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The Queen’s Life Guard are mounted troopers of the Household Cavalry. The Horse Guard House is located between Whitehall (off of The Mall) and the Horse Parade ground. There are two mounted troopers on guard outside the Whitehall entrance to the Horse Guard House daily from 10am to 4pm. Thankfully they change out every hour ~ it would be hard to put up with silly tourist getting up in their faces trying to make them respond for much longer than an hour. I love the sign that warns the horses may bite or kick. There are two dismounted sentries on duty until 8pm when the gates are locked.

There is a changing of the Horse Guard Ceremony weekends at 11am and on Sundays at 10am. When the Queen is in London, the Long Guard consists of: 1 Officer, 1 Corporal Major who carries the Standard, 2 Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), 1 Trumpeter and 10 Troopers.  When the Queen is out-of-town, it is known as the Short Guard which consists of: 2 NCOs and 10 Troopers. The Ceremony begins with the Old Guard coming through the Arch to the Horse Parade and lining up on the north side. The New Guard rides in from Hyde Park and lines up on the south side. As the New Guard arrives, each Guard carries their Standard and the Trumpeters of both the Old and New Guard sound the Royal Salute.

So glad I finally went to see the Changing of the Horse Guards ceremony yesterday. Very tradional ceremony and what’s not to like about seeing gorgeous horses ~ they are big with lots of spunk. Kudos to the troopers for keeping those big beasts under control for such a long time.

New Guards riding in from Hyde Park

New Guards riding in from Hyde Park

Horse Guards

Horse Guards

Horse Guard Change

Horse Guard Change

Mounted Trooper

Mounted Trooper

Old Guard

Old Guard

Horse Guard Exchange

New Guard on left, Old Guard on right

Horse Guard

Horse Guard

New Guard

New Guard

Trupeter ~ Queen is in London!

Trumpeter ~ Queen is in London!

Spunky Horses

Spunky Horses

Horse Guard leaving for Hyde Park

Horse Guard leaving for Hyde Park

Wolseley on Horse Statue

Wolseley on Horse Statue at the Horse Parade Grounds

London Eye

View of London Eye from the Horse Parade

WWI Memorial across from the Horse Parade

WWI Memorial across from the Horse Parade

Horse Guards with Wolseley Statue in background

Horse Guards with Wolseley Statue in background

Horse Guard

Horse Guard

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Camden Lock Road Sign

Camden Lock Road Sign

It’s hard to resist having a snack once you get to Camden Market. There are so many wonderful choices and many different countries represented. The only problem is deciding on which one to choose. I originally was going to go with the Ala Turko Kebabs:

Ala Turko Kebabs

Ala Turko Kebabs

but then I saw the plantains at Mama’s Jamaican Jerk and couldn’t resist. Turns out the Veggie Wrap was delicious with just the right amount of spices to make it hot but not painful. If you like it really spicy, you can request a dash of their hot sauce.

Mama's Jerk Station

Mama’s Jerk Station

Logan chose the freshly made vegetarian sushi. I so wanted to taste it but didn’t think it would go with my spicy meal.

Sushi Made Fresh

Sushi Made Fresh

John had the pulled pork and thought it was very tasty:

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Not only did we each have delicious food, we were thoroughly entertained by people-watching as well as boat watching.

Photo Shoot in Progress at Camden Market

Photo Shoot in Progress at Camden Market

Lock Broken ~ Boat Backing Up

Lock Broken ~ Boat Backing Up

Original Keystone of the Old Bridge (circa 1815)

Original Keystone of the Old Bridge (circa 1815)

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Bridge Arch Along the Canal

On Sunday, we decided to continue along the Regents Canal trail ~ this time heading for Camden Market. I’ve been to Camden Market before (click here) but instead of taking the bus, we walked through Regents Park and along the canal. Regents Park fields were full of the big boys playing Football whereas on Saturday it’s the kids’ leagues on the field. Another example of active and fit Londoners.

 

Blow Up Bridge

Blow Up Bridge

There’s a story behind every bridge and the “Blow-Up” bridge was blown up in 1874 by the boat “Tilbury” which was carrying gunpowder. It demolished the bridge when it exploded, killing three people. When the bridge was rebuilt, the pillars were turned so the smooth side faced out for the boats towing ropes. You can see the ropes groves on both sides of the pillars.

