Baden-Powell Council BSA
at the
2016 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette

Day 1 - July 12th - London, England

We started our day's touring the day before - flying from Toronto Airport to London Heathrow on Air Canada. The flight arrived in London around 6:00AM, and by 7:30 we'd dropped our gear off to be driven to the South London Scout Centre by a van and were on the Heathrow Express on our way to Paddington. From Paddington, we took the Underground to central London and our first sight of the day - the Cabinet War Rooms.

The Cabinet War Rooms, underneath an office building in Whitehall, were one of the deepest secrets of the Second World War. From these rooms Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet ran the war. After VE day, the War Rooms were locked up against future need. They were found again 40 years later, a time capsule of one of Britain's darkest times. This picture shows the Cabinet Room where Churchill met with his ministers and generals.

The War Rooms also house the Churchill Museum, which opened in 2003. 

An interactive timeline in the Churchill Museum - you can open any year and zoom in on any day to see what was happening in the world and in Churchill's life on that day.

Across the street from the War Rooms is St. James' Park. This is Duck Island, home to a colony of pelicans which are descendants of birds donated by the Russian ambassador in 1664. Buckingham Palace is in the background.

The Grand Old Duke of York's statue on the Mall. 
Yes, he's the one who "had 10,000 men. He marched them up the hill and marched them down again..." Not a great general, perhaps - but how many other acts of military indecisiveness are still remembered at Scout campfires, hundreds of years later?

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, atop his column in Trafalgar Square.

It started to rain as we walked down the Mall and through Admiralty Arch to Trafalgar Square. Since that left us right outside one of the best art museums in the world, we decided to make an unplanned visit to the National Gallery.

The National Gallery

With its rooms full of world-famous artworks, the Gallery was a hit with the Scouts.

Rain continued as we walked south and crossed the Thames on Hungerford Bridge. Our next stop was the London Eye - at 430 feet diameter, it's the largest observation wheel in the world. 

The Houses of Parliament, across the Thames from the Eye

"I've never seen a purple cow..." - oh, wait. Now I have. But why?

The pouring rain didn't improve the photography, but the views from the Eye were still spectacular and we were warm and dry inside our rotating cars.

A rainy London pedestrian street

After dinner we walked back across the Thames to Southwark, home of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, for the evening performance of Macbeth. What play could be more appropriate for a Scotland trip? 
Since we had groundling tickets, standing under the open sky, it was a stroke of luck that the rain ended as we reached the Globe. 

As a groundling, you couldn't have a better view of the stage - in fact, you can be leaning on it if you want. The actors enter and exit right through the crowd at times, and you really feel as if you're in the play. The Macbeth performance was great, if the staging was a bit odd - the characters spoke Shakespeare's words, but the costumes were sort of pseudo-World War I uniforms (but with swords)...  Odd, but it worked.

The view across the Thames to St. Paul's Cathedral as we left the Globe
We walked from the Globe to Blackfriars Underground Station, rode the Circle Line to Victoria Station, and caught a South East Train to Sydenham Hill. From there, it was a short walk to the South London Scout Centre, our host for the night. We arrived after 11:00PM, thoroughly exhausted and ready to crash in our sleeping bags. It's one way to avoid jet lag, anyway...

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Copyright 2016 Mike Brown