It started with a simple question....
Siste-in-Law Jan, wife of The Princess' brother Gary - had always wanted to see London. Alas however, her husband was unwilling. So who should Jan turn to but ME - her FAVOURITE In-Law, to chaperone her over to this - my FAVOURITE city. I accepted her request immediately and was honoured to do so.
Even better, the Chicago Cubs, Jan's favourite Sports Team, were playing 2 games in London against the St. Louis Cardinals. So in the last week of June we jetted off across the Pond, sporting an exciting, grueling, unparalleled 7 day itinerary, that would kill less fit people than Jan & myself!
So we board the day flight out of O'Hare, jammed like sardines in Cattle Car Coach - landing at Heathrow late, late that very evening. An Uber deposits us at our hotel, the Strand Palace Hotel in the heart of London just on the edge of Covent Garden. Day One is done - I still have my Cell Phone.
Day Two dawns and it is a short walk down the Strand to pick up Th BIG BUS for a driving tour round London. The City is crawling with tourists - mainly those damn Americans and traffic is horrid. However, we do see the main sites of the city from Parliament to Buckingham Palace, with a drive by the Tower Of London and everything in between. Dinner was at a quaint Italian place in the shadow of Marble Arch. I still have my Cell Phone.
Day Three has us back on The BIG BUS, alighting directly in front of The Tower Of London. With our pre-purchased discount tickets we swim thru the Moat and enter this centuries old Fortress. Jan immediately joins a Warder tour, while I find a nice shady bench close to where Anne Boleyn got her head lopped off on May 19, 1536. Jan visited the White Tower, The Jewel House, and The Chapel, while I mourned Anne's Beheading on my Shady Bench.
This day happened to be my Anniversary, so after a quick call with The Princess, Jan and I set out to go to dinner. Unbelievably, Jan bumped into an old work colleague as we were walking into Covent Garden! They chatted for a few minutes as I headed over to the restaurant.
When Jan joined me the couple at the next table overheard us talking about my Anniversary and bought us 2 glasses of Champagne. They were taken aback when we told them I was married to someone else.
Following dinner it was off to His Majesty's Theatre for 1st row tickets to Phantom Of The Opera. Jan led the standing ovation! A busy Day 3 concluded, I still have my Cell Phone.
Day Four beckoned and we dressed to attend Royal Ascot Friday! Oh the Pageantry! The newly coronated King Charles, with Queen Camilla paraded by in the first Carriage. Following them were Prince William and Princess Kate in another Carriage.
What was it like to be 10 yards away from the British Monarchy? Well, we don't know!
But we did meet Billie from Northern Ireland who was in a syndicate that owned one of the runners that day. He liked me but he loved Jaaaan - as he called her. Picture with Billie is to the right. Dinner that evening was at Bella Italia in Covent Garden. I still have my Cell Phone.
Day Five featured The Cubs Game at Olympic Stadium on the East side of London. The Cubs dominated the Cardinals this day and I also met up with longtime friend Greg Goluska and his partner Debra at the game. Greg's son Ben and his gal Krystal were also there and they came up and sat with us for half the game - which I loved!
Pictures left is of me with Greg & Debra and Jaaaaan & I with Ben and Krystal. We didn't have dinner that evening cuz we had snacked at the game the whole time. So it was back to the Hotel. I still have my Cell Phone.
Day Six was Sunday and Jaaaan & I headed out early for worship at St. Paul's Cathedral. The Order of Matins was celebrated - filled with song that was just lovely. I took a picture of St Paul's before we went in for the service shown below right. It was only later that I realized the Holy Spirit presented himself behind the right spire. Check it out!
In the afternoon, Jaaaan & I took in the Sunday Carvery around Covent Garden. It was not so good. Following, Jaaan wandered around Covent Garden. I decided to get a tasty lunch at the Wellington Pub on the Strand close to our Hotel. I ordered a frosty Diet Coke and their Nachos and settled down in their outdoor seating to enjoy my tidbits.
As I was eating, a person appeared suddenly on my left gesturing to me with a map as if they were lost. I couldn't even tell for sure if it was a Man or a Woman. Adorned in a bucket hat, sunglasses and a long sleeve shirt, this person even made a move to take one of the Nachos off my Plate!
I forcefully barked "Get Out of Here" and he/she withdrew.
You see, when this idiot gestured to the map, they had positioned it over my phone on the table. As he/she distracted me by trying to take something off my plate, they stole my cell phone and beat a hasty retreat.
It took me about 30 seconds to realize my phone was gone and by then the thief had already vanished! Not only did they get my IPhone 14 ProMax - but my Drivers License, Bank ATM Card, 3 Credit Cards and a few Pounds in Cash!
I made a Police Report and cancelled all the Credit and Bank Cards immediately. I had Travel Insurance that covered loss of the Cell Phone so I was able to get a new one back Stateside within a couple days. But be aware the THIEVES are rampant in London!
On our last Full day we took a day trip to Windsor where Jaaaan toured the Castle as I kept a Park Bench warm in the City Centre. She thoroughly enjoyed it and when we got back to London we had dinner at the scene of the prior day's crime - The Wellington Pub!
So it was time to head back home after a most satisfying and busy visit. I loved it and I think Jaaaan loved it too.
PS... At 6am on the day of our departure we were standing outside the Hotel on the sidewalk waiting for our ride to take us to Heathrow. As Jaaaan was checking a detail on her Cell phone a figure in Black riding an electric bike zoomed by us on the sidewalk and tried to snatch Jan's Cell Phone directly from her hand as he whizzed by! But Jaaaan had clenched her phone at the last instance and the only thing the Thief got was air as he rocketed by. (The bastard probably had MY cell phone in his pocket!) WHEW, A CLOSE CALL!
Visit www.rickyjohn.com for more about our family!