My oh my, it’s good to be back in England again. London has changed a bit since my last visit fifteen years ago, but it’s still the great city it’s always been. I have to make a point of visiting the U.K. again during my second European Tour in 2017. I really feel comfortable and right at home in this country. My hostel is right in the middle of the action in Soho so I can walk to Picadilly Circus by way of the great shopping scene of Regent Street. Many wonderful activities await me and given my limited time I’m not going to get bogged down in museums. Let’s get started with a quick flyby of the West End starting with the venerable Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace – There is a great story about an Irishman who snuck int0 Buckingham Palace in the dead of night through the sewer system, and then proceeded to take a tour of the hundreds of rooms in the palace without being detected. His tour brought him to the Queen’s bedroom where he sat and simply watched the monarch as she slept. She eventually awoke in the middle of the night to find the stranger sitting at the foot of her bed. Her majesty kept her cool and chatted calmly with the intruder until he requested a cigarette. Then she simply picked up the phone by her bedside and requested a smoke for the man in her bedroom.
Needless to say, he didn’t get a chance to enjoy the cigarette and was quickly carted off to prison. It turns out that the land underneath Buckingham Palace had been established as public property or some such thing for some reason which escapes me. Probably tax purposes. The upshot of it is that the man could not be charged with trespassing, and since he had not misbehaved during his visit he walked away scot-free.
Getting started on the walking tour with absolutely beautiful weather.
Royal Guard – Just happened to be in the neighborhood!
A Tudor building built back in the days of Henry the Eighth. This is where some of the Queen’s guard hang out when she is in town.
THE ATHENAEUM CLUB – This neoclassical building is one of the greatest gentlemen’s clubs in London where one of the requirements of membership is an exceptional achievement. This bars membership to those who are merely wealthy. Members include many Nobel prize winners, as well as Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin.
NOSE – Attached to the concrete of this arch by a street artist is a nose making a statement about the CCTV cameras all over London. He is simply saying that the government has their noses in everybody’s business. These were pretty much all removed except for this one because the Queen’s horse guard used to like to touch it for good luck so here it remains.
NAVAL INTELLIGENCE BUILDING – This building was covered with ivy to camouflage it from bombing during the Blitz. Ian Fleming, the man who created James Bond, worked in this building during the war.
Another angle of the Naval Intelligence Building.
10 DOWNING STREET – Heavily guarded and fenced in
WAR MEMORIAL – The Glorious Dead
WINCHESTER ABBEY – Charles Darwin is Buried Here
Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament
BIG BEN – Actually Big Ben is not the clock, it is the enormous bell inside! It’s cracked like our Liberty Bell. Luckily Guy Fawkes was unsuccessful in his treasonous plot.
WINSTON CHURCHILL – One of the architects of Britain’s finest hour.
ST. JAMES PARK – Sat in the park chatting with a German lady for about an hour before heading to Hamleys toy store to pick up a few things.
ST. JAMES PARK
HAMLEYS – The Greatest Toy Store In The World
Since the closing of FAO Schwartz toy store in New York, their claim is surely warranted. I had a wonderful time shopping in this place. It is a place for kids of all ages, and I do mean all ages. The employees really get into the theater of demonstrating toys throughout the store and are clearly enjoying their jobs. The atmosphere is infectious, and I recommend a visit to their store on Regent Street to anyone visiting London whether you’re picking up something for a child or returning to your own childhood with a 50th. Anniversary James Bond Aston Martin Corgi toy car with ejector seat, machine guns, and retractable bulletproof shield.
Picking out some toys for my granddaughter to be.
RONNIE SCOTT’S – One of the greatest jazz clubs in the world – A fantastic performance!
LEICESTER SQUARE – Hippodrome Casino
THE ODEON – Saw a movie that set me back $30!
SUNNY AFTERNOON – Based on the Kinks careers and written by Ray Davies. When they played “Waterloo Sunset” I was moved to tears and had no kleenex to mop it all up.
EAST END WALKING TOUR
DIRTY DICK’S – Nathaniel Bentley had been considered quite a dandy in his youth, but following the death of his fiancee on their wedding day he refused to wash for the rest of his life and lived out his life in squalor. He essentially became a celebrity of dirt and filth and is considered as a possible inspiration for Mrs. Havisham in Dickens’ Great Expectations. I have learned that perhaps my tour guide exaggerated about some of the things that enhanced the interior of the pub. I have found no evidence of Mr. Bentley’s filthy garments being nailed to the ceiling or the rats nailed to the walls that he claimed. It seems that there were a few mummified cats that occupied the place, however, and cobwebs were to be found everywhere.
THE GHERKIN – This is the name of that pickle shaped building in the background. Also don’t miss that hot dog toting sculpture on the right.
Roman Burial Site – Odd Sculptures on Display
THE NINE BELLS – Renamed the Ten Bells, this pub was the place of business of the second prostitute murdered by Jack the Ripper. The church next door had nine bells and then added another.
Just the sort of place that the Ripper would prowl around.
Narrow street which would have been dark when the Ripper was lurking about because there was quite a distance between the gas lamps which didn’t give off all that much light anyway. People were staying home, and crime dropped considerably in the East End.
Preserved Wall – The building was destroyed in the Blitz, but the wall remained standing. Being a protected building, the piece of wall was incorporated into the new structure.
Jack the Ripper’s fifth victim kept a room here.
East End Street Art – Three prominent street artists.
You’ll see another piece by this famous artist in Camden later so see if you can spot it.
A nice impressionist artwork.
This artist is known for doing pieces of his daughter. The owner of this doorway is trying to preserve the image with a piece of plexiglass.
EAST END ALLEYWAY
THE KRAY BROTHERS – Notorious Twin Gangsters of the East End – Street Art of a new movie with Tom Hardy which sheds new light on the ruthless twins.
The artist donated his own car for this installation which is being crushed by the winged bit
Largest Artwork Done By The Artist Space Invader – Also Pink Pound Coin Muncher On RT.
One Of The Earliest Banksy’s – In a plexiglass box to prevent tampering and theft.
Plexiglass Preserved Banksy Signature
THE COMMITMENTS – My second musical this trip based on the film and rollicking good time.
Arriving In Camden’s Sunday’s Carnival Atmosphere
Awesome T-shirts Galore
Crazy Building Facades
STABLES MARKET – CAMDEN