Hyde Park and London
I found a couple of photo's I had taken before, see below for Winter vs Summer shots.
Kew Gardens, Kew
Japanese gardens, an Australian section. Californian Redwoods. Several greenhouses. Waterfalls and lakes. Flowers and trees and amazement at every turn.
I'm very glad I came and finally saw it. Weary and footsore after many hours, and totally camered out, I returned to London (the hard way - the Cicle Line on the tube was out).
London Sightseeing Day 2
The guided tour of the Tower of London, with a Yeoman Warder, was excellent. I visted the Crown Jewels, interested in particular with the Cullinan I and II diamonds (The Star of Africa), in the corronation staff and crown of Queen Elizabeth II respectively. The Cullinan I is the largest cut diamond in the world with perfect clarity, cut from the Cullinan diamond.
Also the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, from India, in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth.
Also of interest was the museum housed in the White Tower at the center of the Tower of London, containing hundreds or suits of armour, weapons and other artifacts, and the White Tower itself, built in 1066. Definately the oldest building I've ever been in.
I also crossed the Tower Bridge, impressive and looking much better than in pictures I had previously seen of it - they are renovating it. There was a sign claiming that its the 'most famous bridge' in the world. Really? I would have said the Brooklyn bridge in New York, or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or even our own Sydney Harbour Bridge would me more instantly recognisable to more people...
On the way along the southbank of the river Thames, I also happened past the original 'Clink Prison' on Clink street. Cool. Obviously the origin of the phrase "Thrown in the Clink".
Yeoman Warder - audio
I had intended to vist the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms but at this time of the morning, they were not open yet. I pressed on through St James Park to Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial, through the Australia gates (very fitting!). The crowds were beggining to intensify at the palace now, so I did not stay to long.
I walked along Constitution Hill to Hyde Park Corner and through Hyde Park, were I was accosted by squirrels and found the Rose Garden and the Serpentine.
I took the tube from Hyde Park Corner back to Westminster and visited the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, which was utterly brilliant - like stepping through a time machine to 1940. The combination of air raid sirens, Churchill's speaches played on speakers with the dim lighting and cramped rooms with yellowed maps covered with urgent pin pricks marking the progress of the war transported you.
I walked along Whitehall, past Number 10 - bristling with security, and on the Trafalgar Square, and Nelsons column.
I took the tube again to Leichester Square, had lunch and returned home, comprehensively bushed.
Hyde Park Birdsong - audio.