So, we dumped our bags, and having consulted a guide to London* kindly lent to me by a workmate, we hotfooted it to the Earl's Court Tube station where our first surprise met us.
I'd seen photos but totally forgotten - there is a Tardis outside the tube station. It brought us all up in our tracks (for some reason I thought it was in Leicester Square). The weird thing (to us) was that people just walk past it as though it's not there. We, however, turned into total fangurls and squeed and squawked at it.
The kindly gent at the ticket booth informed us that a travelcard was our best bet, as we could just hop on and off tubes for the rest of the day to our hearts' content. But we wanted to walk. And so we looked at the tube map, looked at the book, calculated and jumped on a Picadilly line tube to Green Park.
Where I promptly upset the teenaged daughters by taking my first picture of a tube-seat-covering**. Oh the shame!
From Green Park we followed the instructions in the book and walked to Berkley Square passing Devonshire house and Clive of India's house. The nightingales weren't singing and so we moved on rather swiftly in the direction of Mayfair. Now I'm not overly familiar with London despite one of my parents actually being a Londoner, but even I know that Mayfair means money. We wandered, open mouthed around places like Charles Street and wondered what all the armed police were doing outside one rather imposing building, but toodled along without really stopping to admire the buildings because we really wanted to get to Hyde Park to enjoy the last of the sunshine.
After passing the Red Lion Yard - fairly disappointing since only the facade of he pub remains - we did, in fact, stop for a while in the Mount Street Gardens to sit on a bench and watch the schoolchildren having a good run around. The Gruesomes exclaimed "ahh, how cute" just about every time we saw a schoolchild in uniform - especially the little boys in their shorts, blazers and school caps. But they still don't want to have to wear one. Shame. The gardens have lots of garden benches, with plaques to the memory people who have enjoyed their peace over the years. Very Notting Hill (the film) and we sat on one dedicated to a Philidelphia lady who had come over and fallen in love with the place.
But soon it was time to move on and we passed several very expensive designer boutiques - which Gruesome #2 especially loved as she wants to be a designer. We stared for a while at the Laboutin shoes and wondered if it really is humanly possible to do anything but stagger around on those monster heels.
Finally we got to Park Lane - cue several hilarious jokes about not standing still because we couldn't afford Park Lane with a hotel on it. There is a memorial to animals who have died in war over the years which is rather touching - something I'd not seen before, so we took a fair few photos of that. Then it was on to Marble Arch where wonder of wonders we managed to get photos without anyone standing or walking in front of it! There is also a new (to me) sculpture of a horse's head (Horse Drinking) which was a rather marvellous piece.
From there we walked through Hyde Park, down to the boathouse at the Serpentine, then abandoned the Dorling Kindersley walk through Belgravia in favour of going accross to the Albert Hall and Albert Memoria. Blimey - that is one Bling Bling monument - I really didn't remember it being that golden! There were a lot of coaches outsiide the Albert Hall disgorging countless numbers of Women of a Certain Age (older than me). It turned out that Cliff Richard was appearing there all week as part of his 70th birthday celebration. #2 asked a tout how much tickets were, and it seemed they were going for their face value of 70 of your English quids.
By then we were getting tired and hungry and looking for a tube station. But luck would have it, before we found it (Kensington High Street) we stumbled on one of the Giraffe chain of restaurants, slogan: Love, Eat, Live. It's sometimes difficult to find something we all like, and #2 is vegetarian, but in England it seems a lot easier.
Anyway, I had a spiced vegetable risotto (yum), Chef had baramundi with some kind of tomato salsa (yum), #1 had an oriental noodle salad (yum) and #2 had a vegetable burrito (yum - she ate it all, and it was massive). Coffee afterwards for me and they had ice-cream or cake. After that it was a short walk to the tube at Kensington High Street and back to the Youth Hostel for a good nights sleep before our first full day in London.
*London - Dorling Kindersley Vis-à-Vis series (in German... we saw several other people clutching this book on our travels, in various different languages.)
**I've decided to make one monster blog-post later with all the seat covers... just to build up the suspense you understand!