After being all cultured and learning things, it was time to see another of London’s charming features: the shopping. So the natural place to start was Harrods.
Harrods likes Christmas. No, Harrods loves Christmas. Christmas means that the throng of tourists and locals who go there to shop becomes a teeming horde.
But beyond that, it means that Harrods gets to become even more sparkly than it usually is.
So here’s a bit of Harrods at Christmas.
Most of the streets were decked with lights and many of the stores had trees and Christmasy themed decorations, but Harrods just had to stand out a little more than the rest.
It was even better at night, but that comes later.
After wandering in the store, we were headed toward Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery of Art (more culture! yay!).
Along the way, we were treated to some interesting windows.
This dress is kind of awesome, I have to say. I bet her floors are never dusty.
I do not understand the creepy mannequin. I do not understand it at all. There was also a badger in another window.
We found the entrance to Hyde Park, wherein so many scenes from Georgette Heyer novels have taken place. I half expected to see two curricles race past, but no such luck.
There were many pigeons wandering the park, as usual, but we encountered a pure white one that demanded some stalking.
So now you may watch Meghan stalk the white pigeon.
Pigeon is currently unaware of its stalker…
Pigeon realizes that it is being followed and tries to discreetly exit the scene…
An all out chase ensues!
(It was very dramatic. Hence, the italics)
I like this last picture because Meghan and the pigeon seem to be walking in sync.
We took another detour into the rose garden. I can only imagine how pretty this park is in the spring and summer when the roses are all out.
To our surprise, there were quite a few roses still in bloom. They looked chilly, wet, and sad, but they were there, defying the weather with noble, flowery determination. The rose garden must have roses!
I think that this whole trip was making Napoleon somewhat bitter. He had aspirations to conquer London, not go shopping and see the pretty parks.
Napoleon wanted a palace. That’s the only souvenir that would do.
The all-seeing London Eye!
And a lamp post. They are everywhere. And every single one makes me wonder…
And here is the heroic Wellington, flanked by a horde of pigeons.
Napoleon did not like that Wellington had such a big monument in his honor. He was singularly undeserving. Napoleon knows this from experience.
(Napoleon has a very ‘selective’ memory)
The monument above is the Royal Artillery Memorial, commemorating the soldiers from the first World War. According to the sign below, the architect, Jagger, received a lot of negative commentary about his design because it seemed to unsentimental and brutal (there is a dead soldier lying at one end). Now, it is appreciated for its realism in honoring exactly what the soldiers went through.
In contrast is this big old thing with its winged Victory riding in a horse drawn chariot at the top.
I liked the gates on the monument.
And then we entered Green Park. It was not very green, but I don’t hold that against it.
There was an interesting little gate at one end of Green Park. Kind of pretty in a modest, restrained sort of way.
This, this is more like it!
Napoleon found his souvenir. It’s through the gates. Not the statue though.
This was as close as we could get to Buckingham Palace. The guards were far away, so no posing or trying to make them smile or whatever one does as an obnoxious tourist on holiday.
But Napoleon really thinks the palace suits him well.
And the guards with the silly hats don’t scare him either. We will be returning when he has assembled his army.
Beautiful statue. Maybe this is grown up Susan when she finally returns to Narnia?
Fat, psychotic London pigeons…
Away from the palace, there was actually quite a nice spot. It was quiet, had lots of water birds, and trees and grass…
And also very fat pigeons.
Sunbursts are fun.
And there’s that all seeing Eye again…
Military museums we didn’t have time to go into. And the Eye again. It’s always watching!
Entering Trafalgar Square. They really know how to make an entrance stand out…
Among the very grand fountains and statues was this column surrounded by four gigantic lions.
They were Aslans, of course. They were very hard to climb up onto, but everyone felt obligated to get a picture with one of the lions.
I couldn’t resist, even at the expense of my dignity in attempting to scramble up a high marble wall in front of huge crowds of people.
I feel like I could get away with anything if he was right behind me.
From the top of the steps of the National Gallery of Art, the whole square looks pretty impressive. So was the Art Gallery, but I couldn’t take any pictures (spoil sports). I bought a few postcards of my favorite pieces. It was a gorgeous museum and my camera was very depressed at being deprived the joy of pictures.
On the other hand, I ended up with 800 and an art gallery likely would have added another hundred to that, so in the grand scheme, it was probably a good thing.
So on we went for more window shopping. We went to some small tucked away streets wherein the used bookstores were to be found. Heaven on earth.
I did buy a used book, just one. It is an 1849 book on Queen Jane, Queen Mary, and the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat. The cool thing about it is that it is based on the 1554 diary of an anonymous prisoner from the tower of London. The editor pulled together the notes into a book.
But take a look at the image above. Notice the fourth book from the right titled Lady Charlotte Guest’s Mabinogion. That was the one I wanted. It’s the collection of Welsh tales that I’m studying for my degree. It’s an 1877 edition. It’s gorgeous… And it ran at three figures, so my travel funds were insufficient. *sigh*
Best. Street. Ever.
Pretty Christmas windows filled with books! Does it get any better?
Yes. Add a tree. It is better.
Have you ever been inside one of these kinds of bookstores – the old, narrow, little stores that are packed with shelves and odd corners and every wall, floor to ceiling, is covered in books – and you just curl up in a corner and stare up, up, up at the shelves and smile?
If only I had money to spend on random things like this. Beautiful books on interesting topics and then… microscopic fungi?
What I found most interesting about this was that it is a fifth edition, meaning that four more came before it.
Maybe it was a best seller in its time.
We continued on our wanderings of the lovely, Christmasy streets and happened upon an unexpected, but incredibly awesome store.
This place was ridiculously entertaining. Four floors devoted to M&M products! Plus, awesome things like these paintings.
This one to the left with the Big Ben clock is fun because I actually ended up with a picture of that exact spot later on without realizing it. I was there where the M&M Holmes and Watson were! I feel special.
So much rainbow! So much chocolate! So much happy!
They had aqua and teal M&Ms. I got a bag of them. How could I not?
So, we may not have been able to get pictures with the guards in front of Buckingham Palace, but this is so much better, right? Right?
Arthurian M&M. Why did it have to be a peanut one, though? I like King Arthur. I hate peanuts.
What do I do with this???
Just keep walking.
Like those guys!
The streets were glittery and bright with lights. I have to say, London sparkles more than Edinburgh. Edinburgh should take lessons in sparkliness from London.
Many of the streets had their own unique theme of ostentatious decorations. Incredible.
When I saw this, I thought, Oh, hey, it’s a pub called Shakespeare’s Head! That’s so cool!
And then I saw the man himself staring creepily out of the window.
Just don’t make eye contact with the vampiric Shakespeare….
We passed back by the carousel from earlier and it was all pretty as well, along with the glowing ice skating rink.
We had plans for ice skating the following day, but not here. Somewhere way cooler.
I don’t understand why the building is lit up red. It looks like Sauron’s winter palace now.
And more cute Christmas windows as we finish our day!
I leave you with these incredibly creepy Christmas elves wearing disturbing bling.
I do not understand.
I do not understand at all.
But the next day was a visit to Cambridge. Those are some of my favorite shots. Be prepared!