The Autumn Day Trip To Paris That I Didn't Plan

Sunday, 11 December 2022

Bigger life decisions in the last three years compelled me to put travelling into a halt, albeit temporarily until priorities are fulfilled. However, sometime in October, my cousin asked me if I could take them around Paris because they had a friend visiting and they were not confident to go around on their own. I am not normally keen on playing tour guide to people I don't personally know because I might disappoint them with my itinerary, but my cousin was adamant that it would be okay. So, off I went to Paris on a day trip in Autumn- a trip that I never planned nor even thought of. I was actually excited as the last time I went to Paris was in 2018, and this was my first European trip in three years.

We left King's Cross St Pancras International on the Eurostar train just after 6am. Upon arrival in Paris Gare du Nord, we headed to the Left Luggage area on the lower ground floor to secure my cousin's belongings as they were staying in Paris for two nights. My original plan was to walk to Sacre Coeur from Gare du Nord and pick up some pastries and coffee from Pain Pain on the way, however we were already late so I decided to take the metro to Trocadero for breakfast instead. My friend recommended Carette so we tried,7u and I was a little bit disappointed. Despite the hype created by social media influencers, I actually didn't find anything special about this restaurant. Their pastries are just okay, nothing like La Maison d'Isabelle . It was very busy and although previous reviews recommended sitting outside (which we did), it was still cramped. We were sat literally next to their cutlery area which made me quite uncomfortable. The service was friendly although haphazard. Perhaps, it's best to go there very early to avoid the crowd. 

After breakfast, we walked to our first tourist destination of the day- The Eiffel Tower. Trocadero used to be my favourite stop for the whole view of the Eiffel Tower, however there have been a few changes in the area and it didn't feel the same. What was an open viewing platform is now barricaded with graffiti-filled plywood. 

We then walked down to go closer to the Eiffel Tower via Pont d'lena. It made all sense to me during this trip why a few years ago, the bottom of the Eiffel Tower was a construction site. They have put a permanent barrier around the tower to protect it from terror threats. Entry to the forecourt apparently remains free, so this is a good thing. I realised during this trip that next time, I should get off Champ de Mars so I don't have to walk that far.

From Eiffer Tower, we took the metro (Champ de Mars) to the Louvre. We walked through Quai Anatole France from Musee D'Orsay then crossed over Pont Royal. This route is long, however it is a good walk.

By the time we reached the Louvre, it was past 2pm. As my cousin wanted to see the "love lock bridge", I took them for a walk to Pont des Arts. The locks were taken down by the Paris Council a few years ago, however there were still some random locks left. 

I have always wanted to check out the Samaritaine, not to shop but to take a photo of the interior. So on our way to Notre Dame, we stopped by the department store.

Notre Dame was still closed for renovation, so we didn't stay there long. Instead, we immediately took the Metro from Cite to Blanche for Moulin Rouge.

I actually reserved a table at the Le Moulin de Gallette for lunch, however we didn't make it on time so we ended up in Cafe des Deux Moulins. This was my second time to eat at the Cafe des Deux Moulins and it has not really changed. Of course the cafe is historic as it is the exact same cafe in the film Amelie. 

After lunch, we walked to our last destination for the day- Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. I have been to Paris a few times and the walk either to or from Sacre Coeur via Rue Lepic and Rue Norvins remains my favourite because this route is quiet and easy to follow. Towards the end of Rue Norvins is the always buzzing and one of the most famous squares in Paris, Place du Tertre or otherwise known as the Artists' Square. 

A few yards away from Place du Tertre is the Sacre Coeur Basilica. This is a good place to have a panoramic view of Paris, although it is to be expected that this area is often very busy.

Sacre Coeur is either first or last on my day trip itinerary because it is a walking distance to Gare du Nord. This means that I don't have to rush provided that I give myself at least an hour to get to the station.

Champs Elysees is often not in my itinerary because unless I intend to shop or drop by Laduree (which I no longer do), I think it is not efficient for a day trip. The same goes with the Arc de Triomphe. These two places can be done another day (if staying one or more days).

