Saturday, September 14, 2013

Queen’s Greatest Hit?

Today, we're heading for the capital to take a look round Buckingham Palace! It's our second visit, but a first for Roger, Jane and Oliver.

Roger has organised everything - food, taxis and rail tickets. So we just needed to take the short drive to Harlow Town railway station to get us to Liverpool Street.

Harlow Town isn’t he most beautiful of stations and we all felt distinctly underdressed as we looked around at others on the platform - most were sporting a lager can each! How tasteful!!!!
Who me?

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The Splendour of Harlow Town Station

After a short wait for the train, we were soon on-board, and in London. We found a cab very quickly and headed for the Queen’s greatest hit - Buckingham Place. As we got closer, we realised there was obviously a big event about to happen/had happened/planned for tomorrow, as the cab couldn’t get anywhere near ‘Buck House’, and we were left with a brisk canter to our destination in time for our timed ticket at 1.45pm.
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Better Architecture!

I’d already read that you weren’t allowed to take photographs in the Palace, but I hadn’t appreciated that it applied to the queuing line - and as I pressed the shutter, a loud voice from behind shouted: ‘Stop that!’ So, in  preparation for my extended stay in the Tower, here’s the shot - hardly a national security risk, I feel! As we waited for my arrest, we were reminded in a rather strict fashion that ‘mobile phones all electronic equipment should be turned off and under no circumstances should anyone try to take photographs in the Palace’.

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This photograph is banned!

And, as the banned photo shows, in spite of a timed ticket, there were quite a few people waiting… and waiting… and waiting. Whoever thought of opening the Palace to the public was a master-stroke. Based on the people queuing here, and queuing for tickets-on-the-day, this must generate a massive income!!

After about 20 minutes, the queue started moving, leading us to another queue for the airport type security check. In spite of the pretty clear instructions, the security staff were still finding mobile-phones in some pockets giving the alarms numerous opportunities for a good test!

Finally, we were in! A nifty MP3 player gave us all the information we need to know, and it was a really good experience. Although we’d been before, this visit was somewhat special as the theme was the Queen’s Coronation. To see the robes up-close was a real treat - they looked brand new and seeing old footage of the Coronation itself allowed us to see the robes ‘in action’. Brilliant!

I guess the tour lasted about an hour-and-a-half leading finally to the Palace Gardens where a Tea Shop had been sited. It was heaving, and when I spoke to the member of staff on crowd control, she commented that this was a QUIET day. With slices of cream-cake at 4.75 a portion, you didn’t need sat-nav to know you were in London (Kerrchinnnggg!).

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Tea Shop on the left under the white canopies

All-in-all, in spite of my moaning about the prices, it was a really good day. There was so much to see inside and it felt like a real treat to be able to see all the Coronation clothing close-up. After this season’s opening, these will all go back into storage, and so this was truly a unique experience.

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Roger and Jane looking Regal

After a quick look round the Souvenir shop (Buckingham Palace oven glove anyone?), it was a quick taxi ride back to Liverpool Street station and then onto Roger, Jane and Oliver’s for Dinner.

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Back to Reality - Liverpool Street Station

It was Spanish-themed evening - and it was all delicious (I think I ate to much!). At about 9pm, completely stuffed, we said our goodbyes and headed home.

It’s been a great day in London soaking-up the splendour of Buckingham Palace and although the weather wasn’t up to much, it didn’t matter as most of the time we were inside. I guess you could say, today has been the Queen’s greatest hit!
Winking smile