Baden-Powell Council BSA at the
1998 Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette

Days 1 and 2: London

Day 1 - Wednesday, July 15th - Arrival in London

We arrived at London Gatwick Airport before 8:00 AM, British Summer Time. After we picked up the luggage and made it through customs, we went to meet Ed Barry, one of my Scouts who turned 18 while in Germany as an exchange student, and was to spend the rest of the trip with us as an assistant leader. I'd last seen Ed nearly a year before, and walked right past him at our arranged rendezvous point. Luckily, the boys recognized him.

I picked up tickets at Gatwick, and we took the ThamesLink train to Victoria Station. Then on to the Underground and transfer at Tower Bridge to the Docklands Light Rail elevated train to drop our gear at Dockland Scout Project. The South Quay DLR station seemed closest, but where to go from there? Luckily, there was a pay phone, and I was able to get directions and a lesson in pronunciation from Dockland's resident warden Tony Ford (it's "South Key" not " South Kway").

Dockland Scout Project is the London Sea Scout Base on board the Lord Amory, a 50-berth ship docked in the City Canal, just off the Thames. It was only a short walk from South Quay ("Key"), and we were soon checking in on the Lord Amory. We had two bunk rooms belowdecks, and Tony showed us around and explained the rules - "Keep your hands out of your pockets" being the first and most important (too many things to stumble over or fall down).

Gear stowed, it was back to the DLR and a tour of the Tower of London under the guidance of a Scottish Yeoman Warder ("Beefeater") - it's not a tower at all, but a great walled fort where many of the famous were held prisoner and executed. The Crown Jewels are there, as well as collections of armor and lots of history. Left - Dan at Tower Bridge.

Pop Quiz: What is the Queen's last name? I didn't know either. (It's "Windsor", and "thank you" to the guard at the Crown Jewels).


From the Tower, we took the Underground to Buckingham Palace, and to the first Scout Shop in the world, right across the street. Everyone bought something - my library of British Scout books is growing rapidly - and we set out to tour London on foot. We passed Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the Monument to the Great Fire of 1666. The first supersonic car was parked across the street from Westminster, and from there we went up to Covent Garden and Fleet Street for dinner. As dusk fell, we walked off a big dinner (The "Pasta Feast for Four" really was) and got back on the Underground and DLR to return to Docklands around 10:00 PM. It was only 5:00 in the afternoon by our internal clocks, but most of the Scouts had been up about 36 hours by that time, and after taking a few pictures of Docklands by night, everyone was ready to go to bed.
Day 2: Thursday, July 16th - London, south of the Thames:

We awoke early and had a full British Breakfast on board the Lord Amory - cereal, toast and eggs, English Sausage, and Black Pudding. All went well until Tony told the Scouts what was in Black Pudding.

We walked to the south end of the Isle of Dogs, and crossed under the Thames in a Victorian pedestrian tunnel built to take dock workers from their homes in Greenwich to the docks. About halfway across there was a musician playing the guitar and singing - truly awesome acoustics. Emerging in Greenwich, we saw the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory - the site of the Zeroth Meridian - took the tour and the obligatory picture standing in two hemispheres. Ed found the first group of German girls of the trip to converse in German with, but they were not to be the last.

From Greenwich, we took a boat trip up the Thames to the Tower. It was very low tide, but we got a good view of London from the river. As we passed under the Tower Bridge, the guide told us to wave to the tourists above. Passing out the other side (photo at left) we were informed that if anyone waved back, it meant a year's bad luck. Fortunately, no one had noticed us.



From the Tower, we took the Underground to the Imperial War Museum - a huge collection of stuff from the two World Wars, including "the Trench Experience" and "the Blitz Experience". The main floor houses a wide variety of large artifacts including (at right), a searchlight and V-2 rocket from the Blitz, and tanks from both wars.
We took the underground back toward Tower Bridge, and walked to the south bank of the Thames in Southwark for dinner. In the evening, we saw As You Like It in Shakespeare's newly reconstructed Globe Theater - open for just two seasons. Standing under the sky as "groundlings", we enjoyed the play just as the Elizabethans would have. A great performance, and we were right among the actors at times.
The play over, we got a friendly local guide to walk us across Blackfriars Bridge to the Underground, and returned to Docklands late and tired.

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