Deb Does London

Deb Camara has become a very close friend and an adopted daughter. We first met Deb as a childhood friend and running companion of our daughter-in-law Catarina Gomes Cipriani. Deb is a social worker dealing with high risk children in Somerville Massachusetts. It is a very intense, high stress job which she is very adept at. We are very proud of the work that she does and we do our best to support her. We are also very proud to be her adopted parents who are introducing her to more of the world than Portugal and the USA. She has visited us in Mexico, Spain and now London. We are very proud of this adopted daughter.

Deb’s initial sight on her first full day in London were these protestors sitting in the street. The electors of the new Prime Minister of Britain were meeting in Queen Elizabeth Center pictured here, so it could have something to do with that. We don’t know. Liz Truss was announced as the winner.
Could not resist having her take a photo with these Scotland Yard “Bobbys” in front of Parliament.
We did our usual tour along the Thames with her.
This wall with hearts of the names of loved ones lost to Covid extends a long way along the South Bank of the Thames. A sad reminder of the toll the Pandemic took on the world.
You can’t get a better shot than this with Parliament and Big Ben in the background.
Took this picture in the Shrek store for her nephew who loves the Scottish ogre.
Deb arrived in London the day after schools opened so there were fewer tourists in town affording her the delight of not having to wait in line or pay extra to skip the line. The London Eye Ride was on her list of don’t miss things.
The London Eye or the Millennium Wheel was built in 1999 for the celebration of the new millennium. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3 million visitors annually. It has a capacity for 800 people and one rotation takes 30 minutes. Just like the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye was originally planned as a temporary structure. It now has a permanent license. No surprise at that since the standard adult ticket price is £34 and skip the line is £53.
Globe theatre and a lovely Shakespeare quote from from the Tempest.
We enjoyed pointing out the modern buildings along the Thames to her and telling her the nicknames given to them by the locals. Above and behind this old pub is “The Shard”, so called because it resembles a shard of glass.
Above buildings are “the Cheese Grater,” “the Gherkin” and “the Walkie Talkie”.
Borough Market opened in 1851 but there has been a market on this site dating back to at least the 12th century. It is the most renowned market in London for artisanal food and fresh organic products. We shared a mushroom risotto to help expand Deb’s palate for trying different foods.
These signs are to keep tourists alive.
Making friends with a monkey along the banks of the Thames.
The Tower Bridge, not to be confused with the very plain and unadorned London Bridge. Deb will be doing the London Marathon in April 2023. We did it in April 1999 and still know very well the mile markers. The Tower Bridge is at the 13 mile mark (halfway point). She was happy that it was flat, unlike the many hilly bridges of the NYC Marathon.
Again a very short line to climb the Tower Bridge and as a special bonus we were in it when it opened for a ship to go through.
On average London Bridge opens 800 times a year for passing ships, that is about twice a day. It takes the bridge about 75 seconds to open and about 150 seconds to open and close.
Here you see the Tall Ship it opened for which we viewed through he glass floor up on the bridge between the Towers. The masts are not visible as they are pointing straight up.
In 1977, for Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee the bridge was painted red, white and blue, it was originally chocolate brown which was rumored to be Queen Victoria’s favorite color.
We decided to wrap up Deb’s jam packed first day by taking a boat ride on the Thames to Greenwich to see some sights there. Greenich and Blackheath is the Starting point of The London Marathon.
The Cutty Sark is around the 10k (6.2 mile) mark of the London Marathon. It is an historic British clipper ship built in Scotland in 1869 and one of the fastest ships of its days bringing wool from Australia to England.
Greenwich a UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the National Maritime Museum. We only had 20 minutes before it closed so we went directly to the veterans dinning hall to see the murals.These couches are meant to be lain on to enjoy the murals on the ceiling.
We had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant in Greenwich before heading back to London.
This poster perfectly sums up our feelings for London.
Most of the time we prefer to walk but we wanted Deb to experience riding the London tube.
Our tour today of Westminster Abbey was with a company called The Tour Guy. Ben was the name of our guide and he was exceptionally good. As you can see from the photos we got in before it opened to the public.
At the west end of the Nave is the grave of the Unknown Warrior, whose body was brought from France to be buried here in 1920. This is the only gravestone floor marker that is never walked on. It is a tradition for royal brides to place their wedding bouquet here after they are married.
Waterford crystal chandeliers.
US Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to the British Unknown Warrior by General Pershing in 1921.
So many famous people are buried here.
Westminster Abbey was once inhabited by monks and nuns. Today it is no longer an abbey, instead it is a church that is controlled by the monarch.
