Our CEO Jennifer Edgar will be sharing some of her favourite things in this new blog series. From travel to style and everything in between, nothing is off limits! Jen’s recent trip to London is the inspiration for her first-ever post. Hint: you can click each image below to view a larger size. Enjoy!
It was a perfect May to take 2 weeks holiday to visit the UK. The purpose for this holiday? To celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday and her return to her birthplace for the first time since immigrating to Canada when she was 12. Although this is a top 10 list of wonderful things I experienced on the trip, the highlight was most definitely watching my mum walk the same steps she took as a child and visit her old homes and to have some time to reminisce with her dear cousin.
1.Harry Potter: The WB Studio Tour was tops on the list. As a fan of the movies and having a 10 year old daughter who reads the books over and over, this was not to be missed. I took nearly 400 photos on this excursion alone! Thank goodness for expandable memory in my phone!
2. Location: Our hotel was in the heart of Trafalgar Square – we really didn’t realize where we were until we stepped out and walked a short distance. This is the ideal location for tourists! Nearly everything we wanted to see was within a 10 minute radius of our hotel. The underground was a 2 minute walk from our door. How perfect!
3. Shopping: Any good list should include a little retail therapy, shouldn’t it? My new favourite spot is Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly. It really is a sight to behold. Everything from the window displays to men in tailcoats and fancy boxes of chocolates had me oohing and aahing. I managed to find a few lovely tea towels and now have to decide which ones I will part with as gifts for some of my favourite people.
4. Food & Drink: Fish and Chips. Need I say more??? I didn’t eat it as much as I thought I would, but I had my fill. Along with that was, as expected, the best scones and clotted cream. The most delicious Earl Grey tea is even better when served in fine china. There were no shortages of excellent establishments near our hotel but it was a real treat to eat next-door at The Sherlock Holmes pub. Just behind that was The Ship and Shovell, a most unusual pub split on two sides of the street. It’s astonishing how busy these pubs were every day after work.
5. Architecture: The buildings are amazing. It’s hard to take it all in, there’s so much! It stands to reason that one could take a trip and just focus on architecture and history of the buildings. Plenty show signs of the war. We saw many building being rebuilt while the façade was held in place. Westminster Abbey is one of the greatest. No photography is allowed inside so I’ll live with my memories. It truly must be seen to be believed.
6. History: One specific highlight for me was visiting the Churchill War Rooms. What I expected to be a small space and museum is remarkably large. It’s like a time capsule. We spent at least 2 hours here and I could have easily stayed another 1 or 2 longer!
7. Soho: We had an enjoyable visit to a friend’s workplace in Soho Square. Not only did we receive a tour of her office but we walked around the streets and saw plenty of half-timbered buildings and then nicely found ourselves inside the most beautiful Liberty. It was a feast for the eyes with beautiful displays and matching everything! Carnaby Street was fun and energy in this part of the city was so electric.
8. Royalty: We all dream of seeing royalty, don’t we? On our first day of the trip we went down the wrong street from the roundabout in Trafalgar Square. This was before we had our bearings. In only a few steps we looked up and saw…Buckingham Palace at the end of…The Mall. It was down quite a ways but this was such an exciting “turn” that we stopped to enjoy the fact that we were on The Mall. All of a sudden a motorcade zipped by with Prince William in the back seat! We then learned that the Queen would be opening Parliament which is one of the most important days of the parliamentary year. Although it would have been easier to see on tv, we lined up with the other spectators for a glimpse of the Queen in her carriage. The formality of it all was something to see! On another day we made our way to the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace and learned about the daily lives of those living there and caring for the horses. The carriages are remarkable.
9. Transportation: The underground is a real marvel. The UK has double the population of Canada, yet people move about in such a seamless manner. The tube is efficient and clean. We used it during quieter times as well as rush hour. There’s no time to dawdle and take pictures at rush hour! The bus system is rather evident. The double deckers are everywhere and well routed. We never needed to take a taxi since we managed so well with the tube and buses. Parking is interesting. We didn’t actually see anyone get into their space or leave so I don’t know how they actually managed it.
10. The Tower of London:This was the final stop on our holiday. As our Yeoman Warder guide told us, we would learn about all sorts of “bloody deeds”. Not only did we hear fantastic stories but we saw the crown jewels and walked through the White Tower. It’s a place where you can just imagine stepping back in time. There is so much to take in here and it’s worth more than one visit.
So there you have it, my personal favourite 10 things to see or do in London. We packed a lot into this trip and it was well worth the tired aching feet and jet lag. It’s so great to be home again but I wonder what new places I’ll discover on my next trip there!