The reason for going to London now instead of our usual late December pre-Christmas trip was twofold. Firstly, G had a one day conference to attend about doing educational research. This relates to the book he published recently on Lulu about numeracy for students in FE colleges doing vocational courses. Secondly, it dawned on us that now we aren't tied to college holidays, we don't have to frantically squeeze our winter break into the short gap between end of term and Christmas and we can take it more peacefully whenever we want.
Day 4 was the day of G's conference, so I had a day to spend doing whatever I liked. In the morning, I met J, an old friend from university days. She and I have somehow managed to keep in touch through all the intervening years and have actually seen more of each other lately due to J and her husband's fondness for walking holidays in Wales and G and I liking to visit London. J still lives in Croydon, which is where she was born and brought up, so it was easy for her to travel into central London where we successfully found one another amongst the crowds at Victoria station. J's husband has been poorly recently and has actually spent the last week in hospital, but he's recovering and is expected to be sent home any day now. Anyway, as visiting wasn't until the afternoon, J could snatch a few hours in the morning to meet me.
The prime purpose of meeting was to have a good catch-up chat, so we just walked to St James's Park, wandered round for a bit, had a cup of tea and a cake in the cafe in the park and wandered around a bit more before J had to catch the train back. At one point our wanderings took us to Horse Guards Parade, where, purely by chance, we arrived in time to see the changing of the guard. One lot of guards had splendid red cloaks while the other guards had black ones. It wasn't the most exciting of ceremonies. After the arrival of the new guard, heralded by trumpets, the new guard lined up facing the old guard while the officers rode into the middle and conversed for ages. I don't know whether they were updating one another on the events of the day so far, or whether they were just chatting about the weather and the football. Anyway, we eventually got bored and wandered off, but, unlike the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, you are right there with nothing separating you from the riders.
The New Guard arriving.
Not shown in the photos are the four mounted policewomen who accompanied the troopers and cleared a path through the crowd for them to ride through.
After we finally parted company back at Victoria station and J had left to return home, I caught the Tube to South Kensington and spent some time in the Victoria & Albert museum. I've visited a few times now, but there's still more that I haven't seen. I then wandered (very slowly because my feet were sore from all the walking we'd done the previous two days) up to Hyde Park, through the park to Hyde Park corner and then past Buckingham Palace and thence to the St Jame's Park Tube station where I caught the Tube to Embankment station where I met G. His conference had gone well and we had another gourmet burger at the Gourmet Burger restaurant, which is by The Clink gaol, before catching the Tube back to Euston and the little apartment.
Thames at night