London trip to the Canadian Embassy

The back of Buckingham Palace
The back of Buckingham Palace

A few months back I booked tickets to look around the newly refurbished Canadian Embassy, it was on a Friday so we had booked a day off. We got the first off peak train from Berkhamsted, which was packed, Helen reckons it was the first time she had had to stand on a train to London, thankfully it was a fast one so we only had to stand for 30 minutes. we arrived and there was lots of police with guns at Euston so we figured out which bus we needed then got a 73 to Buckingham palace.

We arrived at the palace a little early our tickets were for 12 o’clock so we headed away from the tourists and found a cafe full of builders where I had a cherry tart and an americano they were both very nice. When we went back to the palace there was band outside the palace playing the Happy chart hit from a couple of years ago. Back at entrance C we were allowed into an ante tent where we could wait for the security search. It was not a long wait and the security was swift unlike Luton Airport.

A room in the Canadian Embassy
A room in the Canadian Embassy

Suitably checked out we headed into the one way tour of the palace, for which a commentary iPod/MP3 player was provided. There were a lot of people going round so it was difficult to get close to the exhibits but we saw enough, and I felt that there was plenty to see, and would recommend it to anyone. Eventually we came to the back entrance where we walked out to an area with a cafe and the palace gardens. We were again in a one-way path to the exit, but we were now allowed to take photo’s. At the exit we signed up for the year long pass as I think it may be useful to return in the winter when there may not be so many people.

Just up the road from the exit we got a bus to Piccadilly then walked to but stopped off at an Italian restaurant chain called Prada where I had a half decent Pescatori Pizza and we shared a bottle of water. Whilst eating lunch I checked the tickets it was from 15:00 till 16:00 we both had it in mind that it was at 16:00. Our plans changed instead of going to an exhibition we thought we would be able to go straight from the exhibition and make it to Euston to get the last train before a wait till 19:00 would be required due to the off-peak tickets we had. We headed to Trafalgar Sq, but we were a little early (there is a theme emerging here), so we dropped into the special exhibition about how good Canada were at detecting Neutrinos and cosmic rays. We had to have our bags x-rayed again before we were allowed in.

Window at the top of the Canadian Embassy
Window at the top of the Canadian Embassy

The exhibition was small and we were finished by 14:40 and headed o the other entrance where we met a woman with a clipboard doing security, she was insistent that our names should be on the list before we could be let in, the trouble was the site where I booked the two tickets did not ask for may name it just used the account details I had previously given them. Helen was not on the list, I tried to explain that there was a column for quantity on the form on her clipboard but she was having none of it. A member of the embassy staff intervened and we were let in and the situation explained to the clipboard monitor. We were then scanned and x-rayed again to get into the building for a second time.

View from the top floor of the Canadian Embassy
View from the top floor of the Canadian Embassy

We sat around for a while and the same member of staff came over and started the tour by first giving us a bit of history abut the building which used to be a gentleman’s club before Canada even existed. The tour was very informative there was a lot of art to see, carpets made from art designs and furniture made from Canadian wood, there was at least one room for each Canadian province. We were lucky that there were no conferences or talks going on so we got to see all the rooms, including the ones on the top floor where we sampled honey harvested that day from the roof top bee hive and then we were allowed on the roof terrace to have a look at the view and take picture of Trafalgar Sq.

Once the tour was finished we headed straight for the tube which Helen had agreed to brave to save time. It was very hot but we did make the  1630 train got a seat and had time to stop for a bottle of water. We got home tired but felt we had had a great day out, it beats going to work!

The night before the Royal Wedding

Tents outside the abbey
Tents outside the abbey

I’m not really one to go crazy over royal weddings,  I was probably Elite on my BBC computer when the last one was on, but I do enjoy big events. I floated the idea of going up to London on the night before with Helen but she does not like big crowds. On Thursday morning I thought sod it I’ll leave work at 1600 (I had been there since 0730) and head up to the big smoke and have a look round. I might even link up with A&C who had decided to spend the night outside the Palace to ensure a view of “the kiss”.

I needed to get the car so I went home at lunch time and would you believe the Golden Plover I had see earlier on the way to work was still there so were 2 Curlew. Any way I got the car and grabbed my camera and went back to work. I managed to get to a mile stone in a project I am working on at work so did not feel guilty about skipping off.

I got to Berkhamsted, found a place to park and was on the 16:30 train to Euston. I went for a 30p pee, grabbed a sandwich and headed for the Northern line and headed south to Charring Cross. My plan was to head straight to Westmister Abbey then kind of follow the route back to Buckingham Palace where A&C were under canvas with the Canadians. There were plenty of people about but it did not seem more busy than usual.

At the abbey things were a bit tighter there were people camped out on the pavement with chairs and tents, it was hard to get by we had to go single file. I got a few pictures of the tent city, and then headed back to Parliament Square to get a picture of Big Ben surrounded by flags. From there I headed the park that is next to The Mall, there was not much space left at that point, you could have fitted the odd tent in but it was clear that if you wanted a space earlier Friday morning would be too late.

Parliament Square
Parliament Square

I wandered down The Mall taking in the party atmosphere. At the end opposite the palace were the usual media village that gets erected for these occasions. It was a very busy place lots of traffic, and people out to see what it was all about just like myself.

It did not take me long to track down A&C the Canadian Maples were easy to find. They seemed pleased to see me and it was good to catch up with the Canadians again. I was offered a seat and settled in for an hour or so chatting and watching the world go by. From time to time some darkened windowed cars went past often followed by Range Rovers. We had lots of enquiries by Canadians asking us from which province we came, they had never heard of Buckinghamshire province!

I made my excuses and headed back down The Mall, when I got to the entrance to Clarence House there were lots of police telling people to keep out of the road, it soon became clear that someone was going to leave or arrive. I hung about and to see what was going on. First a very large Mercedes pulled up with Canadian flags on the dash board, a police man stopped the car and spoke to the man in the from who wound down the double glazed window. The policeman then called back to base to report that the Canadian Governor was coming through, and should he be allowed. After a mexican stand off as the car edged towards the policeman waiting for instructions, he eventually go the OK and the policeman stood aside.

The media village
The media village

A few minutes later the police got a bit stricter and some more turned up then all of a sudden a car left, then a few minutes later another and then another, I tried to get videos of the cars going past but the results were not very impressive. I had enough of seeing large cars with darkened windows at that point so headed back to the tube station, but not before using a portaloo, I was not about to pay another 30p to pee. I was soon back on the tube and heading towards Euston.

I had just missed the 2024, but the next train was at 2034 so just had time to grab a snack before heading to platform 8. When I got there confusion reigned there were two trains on the same platform, one was the 2024, which had the 2034 queued up behind. It turned out I could get on either so I chose the front train, and was soon back in Berkhamsted, where I found the car a drove home. All in all a great adventure.