Here’s a bit of what we saw along the way to Camden Market:

Floating Restaurant on Regents Canal

Floating Restaurant on Regents Canal

The blue sky came out for a hot minute:

Church and Directional Signs along Regents Canal

Church and Directional Signs along Regents Canal

Church Window

Church Window

Manor Works Along the Canal

Manor Works Along the Canal

Cow on Balcony of Canal House

Cow on Balcony of Canal House

Ducks on a Sinking Boat

Ducks on a Sinking Boat

Boat Landing for the Zoo

Boat Landing for the Zoo

Along Regents Canal near Camden Market

Pirate Castle near Camden Market

Pirate Castle near Camden Market

Bridge Over the Canal

Bridge Over the Canal

Camden Lock

Camden Lock

We enjoyed the beautiful day and I plan to walk through Regents Park frequently throughout spring and summer. The flowers are just starting to bloom and I can tell it’s going to be absolutely gorgeous in a few short weeks. Time to get the allergy medicine ready!

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Took a wonderful early morning four mile walk today. It was a little chilly cold but not raining so I’m not complaining. We started out at the Paddington Basin of the Regents Canal near Edgware Road and walked towards Little Venice ~ an especially tranquil and pretty part of London.

Near Edgeware Road and Paddington Train Station.

Paddington Basin ~ Blue Cylinder Footbridge

We came across the realistic looking “commuter” statue:

JP with Commuter

JP with Commuter

Regents Canal is beautiful year round ~ even on a cold, grey winter’s day. The cloudy morning seemed to make any type of color pop and I especially liked the vibrant blue bridges as a contrast to the grey weather.

Little Venice ~ Blue Bridge

Little Venice ~ Blue Bridge

Little Venice Blue Bridge II

Little Venice Blue Bridge II

Little Venice ~ Along the Canal

Little Venice ~ Along the Canal

Skull on Canal Boat

Skull on Canal Boat

Lionhardt Canal Boat

Lionheart Canal Boat

Another Blue Bridge Along the Canal

Another Blue Bridge Along the Canal

There was a definite chill in the air but I noticed a few hints of spring along the way. Gave me hope that warmer weather is on its way.

Another Hint of Spring ~ Daffodils

Hint of Spring ~ Daffodils

Here are my duck and dog photos:

Bird in Water

Bird in Water

Birds in the Canal

Bird in the Canal

Five Guys and a Girl

Five Guys and a Girl

Double Dating Ducks

Double Dating Ducks

A Boy and His Dog

A Boy and His Dog

Another Boy and His Dog

Another Boy and His Dog

Shaggy Dog

Shaggy Dog

London has a lot of fit people. No matter what time of day or night I go out, I see walkers, runners or cyclists. Although I’m usually reluctant about taking photos of people, I’ve noticed athletes don’t seem to have a problem with me taking their photo. Can’t blame them for wanting to show off their fit bodies. One woman ran by me and actually asked if I wanted her in the photo. She was ready to pose.

Runners, Cyclists and Walkers along Regents Canal

Runners, Cyclists and Walkers along Regents Canal

Cyclist Along the Canal

Cyclist Along the Canal

Waiting at the Stop Light

Waiting at the Stop Light

Wonder if any of those runners/cyclists rewarded themselves with a pastry from Le Pain de Quotidien like I did!

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Logan and I had a great time at London Fashion Weekend ~ an event which follows London Fashion Week (those tickets available by invitation only). Basically the weekend consists of fashion shows and designer shops set up throughout Somerset House. All clothing and shoes were at discounted rates but, even at discounts, the prices are still too steep for me. Fashionista I’m not.

London Fashion Weekend

We attended the Trend Catwalk styled by the legendary stylist and award-winning fashion director, Hilary Alexander. Both Logan and I were inspired by the show to work on our spring wardrobes ~ the four trends in the show were Graphic, Urban, Eastern Promise and Doll House. The clothes were all so beautiful and the models were so professional (and pretty). My favorite is the Graphic Art trend (very sixties) and Logan’s is the Dolls House. We plan on hitting the High street to get the latest fashions or better yet, going online for the lowest prices of the new trends. As the host of the show said, it’s time to put away the winter black. Hmmm…I thought that was a year-round color.We enjoyed shopping and my favorite store was Melabelle. It’s a British label by Bella Cager. Logan bought a beautiful spring top which I might have to borrow. The woman running the shop was friendly and gorgeous ~ no doubt a model. On this, the coldest day of winter so far, I was especially drawn to the LONG sleeved dresses in the Melabelle line. Just what I need to get me through the rest of our stay in London.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a cold winter’s day ~ dreaming of spring (or at least spring fashion).

