We had a good day in London. There was no mud and there were no inquisitive cows, slippery slopes or rickety stiles. Instead we encountered numerous birds, squirrels, silent cyclists and crowds of people.
Three ceremonial processions provided a bonus. We reached Horse Guards Parade at the start of the Changing of the Guard. As we headed through St James’s Park a military band marched along The Mall. At Wellington Arch the Household Cavalry passed us on their way to Hyde Park Barracks while two state carriages waited to proceed down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace (to take the German Ambassador to visit the Queen, we discovered later).
Thirty-four of us met under the clock at Waterloo station. The leader and back and middle markers did well not to lose anyone on the nine mile route. We headed for the London Eye, crossed the Thames by Westminster Bridge, turned right at Parliament Square, continued along Whitehall past Downing Street and turned left into Horse Guards Parade. Here a large crowd indicated that something was about to happen or was happening. Members of the Household Cavalry were preparing for the Changing of the Guard.
From HG Parade we crossed into St James’s Park and walked through this to Buckingham Palace past more crowds waiting for the arrival of the Household Cavalry. We nipped across The Mall behind a policeman who was holding up traffic to clear the way, we soon saw, for two state carriages. These were from the Royal Mews on their way to convey the German Ambassador from his official residence to present his credentials to the Queen.
In Green Park we saw the first of four Paddington Bear statues. Fifty were unveiled in London the day before to advertise the latest Paddington Bear film due to be released on November 28. They will eventually be auctioned in aid of the NSPCC. They were placed at landmarks including HG Parade, so we missed that one.
We walked through Green Park and stopped to look at the memorial to Bomber Command (officially opened by the Queen in June 2012) before crossing the A4 to Wellington Arch. By now it was less cold, the wind had died down, clouds had cleared and there was sunshine. We paused to take photos of the two state carriages waiting by the arch before we crossed the road to enter Hyde Park.
In Hyde Park we walked through the Rose Garden past the Boy and Dolphin fountain (on which a well-built young man, naked from the waist up posed for a photoshoot) and came to the Serpentine where we stopped at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen for refreshment. Nearby was another PB statue (The Journey of Marmalade).
Feeling better we set off along the south side of the Serpentine past the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (closed for maintenance), the Isis sculpture and the Peter Pan statue to spot our third PB statue by the Italian Garden on the north side of the park. Leaving Hyde Park by Marlborough Gate we made our way to Paddington Station and walked through this to reach Regent’s Canal where we spotted our fourth PB statue.
Heading NW by the canal we came to Little Venice, our stop for lunch. Some ate by the canal in the cold; most of the rest chose The Bridge House on Westbourne Terrace.
After lunch we continued NE along the canal towpath, crossed Edgware Road, walked along Aberdeen Place (noting the blue plaque to Guy Gibson) joined Regent’s Canal towpath again and continued along this to reach and leave at Park Road. We crossed Park Road to Hanover Gate by London Central Mosque and from the Outer Circle entered Regent’s Park.
After a brief stop in St Mary’s Gardens we continued through the park, walked past London Zoo to the exit, crossed Albert Road and walked up Primrose Hill to the viewpoint at the top. Retracing our steps we rejoined the towpath of Regent’s Canal and headed NE to Camden Lock. Here we left the canal for the final time and continued along Camden High Street past Camden Town tube station to the bus stop for the 168 bus to Waterloo station. By now our party had dwindled. Some left after lunch to visit the British Museum, others left at London Zoo to return home, some caught the tube. The rest of us reached Waterloo station just in time to catch the 17.15 train home.