We made it! Tired, and totally jet lagged (bed at 7 o'clock anybody?!), but here, in fine old London Town. I've always wanted to visit the world of Robert Browning and E M Forster, of Samuel Pepys and Sherlock Holmes. Even, nagdammit, the world of Richard Curtis and here I am. Hoorah!
We started off the day having a very fine hotel breakfast (note to self: if you eat too much of the cereal, Jorthy, you won't have room for the chocolate croissants!) and then stepped out to see the world. We though that we'd meander slowly through Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, turn on the spot at Piccadilly Circus and then find our way back to the hotel.
Unfortunately we picked the same day the London SkyRide was on, so we shared our route with an estimated 60,000 cyclists. D'oh! Still, if we craned our necks just so we could make out the main attractions in between the thousands of yellow clad cyclists.
One of the things that struck me the most was the statues dotted about the place. So many gallant acts, acknowledge forever in the finest bronze that His or Her Majesty at the time could afford. We saw the incredible homage to Nelson in Trafalgar Square, commemorating his victory over the French. We gazed awestruck at the Angel of Peace Descending on the Chariot of War in Wellington Arch, before smiling fondly at Wellington himself astride his noble steed Copenhagen.
We also saw some other, more interesting, statues. One in particular stuck in my mind. It was Erected To Commemorate The Glorious Heroes Of The Machine Gun Corps Who Fell In The Great War. I stood for a moment, letting the horror of what these men went through sink into my mind. I then lifted my eyes from the inscription to be faced with another kind of horror. The horror of the Most Unsuitable Statue Ever:
What the heck were these people thinking? A naked man holding a sword? How the hell does that commemorate the poor lads who perished in the worst possible way? I stood there, flabbergasted, before taking some pictures, and before long was befriended by a nice English chap.
"Take a look at this!" I blustered to him. "Those poor lads died in the war, and all they get for giving the ultimate sacrifice is a naked man statue. How does that work, I ask you?"
My new friend mused upon this for a moment, and then said "Well, at least they gave him a big sword!"
"Fat lot of good that would do him!" I replied. "Would you like to use a sword whilst naked?"
"Um, no, not really", he answered, before moving quickly away from the crazy Australian tourist. Still, they did encircle the machine guns in peace wreaths. If that doesn't get the message across that war is bad, then I don't know what will.
After that we meandered through the Green Park, which was lovely. Apparently it used to go by the name of Upper St James, but all that changed when King Charles II was busted by his wife giving a pretty young housemaid flowers from the meadow (and a bit more besides!). The Queen was so ticked off that Charles would be giving flowers to another woman that she ordered every single flower to be ripped from the ground, so he wouldn't be tempted to such foolish behaviour again. Hell hath no fury like a Queen scorned and an entire team of gardeners at her disposal!
After all that walking it was time to head back to the hotel. With views like this out of my window, I may never ever leave.