My attempt at being a fashion photographer was rather poor and I didn’t get much of the Graphic Art styles because I was adjusting to the lighting. Here’s what I ended up with:

Fashion Advice from the Experts

Fashion Advice from the Experts

Graphic Art Dress

Graphic Art Dress~ Designer: David Koma

Eastern Promise Dresses

Eastern Promise Dresses ~ Designer: Charlotte Taylor

Eastern Promise Outfit

Eastern Promise Outfit

Urban Chic

Urban Chic Hi-Tech Cycling Outfit ~ Designer: Stephanie Kitchen

Urban Style

Urban Style

Doll House Dress

Dolls House Dress ~ Designer: Meadham Kirchhoff

Doll House Outfit

Doll House Outfit ~ Miss Selfridge (Tank), Topshop (skirt)

Eastern Promise

Eastern Promise Outfit

Eastern Promise Outfit

Eastern Promise

Eastern Promise

Dolls House Outfit

Dolls House Outfit ~

Eastern Promise Head Wear

Eastern Promise Head Wear

Dolls House Dress

Dolls House Dress ~ Liz Black (Dress) Piers Atkinson (headpiece)

Dolls House Dress

Dolls House Dress ~  Designer:Holly Fulton

Dolls House Dress

Dolls House Dress

Dolls House Outfit

Dolls House Outfit

Going into the Finale

Going into the Finale

Graphic Art Pink and Balck Dress

Graphic Art Pink and Balck Dress ~ Desginer: Liz Black

Graphic Art Orange

Graphic Art Orange ~ Desginer:  Roksanda Ilincic

Catwalk Finale

Catwalk Finale

End of the show

End of the show

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One thing I’ve learned while living in London is planning ahead is essential. I’ve been attempting to plan at least five or six months ahead ~ events sell out quickly here.

Trooping the Colour” is a ceremony which dates back to the 1700s. The reason for the ceremony, done before battle, was to ensure every soldier could recognize his unit’s colours (each Battalion had a brightly coloured flag) and so all ranks could recognize the colours at the assembly point after battle. As of 1748, the ceremony became part of the Sovereign’s birthday celebration when the trooping was done by the Grenadier Guards. Then in 1760, during George III’s reign, it was ordered that a parade should mark the monarch’s birthday. Except for wartime exceptions, it’s become an annual event.

This year, the birthday parade will be on 15 June 2013 (Saturday). If you’re interested in seeing the ceremony, tickets are chosen through a lottery and although I’m usually not very lucky with drawings, I sent my request in for any of the three “Trooping the Colour” ceremonies. There’s the official “Trooping the Colour” on 15 June but also two other rehearsal dates. The first rehearsal will be on 1 June and the second rehearsal will be on 8 June.

To be considered, send a self-addressed stamped envelope and a request for the amount of tickets you require (no more than 3 tickets per application) no later than 28 February to:

The Brigade Major
Headquarters Household Division
Horse
Guards
Whitehall
London SW1A 2AX

The drawing will be in early March and those selected will be contacted. Once selected, payment will be requested. The cost is currently not on the website. For additional information about the Parade events, click here.

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Thirtysome years ago, at the end of a High School class trip into New York City, I went to see my first Broadway show ~ A Chorus Line. I loved it and that’s when I became a fan of musicals. It originally opened at the Shubert Theater on Broadway in 1975 and closed on April 28, 1990. The show had some serious staying power but I never had the chance to go back and see it on Broadway.

Recently, A Chorus Line opened in London at the Palladium Theater which is within walking distance of our flat. Very convenient. I was thrilled when John came home yesterday with half price tickets to see last night’s performance. I wasn’t quite so thrilled when I got to the theater and we were in the nosebleed far above the stage upper circle. I have eye-strain from trying to see the dancers. Oddly, the women next to me actually took off her big boots which I accidentally kept kicking because they were in my foot space. But once the show started, I got lost in the dancing and the music.

