LONDON, ENGLAND


We spent the last 3 days of our vacation in London. Since we've been there before I won't say too much about the city here.

We spent most of our time either taking long walks or getting around on the hop-on hop-off bus. We stayed at the Park Plaza County Hall, near the London Eye, about 2 blocks from the Thames, a very convenient location..  

   

We spent the first full day just walking along the Queen's Walk on the South Bank of the river. That's Whitehall on the left and the Charing Cross Railway Station on the right.


   

Jubilee Oracle

There are a number of pieces of art on the South Bank, Alexander's 'Jubilee Oracle' being one of them. The bronze sculpture dates from 1980 and is situated on the walkway between the Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye. The Oracle stands on a plinth, inscribed with a quote from the artist, reading:
'Mankind is capable of an awareness that is outside the range of everyday life. My monumental sculptures are created to communicate with that awareness in a way similar to classical music. Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects'
.

 

View of the Victoria Embankment on the north shore and a river cruise boat called the 'Silver Sturgeon'.
The monument on the shore is
Cleopatra's Needle. It was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan  Mohammad Ali, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801.
The building in back is Shell Mex House. The front of the building is the old facade of the Hotel Cecil, which stood on the site prior to the new one being built in 1930-31. The clock, which was known for a time as "Big Benzene", is the biggest in London.
      

The National Theatre

The Royal National Theatre (generally known as the National Theatre) is one of the United Kingdom's three most prominent publicly funded performing arts venues. Founded in 1963 in Waterloo, the Company moved to this venue, which contains three stages, between 1976 and 1977.
The Statue in front is called 'London Pride'. It was commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and formed part of an artistic program that featured over thirty sculptures by leading British artists of the day.
 

Another sculpture near The National Theatre, by Bruno Conrad Max, which by the looks of it could double
as a bench. The inscription on the right reads:
The Thames will carry her sons forever.
 

Izak and Dina on the Queen's Walk.

 

A contrast to the architecture of Ye Olde London.

 

Apparently, people like to write messages in the sand at low tide.

 

The OXO Tower and Wharf

The OXO Tower has been a riverside landmark since the 1930s. During its industrial heyday it was owned by the makers of the OXO brand (think bouillon cubes) and has had numerous and varied uses since. By the 1970s it had fallen into disrepair and was largely derelict. In the 1990s it was taken over by Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) who transformed it into an award winning, landmark building. Today it is home to some of the UK’s most innovative and internationally renowned contemporary designers, restaurants, cafes, bars and exhibition venues.
 
 
Further along we came to an open square that housed numerous cafes, restaurants and art venues. What caught our eye was the faux windows painted on the side of the buildings - a nice touch. While we were there we indulged in coffee and cakes.
 

Wood carvings for sale in the square.
 

Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge
is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungarford Bridge and is named to commemorate the victory of the British, the Dutch and the Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Because of its strategic location at a bend in the river, the views from the bridge are widely considered to be the finest from any spot in London at ground level.
 

The Hungarford Bridge

The bridge is a steel truss railway bridge, sometimes referred to as the Charing Cross Bridge, and is flanked by two more recent, cable-stayed, pedestrian bridges that share the railway bridge's foundation piers. The two bridges are known as the Golden Jubilee Bridges.
 

Of course no park area would be complete without a carousel, the Queen's Walk being no exception.
 

Royal Air Force Memorial

A 1923 military memorial, it is dedicated to the memory of the casualties of the Royal Air Force in WWI (and, by extension, all subsequent conflicts).
 

International Brigades Memorial

The statues is situated in Jubilee Park, near the London Eye. It is dedicated to the various military units, made up of volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain in order to fight for the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War, between 1936 and 1939.
   
Behind the memorial is a children's' playground. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the sign because I love what it says. It reads:

YOUNG ADVENTURERS THIS WAY
Welcome to Jubilee Gardens Playground
For 11 years and younger - No big kids!
Adults must be accompanied by a child

  

The Clock Tower at night

Okay, call me vain, but I had to include this because its the only semi-successful night shot I've ever taken.
   
The next day, we took a hop-on hop-off bus to Buckingham Palace. While on the bus I took some shots of the passing scenery. One of the things we passed is this entrance way into the London School of Economics.
 

The Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice, built in the late 1800's and which is commonly called the Law Courts, houses both the High Court and  Court of Appeal of England and Wales.
 

