I am not the only one in the family with a bucket list. My mum has one too. That was one of the reasons my brothers and I took her to Venice last year for her birthday. There is lots she still wants to see and do. Far be it for me to not help, or just accompany her. Silly not to.
So last weekend (sorry for the delayed report but someone messed with the wifi passwords while I was gone and my laptop wasn't sorted until the end of the week) I met up with my mum in London and we had a lovely time.
We checked into our hotel early Friday afternoon and went off for a stroll soon after. We were staying by Kings Cross Station as that is where mum arrives into from 'up north' so very convenient for her. Across from Kings Cross is St Pancras Station from whence the Eurostar departs, therefore full of lovely shops. We may have had a browse but I showed remarkable restraint in my spending. We also found out that the British Library was around the corner so wandered over there too.
There was a wonderful stature outside and whilst you cannot wander willy nilly inside, you can see the main atrium and the wonderful glassed in books there.
We had dinner in St Pancras Station that evening, and there is a huge statue of lovers kissing at the far end of the platform but I was way more interested in the frieze around its base depicting the history of the station. The detail was incredible and I wish I could have studied it for longer.
If you look at the bottom left photo you will see it depicts soldiers departing for war and their loved ones waving good bye. But if you can look behind those relatives waving farewell you will see a line of injured soldiers returning from the front. There was more emotion in each of these detailed works of art within the frieze than you see in most places.
Saturday dawned mild, with that wonderfulness that is and English spring day - on a good day. Versus the snow and sleet we got the week before. We decided to head down to St Paul's Cathedral, originally thinking to take the Underground until we saw the queue for tickets. Abysmal. I had an Oyster card but sadly Mum did not. But you've got to give it to my mum, she may be 81 but she acts far from it. She decided we should walk instead, and walk we did. It was a lovely peaceful walk through a very quiet area of London.
St Paul's was gorgeous. It has been about 20 years since I had last been in. I didn't climb to the top this time because even Mum admits she isn't up to that any more. No photos were allowed inside but it is such a nice contrast to the other cathedrals in the country that were built several centuries earlier. Then we had lunch there and enjoyed watching all the guests arrive for a (very posh) wedding that was taking place in a chapel in the vaults. Some seriously nice outfits paraded by. My girls would have loved it!
* Fun fact about the cathedral - if you buy a ticket to enter that ticket is good for a year, so I can go back and take the girls without paying for me again, and walk up to the top of the dome then.
The reason we went to London occurred that evening. My mum has always wanted to go to The Royal Albert Hall. We had tickets to A Gala For St George which was all set to be a very English affair. The Canadian in me thought it was fantastically entertaining and unique.
We also had our dinner at the hall. Unfortunately we didn't have time to fit in dessert before the show would start. That was when our waitress told us something we did not know. Our table was ours for the evening. So we could order our dessert, coffee, liqueur (me not mum) and it would be waiting for us at intermission. Score!
I tried to upload a video clip of a bit of the concert, flags waving, voices lifted in unison, singing Rule Britannia. Emily laughed her head off when I showed her. And then she played it over and over again, laughing harder each time. At least I entertained a thirteen year old.
Sunday I got mum on her train bound for the northern regions and went off for a wander. There was something that I wanted to pick up from a shop near Piccadilly Circus but found that it wasn't open when I arrived due to Sunday trading laws. So I went for a wander. The wonderful thing about the centre of London is how accessible everything is.
Over through a very peaceful Leicester Square. Then down towards Trafalgar but stopping off for a 45 minute wander about the National Portrait Gallery. (I shall never stop being amazed that these museums are free entry). Into Trafalgar Square, full of people enjoying the sunshine, time to watch some buskers before wandering back to find my shop open.
I am very lucky to be able to spend time like this with my mum. We are already making plans to tick more items off her list. Meanwhile she will be going gliding without me. That was an 81 birthday gift from her husband. You have got to love that!