2:30pm: “Wicked” matinee at Apollo Victoria Theatre (there were rumblings about a Tube strike, so I left the day as empty as possible)
We got up early (well, early-ish…sometime around 9am – vacations rule) and walked over to Buckingham Palace. I hope people who live in London realize how freaking awesome it is that they can just GO LOOK AT THE QUEEN’S HOUSE. Sorry about the all-caps, that’s just how strongly I feel about it. So yes, we walked to Buck House and scouted out some possible places to watch the changing of the guard from. The original plan had been to watch it from the steps of the statue, but we were there early enough that I suggested we get right up against the fence. Anyone who knows me will tell you I panic in crowds, so this might not have been the best idea I’ve ever had.
The changing of the guards itself was…underwhelming. After watching the Horseguards do it with plumed helmets, swords, and horses on Monday, a bunch of blokes stomping about with guns accompanied by 2 duelling marching bands wasn’t quite what I expected. (I made a “Battle of the Bands” joke, if you’re curious. There were either no English-speaking tourists near me, or nobody with a sense of humour, because I didn’t even get a smirk.) It just seemed really touristy and a bit over-the-top. The basics of the procedure were similar to the changing I saw in Oslo, Norway, but the bands obscured the practical bit of it, and the resulting experience just seemed too pageant-y for my liking. I love touristy stuff, but hate feeling like a tourist. Life is hard, y’all.
I got bored of the bands after a while, and we ended up leaving before the whole song and dance was over. Mom didn’t mind – she saw the changing of the guards back in the days before the guards marched about with alarmingly large guns and such (I promised not to reveal the actual date, lest a mathematically-minded reader suss out her true age.) I took no photos of the guards, because I keep doing this weird thing where I experience live through my eyes and not on a screen, then come home and curse my stupidity when I realize I have no photos for the blog. Life is hard, y’all. We did take a photo of me with the Palace in the background, though, so all is not lost.
Having passed the Queen’s Mews previously (and immediately looked up the hours of opening, of course), we returned to take a peek around the barns. There was a free audio tour, which we both took, and which resulted in the following ridiculous photograph.
There were beautiful carriages (with all of the back story on each), lovely cars, and (most importantly) horses! My mother enjoyed the carriages, I enjoyed the horses, and we both learned that the royal chauffeurs never get out of the car to open the doors for their passenger(s). Instead, someone outside the car must open the door, as the chauffeur’s job is to remain invisible. Weird and true. There was just so much horse-related awesomeness that I am not sure where to start.
The audio info was fantastic, and included a lot of information about how the horses are trained, why the Queen’s carriages use postillion driving (where there is a rider on one of the horses in the team – it makes driving a large team much easier), and how they identify which horses will be best for the duty.
Because I cannot get enough of horses (and because my mother is endlessly patient), we then visited the Horseguards Museum. We learned about a very interesting group of soldiers (they’re not called a group, they’re actually the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment), and I immediately decided on a career change. This is what I would look like if I chose to join the army:
I can make that joke now because there is no hope of me ever being recruited to the Household Cavalry – they only take men. I would also need a minimum of indefinite leave to remain in the UK, though they claim to recruit “throughout the Commonwealth.” Given the extreme difficulty of obtaining such a visa status these days, they might want to update that sign.
I’d bought tickets for “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 12 February well in advance, because I wanted to take Mom to a West End musical. The theatre isn’t in the West End, but the price was right, and it was a show that I really wanted to see. If you haven’t seen it, BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW. Without giving too much away, we really need more big musicals where the two leads are women. What a fabulous curtain call – two women, front and center, and one was green. (It’s a great show. I have more than one of the songs on my iPod in heavy rotation.)
By the time the show was over, it was time for dinner and then back to our lovely pink hotel for some Olympics and early to bed – Day Four involved some early rising!