More passing views . . .
 


 


 

The sign of the Sugarloaf Tavern, explaining how it got its name. In case you can't read it, the area use to house several sugar refineries. The sugarloaf was the traditional form in which refinded sugar was produced and sold in the 19th century - a tall cone with a rounded top from which lumps could be broken off using sugar snips. Now you know.
 

The exterior of the Sugarloaf Tavern.
 

Tower Bridge


View of the Tower of London from the south bank of the Thames


Traitors' Gate

On the last trip to London, I took a picture from inside the Tower of Traitors' Gate, well this is what it looks like on the outside.
For over 900 years, there have been reports of ghostly goings-on at the Tower, including the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn who is said to wander, while Henry sleeps peacefully in his crypt.


During our walk-about, we decided to go into London City Hall. The lower lever is accessed by a long sweeping ramp, which you can see around the edges, and the floor is a map of the Greater City of London.
 

That's Izak on the left, wandering through the lower lever.


Looking up from the lower level. It is rather an interesting building.
 

And this is what it looks like from the outside.
   

Dina and I looking across the Thames outside city hall.


For a change of scenery, we decided to walk over to the north side of the river. On the left is Tower Bridge as we were crossing. Above is the Tower of London from the north bank.
Once we got to the other side, we decided to grab the hop-on hop-off again bus to go to Buckingham Palace.
 

The Merchant Seamen memorial

The memorial is on the opposite side of the street to the bus stop. The inscription reads:
1914 - 1918
To the Glory of God
and to the honour of
Twelve Thousand of the Merchant Navy
and Fishing Fleets
Who have no grave but the sea
 

A rear view of 
Boudica and her Daughters

The statue 
is considered to be the finest work of its sculptor, the English artist and engineer Thomas Thornycroft. Thornycroft worked on it from 1856 until shortly before his death in 1885, but it was not erected in its current position until 1902. The statue portrays Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tribe of Britons, accompanied by her two daughters, mounted on a chariot drawn by two rearing horses. The chariot is based on Roman models, not native British or Iceni models.


Today the statue sits at a busy intersection above the Westminster Station.
 

Near Buckingham Palace, there are a series of Gates, each paying tribute to the Commonwealth countries that were Britain's allies during WWI. They fo
rm part of a vast memorial scheme dedicated to Queen Victoria


Buckingham Palace

The Palace is the London residence and principal workplace of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has also been a focus for the British people at times of national rejoicing.
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site that had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence, after which it has been expanded to become the palace it is today.

 

The Palace Gates

The original entrance was what is now know as the Marble Arch, which
was relocated in 1851 the first time and again following the widening of Park Lane in the early 1960s.
 

A closer view of the front of the Palace.
 

The back of the Victoria Memorial

The Victoria Memorial was created by sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in 1911 and erected in front of the main gates at Buckingham Palace
 

The Royal Coat of Arms

The Royal Arms for short, a version of which is fixed on the entry gate, is the official coat of arms of the British Monarch. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom.
 

The Royal Balcony

The balcony, from which the royal family acknowledge the crowds on momentous occasions and after the annual Trooping the Colour, is one of the most famous in the world. The first recorded Royal balcony appearance took place in 1851, when Queen Victoria stepped onto it during celebrations for the opening of the Great Exhibition. It was King George VI who introduced the custom of the RAF fly-past at the end of Trooping the Colour, when the Royal Family appear on the balcony.



Canada Gate

The gate was presented to London by Canada (then the senior Dominion of the British Empire), and acts as an entrance to Green Park, one of the four Royal Parks. The gate is in the same style as those of Buckingham Palace and bears the emblems of the seven Canadian provinces of the time.
 

Newfoundland Column

When the memorial gardens were created, Newfoundland was not part of Canada, but rather a colony of the British Empire, as it did not join Confederation until 1949. Hence, it has its own column.


The front of the Victoria Memorial

The Victoria Memorial is a monument to Queen Victoria. It was designed in 1901 and executed by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock as the centerpiece of the Queen's Gardens.


St. James Park

Instead of hopping the bus back, we decided to walk through St James Park first.
The park has a small lake, St. James's Park Lake, with two islands, West Island, and Duck Island, which is named for the lake's collection of waterfowl, a resident colony of pelicans, which has been a feature of the park since the first gift of the birds from a Russian ambassador in 1664. The park has several signs asking people not to feed the pelicans, but that wasn't an issue at the time, because we didn't see any.


