Tuesday, 1 November 2016

London, Day Three

Our third full day in London began with us going for the walking tour to Buckingham Palace. For that, we had to meet at the Charing Cross Road visitor centre to await the tour guide and other tourists. Can't remember what his name was, but he was good. Unfortunately, he walked at breaknecking speeds and we had a hard time catching up with him. If not for him waving his beret above his head, we wouldn't know which direction to follow!


Catching a breather near Trafalgar Square. The Japan fair was over and not surprisingly, most of the crowd too.
I could have sworn that the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation lion looks about the same as this.

The office of Tourism Malaysia in London.

Admiralty Arch. I hear the central gates open only for royalty to pass through. Plebeians have to drive through the side gates.

Hello there, Horatio. How's the weather from up there?

The first of many parades which we saw that morning. This one's on horseback and so, it is something more special than to watch soldiers march.

The first of several marching bands too.

So here we are, after walking down the Mall, we have arrived at the Victoria Monument.

We asked and we got it. A snapshot with one of the mounted policemen.

We weren't the only tourists outside the gates of Bukingham Palace.

Victoria, oh, Victoria, when can you be more cheerful?

The Mall doesn't look too short a road.


The St James's Park.

Pelicans at play, pelicans at work.


The grounds of the Horse Guards Parade.


By the time we walked back to Trafalgar Square from Horse Guards Parade, the weather had turned and for the first time since our arrival in London, experienced a drizzle that caused everybody to try and seek shelter elsewhere. We chose the National Gallery as the gates were the closest to us. We were wondering whether to go in and have a look around when we chanced upon their restaurant's menu. Fish pie. Traditional English fish pie! We were excited. Several months ago, we had attempted to make our own fish pie here in Penang, using a time-tested Hainanese recipe that a friend had shared with us. Now, we faced a choice of ordering fish pie here in England. Without a second's hesitation, we sat ourselves in the restaurant and ordered it.

Traditional English fish pie. Other than a mixture of mashed potatoes and onions to cover the top, the pie tasted very similar to the one cooked by our Hainanese friend. But we'll have to share our discovery with him, no doubt about that!

Our hunger satiated, now we could spend time exploring the National Gallery. Here, we have Saw See admiring a portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children, completed in 1547 by the 16th Century Italian artist, Lorenzo Lotto, who lived from about 1480 till 1556 or 1557. This family, seated around a table, hung with an expensive Turkish carpet, was probably that of the artist's Venetian landlord. Lotto asked for payment of 50 ducats for this commission, on account of the fine colours and high quality; but he received only 20.

As an example of another painting we saw, this one was called The Virgin and Child, painted in 1527 by Jan Gossaert who died in 1532. The Child's outstretched arms prefigure the Crucifixion. The golden letters on the stone arch were taken from the biblical passage where God spoke to the serpent after the Fall (Genesis 3:15). The words referred symbolically to Christ's triumph over evil.

Note the air vent on the floor from where the air-conditioned air flowed out.


Emerging from the National Gallery back into Charing Cross Road, I had one small indulgent to make: a visit to Foyles which was once reputed to be the biggest bookstore in the world. I wonder whether they still are in the age of the Internet. Anyway, the shelves were filled with every conceivable book title, such as these which I found on the fourth floor of the building.


By the time we emerged from Foyles, our feet were getting tired again and so, we decided to re-board the Hop On Hop Off bus and see where it would take us. The one that arrived next at the bus stop took in the direction of the Tower of London again but instead of crossing the Tower Bridge or London Bridge, it took us across the Southwark Bridge, skirting around the southern shores of the Thames - the London Eye looked so enticing from close up - before crossing the Westminster Bridge back into more familiar territory. Somehow, we found ourselves at the Hyde Park Corner station from where we started walking towards Harrods. Saw See insisted on stepping foot into Harrods for the ultimate experience, even though there was nothing to buy there (but we did buy something at the end).


No comments: