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Along the River Thames

It's not everyday that an American cruises the Thames for three hours, in a boat made in 1897, so indulge me, if you will. An array of photographs to follow, made during the journey to King Henry VIII's favorite palace, Hampton Court.
Beginning the journey at Westminster Pier, among the hustle and bustle of tourists like ourselves, you are adjacent to some of London's most historic, not to mention, famous sights.
Everyone recognizes the House of Parliament, but do you know what the building is on the right?
Of course you do--Westminster Abbey! How about a shot of Big Ben while we're at it? Oops, no shot of Big Ben uploaded so continuing iconic Britain, what post from London would be complete without the red phone boxes?
To my mind, it will be a sad day when they no longer exist.

The weather was not ideal for cruising, overcast and chilly, with a definite hint of rain in the air. No matter, you go with the flow--no pun intended.

After securing some sandwiches from Mark & Spencers, we boarded the boat at 11 for the leisurely journey to the Palace. I chose all sorts of photos to show you, then thought perhaps it was too many, so I'll split it down the middle. There will be a bunch, but not nearly as many as I would like!
I've forgotten exactly how many bridges cross the Thames, but there are a lot, each with their own wonderful architecture. Above is the Westminster Bridge where the journey begins. Not a hint of blue in the sky...
Here goes that old with the new theme again. London is filled with funky architecture, with the big complex on the left showcasing what can be done with today's building materials.

These days the Thames is restricted to pleasure boating instead of industrial for obvious environmental reasons. Further down the river we began seeing loads of rowers,
in this case in front of the Budweiser brewing facility. Then too, we saw several abandoned power plants with storied histories.
Traveling with Tom and his parents is like having three history teachers at your service. Filled with the facts and stories of British history, ask them most anything, and they have an intelligent answer at the ready. Presuming that lots of British folk know their countries history, we asked Matt about it, learning we presumed wrong--they are very special. But you knew that already didn't you?

You can imagine that our party, not wanting to miss anything, sat in the seats atop the boat taking in everything including the inclement weather which began about an hour or so into the journey. No matter, it didn't last long. In fact, a wee bit of blue finally appeared, if only for a moment. :)
Most of these boats are residences:
Can you imagine living on the Thames?

In another first for us, we passed through three different locks along the way. Our craft is patiently awaiting our turn to go through, as we watch those coming from the opposite direction:
Nearing our destination, we saw the beautiful area known as Richmond, or at least the part along the river. Oh my, was it beautiful!
Those are quite the ominous clouds aren't they? As you can see it did not deter people from having fun on their Saturday!

The grounds of Hampton Court Palace go on for quite a while before you finally arrive at the dock:
Please note the fantastic tree on the left, a theme we will visit again.

Because the Palace is immense, and because our time was limited, I took off on a solo run through the grounds and gardens, while the rest of our group took in the palace. Beginning in the rose garden, which wasn't in full bloom of course, the sights were a feast for the eyes nonetheless.
The fluidity of the dress on the statue was so beautiful; I only wish that fellow had not been there to deter from the image!

Meandering along the pebble path, I was awestruck by the sculpted trees,
as well as the flower gardens along the walls.
I could most definitely do an entire post on the gardens! The paths were so wide and beautiful in their own right.
Had you wanted to spend a few more pounds you could ride behind these magnificent horses through the gardens which are immense.
But wait--there's more. Entering through an opening in the brick walls, you are treated to the gardens behind the palace,
and if you're lucky you'll come across these folks dressed in period costume.
Ladies, can you imagine wearing a dress with a skirt the likes of this one?
Eventually I made my way inside, albeit from the wrong end. It just so happens I fell in step behind the folks in costume, and it amazed me that although no one else was around, they spoke to one another in the language of their character as they made their way into the private parts of the palace.

Totally lost most of the way, I only took a few shots, as it was quite dim inside. A magnificent ceiling, I think from one of the bedrooms,
and one of a small dining area, set up as it might have been in the fashion of the times.
Between the two wings is this beautiful space:
Can you imagine how many servants were required to maintain a place so grand? Exiting through the front I came across these two pleasant greeters,
whose presence helps you imagine the scale of the place. A wide view of the palace from the front:
Agreeing to meet at a designated spot, I was a little early, so I went looking for my party who were enjoying a little afternoon tea. On my way I saw a little bridal party having photographs done. She isn't leaving anything to chance as far as marriage luck is concerned.....blue shoes!
Closing time was nigh, however, we had just enough time for me to show them what so enthralled me. And the sun even came out for a bit! Love, love, love the trees!
Most folks don't have time for the leisurely trip we made, instead opting for the quicker ride on the train, which is how we returned to central London, taking only about forty minutes to do so. All that walking gave us all an appetite for dinner. Agreeing upon Italian, we ate at Strada, situated along the river Thames near our hotel! Surprise, surprise!

It was a long drawn out affair due to the party of forty adjacent to us, putting a slight damper on things, however the views were once again stunning:
I'll leave you with that image of Tower Bridge because it features prominently in our Sunday activities.

Before I go I need to add an addendum to yesterday's post, if not for you, for me, as I never, never want to forget it.

Exiting Tate Modern, our group was greeted by the sounds of ringing bells from St. Paul's Cathedral, a very fitting way to end our happy occasion. Make of it what you will.
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