Day Seventy Eight

London!
Squirrels!
Gringotts Bank!
More squirrels!
Platform 9 ¾!
Shopping!
Even more squirrels!

Oh my goodness what a huge day!

We set off for London on the early train. Well, early by holiday
standards, anyway. Our first stop is the voting poll set up in Australia
House, but as I mentioned, the real draw is to see the inside as it’s
where the interior shots were filmed of Gringotts in all the Harry
Potter movies.

We traipse along until we find it, walking through the parks and
feeding umpteen squirrels along the way. So many little furry ones in
the parks along the way. And city squirrels know the drill… as soon
as they hear you tch,tch,tch….they come running and very politely
ask for a nut or two. Tourists marvel and snap away happily. I share
my nuts with a girl who’s beside herself at seeing the squirrels,
realising that she could feed them, but has no nuts. She couldn’t be
happier. I also get a great shot of one hanging by his feet, his nose
practically on my camera.

We’re also lucky enough to see the royal mounted guarded in full
uniform on their magnificent jet black horses. Poor guys, it was a
really hot day – they must have been sweltering.

Once we get to Australia House, we can see the interior through an
open side door. Gorgeous crystal chandeliers and marble as far as I
can see. They have blocked parts of it off though. I just manage to
get my phone out to shoot a photo….and get told off by a security
guard standing in the doorway. Judging by the look on his face, I’m
not the first, and he knows I’m not going to be the last. He’s in for a
long, long day, and most likely, a long week.

The voting process is easy, and luckily we are only in a short queue.
Once we are in past the initial registration, the guards are less
present and I manage a few shots. Not my best work, as I don’t
want to be caught, but I really want a small memento of being
there. It’s really a beautiful building with moulded ceilings, taupe
marble walls and many sparkling chandeliers. Quite a few are lit and
someone has been cleaning them well – they’re spotless.

Once we vote, we go shopping…speed shopping Chris style…at
the Savoy Taylor store, adjacent to the Savoy hotel. We have success
with an outfit for Chris to wear for my birthday dinner. He doesn’t
know it yet, but I’ll be needing new shoes for that dinner too.
Lovely, fancy new shoes. Yesmmmm.

After that, it’s time for lunch. Chris offers to take me to a nice
restaurant. Ha, as if…when there are parks full of squirrels about.
Instead we get a couple of baguettes and head back to the park.
The weather is perfect and the park is full of people, but sure
enough once we settle, a little grey buddy squirrels on by. She’s
lovely too and whilst she’s nervous at first, by about the fourth nut
she’s let her guard down and sits with us whilst she eats her nuts.
She buries many of them too, but there’s a crow following her and it
steals a few.

Once she settles, I can’t resist a videoing my new pet. The best
shots are low on the ground..so on my knees I go, much to the
amusement of a couple nearby. It was worth it, I get the BEST
videos of her squirrelling up to me, accepting a nut and then eating
it only inches away from my camera. Do I need to say that I’m
beside myself? Many nuts are provided as a thank you.

Once Chris manages to drag me way, we set off to find Kings Cross
station and the famed platform 9 ¾. It takes a couple of train
changes and then there we are. In response to the steady stream of
people looking for the way to platform 9 ¾, Kings Cross adopted a
“if you can’t beat them, join them” approach and installed a trolley
compete with owl cage and suitcase disappearing through a wall
below a sign that names the famed platform. I saw it when I was
researching other Harry Potter sites, but what I didn’t know was that
you could pose at the trolley, and a nice boy would equip you with a
House scarf and make it look like it was flying in the wind, whilst
another nice boy took your picture as a souvenir.

Did I mention Chris is a patient man? He rolls his eyes but nudges
me into the queue and waits patiently. Luckily the school holidays
are over and the queue is reasonable ….and all adults. Like the boys
giving flying lessons at Hogwarts, these two have the crowd eating
out of their hands. They’re hilarious and clearly love their jobs. It’s
quickly my turn, and I donn my Gryffindor scarf, strike my pose and
have my picture taken. And you know what? It was heaps of fun.

We stop for a drink as the heat is getting to us both at this stage,
and then we’re off shopping again, this time in Piccadilly. We spent
most of our time in Fortnum & Mason. What a fabulous store! The
most beautiful food hall over two levels, a floor of home wares, a
floor of women’s accessories and men’s floor of boy’s toys. There
are so many things I would love to take home but am unable to –
truffled honey for one. As always when we travel, I am so envious of
the range of foods that are readily available overseas. It’s a cook’s
paradise and this is no exception. One of the best food halls I’ve
seen. Gorgeous women’s sleepwear too.

By this time we are starting to flag, and we start the trek home,
walking through the parks and feeding squirrels along the way. I do
love them so. I wish we had them at home.

There’ll be more of London once we are back next week. I can’t
wait.

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