Tuesday Trip Report: Westminster Abbey and the Embassy in London

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Having  a good recovery day after overdoing it a bit in London yesterday 🙂  It is so hard for me to believe that this time last week (writing this at 4pm) I was in labor at the hospital!  I am so thankful for the fast labor and safe delivery; we are so blessed!  Last night Daniel slept like he was supposed to after each of his nighttime feedings – so I got around 6 hours of sleep split up into three parts by feeding a cute little baby.  Today the midwife came for the 5 day visit (even though he’s 7 days old today – we were too busy on days 5 and 6) to do the “heel prick” test where they get a little blood from his heel to run a few genetic tests.  She also weighed him, and he is now 7 pounds, 14 ounces, up 3 ounces since birth.  I really like it that they come out to your house for these visits so you don’t have to take a tiny baby in to a clinic.   So…about London 🙂

On our last trip in to the city I walked by Westminster Abbey with Meriwether and realized it was a place I’d like to tour around (I had kind of decided previously that it was just another big, old cathedral, and we’ve been to several of those already, so I didn’t feel the need to see inside.)  We decided that, if there was time after the Embassy, we would head over there, since it was just John, Daniel, and me, and this was preferred over dragging the other five kids through another old building (They are really over all the castles, cathedrals, and pubs and just want to go back to the states.)  I probably had about 2 -3 hours of sleep, and I think John maybe slept a little more than that – probably 3-ish hours – so we started the day off thinking perhaps we’d just go home after the Embassy.  We also were unsure of whether or not we had actually scheduled the 8:30am appointment, because while rereading the website after seeing Batman the night before, we noticed that we were supposed to have received a confirmation email with an appointment time sheet that you need to print out and bring with you – and we had not received said email.  Needless to say, we were pretty nervous that we’d be turned away when we got there, and that didn’t help our sleeping any either.  I forgot to mention another oddity of the trip – seeing the movie cost us about $35 for our two tickets and then about $40 for our snacks.  And it was just for the two of us.  Can you believe that!?!

We packed up our things and were out of the hotel by 7:50am, leaving most of our bags at the hotel (awesome!) in their bag check.  We walked the fifteen minutes over to the US Embassy, stopping into Starbucks for some quick fortification.

When we got there we waited in a line outside the gates where they checked to make sure you were on the appointment list.  Thank the Lord, there we were – Daniel Armstrong – passport and birth certificate – 8:30am.  We were SO HAPPY that our terrible night’s sleep, the hotel room, the long trip into the city, and having my mom stay with the other five children (not an easy thing either) had not all been for nothing.  There were no other available appointments online until August 23rd, and we hope to be flying home before August 15 or so.  So we had no idea how we’d even get another appointment if we weren’t on the schedule for this one.  Also, we don’t have many other “free” days, since we have to go to the American base an hour away on Thursday for Daniel’s circumcision and need to spend the rest of this week separating our things out before the movers come on Monday.  The movers will be here all of next week, and the following week we leave for Scotland on Tuesday until the next Monday – and want to fly out soon after that.  So, as you can see, this visit to the Embassy was pretty important!!

John had to walk a few blocks away to a small pharmacy that must make a killing storing things for people and paid four pounds to store our cellphones and cameras, since no electronic devices are allowed in the Embassy (This was on their website, but we wanted ours with us, not knowing what the rest of the day would bring.  We had left our other small bags back at the hotel.)  Then they checked on another list for our appointment and let us through to security.  Finally, we were inside the gates!  It was a pretty inefficient process inside, and to make a long story short, we didn’t leave the Embassy until close to 11am.  They should be sending us his passport in about 2 weeks, so all is right with the world 🙂  Here are a few pictures taken outside the Embassy.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

State Flags – can you spot Texas?

John, Daniel, and the US Embassy

We walked back to our hotel, grabbed our bags (I changed into a tank top because it was getting pretty hot – a beautiful day!!)  and then set off for the Marble Arch tube station to go to Westminster.  Our spirits had definitely been lifted by the blessing it was to have our names on that appointment list, so we had decided to make an effort at some siteseeing.  Already I could tell from general bodily soreness and a headache that the best place for me would be a bed, but even if we had decided to go straight home there would have been the train out to where we parked and a 90 minute drive, so we just figured we’d take advantage of being in the city this one last time.  Here are a few pictures from between our hotel and the tube station.  I’ve tried to get a good one of this horse before, but never succeeded 🙂

Marble Arch

Here we are heading to the train at Marble Arch Tube Station:

We arrived at the Westminster station and decided it was time to feed the baby and have some lunch.  We walked along the Thames towards the Tower Bridge to eat at a boat that is moored there which John had been told about by a friend in the Ministry of Defense.  They always refer to it as the General Belgrano (which is the name of an Argentine cruiser sunk by the British submarine HMS Conqueror), but actually the restaurant is called P.S. Tattershall Castle, which is the real name of the ship.

