Happy New Year to all of you! I am looking forward to sharing lots of great blogs with you in 2017.
Over the holidays, I enjoyed a wonderful and very interesting vacation with my family - we decided to spend a week visiting London and France. As you may know, I love to travel and now it's a whole new experience seeing places with my grandchildren, Jude and Truman. Over the next few days, I will share photos of some of the sites we saw during our journey.
Please enjoy this first post about our trip to London and be sure to check my Instagram page @MarthaStewart48 for more photos.
Jude and Truman are always so excited to travel. These Rimowa multi-wheel titanium suitcases made perfect rides for them when moving through the crowded airports. http://www.rimowa.com/
Here is Kevin sitting in a business class seat aboard the Virgin Atlantic plane – the seats turn into long fully flat beds.
Jude and Truman had their own seats, but loved visiting their mommy. Here they are crunching Alexis during a nap.
This is the bar on the plane – the children enjoyed some tea with honey. At four and five years of age, they are excellent travelers.
One of our first stops was the Guards Memorial, also known as the Guards Division War Memorial. It has five life-size bronze figures representing the Foot Guards Regiments – Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Welsh and Irish. It commemorates the war dead from the Guards Division during World War I and all the members of the Household Division who died in World War II and other conflicts since 1918.
There are five wreaths at the foot of the memorial – one in front of each of the bronze statues.
This one reads in Latin, “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”, meaning “No one provokes me with impunity”.
Both Jude and Truman were very interested in looking at the memorial wreaths and learning about the monument.
This is the fourth wreath in front of the bronze Welsh soldier. The Guards Memorial was designed by H. Chalton Bradshaw.
Each has the Flanders poppies, Papaver rhoeas, in the decorations. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as an international symbol of Remembrance.
Life Guards have stood guard at Horse Guards, the official entrance to St. James and Buckingham Palace, since the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660. There are two main groups of guards – those without horses are called foot guards.
Guards on horseback are part of the Household Cavalry. These poor guys remain still even in the most frigid weather- and it was very cold- in the low 30s while we were in London.
The helmet does not look very warm.
Here I am with one of the Queen’s Guards. The Life Guards, although not the oldest, is the most senior regiment of the British Army. They were formed by Prince Charles, later King Charles II, when he was exiled at the end of the civil war from loyal followers who traveled with him to Holland.
And here is my beautiful daughter, Alexis, standing next to the Guard, who did not move one bit while we were taking these quick snaps.
This is the Old Admiralty House at London’s Whitehall, built by Thomas Ripley in the 1720s. Its rear facade looks out over the Horse Guards Parade and Changing of the Guard.
The Life Guards who always ride black horses, wear long red cloaks with blue collars during inclement weather.
During the Changing of the Guard, the Old Guard forms up on the North side of the enclosure in Horse Guards. When the New Guard arrives the trumpeters of both the Old and New Guard sound a Royal Salute. When both Guards have formed, the Corporal Major, and the sentries of the first relief of the New Guard leave for the Guard Room. When the Old Guard departs the trumpeters again sound a Royal Salute. The entire change takes about 45-minutes.
These are the Blues and Royals, or Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons, part of the Household Cavalry. During poor weather, they wear long blue cloaks with red collars. Except for the Trumpeters who ride greys, the Blues and Royals ride black horses.
Here are Kevin, Jude and Truman at the Horse Guards Building. Look closely and you can see the London Eye in the background.
This is the London planetree, Platanus × acerifolia, a large deciduous tree that can grow to more than 100-feet tall, with a trunk 10-feet or more in circumference. The bark is usually pale grey-green, smooth and exfoliating. It shares many visual similarities with the American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis.
Here is the ubiquitous taxi of London. In the United Kingdom, these are called hackneys or hackney carriages.
Here are Jude, Truman and their nanny, Beverly. We were all so interested in the wildlife in London, especially the birds.
This is a pair of Ruddy Shelducks. The male has an orange-brown body, black rump and tail, a creamy buff head and neck, blackish collar around the base of the neck, and the wings are white with black flight feathers. Females are similar but have a whiter face and lack the black collar around the neck.
The Eurasian coot, also known as coot, is found in Europe, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa. The Eurasian coot is largely black except for the white frontal shield on its head. As a swimming species, the coot has partial webbing on its long, lobed, strong feet. It’s a noisy bird with a wide repertoire of crackling or trumpeting calls, often at night.
The Duck Island Cottage was built in 1841 as the home of the bird keeper in St. James’s Park. It also had a club room for the Ornithological Society of London, which once helped to look after the park’s ducks and geese. Over the years, Duck Island Cottage has served many uses and is currently used for offices of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust.
Just to the side of the cottage is a shed – I found the wall of the shed very interesting.
Here was another Changing of the Guard. During autumn and winter months the Queen’s foot guards may change into their grey great coats, which are much warmer. The British Royal Guard uniform includes the bearskin cap first worn in the 19th century at the famous Waterloo battle where the British Army defeated Napoleon’s French Imperial Guards. They wore bearskins because they looked taller and more intimidating. Nowadays they are worn as a symbol of victory and are used for ceremonial duties and for guarding royal residents.
They are all lined up perfectly. And bearskin caps are not light – each one weighs about 1.5 pounds.
The Guard provides a full Military Band consisting of no fewer than 35-musicians, often from one of the Guards regiments. It plays music to entertain the New and Old Guard as well as the watching crowds.
The Changing of the Guard is definitely something everyone should try to see when they go to London.
Here is one of London’s iconic cherry red double-decker buses. The most recognized was the Routemaster, which was first introduced in 1956. Most double-deckers have been retired, replaced by the articulated bus, but a few more modern versions of the double-decker can still be spotted on certain routes.
We passed some construction sites, where we noticed building facades were kept completely intact, leaving the interiors to be rebuilt.
The London Eye is Europe’s tallest ferris wheel, with one of the highest public viewing points in London. The structure is 443-feet tall and the wheel has a diameter of 394-feet. https://www.londoneye.com
It was very, very crowded – visitors wait for hours in the cold to take a ride on the Eye.
Here is another view of the pod on the London Eye. Each of the capsules represents a London borough and holds up to 25-people.
The London Eye was designed by the architects Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Steve Chilton, Malcolm Cook, Mark Sparrowhawk, and the husband-and-wife team of Julia Barfield and David Marks. The rim of the Eye is supported by tensioned steel cables. The wheel was constructed in sections which were floated up the Thames on barges and then assembled.
The lighting was redone with LED lighting in 2006 to allow for digital control.
It is also known as the Millennium Wheel, and has 32-sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal passenger capsules that are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and rotated by electric motors. For superstitious reasons, they are numbered one through 33.
The Eye provides some of the most stunning views of London. The wheel rotates at about 10-inches per second, so that one revolution takes about 30-minutes – slow enough to allow passengers to walk on and off the moving capsules at ground level.
Look how pretty the views are despite the fog. On the right is Big Ben, the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of Westminster Palace. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower.
For lunch, we went to ROKA, London’s award winning Japanese restaurant, serving contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine. https://www.rokarestaurant.com
We enjoyed a lovely salmon teriyaki. It was a perfect lunch to end our busy first morning in London. Tomorrow, I will share more photos from our trip. Be sure to also check my Instagram page @MarthaStewart48 for more of my photos.