Shut Up and Guard With Me

Today we saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and we laughed and laughed and laughed. Not because the ceremony itself is funny, but because the Band of the Guards Division played “Shut Up and Dance” at about half tempo. I couldn’t even sing it that slow, never mind dance to it (you can’t sing or dance even at regular speed), but boy were we amused.

Here’s a hint for Americans: The food hall at Harrod’s is NOT a food court. Yes, there are restaurants, but it’s more a food market. So, we went into Harrod’s and walked out of Harrod’s. Anyway, we went to Harrod’s as everyone should so you can feel not-so-posh. Then, wimg_20180604_125535503_lle decided a pub was more our speed and we headed over to the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street. If it’s good enough for Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it’s good enough for me.img_20180604_124145987_hdr Jake had a burger and I went with the fish and chips. So good, but I think I will need to detox with a week of salad when I get back. I’m not sure even the mushy peas count as a vegetable. (Sam Smith’s!  My favourite brewery….The pride of Tadcaster…not like that nasty John Smith’s (boo!) – see their history).

Next, we were off to the Tower of London, because this is the ultimate Be A Tourist week. For me, the best part of everything we’ve done is the architecture combined with the history. We took the entertaining tour from a Yeoman Warder–you know them as beefeaters. The Queen does not mess around; in order to be a beefeater, you must have at least 22 years of distinguished military service, but then you get to wear a wacky costume and live on the grounds of the Tower of London. Funniest moment: Someone was walking on the grass. A beefeater yelled at them to get off and then said under his breath but loud enough for us to hear, “Ah, so what, it’s just queens were executed on that land.”

Not All Went Well, But All Was Well

Today (that’s yesterday, oops! left this as a draft) was our big day to take the double-decker tour bus–or “The Beast” as our guide John called it, to check some touristy places off the list. First was Windsor Castle. We would get in and out and have plenty of time for Bath and Stonehenge. Except … London morning img_20180601_110045390_hdrtraffic happened followed by an unusually large crowd. One John said he had only seen once before. After leaving London at 8:30, we barely got onto the grounds on time to see the changing of the guard and a rare bit of sunshine.

From there we wandered through St. George’s Chapel, which looked so familiar. Hmmmm, where have I seen it recently? We spent a while gawking at the grandeur and then took a quick spin through the State Apartments. Very ornate, very dark, very stuff, very English. Then we raced back to the bus for the two-hour drive to Bath. We have been having technological difficulties all trip and today was no different: promised WiFi on the buss didn’t materialize and Jake’s international phone plan was not working. We were forced to watch the countryside go by. What a shame.img_20180601_151515867_hdr

Bath also had to be quick since we were behind schedule and had hit a bit more traffic. Eighty minutes was just enough time to wander the Roman Baths and eat a Cornish pasty. Jake asked me if mine was seasoned. I said: “It’s English food. Of course not!” Hours later, the pasties were still sitting in our bellies. That’s a lot of dough. Otherwise, Bath looked beautiful and I wish we had had more time to wander, but Stonehenge last visitor call is 5 p.m., so off we went.

Our last mishap was something we thought we’d see more of: rain. It poured through the Salisbury Plains right outside Stonehenge. As the bus splashed through puddles and sprayed pebbles, we crossed our fingers and hoped for clearing weather. Luck was with us. It wasn’t sunny (was there English sun back in 3,000 BCE? How did those ancient astromoners know where to put the stones when there’s never any sun?) When we got to Stonehenge–which last time I visited was just a bunch of rocks but now has a visitor center and a bus to take you from there to the site–it was barely sprinkling.img_20180601_171059905_hdr About 5 minutes into our audio tour, it got windy, and then the skies opened up. I had a little rain jacket and hiking pants, so I got soaked, but not nearly as soaked as Jake, who was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. I used it as an excuse to buy him a fabulous souvenir shirt. It was a wet bus ride back, but all in all another great day.