Today we closed the circle on a number of things. Firstly, the rainy weather returned. It rained quite hard this morning and was relatively cool again. I believe CT is freezing cold so I am not complaining even though I can’t believe it is meant to mid-summer here.
Secondly, we took the Duck Tour. These are amphibious vehicles. You might want to ask how they are part of my ‘closing of the circle’. Well they were actually used in the D-Day landing to transport equipment across the Channel. They weren’t painted yellow but were actually painted Green or Grey to blend into the sea/sky. They took 8 soldiers but were mainly used to transport equipment from the ships to the shore. They were also used to transport wounded from the beach back out to the hospital ships. They were called DUKW (you just need to to say it with a lisp and you get Duck). The 4 letters actually stand for ‘D’ – designed in 1942; ‘U’ – utility; ‘K’ – front wheel drive, ‘W’ – rear wheel drive. Try get your mind around those!
The ones used on the tour are the original army ones from WWII. The tour starts near the London Eye and heads around the famous London sights – Houses of Parliament; Westminster Cathedral; Buckingham Palace etc. There is a live tour guide and he was very humorous and entertaining. He had been to drama school. He told jokes, quoted famous people (like Churchill), gave some interesting facts and generally kept us entertained over the one hour and 15 minutes.
After about 30 minutes you head into the river. They have to swap drivers at this point (different licenses for different things). You enter the Thames right next to MI6. It is the most surveilled building in London (by themselves that is). You cannot believe how many exterior cameras they have. And what you see above ground in the photo is only half the building. There are another 6 floors below ground. You can see the slipway. The guy basically goes flat out down the slipway and into the Thames. You think it is going to sink but clearly you don’t. You are very low in the water though. You can put your hand out and touch the water it is so low. You then get a 30 minute cruise down the Thames and get to see Lambeth Palace and a different view of the Houses of Parliament. It was then back around and back out past MI6 and back to the place we started.
By this stage it was raining steadily and so we went to Waterloo station, bought some lunch and then split up. The boys took the tube and the rest took a taxi. This time the boys won by 5 minutes. The traffic was so heavy around Westminster (or as Michael says it Westminister) that it delayed us significantly. We were dry though.
After lunch everyone seemed to vanish off to their rooms. The only people to head out were Lara and Stephen. The other three all slept (such a hectic morning) and I caught up on emails/work. We had an early dinner this evening because we had tickets to Les Miserables which started at 7:30pm. We took the tube (great public transport .. dig, dig Yvonne). I have seen it once before (when I was about 18 or 19) and I remember it as being good. And it did not fail to live up to our expectations. It was 3 hours long but entertaining from start to finish. The music was great, the singing excellent and the acting superb. They even did two slow motion scenes. First time I have ever seen something like that done on stage. It was extremely well done. Either Stephen was trying to impress Lara (always possible) or he was genuine when he said as we exited “I could watch that again”. When it ends you sort of want them to at least sing the closing song again. They got a standing ovation. I wonder if that happens every night. So here’s another recommendation – if you’re in London – take the plunge and buy tickets for Les Miserables. You won’t regret it.
We used the wonderful public transport (dig, dig) back to the flat again and got home just before 11pm. Blog done. Bed calling. Until tomorrow!