should have stuck around for that, but we had other plans that day. It was still interesting to see the fences being arranged and the large cameras being erected along the path the Queen would take to Horse Guard’s Parade, which is at the opposite end of the Mall from the Palace. The Trooping of the Colour was ordered to mark the sovereigns birthday every year since 1760.
We finally made it through the crowds to the front of Buckingham Palace where the Queen was in residence. You can tell by the immense Royal Standard (flag) at the top of the Palace.
Jack and Tiernan pretended to scale the gates. We visited the Portrait Gallery shops and the Victoria Memorial, all the staples of a visit to Buckingham Palace. We couldn’t tour the Palace as it is only open to tours in August and September.
Instead, we went in search of some lunch!