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poking around Londontown...

Monday, July 11, 2016
...on Wednesday. The hotel provided breakfast, and my brain was befuddled, so I prodded them into getting up and starting a day of seeing the sights. We'd decided on a two day pass for the tour bus, and wanted to be sure we got full value. So headed for the nearest stop on big Red Bus tour. That we eventually discovered included both a night tour on a circle route around the inner city, showing a variety of parks, shopping areas, historic sites.  As well as the opportunity to get on a passenger ferry as part of the Big Red bus tour that makes several stops on the Thames, taking passengers down to Greenwich and back up to a stop adjacent to Parliament building.

So yeah, we did all that. Getting our full value from the cost of the two day tickets for the Big Red. Riding in big loops along the city streets, hopping on and off at various stops, listening to the recorded tour with complimentary ear buds as the bus rolled through shopping areas, residential districts. With the disembodied voice describing points of interest: well known commercial/retail streets, fashion district, historic homes, statues of war heroes.

We lucked up on a walking tour that took us to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. How cool is that? Yeah, pretty much! The personable guide walked us to where the guys in the red coats and big beaver hats troop out, with a small accompaniment of musicians, to march down the street to the Palace. Where they are met by the fresh troops in their own beaver hats and red uniform coats to swap out duties for the next shift. Really impressive. As was the Queen Victoria statue in the roundabout in front of the Palace.

The city has lots of beautiful, well maintained green space. Public parks for everyone to enjoy. My cousin commented during our stay with her that the English do not expect fair weather for picnic-ing. She said you can see families out for the day, sitting on the blanket enjoying their basket lunch holding umbrellas in a downpour. They apparently continue with the stiff upper lip, in the 'Carry On' mode, regardless of inclement circumstances. Unwilling to let a deluge alter their plans. The parks we saw when atop the Big Red were spacious, neatly kept and trimmed. But even more attractive than parks, though some had beautiful plantings, of perennials and roses, were flowers on the streets.

It's not likely the gorgeous hanging baskets were put out just because they knew we were coming over, or even to dress up in anticipation of the Wimbledon matches, going on during our stay. But I assume always planted with seasonal decor., to add some bright color to the town year round. In addition to the many window boxes, planters hanging from facades and huge pots filled with colorful annuals at entry ways throughout the city.  I guess all those colorful planters, hanging from lightposts, on buildings, at doorways, all over every town, would have to be one of the high points for me, the plant lover.

You will be as surprised as I am, now that I think of it, to discover I made no effort whatsoever to smuggle any agricultural products back into the US. I did not even beg to be taken to a garden shop or plant store while we were there... I must be --- what's a good British expression? Daft? Bonkers?

Wednesday, July 5, 2016

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