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Thursday, June 23, 2016

UK & Canary Islands Travelogue | Buckingham Palace, Westminister Abbey, Tower of London & Dinner with the Wongs

I never understood why the British loved to talk about the weather till I went to the UK. In Singapore, we pretty much have sun, and rain but the rain never lasts and the heat always prevails. In the UK however, the opposite happens. Even if it isn't raining, the day feels gloomy at least until the sun peeks out for the tiniest bit and all feels good for that short period of time.

This was one of those days, where the sun never appears and the clouds keep up its incessant spitting of rain. It was honestly pretty miserable trudging around in the cold but we had loads on our list to do that day so that was what we did. Our first stop was to Buckingham Palace. It was amazing because we made it in the nick of time to catch the changing of guard parade, just like when we visited Windsor Castle. 

It was insanely crowded and there were so many tourists around it was mad. We had to squeeze our way to catch a glimpse of the guards as they entered the gates of the palace and even then, we weren't allowed to stop and take photos because we had to keep moving. I did manage to sneak a cheeky little photo right before the guard asked us to hurry along.

Since we were in the area, we wandered along to St James's Park and there were quite a few cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Who says you have to go to Japan to admire the cherry blossoms? Though not as majestic as the ones in Japan because there were only the odd few trees, and they weren't very close to each other, these ones were good enough for me.

There were so many ducks and geese in the pond and waddling around and they got me in a frenzy because they were so adorable. Whilst immensely graceful when in water, these little nuggets are horribly awkward on land and it is amusing to see the way they waddle.

It was really lovely being able to walk around the park and breathe in fresh, crisp air because that is something we never get back home. The wind was pretty strong that day so after a while we wandered off to the nearest Pret-a-Manger and got ourselves some food for lunch as well as coffee to warm ourselves up.

Next on the list was to head to Westminister Abbey. Westminster Abbey is steeped in more than a thousand years of history. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day.

 The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The present church, begun by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, with the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint still at its heart.

A treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts, Westminster Abbey is also the place where some of the most significant people in the nation's history are buried or commemorated. Taken as a whole the tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in the United Kingdom. (Credit: x)

We didn't actually head into the Abbey but we did spend a little time in the gift shop before heading off in search of Big Ben which we saw from afar. We had so much to cover that day that we basically didn't go near or into most of the places but chose to just take photos of them from afar. That was what we did with the Tower of London as well.

We did, however, walk the length of the Tower Bridge. It always is an experience seeing something from a distance and finding them really tiny. Yet when you actually get close to the structure and/or walk on it, you then truly realise just how massive it is. That was the case with the Tower Bridge. It did look a lot more impressive from a distance than actually walking on it though.

During our search for a place to have afternoon tea, we came across the HMS Belfast Kitchen Deli and popped inside for a cheeky spot of tea. I had the loveliest cup of hot chocolate, mum had her tea and dad had his usual cup of coffee. Mum also opted for a scone which I didn't share because I'm not a fan of scones but it was great because after walking for the whole day, we needed to rest our weary feet and what better way to do so than with an unobstructed view of the river?

We had time for one last stop before we met the Wongs for dinner so we made our way to Borough Market. Unfortunately by the time we reached, most of the stalls were closed and there wasn't much left on sale or even to see. One thing I love about Singapore that I never seem to find in a lot of places is the fact that shops don't usually close till 10pm on even weekday nights. However, in places like the UK, Canada, even the Canary Islands, most of the shops are close by 5pm, if not 6pm. So let's say you feel like doing a spot of shopping after work, guess what, most of the shops are closed and you'll probably have to come back on the weekend to be able to do so. 

For dinner, we met the Wongs at The Fat Bear and the food there was great. As you can probably guess, I got the Tennessee Hot Fried Chicken which honestly was so good. The portions were huge as usual and I was so stuffed at the end I didn't have space in my belly for desserts but since mum wanted a bit of ice cream, I did share some with her. Naughty me.

Tennessee Hot Fried Chicken (£13.50)
Spicy fried chicken, crisp fries & chilli pickled slaw

Chipotle Glazed Braised Beef Short Rib (£20)
Braised in beef jus with a range of chillies, served with fries and spiced beef gravy

Chicken, Andouille & Shrimp Gumbo with Rice (£16)
Spicy stew with chicken, pork sausage and prawn

Spicy Seafood Jambalaya and Herb-crusted Catfish (£18)
Monkfish, shrimp and crab rice dish with fried catfish

Southern Corn-Fed Fried Chicken & Waffles (£13.50)
Corn-fed buttermilk fried chicken, waffles and honey mustard sesame maple syrup

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Till the next one! x

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