“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. (Samuel Johnson)

Bubble Day on Southbank
Bubble Day on Southbank

Yes, you can never be tired of London – you might get tired in London but that is a different matter.

Let’s have a weekend in London, take in a show and go to Buckingham Palace?  OK I says, how about the last weekend in September and I can go to see Watford FC as they are playing on Sunday afternoon.

Thus, Sally, Mel and I set off for London on a Friday night flight with friend Tracy and her son Luke. We had opted for a stay at the Premier Inn at Gatwick rather than in Central London due to the cost and the fact that we had an early return flight on the Monday morning.

Flight OK and check-in OK but Tracy & Luke’s room was not made up properly on arrival although was made up soon afterwards.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Saturday started with a train journey to Victoria on Southern Railway buying a one day Travelcard at Gatwick Airport station at a lovely cost of £10.70 each for the adults and £2.00 for Luke.

Exceptionally good value as the Travelcard allowed us travel across London including Bus and Tube.

Pre-booked a tour around Buckingham Palace whilst Mel went to Leicester Square to get some show tickets for tonight.

The queue to get the pre-booked tickets moved quite quickly but no photos allowed  throughout the tour even though there is some fantastic art work to see.

Buckingham Palace gardens
Buckingham Palace gardens

We had been to Buckingham Palace before for a Jubilee concert but that was only to the gardens, not to the state rooms.

With The Queen celebrating being the longest reigning UK monarch earlier in the month, a few extra photos and displays were evident but for me, the best show was the banqueting room, especially the brief video on how they set it up, an area of the tables that had only partially been set up and the modern little table lights, possibly one of the grandest rooms on view.

us on the verandah of Buckingham palace
us on the verandah of Buckingham palace

Looking down the line of chairs, there had obviously been considerable use of a tape measure, everything was immaculately in place equidistant from it’s neighbour.

Throughout the tour, we were aided by a personalised commentary on mini iPad type gadgets which worked well.  Exiting through the back into the gardens and a walk around the SW corner of the estate past the office I worked at between 1975 & 1979 – more memories.

Some rare plants and trees on view and a good photographic opportunity back to the Palace. Our ticket allows us a return visit free of charge within a year – sadly that might not be possible with our travel plans but we will see.

Hamley's Toy store in London
Hamley’s Toy store in London

Bus up to Oxford Circus for lunch after a stop at Hamley’s in Regent Street for Luke’s benefit. Hamley’s  is celebrating 225 years this year and often claims to be the largest toy shop in the world. So many kids thoroughly enjoy all the toys that are demonstrated and it’s carrier bags are one of the iconic sights of the London shopping scene. Yes, Luke bought some Star Wars figures so between us we had our iconic bag.

Posing on the Southbank by the Millennium Bridge
Posing on the Southbank by the Millennium Bridge

Lunch in John Lewis and another bus ride, this time to St Paul’s cathedral, for a walk over the Millennium Bridge to watch the boats pass under, the artisans on the South Bank – it seemed to be bubble day.

Bus back (No. 11) to Victoria taking in the sights of The Law Courts, Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square, The Cenotaph, Downing Street, The Houses of Parliament, “Big Ben”, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral all for free with our travelcard.

Now for an early dinner pre Theatre and we opted for a tube train ride  to Leicester Square with a change on the way. This was Tracy and Luke’s first tube train ride and it was an interesting experience for both, especially as both trains were somewhat crowded even for a Saturday in September.

Matilda at Cambridge Circus
Matilda at Cambridge Circus

Dinner in Pizza Express and all but me go to see Matilda in Cambridge Circus whilst I walked down to the Thames for some atmosphere taking in.

St Martin's in the Fields church window
St Martin’s in the Fields church window

I obviously missed a good musical but I was pleased with a few of my night time shots of the River Thames.

London at night time
London at night time

Taxi to Victoria and train back to a well earned sleep.

Modern architecture from the Thames
Modern architecture from the Thames

A later start on Sunday and we headed to Embankment for a River Boat trip to the O2 past many more London Landmarks – Millennium Wheel, OXO building, HMS Belfast, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard, The Gherkin, The Walkie Talkie Building, St Catherine’s dock, Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf and many many more.

Lunch in the O2 (I didn’t know they held Sunday church services there) before we head back on the tube to Central London.

Luke and I stayed on the tube and went out into the countryside to Watford for a football match whilst the girls shopped. Ireland were playing at Wembley in the Rugby World Cup so evidence of many green shirts but after Wembley Park, very few were travelling.

The Rookery End at Vicarage Road Football Ground (home of Watford FC)
The Rookery End at Vicarage Road Football Ground (home of Watford FC)

Not a good match from Watford’s point of view – they lost to Crystal Palace so at the end of the match we left quickly and managed to catch a tube back to Victoria.

Luke was fascinated with the tube and the football match, asking questions about many aspects – it was nice to  be able to answer them.

The tube back to London stopped at Wembley Park to pick up many Irish fans and again from there onwards, the tube was crowded all the way to Central London.

Back to Gatwick for another well earned sleep and an early start the following morning back to a Sunny and much quieter Isle of Man for a few weeks before an adventure to the USA.


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