We have been lucky to sit in this quire for evensong and organ recitals.
This is the Poets Corner in the South Transept. More than 100 poets and writers are buried or have memorials here.
Henry VII Lady’s Chapel where he is buried with his wife Queen Elizabeth I.
Mary Tudor was the 5th child of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon but the only one who survived infancy. She was known as the Catholic Queen and referred to as Bloody Mary because her reign saw the death and persecution of hundreds of Protestants. She Was Queen Elizabeth I half sister and was buried less prominently beneath her.
Queen Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was known as the Virgin Queen as she did not marry and had no children therefore she was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
As you can see Elizabeth’s tomb is a rather imposing and impressive one in comparison to her sister’s that bears a simple plaque at the base which is easily missed. There was no love lost between them.
Oliver Cromwell, after wining the English Civil War ruled as Lord Protector rather than King. He was the leading advocate of the execution of Charles I. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1658, however when Charles II returned to the throne Cromwell’s body was exhumed and put on trial where he was found guilty . His corpse was hung and then beheaded and his skull was placed on a pike at Westminster Hall where it stayed for 30 years. It was eventually buried in a secret location at Cambridge University where he was once a student.
This is the grave of Anne of Cleaves who was the fourth wife of Henry VIII but after 6 months the marriage was declared unconsummated and annulled. Lucky Lady as she ended up outliving the rest of Henry’s wives,
Quite the collection under this floor.
The beautiful Cloisters of Westminster Abbey.
This is the Pyx Chamber built in the years immediately after the Norman Conquest, is one of the oldest surviving parts of Westminster Abbey.
The worn effigy of William De Humez who became Abbot of Westminster in 1214. It was originally in the cloister then later moved here under a bench in the Pyx Chamber to preserve it.
This is the oldest door in Westminster and is Britain’s oldest and only Anglo Saxon Door standing for over 900 years.
The Coronation Chair, known historically as St Edward’s Chair is an ancient wooden chair on which British Monarchs sit during their coronation. It has been used since 1308 and is the oldest piece of furniture in England. King Charles III will next sit in this chair for his coronation.
A tribute to a great US President.
Waterford Crystal Chandeliers adorn the Abbey.
We came across a group of lawyers and Barristers who walked out in protest with the government on funding and fees bringing the country’s crumbling justice system to a standstill on the same day a new PM was scheduled to be announced.
These London phone booth relics have remained for the sole purpose of tourist’s photo ops.
!0 Downing Street with throngs of media on the day of the announcement of the new PM, Liz Truss.
Whitehall was the official residence of Henry VIII and has remained the center of government.
This is the site of King Charles I execution by beheading ordered by Oliver Cromwell. It is reported that the King who was cold. asked for an extra shirt so that he would not shiver and have it mistaken for cowardice. The first executioner declined and was imprisoned because of his decision. It took them a few hours to find someone else who was willing to execute the King.
Our Tour today ended with the Changing of the Horse Guards.
This is quite a spectacular site but we were disappointed as we thought we were going to see the Changing of the Place guards which does not occur on the only day we booked so we rebooked another tour on Friday to see this. Little did we know the Queen would die and that tour would be canceled.
These beautiful horses are well trained and exposed to any possible occurrence they may encounter, such as loud crowds, cannon ball fires, fireworks etc.
Pelicans on birdcage walk today were quite aggressively occupying the walkway and benches. We observed that you may not want to mess with them. One of them almost ate a pigeon. Unlike the Queen’s horses the Pelicans have not been trained.
St. James Palace was one of Henry VII’s residences and is still actively used by the Royals today. King Charles III was installed here a few days later.
Infamous gates of Buckingham Palace. Little did we know when we took this photo that we would be returning to pay homage with flowers to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Oh yes Harrods Department Store is another must see experience especially to snag London Peloton gear which is exclusively bought here.
Here we are snagging exclusive London Peloton Gear for Deb and other friends. Deb has a live Peloton Run booked for the day before she leaves. Which was cancelled due to the demise of QEII.
So proud of her Heritage, This is the Portuguese Embassy.
Little Ben is a cast iron miniature clock tower situated at Vauxhall Bridge and Victoria Station.
Westminster Catholic cathedral is dark and depressing.
We squeezed in one hour at the National Art Gallery before our theater performance of Home from Away.
She loves the impressionist painter Monet.
Edward Manet see info of painting below.
Edward Manet
It is rare not to encounter an unexpected display of Pomp and Circumstance around Buckingham Palace. This occurred one morning in the pouring rain.
And more regalia.
After a long walk through Hyde Park we took a tour of the Victoria Museum at Kensington Palace.
Next stop was St Paul’s Cathedral. Deb climbed the 500 stairs to the top of the dome. We had done it three times before so we explored the crypt while we waited for her.