They have designated spots in the London Underground for musicians to play for money.  I don’t think this would work for bagpipes, though 🙂 They would blow everyone away with their volume.  We did hear bagpipes while walking over to Westminster and spotted a piper in the middle of one of the bridges crossing the Thames.

Here’s a picture of the boat where we ate – it was even too hot for us on deck!

Daniel’s first Guinness

An RAF monument seen on the walk to the restaurant

Looking back at Big Ben from the restaurant on the Thames

We had a lovely lunch – a bread tray to start with dipping oils, and a salmon/mango/avocado salad for me, with jumbalaya for John. Yummy!!

Then we were all set to walk back up to Westminster Abbey.  Walking along we noticed painted on the street – they have a separate lane of traffic just for the Olympics — in effect from tomorrow through the end of the games.

I make this sound easy and quick, but really, it was a lot of walking, and I was pretty beat.  John also was carrying all three of our bags, as well as Daniel in the Baby Bjorn, so he was hurting too.  By the time we got to the Abbey I could have just left and found a bench to sleep on, but we persevered and went in for a tour using the Audio Guide.  I haven’t asked John what he thought, but he seemed to enjoy it well enough, and I am really glad we went in.  No photography allowed in almost the whole place (of course. What’s up with that, though – a lot of the really neat places we visit won’t allow pictures 😦 ) — it was really interesting passing the tomb of Henry II and Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots, and tons of other monarchs (17 monarchs are buried here).  They have crowned the monarchs here since 1066 – and this present Abbey was begun by Henry III in 1245…so it is quite impressive.

Nothing was so impressive, though, that it led me to break the rules – we’ve seen St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with other famous kings and such buried there, and old doors from the 1000s and 1100s…that is, until we saw this:

The tomb of Handel

There’s a part of the Abbey called “Poets’ Corner” because Geoffrey Chaucer was buried there so then they named it that and started burying other famous writers, etc, in that area.  I’m sorry folks – I can’t stand next to the tomb of Handel and not snap a photo for my own personal memories…too much beauty has come from that man’s pen for me not to want to have a picture of the tribute they made for him.

These pictures are crooked because I was trying to be sneaky while taking them.  This led me to further break the rules because of the other great men (and women – George Eliot) buried in Poets’ Corner.

Another tribute to Handel

There were also a few we spotted on our way to the exit that I had to capture.

“Mr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Here I am by an old strong room door – a part of the Abbey that’s been there since before 1100.  (Photos were allowed here.)

I took this one on our way back to the tube station – the outside of Westminster Abbey – along with a few other neat pictures of the Houses of Parliament and such.  Here’s also one of John with Big Ben from when we first got off the train.

Once we made it to the train we were so beat, and the first train was jam-packed and quite warm.  I was thankful for my nursing cover as I was able to discreetly feed our crying baby even in a packed subway car. We only had to change trains once, and when we did, we were on more of a commuter train to further outlying areas, so it wasn’t as crowded, and the ride was nice.  We hit a lot of traffic on the way home because it was evening rush hour (4pm when we got to the van – 4:45pm by the time we reached the motorway due to being held up by an accident.)  We had to stop at the first rest area we found to get something to revive us so we could make it home.  Combine: No sleep, walking around London all day, driving straight west into the afternoon sun.  A recipe for being really tired at the wheel!! John did a great job, and we made it home around 6:30pm to children already being fed their dinner by Grandma, and a very comfortable bed by 10pm.  Nice 🙂

What’s your favorite landmark to visit in London if you’ve been there?

Do you get really tired when driving or are you one of those people who never has trouble with road fatigue?

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3 thoughts on “Tuesday Trip Report: Westminster Abbey and the Embassy in London

  1. Love the breaking-the-rules pictures! So worth it 🙂 Sounds like a fun day, sorry you couldn’t enjoy it with a good night’s sleep behind you. I would love to visit the Abbey, or Big Ben, or any of the other cool things I missed while I was there. London is definitely on my revisit list. And yay for passports and coming home to the US soon!!

  2. I’m glad Daniel is sleeping well and you’re getting bits of sleep on and off, hopefully you’ll continue and get some reallllyy good rest all at once soon 🙂 That’s crazy about the movie theater prices! I have yet to see the Dark Knight Rises, hopefully this weekend, but everyone is saying it’s amazing. That’s awesome the appointment was kept and you didn’t have to reschedule or anything (I definitely know how frustrating that can be when you have to figure out childcare and traveling, etc). You and John look great and I love the Guiness picture like you had with Greer, and now Daniel has one 🙂 I love the pictures, and I agree with Leah that it was worth it to take the sneaky ones. I want that statue thing of the music on it! 🙂 Hope you’re having a good day/night, and you’re not too overwhelmed with the chillen and packing up things and whatnot 🙂

    Love, your very far away kitchen fairy who owes you a long overdue kitchen cleaning and cup of tea 😉

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