London & Scotland: Day Two - London

May 14th

 May 14th Pictures

I was the first to get out of bed around 9 a.m. We all slept very comfortably. The bed for Lisa and me is nice. I'll share the pictures of the apartment later. I walked up to Picadilly and bought sandwiches for us at a Pret. They were pretty good. After a quick lunch, Allison and I walked back and purchases Oyster Cards. The are Pikepasses for the Tube.

Around 1 p.m., I walked Allison and my mom a few blocks to the London bus tour. It's the one I have taken before, so I was comfortable letting them go alone. I did suggest they stop at St. Paul's along the way for a tour, which they did. I apparently didn't give them enough instructions, but that story is later. 

Lisa and I took the Tube to St. Paul's for a walking tour with London Walks. I have done all my walking tours in London with them exclusively and have always been very satisfied with the tours. I have done so many now hat I'm afraid I'm going to repeat one and not know until it is too late. 

Here is a description of the Blitz tour from the London Walk's brochure:

"The dome of St. Paul's seemed to ride the sea of fire like a great ship. Ludgate Hill was carpeted in hosepipes. Two hundred people died that night. On the north side of the cathedral 63 acres became a waste of smoking ash and rubble. Another 100 acres were completely devastated in other raids that autumn. At the finish, out of the City's tight-packed 461 acres, 164 were reduced to ruin. And this was just 1940. And now, over to Helena, who's going to take us through a great city in its finest and most desperate hour. Some of what you see and hear may be disturbing."

Our guide, Helena, did a wonderful job describing what it was like during The Blitz. Most of the tour was around St. Paul's. She talked about the destruction, the different types of bombs, the kind of shelters use, and the personal stories which made it all seem so real. But here's the highlight of the tour...

MANY times, Helena told us not to worry if the whole group didn't make it across the street at a stoplight. Well, crossing one very busy street, one of the ladies in our group tried to push her luck. Midway, a bicyclist almost hits her, she stumbles, then she does a face plant. Ouch. She is in the road and I help her to the sidewalk. Luckily, her fifty-year old daughter is with her. She has a nice gash above her right eye, and the blood is flowing.  Passerbys start calling the ambulance, and one is quickly on its way. The ambulance comes, she gets in, but Helena, always cheerful, finishes the tour with Lisa and me. Everyone else took off.

Lisa's Comment:  My gallant husband, Mark, stood in the street by the lady, as she was sitting down.  He stood there fending of speeding cars as they came speeding by. He wanted to make sure that the cars didn't hit the injured lady.  The lady is originally from OKC and had moved with her family to New Jersey and then to Dallas. Small world.


Helena, our guide
St. Paul's and a WWII memorial
Image of Winston Churchill in a sundial
St. Paul's down a streetway
A rose in bloom 
Lisa and I stopped at a Tesco to purchase baby oil (something had to be forgotten) and a Sprite for me. The Sprite is different here - a little more citrus-y. We braved the rush hour traffic on the Tube and arrived home around 5:30 p.m.. I expected Allison and Mom to be back, but they were nowhere in sight. About an hour later, they came rambling in. After they had visited St. Paul's, they got back on the bus. But this time, they got on the Red Line instead of the Yellow Line. "You are on the wrong bus." After realizing their mistake, they had to walk about 15 minutes to get back to where they wanted to be. All's well that ends well.  Mom  is now on a curfew.

Our order from Sainsbury arrive at 7:10 p.m.  We purchased food online and had it delivered for free. Very convenient.

To finish off the evening, we took a taxi to the Tower of London to watch the Ceremony of the Keys. No pictures are allowed, so I didn't take my camera. Here is a brief description from Wikipedia:

"Ceremonies known as the Ceremony of the Keys are held in at least two locations in the United Kingdom: London, and Edinburgh, as well as Gibraltar. Probably the best known such ceremony is the one that takes place every night at the Tower of London, and has done so in some form or another since the 14th century. At exactly 9.53pm, the Chief Yeoman Warder, dressed in Tudor Watchcoat, meets the Military Escort, made up of members of the Tower of London Guard. Together, the CYW and the Yeoman Warder 'Watchman' secure the main gates of the Tower. Upon their return down Water Lane, the party is halted by the sentry and challenged to identify themselves:

Sentry: Who comes there?
Chief Warder: The keys.
S: Whose keys?
CW: Queen Elizabeth's keys. 
S: Pass Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All's well.

Following this, the party makes its way through the Bloody Tower Archway into the fortress, where they halt at the bottom of the Broadwalk Steps. On the top of the Stairs, under the command of their Officer, the Tower guard present arms and the Chief Warder raises his hat, proclaiming:

CW: God preserve Queen Elizabeth.
S: Amen!

He then takes the keys to the Queen's House for safekeeping, while the Last Post is sounded."


All very impressive. We took a cab back and declared it was a good day in London.

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