Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Buck House and Surrounds

Time was slipping away for Chumley and me to see the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace this season, as the Queen will return after it closes to visitors at the end of September.  Or, more correctly, once the rif raf can't show up on the doorstep anymore.  We ordered tickets and took the train to London for the day, which turned out to be unusually warm for September here. We had an interesting conversation while waiting to get in.  If someone visited your house, would it be tacky to charge them 16 pounds a head for the privilege?  Would your guests feel remiss that the only thing they had to offer you was their cash?  But most of all, would you miss not being the one to open the door?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding no.  We didn't even spy a corgie, but Buckingham Palace is filled with some really nice stuff, as one might imagine.  George III, of American Revolution fame, bought a much smaller version of the house in 1761, just so his family would have a comfortable place to pitch their tent's near the center of London.  Today, there are 775 rooms, 78 of which are bathrooms.  Oddly enough, there is no public toilet on the tour.  They've built a temporary one out on the back gardens for the great unwashed to use.  In fact, the gift shop and cafe are all mobile, and come down promptly at the beginning of October.

The tour came with a "free" audio component, which worked quite well to make the hordes of people relatively quiet and cooperative.  At the moment, there is a special exhibition on the Queen's 50-year reign, with many of her special occasion wear on display. She is a diminuitive sort, but in her day, was fairly stylish.  Her waist was tiny.  She clearly wasn't eating the jam scones she now peddles in the cafe, which Chumley said were delicious, incidentally.  The art wasn't bad either, nor the jewelry.  So, there's a little something for everyone.

Most amazingly, we were in the palace for at least 2 1/2 hours and only saw such a small fraction.  The swimming pool and the cinema were not on the tour, unfortunately.  For all sorts of fun facts, follow this link.

I'll continue our adventures in tomorrow's post.  Right now, it looks like I have to go break up a wood pidgeon fight at our birdbath.  Only in England...