This is a memorial to Florence Nightingale. She is not buried here.
Here lie two famous war heroes.
We met our tour guide and took a boat ride on the Thames to the Tower of London.
There are a group of six or more captive ravens that reside in the tower to protect the Crown and the Tower and a Raven master is assigned to take care of them. Each Raven has a name. We were told that they can be quite nasty if you get too close to them.
Superstition holds that if the ravens fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it. To prevent the birds from flying away one of their wings are clipped thus unbalancing their flight and ensuring that they do not stray too far from the tower.
The Tower of London built in 1078 sits on 12 acres of land and is the official Royal Palace and Fortress.
Our guide shared news that a recent female tourist was taunting and becoming aggressive to one of the Tower Guards. She was carried (not escorted) out of the Tower by the Beefeaters. Lesson learned don’t mess with these tall hatted people as they mean business while guarding the Crown Jewels.
There were absolutely no lines to get in to see the Crown Jewels which are kept in the tower and worn by British Kings and Queens on their coronations and royal occasions. Little did we known that we were probably the last tourists to see the Queens crown in the tower before it was removed to be placed on her coffin as she died that day.
While we were standing here our guide got word from his tour company that they had cancelled the changing of the guards and the Queen’s family was called to Scotland as Queen Elizabeth was gravely ill at her Balmoral Castle.
These photos show how few tourists were there the day we visited.
To become a Yeoman you must have served at least 22 years in the armed forces plus hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal. There are 32 men and “woman” yeoman at the tower and they live with their families in houses on the grounds. They are also referred to as “Beefeaters” because Henry VII’s personal guards were permitted to eat as much beef as they wanted from the King’s table.
The gothic chapel in the tower is where Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Katherine Howard were buried here after they were beheaded.
The Bible on the floor marks the spot of where Anne Boleyn was buried in front of the Altar.
After learning the news of Queen Elizabeth being gravely ill we decided to go to a service at Westminster Abbey and light a candle for her.
When we came out of the service at Westminster Abbey a rainbow graced the sky. A couple of hours later at 6pm London time Queen Elizabeth’s death was announced.
Flags were then lowered to half mast.
That evening we had tickets to the theater to see Witness for the Prosecution. Before the performance began it was announced that we would have two minutes of silence after which the National Anthem was played and we heard for the first time the words “God save the King”.
All the Electronic Billboards in the city projected this same image
That night we decided to put a bouquet of flowers on the fence of Buckingham Palace. We never thought we would ever be in London to partake of this tradition. It was a surreal experience to be here when the only Queen we ever knew would die.
This is the proclamation of the Queen’s death that they hung on the fence. We were surprised at how small it was.
It was a somber night in front of Buckingham Palace. This video shows the crowds that were there after midnight.
Many more people came the following day. Here Deb is placing her flowers. She was booked to have a tour of the changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace today, needless to say it was cancelled along with the Peloton class she was to take the following morning.
To make up for her cancelled tour and class we took Deb to Notting Hill to shop for souvenirs as everything in central London with the Queen’s face on it was flying off the shelves.
She got most of what she wanted for souvenirs and as a bonus got to experience shopping on the famous Portobello Road. Note also in this photo the Banksy image of “Girl with a red Balloon” on the Portobello Market sign above Deb’s head.
Although we have seen this performance of “Come From Away” before in London and again in Melbourne (for Sandy) we really wanted Deb to see it. For those unfamiliar with the story of this musical (and also movie), it takes place in Newfoundland, Canada in the tiny town of Gonder when 21 years ago on 9/11 the US FAA made the decision to shut down its airspace, forcing 4,000 planes to land at the nearest airport, 38 of those planes landed in Gonder. The number of passengers and crew totaled about 6,600. The population of the town at the time were fewer than 10,000. It is a heartwarming story that will renew your faith in mankind and we highly recommend seeing it.
Coincidently we left London early on the morning of 9/11. We are not held to superstitions being the free spirits that we are.
Rest In Peace Queen Elizabeth. You served your county well as you promised and there will never be another you.

3 responses to “Deb Does London”

  1. Great blog, you took me right back to merry old England, wish we could have met your friend Deb,but how great of you to share such great adventures with so many!! You guy’s are the best.

  2. Loved this blog. I learned more from you than I did when John and I visited London 15 years ago! It make us want to return.
    Many Hugs, Christina

  3. What a wild time to be in London. Looks like you had a fantastic time with Deb! 😀

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