I used to live in England many years ago. As soon as I would finish my work on Friday, I would hop the train from East Anglia and head to London. It’s become one of my favorite cities in the world, and I know it better than I do just about anywhere else I’ve lived. So when I was asked to come and speak at “SQL In The City” by my friends at Redgate software, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to bring my family over to see this amazing place, so I bought a couple of plane tickets and we took off across the Atlantic.
From Seattle and with the connections and plane changes, we left at 0530 in the morning on Wednesday and got to England at 0600 on Thursday London time. I have a “patented 6-hour London tour” I’ve done for lots of friends, so I didn’t let our lack of sleep and food slow us down. We arrived at the Paddington train station from the express in record time, so it was still early when we arrived.
From there we walked through Hyde Park – with a beautiful sunny day out and as early as it was we nearly had the place all to ourselves.
We stopped by a small shop and had an “English Big Breakfast” – which is a heart-stopping level of food consisting of eggs, a rack of toast, bacon (the English kind, more like our ham steaks), sausage, baked beans, a fried tomato, potatoes and roasted mushrooms. We were hungry enough to finish that off in no time.
But a notice on a door nearby gave us pause…
It was clear professional help was needed. We rushed to a very famous address…
Although we checked at the right place, and even at a nearby breakfast shop, we couldn’t locate the person we needed.
Happily, we ran into him shortly thereafter and put him on the right trail.
From there we continued our trek. I took the ladies down to Trafalgar square, the center of London for me.
There’s a church near there called “Saint Martin’s in the Field” where Mozart once played. At lunchtime they have a concerto from London’s Academy of Music, which I used to attend all the time.
From there we walked along the embankment of the Thames River, where you can see the London “Eye”, the bridge next to the houses of Parliament, and of course Big Ben.
From there we visited Westminster Abbey where the Kings and Queens are crowned.
the six-hour tour was over – at this point we had walked about 8 miles, so we went back to the hotel for a quick shower before meeting some friends for dinner.
The next day I had my speaking engagement, so the ladies rode the London Underground to see the Tower of London. After all, with the 6-hour tour done they now knew where everything was.
I think that was Prince Charles Marjorie was hanging out with. Not really sure about that one. From there the ladies went to see Buckingham Palace, where the Queen lives.
That night, a meeting with friends again for a “Proper Curry” and then we rested for our final day. We had a lot more to see, so we needed a few hours of sleep.
The next morning it was pouring rain – not typical London rain, but actual, real, Florida-style rain. We headed out to Covent Garden (an old marketplace), and from there to Fleet Street – London’s banking and news capitol.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favorite sights to see in London. We spent half a day there, and if you ever get the chance to go, set aside time. It’s just too stunning for words.
When it came time to eat, there’s only one choice – the “Cheshire Cheese”, where every dignitary since 1667 (rebuilt after London’s great fire) has eaten. Christina got her first taste of “Pub-Grub”, a chicken and mushroom pie with peas.
From there we hopped across the Thames to the rebuilt “Globe Theatre” near where the original Shakespeare’s theatre stood.
From there it was a trip back across the Tower Bridge. I actually sprung for a double-decker bus ride instead of making us walk even more.
The next morning we were up at 0500, walked a few miles back to the train station, and took off for home.
We got to see a lot in just three days. In all the years I lived there, I found that every time I visited the city of London I found another experience. And I was so thrilled I got to spend it with my family. If you ever are there when I’m working again, check with me about giving you the patented tour. Bring some sturdy walking shoes, and a lot of caffeine.