A royal bike ride in London

Live from Hyde Park

I was planning on working Friday but the weather seemed pretty nice so instead I jumped on my bike and went into town to checkout the event that was The Royal Wedding.

As I made my way towards the city center I came across a couple of pubs and cafes that had TVs set up for patrons to follow. There should have be some 6000 street parties across UK and 800 in London and I came across one of them – still empty as people were watching the ceremony at home.

"Road Closed" for street party

By the time I reached Hyde Park the ceremony in Westminister Abbey had finished and I got to see people cheer and wave their flags as BBC broadcast from the park.

The Queen arrivesWave your flags!Union Jacks in Hyde Park

After that I tried to see how close to The Mall I could get but it was all full and closed off for more people. Instead I went to Trafalgar Square were huge crowds were gathered to watch the two big screens there.

People watching big screen at TrafalgarGetting pictures taken with Kate and WillNorwegians at Trafalgar Square

The Norwegian in the front of the last picture with the traditional dress might even be the same as Tina Omme i London spotted later by Westminster Abbey.

After that I headed east along Embankment and this part of town was completely empty so I could ride in the middle of the street as a couple of planes made a flyover.

Empty streets - Embankment

I was heading for Republic’s “Not the Royal Street Party” street party in Holborn that they had not been allowed to do in Camden. Instead they were in a nice little square with a park and great atmosphere.

Red Lion Square

There was a nice crowd of people, live band, delicious food and monarch mocking.

The "Queen" in a stockCrown strikeout

For the size of the event there was quite a lot of press people but I guess you can only send so many reporters to talk to flag waving royalists on The Mall.

A great day for cycling as I had a lot of roads to myself and it was great fun to see the royalists and republicans celebrating a day of all things British.

Culture – high and low

Sail surfers

My first weekend out of London went to Margate to take part in RailsCamp UK; a 4 day unconference, with about 50 guys, geeking with Ruby and Rails, no internet connection, barcamp-style sessions and copious amounts of Guitar Hero and other types of video games.

Beers are out the game is on

First of all it was great to get out of the big city and to the sea. I grew up close to the sea and that is one thing that is nowhere close when you live in Prague. The RailsCamp took place in an old hostel close to the beach so we went for a couple of walks to get blown out with fresh sea air after sitting couped up in a smelly room for too long. Margate where it took place is somewhat of a has-been resort town. In the past centuries it was the place to go for Londoners when they wanted a beach. But these days where a flight to Spain is cheaper than the bus to Margate the place is in somewhat of a decline. This made it an interesting place to go and take pictures of the shut down amusement park Dreamland.

Dreamland

After four days of geeking I returned to London and joined Ann and a group of her Maltese friends for a visit to the Les Miserables musical. One of Ann’s friend’s cousin was in the play so we got some of the best seats in the house 🙂 The musical has been running in London for 24 years now and I can surely see why. It’s a great production with a lot of nice scenes and songs.

Theatreland
Photo by Julie Broadfoot

We met the cousin after the show for a while and it was interesting to hear him talk about it. He also has a cool blog where he writes about his experience like when blind people come to get a Touch-Tour of the set.

The “low” point in culture this past week was actually really amazing. On Ian Visits, another London blog, I had read about the chance to see the Kingsway Tramway Subway tunnel which was decommissioned in 1952 and generally not open to the public. Now an artist had been allowed to use it for a huge art installation called Chord and we went to see it. The installation is two big machines with a number of roles of string turning and moving away from each other to create a bigger rope. The tunnel itself was not as interesting to me as I thought but I really liked admiring the huge machines slowly turning.

Chord
Photo by Ian Visits. Also see the rest of his set.

Saturday we went to the British National Gallery where Ann attended a class in Styles in Painting and I did the guided tour. The guide only showed us 5 pieces in an hour but really gave us a good introduction to the museum and their collection and I would definitely have to come back and see more some other time, they have a very impressive collection.

Today we went to the new multi-venue King’s Place where The Guardian was hosting a literary festival. We went to a talk by Dan Cruickshank about the seedy economy of 18th century, Gregorian London which he had written a book about. An interesting topic but the author was a bit all over the place.

Mr Cruickshank talking about the seedy London of the 18th century

Phew, that was it for now. I’m still amazed at how much London have to offer and even for low-budgeters like us there is more than plenty to do 🙂