London Bound!

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Off to London today with David & Valerie to watch the ‘Beating Retreat’ performance or to give its official title: The Household Division Beating Retreat. We’ve never seen this event before and we’re looking forward to ‘a Military Musical Spectacular, on Horse Guards Parade, London‘. This event has evolved over the years and is now a colourful pageant of military music and precision drill carried out by the Mounted Bands of the Household Cavalry and the Massed Bands of the Household Division.

But first, we had to get to London. We took the 11.19 train from Kettering to St Pancras International and made a bit of a day of it.

Battersea Power Station

Another first then, as we had a bit of time to spare, we took a look around the recently renovated/re-invigorated/rebuilt Battersea Power Station, that’s now a combination of retail space and luxury apartments.

They’ve now built a new Underground (Metro) Station to serve the area by extending the Northern Line. It only took us around half-an-hour from St Pancras International, and we were soon outside one of London’s most recognisable and iconic buildings.

The last time I took an interest in this iconic construction was a while ago – when I bought Pink Floyd’s album, ‘Animals’ back in 1977 – and wondered how they got the pig floating above the building! (no Photoshop back then!). Well, that stunt is all ancient history now, but those iconic chimneys remain and it’ll be interesting to see how the INSIDE has been repurposed.

Jammiest ever?? 😋

But before all the exploring, there were doughnuts!, courtesy of Crosstown, all helped down with a freshly-brewed coffee! For the first time ever, in my encounters with these jammy treats, I actually had more jam than dough (and that can surely only be a good thing, ehh!) 😁. £15 for two cuppas and two doughnuts sounds about right for London! Suitably refuelled, it was time to look around the interior – and in a word: WOW!! 😮.

It’s all now VERY different inside – What a transformation! 👍👍. In addition to the shops, there were even showrooms for both Genesis and separately, Polestar, showing off their selection of cars – An impressive range of vehicles! 👍

Caption Competition?

Our impression of it all? Inside had all been converted very tastefully retaining much of the original tiling and the art-deco feel of this 1920’s icon. There are still dozens more spaces still to open. As ex-retailers, it had a good feel and it was quite busy too, for a Thursday.

The repurposing continued immediately outside. There was an astroturf running track, a big-screen TV (showing Wimbledon) complete with deck-chairs, various vendors selling their wares from their small vehicles and a parade of shops. This included the largest M&S ‘Food to to Go’ I think I’ve ever seen. We took advantage of the range and picked up nibbles for the train journey home!

But, if the sight of shops, shops (and even more shops) – and cars – doesn’t do it for you, one of the additional attractions here is ‘Lift 109‘ aka ‘the chimney lift’ – more details HERE. Well, I haven’t spent time up a chimney since I was small (it beat doing a paper-round!) and today was far more exciting and enjoyable! Essentially, they’ve adapted one of the four iconic chimney stacks that takes you right to the top for its unique views across London!

1… 2… 3…

There are in fact TWO lifts. After the initial ascent, there are 39 steps (yes, we did count them!) before you get to the main list that takes you right to the top.

Yes, up there!
More stunning views (one in particular!)

Wow! What an experience! You only get a short time at the top, but it’s well worth it! There’s an informative exhibition at ground level that’s all part of the ticket, as well as a slightly weird audiovisual explanation of how the Power Station functioned (just before you enter the first lift). Tickets, at the time of writing, cost £15.90 each. A word to the wise: It’s much cheaper to book them online rather than ‘pay-on-the-day! Allow around 45 minutes to an hour for the whole experience, but there’s an opportunity to revisit the exhibition afterwards, if you need more time.

And, my goodness, outside, the Battersea skyline has changed too! Like a lot of EAST London, the view has been transformed into an area that is full of skyscrapers and modern apartments – a sort of ‘mini Docklands’.

Fresh from role-playing modern chimney-sweeps, we headed for somewhere to eat.

We’d booked a table at Megan’s, a Turkish Restaurant right on the waterfront at Battersea. I’d not heard of this small chain before, but the menu looked interesting. It turned out to be a good choice!

The food was delicious! Sitting outside in the Sun, I think, made it even more pleasurable – a wonderful experience and there was certainly a buzz about the restaurant as well as the immediate area too! We were served quickly, which meant we had some time to kill afterwards. We did wonder if we could walk all the way to Horse Guards, but the path that sat between us where the Thames came to an abrupt end just past the Power Station, and so we reverted to ‘Plan A’ and grabbed the Tube. En-route, we battled the crowds at the Tesco Express in Westminster for some light refreshments before taking the short walk to Horse Guards. On arrival, Security, as you might expect, was tight, but friendly, and we were soon frisked, and on our way.

Horse Guards

Row J, Block D2, for us!

We were at our seats in good time. It was a gloriously warm evening and the event was very well-supported. Princess Anne took the Salute. Entitled ‘Orb and Sceptre’, celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III, this was the third and final event in the series this week. Pity then, that some of our fellow guests felt it ‘OK’ to arrive late and others couldn’t see the whole event through without having to visit the Bar halfway through! 🙄.

A stunning event with even a guitar payer on the roof (sadly, NOT Brian May) but very good nonetheless! It was all great music, with a blend of the traditional marching stuff and more modern tunes including an excellent rendition of ‘Angels’ by Colour Sergeant Liam Compson. Dare I say it! Even better than the original!! (Sorry Robbie!)

Ninety-minutes later, at just after 8.30pm, it was all over and whilst the mass bands exited the rest of us headed for the nearest Tube nearest loo! We then took a leisurely stroll to Embankment and headed back to St Pancras. We caught the fast train to Kettering (Kettering, first stop!) but it wasn’t that quick, and we eventually arrived just over five minutes late. I’m not sure what the issue was, but at just over the hour ‘door to door’ isn’t bad, I suppose!

All-in-all, a GREAT day. Good to spend some time with David and Valerie, as always, and the good weather certainly helped. The meal at Megan’s was better than we expected and on a broader note, I think we were all blown away by how much Battersea and the surrounding area had changed – but checking my diary revealed that the last time I was in the area was over 40 years ago! 🙄

Photo Reel HERE

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