Saturday, 2 August 2008

A Right Royal Day Out

About six months ago, I was faced with the annual problem, what do I buy my Dad for his birthday, the proverbial "man who has everything"?  I settled upon tickets to the Summer opening of the State rooms at Buckingham Palace and today, the day to visit was finally upon us. 

We aproached from Green Park via these majestic gates:

Unfortunately, it was a pretty miserable day, to which the grey skies and the brollies are testament, but there were crowds thronging round the Palace.

We were not able to take photos inside the State rooms, and we visited 19 of them; I can only say that if it is the sort of thing that interests you and you get the chance, do try to go (this year, the open season is 29 July -29 September).  I have visited many stately homes in the past but they really paled into insignificance with this.  The opulence was beyond belief, I have never seen so much gilded plasterwork in my life!  The highlight for me was the ballroom which was laid out for a banquet with a U-shaped table set for 160 people.  The dinner service was all silver gilt, there were very grand displays of fruit on footed china plates and massive floral arrangements (silk this time but they would be real flowers for proper state occasions).  The white damask tablecloths are 22 feet long.  All that ironing...

Harry was a bit disappointed that he didn't get to see the queen.  However, he did have some fun in the giftshop...

We emerged from the State rooms into the gardens behind the Palace.  Here, there is a vast lawn with a lake at the bottom.  A really beautiful spot.  We were allowed to take photos once in the gardens.

We ended up back over in the London Bridge area for lunch, overlooking the Thames.

Afterwards, we had a mooch round the wonderful food market at Borough to buy something yummy for dinner (food is rarely from our thoughts in my family!)  The quaint tea room there is closing down and was selling off all of its china.  

It was a lovely display but for me, lacked the thrill of tracking down an original bargain at a flea market or boot sale (and would be a lot more damaging on the pocket).  

Talking of which, I do hope the rain is going to keep off tomorrow as I am very excited at the thought of going to a car boot fair!  Hopefully I'll have some good finds to show you next week...

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