Full House at the Palladium

Full House at the Palladium

A Chorus Line is about dancers auditioning for a Broadway Musical. No surprise, there’s lots of dancing, but the dancers are asked by the director, Zach to tell about their backgrounds. He wants to get to know them before he selects the eight he needs for the chorus line. The set is simple ~ black backdrop and mirrors. Nothing else. No fancy props or stage sets. It’s about their passion for dance and about the dancers themselves. The show is a two-hour non-stop musical adventure. There’s no intermission so be sure to get your drinks before it starts. The show last night was true to the original. If you go, you seriously need to consider the context of the 1970s. Dancers ambitions were to dance on Broadway which was the pinnacle of their careers. They weren’t trying out for MTV since there was no MTV. They spoke using 70’s vernacular. Also, in the 70s, coming out as gay was more difficult and less accepted than today. Embrace that it is “dated.”

It was great fun to hear the familiar tunes such as “Dance Ten, Looks Three”, “Kiss Today Goodbye”, “One” and “At the Ballet.” All the singers are wonderful. I couldn’t help but compare it to the original. Since the show just started 12 days ago, it seemed to me the dancers are still getting their rhythm with each other worked out. Some scenes seemed a little stiff. The chemistry between the two main characters (Zach the director and Cassie who is his auditioning ex-girlfriend) needs a little more development/chemistry. The most distracting part for me though was the “American accents” and attitude of the dancers. A person from the Bronx is very different in both attitude and accent from the perky kid fresh off the Missouri farm. Last night, I found the dancers to be much too homogenous for this show. I realize it is very difficult for British actors to get a localized accent down but it’s a critical part of the show. The storyline is about dancers from all over the US coming to audition for a Broadway show and then by the end of the show, you can’t tell them apart from one another.

A side note: One thing I really enjoyed about Rock of Ages is the lead actor had me totally convinced he was a Californian circa the 1980s. No doubt about it. Attitude and accent were spot-on. But when he spoke to the audience after the show, he reverted to his English accent and admitted he’s from Essex. I was so shocked!

If you’ve ever had to come together as a group, whether it be dancing or marching in step, I think you’ll enjoy the show. John could relate because he was on Sword Drill at The Citadel (his alma mater). It was a group of cadets from different walks of life who performed a drill~ reminded me of A Chorus Line as they also look like one singular sensation:

Sword Drill "Singular Sensation"

Sword Drill “Singular Sensation”

A Chorus Line

A Chorus Line

Bottom line ~ I recommend A Chorus Line . Since my daughter is a dancer and didn’t get to go with us, I’ve already purchased tickets for the two of us to go in May. I was able to get 4th row seats and I’m really looking forward to seeing it upclose.

If you want to purchase tickets, click here. The show will run until 18 January 2014. They have matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Closed on Mondays. There is a minimum age of 5 years old but I wouldn’t recommend it for under 10 years old ~ mostly because of the two hours with no intermission. Tickets for the stalls (floor) run £67.50 although there are a few which are more expensive. Again, I would not recommend sitting in the upper circle for this particular show ~ it’s more intimate so it’s best to be closer to the stage.

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Note to self: No matter how cost-effective ~ do NOT book a 7 am flight out of Gatwick on a Sunday morning. Since we don’t have a car in London, we rely on public transportation. On Sundays, the trains don’t run as early as during the weekdays. The 5am train was packed and we got to Gatwick with only 1 hour and 20 minutes before the flight was scheduled to take off.  Not much time to check a bag and get through security.  Thankfully, we made it to the gate before they closed the doors. Confession: we did cut in line at security.

All the travel stress melted away when we landed in Malaga ~ it was a balmy 21° (68° F) and sunny! Oh, how I’ve missed you Vitamin D. Logan and I checked-in at the hotel and promptly got into the Spanish culture by taking a 2 hour siesta.

From our hotel, we walked about 10 minutes to the town center and came upon the end of Malaga’s Carnival celebration. It’s a beautiful town and we only heard one other English-speaking couple. This area is a bastion for British visitors but my understanding is most go to the beach resorts just outside of town. Logan and I preferred to get a little more into the Spanish culture and practice our Spanish (such that it is) so we opted for a stay in Malaga.

