Awoke to pounding rain on the roof so decided to continue inspecting the inside of our eyelids until it abated. We arose at 9.00am and after a quick breakfast we headed out to Kupp Coffee House for our morning cuppa and then our planned walk to Kensington Palace and Gardens.
We didn’t realize that you could do a tour around the formal rooms of the palace but when we discover your wallet would be light by £21.50, which is a bit steep if there are the two of you. We have been fairly selective as to what we have wanted to see whilst in London because before you know it you have gone through your retirement funds.
This is the sunken gardens at the palace which were stunning even though it was in the rain.
We did just a quick video so you get the entire view and also see that it is surrounded by an amazing arbour which is known as the Cradle Walk – why you ask is it called the Cradle Walk. The reason is because the many nannies back in the 18th and 19th centuries would meet here with their small charges (alias “scone grabbers”) and walk in the shade.
Rather pleasant ornate gates heralding one of the entrances into the palace. There appeared a high brick wall around one wing of the palace which we assume is the living area for Will and Kate plus the kids.
It was then a short wander over to the Royal Albert Hall. The hall was originally supposed to have been called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed to the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences by Queen Victoria upon laying the Hall’s foundation stone in 1867, in memory of her husband, Prince Albert, who had died six years earlier. It forms the practical part of a memorial to the Prince Consort; the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by Kensington Gore.
The Albert Memorial was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic Revival style, it takes the form of an ornate canopy or pavilion 176 feet (54 m) tall, in the style of a Gothic ciborium over the high altar of a church, sheltering a statue of the prince facing south. It took over ten years to complete, the £120,000 cost (the equivalent of about £10,000,000 in 2010) met by public subscription. The memorial was opened in July 1872 by Queen Victoria, with the statue of Albert ceremonially “seated” in 1876. For many years, his statue was black rather than gold leafed which was caused by the soot and diesel fumes which use to be prolific. The fumes are still there in abundance but less visible.
We walked back to the boat and got prepared for the arrival of our friendly dogsitter Lisa. It is really strange how things work out. We met Lisa nearly ten years ago in London when she worked for a rather perfectly satisfactory hotel in the centre of the city. She is the second cousin of our very dear, old friend Nick who Fraser went through school with and is the consummate organiser. We had asked Nick, who lives in Brisbane, if he knew anyone in London who would look after Toque whilst we went off to attend an evening at the BBC Proms which is a London Institution. Nick suggested Lisa, so after a few emails backwards and forwards, before we knew it we were reacquainting ourselves with one another and catching up with all the news. She has now been in London for 19 years and enjoyed herself immensely but there is that call for home which is starting to become louder for her.
So once the handover of the precious bundle was completed and we had had some dinner we caught the number 16 red bus off to the Royal Albert Hall. It has always been on Di’s bucket list to go to a night at The Proms and tonight it got a solid tick off the list. It was the second night and it was listed as Bohemian Rhapsody, so Di thought she had struck Freddy Mercury gold, BUT, it was actually a play on words and the conductor was Czech. The Orchestra from the region of Bohemia. It did take us a little while to grasp it and though we were disappointed at the time we were more than thrilled to listen to some exquisite classical music.
It was a 100+ piece orchestra complete with four harpists. The acoustics were the best we had ever heard. We didn’t know all the pieces played but some we did. The hall was packed and we sat there in awe the whole evening.
We have done a quick pano of the inside of the hall which is a bit fuzzy but it shows you the grandness of it. The BBC Proms goes for six weeks with the final night being full of British chest beating music such as Royal Britannia and the very stirring Land of Hope and Glory. To get one of these tickets would be like winning lotto.
After such an invigorating evening it was then back on the number 16 to Paddington Basin to relieve Lisa of the dog duties. We set her up when we came home to sleep the night on the boat so that she could get an idea what it might be like to live on a narrowboat. It certainly took Di a while to get to sleep