There have been exactly two times this trip when I got really teary. The first time was when we touched down at Heathrow. The second was today.
We had breakfast this morning with Veronika, our hostess, and then went out to return the rental car. From there we walked a few blocks to a Tube station and headed into the city.
London is an odd mix of old and new. The gleaming mansard roof peeking above the grimy brick of the Tube station caught my eye. Satellite dishes are everywhere on earth now, but they look amusingly incongruous when they're attached to buildings a couple of centuries old.
The Tube took us to Kensington Gardens. There are many reasons to go to Kensington Gardens.
Some go to see the Italian Gardens at the north entrance to the park...
...enjoy the beautiful fountains...
...feed the swans...
...and perhaps goof off a little for the camera.
But if you know me, you can probably guess what we were there for.
CM and I walked along the banks of the Serpentine...
...taking pictures of all manner of random sights...
...(including a rather awesome-looking Ent in disguise)...
...until we reached the place we'd been looking for.
I took a whole lot of pictures of the base of the statue, capturing as many details as I could, mostly to cover up the fact that I was crying.
Other tourists came by and took their own pictures, and I stood around looking and mostly just trying to stop being so moist about it, but it took a while.
I've waited about 33 years to see him "in person."
It was worth it.
From there we wandered down toward the Round Pond (which is something of a misnomer as it isn't actually perfectly round) and terrorized the pigeons, then went on to Kensington Palace.
Yes, Queen Victoria's old stomping grounds.
It turned out to be an opportune time to visit, since during the palace renovation they have temporarily created an environment called the Enchanted Palace.
We weren't allowed to take photographs inside, so I'll have to describe it, and it's a bit hard to describe... one part steampunk, two parts fairy tale, another two parts experimental film, a dash of spook alley, and a teaspoon of butterscotch. There were multiple designer dresses as part of the display, a "treasure hunt" of sorts to find the names of seven princesses who had lived in the Palace, actors in long-skirted grey wool coats and miner's hats who roamed in and out of the rooms doing various business (including using devices to check for fairy godmothers in the crowd), strange ambient scents and sounds, interactive displays including toy soldiers to knock over, curio cabinets to explore, etc., and a number of enchanted and haunting visuals. This was in addition to actual tidbits about the history of the Palace and its real-life inhabitants over the centuries. So it was rather like a guided historical tour with an enchanted overlay.
It was blustering hard when we left, so we got out of the Gardens and into South Kensington; CM hoped to spend some time at the Natural History Museum.
Alas, we had failed to take bank holiday crowds into account. The line just to get in the door was backed up for about an hour's wait.
So we went to Harrods. There we had a sublime late lunch/early dinner of Lebanese food, and bought some delicious if overpriced rose- and violet-flavored chocolate creams (Mom, you wouldn't like these, but Tara, I think you might). Although Harrods claims to have everything you could ever possibly want, they did not have a pair of walking shoes at my desired price point, so after some exploration of the environs we Tubed it back home.
Captain Midnight promptly went to bed. Me, I've been sitting up tippity-typing away, but I think I will join him shortly.
Tomorrow: another try at the Natural History Museum, and probable purchase of GOODIES.