Tuesday was our last full day in London, we were getting the train home at 9 am on Wednesday morning so that I would have time to do all the washing and shopping to get my son ready for school on Thursday. Where are we going to go next? Buckingham Palace. I’ve always wanted to see the inside of Buckingham Palace and this year I actually looked up how much it would cost to go in. Yes, on the face of it it’s a lot of money (£19 for adults and £17.50 for students) but then you find out that, like the London Transport Museum, if you get your ticket stamped and sign it you can go back at any time in the following year (as long as they are open, this year was 27th July to 29th September). I can get back to London and Buckingham Palace before 3rd September 2014.
It was worth it. There is an audio tour which takes at least an hour and a half to get round, depending on how long you spend looking at the rooms/exhibits. The display of the Coronation outfits was breathtaking. Included in the exhibition was a letter from one of the suppliers explaining that although funds were tight, they could still produce a high quality dress and suggesting solutions on how to reduce costs. The Coronation dress was stunning. The Queen was, maybe still is, tiny! The waist of the dress was so small and the shoulder of it came to lower than my shoulder height and it was in a case which was about 4-6″ off the floor, I’m 5′ 6″. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the State Rooms but you can find a photo of the dress on the Royal Collection website. After going round the State Rooms, we decided to stop in the Tea Rooms for a sandwich and tea. The prices were reasonable and the sandwich was actually a *huge* baguette. I cut them in half and they still wouldn’t fit properly on the plate!
On the way to Buckingham Palace we saw the band going in to St James Palace to get ready for the Changing of the Guard. We didn’t see it as we were waiting to go round the State Rooms at the time of the Changing of the Guard at 11 am.
While we were there, it would have been silly not to go and visit the Royal Mews as well. I mean, who doesn’t want to see spectacular coaches and cars? Again, there is an audio tour which tells you all about the different coaches and also has first hand accounts of different events and jobs by the people who do them. If you want to get a job there, good luck! It seems to me that it is something that you are born into as most of the accounts were given by men whose fathers and grandfathers had done their job before them. The main attraction is, of course, the State Coach which was built in 1762.
After the Royal Mews, my feet were killing me so we decided to wander down to the Embankment to see the Houses of Parliament, take a picture of Big Ben (yes, I know Big Ben is the bell, not the tower/clock but who would understand if I wrote “take a picture of Elizabeth Tower”?). As it was our last night in London, we had already decided that we were going to try Garfunkels and went in to the restaurant on the Strand. As it was before 5 pm when we were seated (we sat down at 4.55 pm), we were able to take advantage of their lunch menu which meant that we could get 3 courses for £10.95 and free refills on soft drinks, bargain! The food was good – my husband and son had salad as their starter and I ordered a garlic bread that we could share; we all had cheeseburgers and fries for our main course, yum; pudding was apple crumble for my son and I and cinnamon waffle for my husband.
After dinner, we took a slow walk back to the hotel. My feet had recovered enough that we didn’t need to go on the tube or work out which bus went to Kings Cross. On the way up the Strand, and whichever roads we also walked up, we passed a lot of the theatres and I said that I would love to go to see any number of the shows. My husband asked why I didn’t just book something and we could all go? I said, because most of the shows I want to see he wouldn’t. Solution? I’m going to take my son in October, on my own 🙂 Planning the next trip now.