We only had one full day in London on a stopover before making our way home. Having been before, it was nice to not be under any sort of pressure to see and do a ton of touristy things. Instead we spent the time wandering about and just enjoying the uncharacteristically sunny day.
We happened to get into the city and were near Buckingham Palace just in time for the Changing of the Guard, which is one thing I haven’t seen in London (and Neil hadn’t seen since he was a kid), so we hung out for that. And it was certainly a spectacle. There is a bunch of marching. Then lot of standing around, and a lot of strolling back and forth by a couple guys with large sticks. Then there is a band. Then there is more marching. Then they are done.
Oh, and there are a LOT of incredibly rude tourists who are collectively stampeding and jostling and angling for photos while Royal-Gasm-ing all over the palace gates.
We went, we saw, we took a bunch of photos, we crossed “see Changing of the Guard” off the list.
And then we hung out in the grass at Hyde Park before going for what was the best meal of our entire trip and the best meal I’ve had since the kid came along, period!
One thing we are sorely lacking in BC (and all of North America, really) is pub culture. A neighbourhood house where you can have a drink, a meal, watch the game, say hello to the neighbours, connect with the community. And the best pubs usually welcome the entire family, well-behaved pets and kids included.
The Harwood Arms didn’t disappoint in this respect. It wasn’t a very busy afternoon, but we were never the only family in the pub. And a woman a few tables over was feeding her pocket-dog scraps off her plate under the table (a pocket-dog so well-behaved I didn’t even realize it was there until she was on her way out – an anathema to pocket-dogs in Vancouver).
And these were really just happy bonuses, because the true highlight of the Harwood Arms is the food! Focused on traditional game and produce, sourced (some hunted by one of the owners) locally and prepared in ways to highlight the best of British food, there was nary a chip nor a tikka masala to be found. It was obvious why the Harwood Arms is the only English Pub so far to have been awarded a Michelin Star.
It was a little bit sad to only have one day in London, especially knowing it was our last day of vacation, period. But I’m glad we got to close out the trip on such a high note!