Rick really wanted to see the Goring Hotel -- this is one that holds a warrant to the Queen and the spot where Kate Middleton and her family stayed the night before the Royal Wedding. So we took the tube to Victoria station and en route stopped by Buckingham Palace.
The Queen was in residence, we noted, by the flying of the Royal Standard.
No balcony appearances, though. Oh well...
And alas, no guard to change. We'd seen that before but it's always fun. Only a guard walking about.
But then we heard sounds from down the way and soon a parade of sorts.
It wasn't a long parade... now you see it, now you don't!
But it was followed by the Royal Pooper Scooper. Certainly a nice touch, especially for the tourists!
And shortly after that a carriage drove through the gates. We weren't sure who they were (no one turned about or waved) but we later learned they were either from Malta or Bulgaria. Both attended the palace that day, according to the Court Circular.
"His Excellency Mr. Joseph Cole was received in audience by The Queen today and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Commission as High Commissioner for the Republic of Malta in London. Her Excellency Mrs. Jacqueline Zaba Nikiema was received in audience by Her Majesty and presented the Letters of Recall of her predecessor and her own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from Burkina Faso to the Court of St. James's."... The President of the Republic of Bulgaria and Mrs. Radeva visited The Queen this afternoon. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were represented by the Lord Taylor of Holbeach (formerly Lord in Waiting to The Queen) at the Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of the Baroness Jowell (formerly Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) which was held in Southwark Cathedral this morning. The Prince of Wales was represented by the Earl of Rosslyn. The Duke of York was represented by Sir Andrew Cahn. The Princess Royal was represented by the Lord Coe. Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy was represented by Mrs. Peter Afia."
(Which sounds to me like all the A-list were being represented by someone else, with the exception of the Queen to the fellow from Malta. But what do I know? Maybe they always have stand-ins.)
It was a short walk to the Goring from there. We contemplated visiting the Royal Mews but settled for the gift shop instead. It was a lovely walk, perfect sunny day.
It's an impressive hotel, located a few blocks from the Palace.
I have to say I loved their flowers.
And no one could say they didn't have their British spirit on display.
The Royal Warrant was on display, too.
Then we went back past the palace and had a lovely walk through Green Park. Which was really more yellow on this October day.
It was time for a foot break (pun not intended, since it wasn't actually broken!) and we enjoyed watching people in the park.
And pigeons too!
I've said it before and will again -- the Brits are wonderful with their green space, which certainly makes massive cities much more inviting -- especially for those who aren't able to drive out to the country so easily!
We hopped the tube and headed to Sir John Soane's House. This is one of those little gems that you sometimes see in guidebooks, but I don't think it gets the press it deserves. They didn't allow pictures within so these are from my postcards or sourced from wikipedia.
In 1792, Soane, an architect who built the Bank of England and was responsible for modifications to the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster, along with many other known buildings. He bought, demolished and rebuilt three adjoining houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. The buildings, joined together, would be not only his home but an office and exhibit space for his many collections. This is a view of the gallery.
Soane was a serious collector of many things but particularly art and antiquities. He kept expanding the house, rebuilding parts and opening up spaces to give him more room for his displays, eventually opening his home to his students at the Royal Academy to assist in their studies.
I wish I could have shown you the sarcophagus of Egyptian king Seti I. It was enormous and housed in the home's crypt. (How many homes do you know with a crypt?) His art collection included works by Turner and Canaletto, among others, and Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress."
"The Rake's Progress" is a series of eight paintings that are kept behind a closed panel but opened to guests at a given time. We were lucky to arrive shortly before the opening and it was quite magnificent.
But it was also a personal home as well, and the rooms reflect a warmth and charm, despite the size.
To be honest, I didn't want to leave his library.
The home was his gift to the country, negotiated through an Act of Pariliament in 1933 to preserve the house and collection, exactly as it would be at the time of his death and to keep it open and free. The museum is described in the Oxford Dictionary of Architecture as "one of the most complex, intricate, and ingenious series of interiors ever conceived.
And then, a walk back to the tube, a short rest and time for that St. Martin's in the Fields concert I wrote about the other day. A long, good day -- but the next would be our last in this wonderful city.
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