Fountain in Malaga

Fountain in Malaga

Glimpse of the Cathedral in Malaga

Glimpse of the Cathedral in Malaga

Carnaval in Malaga 2013

Carnival in Malaga 2013

Logan in Malaga

Logan in Malaga

Statue at PLaza de la Mercer

Statue at PLaza de la Merced

Malaga Carnaval decorations

Malaga Carnival decorations

We decided to eat dinner at “La Lechuga” ~ a place called The Lettuce seemed like a good start for a couple of vegetarians. It’s located at Plaza de la Merced ~ birthplace of Picasso. La Lechuga was a great choice ~ very yummy! And not for just veggies, there were chicken, duck and other animals on the menu.

Mozzarella and tomato salad

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Train Tickets to Gatwick Airport: √
Easy Jet Tickets to Málaga, Spain: √
Hotel in Málaga: √
Euros in my purse: √

Living in London for a year already makes me feel like I’m on a vacation so I find it odd to plan another trip. I did manage to get the basics done for my first trip to Spain, which starts tomorrow, but I’ve done very little no planning for once we’re there. This is a first for me as I’m not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl. In fact, I usually have a detailed, typed itinerary to include the cheapest places to park.

I do know I want to take a day trip to see The Alhambra and spend a day at the beach (we’re forecasted for one sunny day).  That leaves three other days to explore. Any suggestions from those who’ve been there will be much appreciated.

Meanwhile back in London, it’s been an eventful week. Went to Westminster Abbey for a guided tour. The tour started at 11am and it was already way too crowded. I would recommend getting there when it opens. Despite the crowds, it was well worth the visit. The Abbey is AMAZING and has so much history to it. Unfortunately, no photography allowed inside.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Oldest Door in the UK (Westminster Abbey) circa 1050s

Oldest Door in the UK (Westminster Abbey) circa 1050s

Battle of Britain Monument ~ near Westminster

Battle of Britain Monument ~ near Westminster

London Eye on a sunny London day

London Eye on a sunny London day

On Wednesday, I joined 87,452 football fans to watch the England v. Brazil match. My first professional football match. What fun ~ cold, but fun! I was impressed with the crowd control at Wembley Stadium and there was only one time I felt claustrophobic (when we were heading back to the train). Logan and I are ready to go again but would like to see a Real Madrid match.

English Flag made by the fans

English Flag made by the fans

England v. Brazil ~ start of the match

England v. Brazil ~ start of the match

Yesterday, John went to the half off theater stand and got “We Will Rock You” tickets for £25. We enjoyed the show and the lead singer (the Dreamer) was outstanding. If you’re flexible and can purchase your tickets the day of, then there are great bargains to be had. We’re trying to take advantage of the proximity and low costs ~ so many great shows to see!

The Dominion Theater

The Dominion Theater

London’s Chinatown is getting ready for the New Year’s celebration and unfortunately we’re going to miss it but hoping to catch a Fat Tuesday celebration in Málaga.

London's Chinatown getting ready for New Year celebrations.

London’s Chinatown getting ready for New Year celebrations.

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I See. I Photograph. I Download. I Cringe.

When I download my photos, the vision I thought I captured isn’t quite what shows up in the photo. Occasionally, I’m surprised and it’s a great shot. Unfortunately, those are few and far between or I realize John took the photo. When my friend suggested taking a photography class, I jumped at the chance to improve my camera skills.

We showed up yesterday, along with three other ladies, at The Hairy Goat Photography Tours for what ended up being a 7+ hour beginners class. We all had a similar goal ~ taking our cameras off of auto! We spent the 4 hours learning about our cameras with our very knowledgable instructor Michael. After lunch, we ventured outdoors for practical applications of our new knowledge. Both Michael (the instructor) and Corinna (the owner) went on the walking tour so we had very individualized attention. First stop was Leadenhall Market which was very dark at the time. Great to practice ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings. If you’re interested in taking a class with Hairy Goat while you’re in London, click here for more information.

Leadenhall Market, London

Leadenhall Market, London

Cheese Store

Cheese Store

I follow several blogs/websites whose photos inspire me such as Perry Sorenson Photography and Ron Scubadiver’s Wild Life ~ they do a great job capturing fabulous places and people. Makes me want to do the same ~ document life’s wonders!

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