25/07/2013 - 25/07/2013 18 °C
As I write this blog I finally have my Chinese visa in my hand. Today, much to my relief, I finally collected my visa. I have spent a lot of time, energy and money obtaining this visa (at least £450, two long days and lots of stress!). And as I’ve already talked about this rather a lot I am not going to dwell on the process now it is sorted. This is about my second day in London…
My earlier visit to London I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the parks and the sights were impressive. My second visit I felt less impressed. Maybe it was because the weather was damp and overcast, maybe it was because it was even more crowded due to the arrival of the new Royal baby, but for me London had lost its sparkle. I learned from my last trip not to attempt to spend the entire day walking. I began by taking a similar route to my last visit, heading for Hyde Park. This time I chose to walk alongside the lake, and I’m glad I did. I was in the right place to see the impressive sight of the army exercising their horses. Unfortunately I was too awestruck to take a photo. The horses were magnificent and the men looked very smart and professional in their uniforms.
Until now my London sightseeing had consisted solely of viewing the sights from the outside and taking a few photos. Today I decided I wanted a closer look, beyond the façade. I chose to visit the Royal Mews. The Royal Mews houses the royal collection of historic carriages and coaches, the most striking of which is the Gold State Coach. This impressive coach, which weighs almost four tonnes and is dazzling in gold, has carried every monarch to their coronation since 1821. During my visit I also had the opportunity to see some of the Queen’s horses that draw the carriages and coaches. Although the horses were busy eating hay at the back of the stables, I found it interesting to hear how the horses are selected and the process of their training.
After my visit to the mews I decided to head back through the parks towards the train station and home. It was only upon noticing that the area outside Buckingham Palace seemed exceptionally busy that I realised it was very nearly time for the changing of the guards parade. I found a spot as close to the railings as possible, although I still had lots of people standing in front of me. And I waited. It wasn’t too long before we saw the first horses heading round the corner. Everyone’s cameras went straight into the air to try and capture some image on film, for some it was the only way they would get to see anything of what was happening in front of them. I caught glimpses through the crowds and managed to get a couple of less than average snap shots. The crowds made it difficult to see and therefore hard to appreciate, but it was still an impressive sight and I was glad to have seen at least something of this world famous spectacle.