Tag Archives: horse guards parade

I got day seats but didn’t see a pelican eat a pigeon

21 Feb

Yesterday I woke up early to partake in my favorite London activity: queuing for day seats. A friend and I saw Harold Pinter’s “Old Friends.” I wanted to see it because it got rave reviews, plus it stars Kristin Scott Thomas, and I’m a sucker for seeing celebrities up close and making awkward front row eye contact during the curtain call. Thomas and the rest of the cast were brilliant, but when the show was over my friend and I looked at each other with the same “OK, who’s going to say it first?” face. “I didn’t get it,” she said. I didn’t either. This shouldn’t have surprised me considering under its review “Time Out London” ran a section titled “WTF is going on in ‘Old Times?'” Yet after reading the various theories, part of me wants to see the show again. Maybe when it’s warmer.

After I got my tickets I had the usual day seat conundrum: Do I waste the time and money to go home only to come back in a couple hours, or do I wander around London until lunchtime? This time I decided to bring my new camera and wander around London, especially since I was meeting my friend for lunch before the show. I formulated this plan from the warm comforts of my flat. After I stood in the cold for an hour queuing, walking around for three hours in the cold didn’t seem like the brightest idea. But I had my camera with me and I wanted to get more practice with it — and I wanted to see the pelicans. So despite it being in the opposite direction of the theatre and restaurant, I meandered down to St. James’s Park in the hopes of witnessing this:

If my post title didn’t spoil it for you already, I did not get to witness a pelican trying to eat a pigeon, but I did get some photos of other birds.

Here is the obligatory pigeon on a sign photo:

st james park pigeon

Trying to be artsy:

waterfowl of st james park

I don’t know what this funny black bird is called (should have read the sign above, perhaps?) but they were everywhere and they have weird feet.

black bird weird feet

Birds going crazy over some bread and I experiment with shutter speed:

London seagulls

seagulls london

This girl was happily feeding the geese until this seagull wanted in on the action:

feeding birds london

I wandered through the park trying to find the pelicans, until I noticed a crowd.

pelicans london

Pelicans! They were just standing around like they’re used to people surrounding them with cameras.

london pelican

All my pelican photos started looking the same, so I moved back to the geese and a black swan sneaking up on them:

st james goose

OK, one more pelican pic:

st james pelican

And the funny-looking black bird again:

funny black bird

Classic London scene as I left the park:

st james park

So apparently the Horse Guards Parade actually does involve parading through the streets occasionally? Caught this procession as I left:

horse guards parade

I like the juxtaposition between the old fashioned horses and taxi speeding by.

london horses

In fact, I liked the speeding taxi effect so much I tried to replicate it. I had watched a Youtube tutorial about making the car focused and the background blurry and vice versa, but it was a lot harder to achieve in practice. I stood there on the street corner constantly photographing cars driving by and adjusting my camera settings. Since I still don’t know my camera very well, most of the photos turned out horrible and overexposed. This is the only picture that turned out kind of neat:

london black taxi

As I was working my way towards the restaurant, I passed Chinatown, which still has its Chinese New Year decorations up:

london chinatown new year

…And that’s all the photos I took. Apparently I have a thing for testing my camera out on birds — they’re easy to find in London and more interesting than the same tired shots of Big Ben.


The Olympics are one day away! So I bought dumplings

26 Jul

Tomorrow the Olympics begin, so naturally I decided today would be the day to buy Chinese dumplings. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve been meaning to go to the Chinatown supermarket for a while now, and I figured I’d combine it with some last minute tourism. I was feeling a little guilty because I missed the Olympic torch this morning. I know it’s a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” but it was at 6:45. In the morning. There are three things in life I really don’t like — waking up early, standing in crowds, and heat. Seeing the torch would at least involve the first two with a hint of the third, so I decided not to go. But I felt like I needed to get into the Olympic spirit somehow. I love our neighborhood, but it’s so quiet and secluded, sometimes I just have to go see Big Ben to remind myself that I live in London.

And the tourists always remind me why I love our secluded neighborhood.

The crowds were out in full-force and I was asked multiple times to take photos of people in front of Big Ben.

These signs were everywhere:

I was trying to be artistic here but the sun was a little too bright. I never thought I’d say that about London weather.

I started walking towards Trafalgar’s Square. There were a butt-ton of people hanging out outside of 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives.

The massive amounts of swarming tourists everywhere wasn’t that surprising, as that’s rather common in London. What was surprising was this:

No cars! Only buses and taxis are allowed to drive around central London now. It felt a little eery.

This was a checkpoint. If you weren’t a bus or taxi you had to turn left, you couldn’t go straight. I think cyclists were allowed, but I’m not sure.

Remember when I saw all the signs for Horse Guards Parade a couple weeks ago? Like a typical American, I thought it involved guards on horses parading around and throwing candy to crowds of kids (the candy bit was wishful thinking.) Well, there are no clowns or elephants in Piccadilly Circus, and Horse Guards Parade is not a processional, but rather a large parade ground. I’ve had my photo taken with the horses that stand outside several times and had no idea what the building was for. Well now it will be the site of beach volleyball. Hooray, I saw an Olympic venue!

I finally made it to Trafalgar’s Square to see the official Olympics countdown. I love this pensive dude in purple.

There were little signs in the fountain telling you not to swim or drink from it. I definitely saw a toddler wading in it.

This German clock was going off and tourists were loving it.


I was surprised Chinatown was so well decorated.

Love the alternating British and Chinese flags.

Wait, what is that at the top of the gate?

It’s the queen! Who cares if the Jubilee was almost two months ago, it was probably hard to get that up there and would be disrespectful to take it down. Right?

More Chinatown festiveness.

And now some final photos of all the flags of the participating countries displayed around Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street:

On the bus ride home I saw the South Korean archery team walking down the street near Lord’s cricket grounds, where they’re holding the archery events. Everyone on the bus pointed them out and got excited. I don’t know anything about archery, yet alone South Korean archery, but it was still exciting to see some real live athletes.

I may have missed the Olympic torch, but I saw Korean archers, an Olympic venue, and a London without cars. I also got my Chinese dumplings, hoisin sauce and edamame. Not a bad day.