Last weekend was the annual Lord Mayor’s Show in the City of London and Remebrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. I made it to the Lord Mayor’s Show last year. Pat and I had a fantastic spot right by Mansion House, the Lord Mayor’s residence. This year I decided to stake out a place by St. Paul’s. Wasn’t quite the same without the company of a well hat’d gentleman, but I soldiered on.
Got a nice spot right across from St. Paul’s where the new Lord Mayor’s coach would be turning in to the front of the cathedral. The parade started at 11 o’clock down the street at Guild hall and made it to St. Paul’s a few minutes after. The forecast for Saturday was heavy rain. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case. At first it wasn’t, but as the show rolled on, the heavy rain made it’s presence known. It was so bad I even put the camera away. Miraculously, just as the Lord Mayor’s Coach was arriving, the rain stopped and the clouds even broke up a bit. No soggy cloaks for the Lord Mayor while he get his blessing on the steps of the cathedral.
The procession was the usual mix of livery companies, military folk, schools, bands and various bits of the Household Division including the Household Division band at the head of the procession and the King’s Troop and Household Calvary escorting the carriage in addition to the City pikemen and oarsmen. The Oarsmen are a carry over from when the procession was done on the river Thames. The term “float” in context with a parade comes from that.
With the blessing done, the Lord Mayor hops back into his carriage and the procession carries on to the Royal Courts of Justice where he is sworn in, and then the whole thing turns around and goes back to Mansion House. While they did that, I went and grabbed some lunch and dried off. Hand driers are great for the cuffs of your jacket and jumper.
I still had some time to kill before the walking tours kicked off at 3pm so I thought I’d make and adventure out of going and buying some fresh batteries (curse you, dodgy rechargables!). For this I took the Tube (Circle Line no less) from Farringdon to Paddington. I figured I’d find somewhere around there to buy (cheap-ish and alkaline) batteries, and a Tesco Metro fit the bill perfectly. Had a small stroll down Praed Street before getting a bus by St. Mary’s Hospital back to the City. We hit a lot of traffic on Oxford Street and I was getting worried that I’d miss the walking tours.
I got off the bus at Oxford Circus and Tube’d it to Bank and made it to No. 1 Poultry in good time to join a tour. This year rather than a few different themed ones, all the tours were the same and were general City fare. I still picked up some new bits of information (like the factoid in my previous post). Always good fun. The tour ended near Blackfrair’s in time for the fireworks that were being set off from a barge on the Thames at 5 o’clock.
I scored a pretty good viewing spot on the north end of Blackfriar’s Bridge. The fireworks were incredible. Big huge bursts one after the other, sometimes there would also be streams of them shooting upwards from the barge while the big ones went pop overhead.
With the “ooh’s” and “ahhh’s” of the fireworks over, I made my way to Pimlico to check into my hostel for the night before heading back out for a bite to eat. It was still a bit early after that so I decided to ride the buses a bit, it’s like driving around London but without the bother of actually driving. I eventually ended by bus journey near Aldgate and walked to Aldgate station where I took the tube back to the hostel.
Was up early the next morning to walk down to Whitehall for the Remembrance Sunday ceremony. I wasn’t sure what time it started at, but I figured being there for 9:30 should be good. It was until as I was walking towards Whitehall and was surrounded by more and more people doing the same.
Queued up for the security check and once through was off to try to get a spot just to the north of the Cenotaph as that would be the best spot to see the Queen and all the happenings. I almost made it. Naturally that’s where everyone else wanted to be as well, so I ended up being just on the other side and in a big crowd of people. Oh well I though, here I am this will do. I had a hard time seeing anything, but that was true of most people who weren’t right at the front. It was still nice to be there and I could hear all the music just fine. Had a nice Australian chap to my left and an English bloke to my right who were both nice. Not as nice was the really tall guy who ended up in front of me who was trying the film the whole thing, so his arm was constantly aloft. Never fails. I need to start travelling with a large phone book to stand on. None the less, the ceremony was lovely.
After the ceremony I headed north to Camden where I got some lunch at the one of the markets. The markets really need to stop catching fire. There was another fire since I was last there very near where the big blaze was last winter. That means more shops being moved around. It’s a tricky enough place to navigate without having everything moving about. Does give it a certain charm though. Spent the afternoon milling about there and the west end.
For dinner I went to Fishcotheque on Waterloo Road for very yummy cod and chips. Some may recall my somewhat disastrous first visit there a couple of years ago. I can thankfully say it’s never happened since. My tummy on a whole has behaved itself a bit more since then.
From there it was off to the Barbican to check out the film Of Time and The City. Any time I’ve been to the Barbican Cinema, the movie I’m there to see has been in in the main cinema one. This one was in cinema three. Which I’m pretty sure I walked about a mile through glass corridors and hallways to get to. Made an interesting journey to the cinema at any rate and got to see more of the bowels of the Barbican. I enjoyed the film as well.
A funny thing happened on the way out of the Barbican Centre. I stepped outside to the dark court yard where there is a large pond just on the opposite side. I started walking towards the stairs to the walk ways. Once on the stairs, there was the loudest duck call that I’ve ever heard. You know the sound they make that sounds like they’re laughing at you? That’s the one. When I was younger and my parents and I lived near Ellen’s Creek in Charlottetown. The ducks there always had that sort of timing where just as I was leaving or coming home, they would “laugh” at me. My dad and I would say the ducks were mocking me again. The Ellen’s Creek ducks have been spreading the word.
Off to King’s Cross to catch a train home to Cambridge. The journey was uneventful enough, aside from being sat behind some very loud and excitable French tourists. As the train neared Cambridge we all started getting ready to alight. Just as the train pulled up to the platform and just moments before the doors opened, the heavens opened up and there was the biggest down pour of rain I had seen in a long time. Running from the down, down the platform and into the station I felt like I was being lightly punched by each rain drop that hit me. When I got into the station I realised that I was drenched to the bone. Everyone huddled inside the station, waiting for it to subside a bit before venturing out to cars, taxies and buses.
The rain gave everyone in the bus shelter something to talk about. Weather is one of the great uniting points of discussion here. I was very glad to get home, dried off and changed into warm dry clothes. Still, the rest of the weekend was worth it.