Posted by: lindsaygoes | November 14, 2010

Parading Around London

Yesterday was the Lord Mayor’s Show in London and St Paul’s Cathedral had free entry. I’m a lover of free things, and I’ve been wanting to see St Paul’s Cathedral, so that was my invitation!

It was lucky I didn’t need to get too many underground trains as several lines were down, but I was quite amused by the announcement that ‘The Circle and District lines are not running this weekend, but especially today.’, which left me wondering how they could be even more not running on one particular day?

I was joining people with the London Cultureseekers Group, but arrived a bit early. I was planning on having a quick look in the Museum of London, but when I left the tube station, there were lots of people – and a parade!

Unfortunately, because I’m quite short and I was three people back from the front, I didn’t get a great look, so I was holding up my camera to try and get photos from a higher viewpoint. I got a few, but they weren’t great. Eventually someone did let me swap spots with them which I thought was lovely. My favourite parts of the parade were:
* The vintage AA (Automobile Association) car which broke down and had to be pushed.
* The plumbers with their personalised number plates (WATER, FIUSH, SHOWER) and the speakers booming out Mambo Number Five with plumbing appropriate lyrics.
* All the fancy carts which contained people with glove puppets. I’m still not sure why.
* The Zulus! Anyone who dances around London at this (or any other time of year) in minimal clothing is very brave!

After that I met up with the meetup group and headed up to St Paul’s Cathedral with a couple of friends who I met at another meetup event. We ended up climbing the dome first of all, which is 376 steps up to the Stone Gallery, which is as high as we were allowed to go. The view of the inside of the Cathedral from the lower Whispering Gallery was amazing, with the rustling of the whispers around you. It was amazing how high up you felt, even on that level. I did get in trouble for getting my camera out (I didn’t see any signs) before I took any photos, so I didn’t get any.

Then it was up a narrower, single file staircase to the Stone Gallery which had a fantastic view over London! It wasn’t overly cold, but we soon cooled down after our energizing walk to the top. From there we headed down. I always find going down the windy narrow staircases which seem to be standard for churches and cathedrals more difficult than going up. I think it is because your body weight is going forward, and you can see where you might fall. I also had fairly new shoes on which are still fairly stiff which gave an extra element of suspense to the whole proceeding.

From the top, we went down to the bottom, heading for the crypts, where Tom was disappointed that there weren’t cobwebs and skulls. You can’t have it all.

Afterwards we were heading to the pub, but got distracted by the parade doing another circuit. Tom and Joanna hadn’t seen it earlier in the day and I was happy to see it again. Joanna got a bit of a lift on Tom’s shoulders to get a better view, but I had to be content with holding my camera up again. It was still a good experience seeing it for the second time, but we weren’t too sure about Michael Jackson songs being pumped out for a float which had lots of children saying no to drugs. There was a bit of a mixed message there.

We saw the last of the parade, and as we were leaving saw some Morris Dancers. Another interesting English phenomenon.

So we eventually got to the pub, and realised that we had been some of the quickest through the Cathedral. We weren’t too upset though, as it meant we could order food before everyone else got their orders in.

After a bit of socialising at the pub it was time to go home and I caught some of the fireworks over the river, which was good. I’m not sure what was going on acoustically, but they were the loudest fireworks I’ve ever heard!

The train home was a bit insane. I think everyone was heading home at the same time, and bringing their prams with me as I ended up squished against the doors and a couple of stations on got my feet run over as three or four prams were taken off the train. I eventually got a seat (and got out the way) and when we were arriving at my station I (and several other people around me) were quite amused to hear it referred to as ‘Charming Chatham’ about four times. It’s not that charming.


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