I had the privilege of being sent to London, UK last week by my 9-5. This isn’t a blog about what I do for a living, rather how I spend my living… but how great is it when these intersect? Fortunately, the seminar gave me lots of free time in the evenings to do the things that fuel me.
I had rented a flat (apartment) in Southwark, a 15 minute walk from the business district where I was working during the days. It was an absolutely adorable place with many very old buildings, tiny alleyways, and cobblestone roads (which broke my suitcase… but I won’t complain!). It also had a ton of trendy bars and restaurants. I had found myself in my personal heaven!
Most nights I went walking along the Thames, exploring in my own way and steering clear of the tourist traps and just enjoying the scenery and wandering down the nooks and crannies of the city… which is free and totally my thing!
Friday night, I met up with Luke. Those of you have been following for a few years might remember that he was one of my comrades in the Blood Wagon for the Mongol Derby. He works in the Queen’s household cavalry and gave me a backstage tour! I met the horses, learned about his “kit” and saw all the preparations going on for a parade the following day.
Parade? Can the public go to this? Why yes, yes indeed! Luke told me where to go along the road so I could see it, and what time I should show up.
We spent the rest of the evening wandering the city, catching up and reminiscing about MD2014. There is something very special about meeting up with fellow Derby riders, especially ones who have been in a similar situation – not being able to finish. They just get it. The highs and lows come back, and the drive to finish is re-ignited. Once again, it was incredibly hard to say goodbye.
Saturday was my last day in the city and having not made plans for day tours or anything worked to my advantage. I had the perfect time to see the parade and headed over to St James park. When searching for a spot to see the parade, I saw a young man in uniform chasing down a group of girls “Excuse me ladies, do you want to see… excuse me… ladies?… do you have just a moment…” They completely ignored him and ran away. So I grabbed his attention “I would like to hear what you have to say!”. He asked me if I would like to see the parade from the GRANDSTANDS, and gave me a free ticket. Wow those girls really missed out.
Let me stop for a moment and offer this advice to anyone travelling. 1) Don’t plan every moment… let things pop up because you never know where you might find yourself, and 2) Take the time to talk to people. Sure, sometimes they may be selling you a tourist trap, but other times they might have something much more special to offer!
I had to run to make it to my gate in time, but I was ushered into my seat just in time – there were literally thousands of people. Turns out, my (reserved) seat was right at the point where the parade entered, so I got a great view of everything. I couldn’t believe my luck, and actually had to brush back some tears of happiness.
The Cavalry came in and lined up right in front of me, then for the next hour and a half or so, the ceremony put on displays with the the various groups of the Queens guard (Forgive me, I don’t know what anything is called!). A once in a lifetime experience indeed!
And without further ado, please enjoy some video snippits of the show.