In addition to a vast number of ducks, all looking for a handout, we spotted this Great Blue Heron resting quietly on the shore.


Tiffany Fountain

The fountain is located on Pelican Rock in St. James Park Lake.
On special occasions, the jet is illuminated at night in any one of a rainbow spectrum of colours - See more at: http://www.supporttheroyalparks.org/visit_the_parks/st_jamess_park/tiffany_fountain#sthash.P8Zoks5c.dpuf
On special occasions, the jet is illuminated at night in any one of a rainbow spectrum of colours - See more at: http://www.supporttheroyalparks.org/visit_the_parks/st_jamess_park/tiffany_fountain#sthash.P8Zoks5c.dpuf
On special occasions, the jet is illuminated at night in any one of a rainbow spectrum of colours - See more at: http://www.supporttheroyalparks.org/visit_the_parks/st_jamess_park/tiffany_fountain#sthash.P8Zoks5c.dpuf
On special occasions, the jet is illuminated at night in any one of a rainbow spectrum of colours - See more at: http://www.supporttheroyalparks.org/visit_the_parks/st_jamess_park/tiffany_fountain#sthash.P8Zoks5c.dpuf
On special occasions, the 20 ft. jet is illuminated in any one of a rainbow spectrum of coulour.
The new plume will help aerate St James's Park lake to benefit its wildlife and has been made possible by a generous gift from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation to the Royal Parks Foundation (USA), a charity established to enable America to support the natural history and heritage of London’s Parks. - See more at: http://www.supporttheroyalparks.org/visit_the_parks/st_jamess_park/tiffany_fountain#sthash.P8Zoks5c.dpuf
The fountain helps to aerate the lake to benetit its wildlife, and was made possible by a gift from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation.


Horse Guard Parade and Building

Coming out of the park, we came across the Horse Guard Parade grounds and building.
Horse Guards Parade was formerly the site of the Palace of Whitehall's tiltyard, where tournaments (including jousting) were held in the time of Henry VIII. It is also the location of the annual celebrations of Trooping the Colour, which commemorates the monarch's official birthday. The area has been used for a variety of reviews, parades and other ceremonies since the 17th century.
The Horse Guard Building, which was built between 1750 and 1753, served as the offices of the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, and later by the Chief of the General Staff until 1906. The Horse Guards subsequently became the headquarters of two major Army commands: the London District and the Household Cavalry, The building is the formal entrance to St. James Palace, which only the monarch is allowed to drive through its central archway, or those given a pass.



Old Admiralty Building

A historic Victorian building it famously provided the offices for Winston Churchill while First Lord of the Admiralty. The Old Admiralty Building (or Admiralty Extension) is a Grade II listed building and provides the backdrop to Trooping the Colour. It is now occupied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.



The Old War Office

Heading back to the hotel, we passed the Old War Office building.
It is situated at Whitehall, right across from the Horse Guards. In the past it housed the War Office, a department of the British Government, which was responsible for the administration of the British army for over 400 years. The building continued to be used by the Ministry of Defence until 2013, when it was put up for sale. It was sold in 2014 and will be turned into a 5-star hotel.
On a lighter note, the building served as the exterior of Bond's office in Octopussy 1983, and again in SkyFall in 2012.



Across from the Old War Office building, at the edge of St James Park, stood this cottage-like structure, which seemed a little out of place for the centre of London. It looked so cute I had to take a picture of it.


Statue of Robert Clive, and
the Bali Bombings Memorial

The statue is located at Clive Steps, near the King Charles Street entrance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office building. Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, also known as 'Clive of India', was a British officer and soldier of fortune who is credited with securing India, and the wealth that followed, for the British crown.
At the bottom of the steps is The Bali Bombings Memorial, a permanent memorial to the victims of the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia. Unveiled in October 2006, it commemorates the victims of all nationalities, with those from Britain listed apart at the centre of the inscription covering one side of the wall. In front is a granite globe with 202 doves carved across its surface. All of the 202 doves are unique, representing each life lost and symbols for peace.



My final picture of the Clock Tower, peeking around the corner of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office building, with the Parliament Buildings in back.


The London Eye from Westminster Bridge




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