Although I would love to stay at least overnight in Paris again one day, I am happy that I am able to visit even just for a day. Paris is one of those places that I will never get tired of visiting, so I hope that I will be able to visit the city again, as often as I did before.

And for that, how about coffee and almond croissant in Paris next year? Anyone?😀


1111 And (What I Think) It Means For Me

Sunday, 13 November 2022

It's been two days since I wrote the title of this blog. Somehow, I lost focus and simply could not find the words to say. Perhaps because the reality that I left a job that I was quite happy with has not sunk in. Perhaps, I am anxious of starting a new job. But wait, I have not been this anxious before. I have changed jobs at least three times in the last two years, and I never felt this anxious. This morning I was very frustrated as I found myself pacing in our home office back and forth feeling so bothered, and I didn't know why. For the first time since I went back to St Thomas's from New Zealand after my career break in 2017, I was feeling so insecure. I actually told J that I was feeling depressed- kind of an exaggeration, but honestly, I didn't know what I was feeling this morning. Until I was reminded of the "angel number"  1111 and what I think it means for me. I started seeing these numbers over two years ago.

This year, I must have seen 1111 more than ten times, mostly when I looked at the time on my mobile phone. At first, I thought it was some sort of a bad sign. I was scared, so I started googling it and apparently, "1111 is thought of as a symbol of your own personhood and identity". The article that I read from Women's Health further states that "seeing ones often signifies new beginnings or a nod from the universe that you're on the right path". I went back to this article this morning and it gave me a reassurance that I am indeed on the right path and I believe in this because:

A few months ago, one of my former managers introduced me casually to someone who would then offer me a job, almost on the spot. After a few days of reflection and deliberation, I accepted the offer. I mean, it was not as if I wasn't happy with my then current job. In fact, that job was better than the one previously. It was less stressful in a sense and I was genuinely happy. The people that I've worked with looked after me very well, and the rest of the staff were generally supportive. But somehow, I knew that this job was not "it". I knew (yet again) that I had a purpose and rightly so, I strongly believed that before I left, I have served that purpose. 

And so I handed in my notice on the 22nd of August, without realising that my last official day with the Trust would be the 11th of November (11/11). This didn't occur to me until about two weeks later. Trust me, I didn't do this on purpose. It was then I started reflecting on the 1111 number more often, and more seriously. This led me to the realisation that perhaps I need a break from acute healthcare. The last four years of my nursing career have been very challenging. But don't get me wrong because no matter how challenging it had been, I remain very grateful because I learned so many valuable lessons- about the industry that I am in, the people that I have worked with, and most especially about myself.  And now I believe that perhaps, I endured those difficult years because the universe was preparing me for what is yet to come. 

But what do I really think 1111 means for me? Well, on my last working day, the numbers appeared again through the weather forecast. Before I left for work that day, I checked the weather and the temperature from 6am was 11 for about two to three hours. And then last night, when I was preparing my phone for work on Monday, the 1111 number appeared on a letter that was sent to me by the phone company. So yes, the number 1111 for me marks a new beginning, a break from the gruelling challenges of acute nursing. In the last four years of my professional life, I've gone from bad to better. And now I am manifesting that I am moving on to the BEST. 

Perhaps I just didn't realise that the universe was trying to send me a message during those times when 1111 was appearing to me more frequently than I was comfortable with. Perhaps it was a reassurance that things will get better. That  indeed, I was and still is on the right path.

But who knows? All I can do now is to face the next chapter with an open heart and open mind like I always have done. I know there will be challenges, but I also know that I got this!


My Favourite Christmas Lights in London

Sunday, 6 November 2022

As much as I am not very keen on the cold weather, I must say that Christmas is my favourite season in London. London is of course beautiful all year round, however the capital really shows off during Christmas time. The lights surrounding the city are captivating and they bring so much joy even to those who don't necessarily believe in Christmas. By now, Oxford Street lights are switched on, and in the coming days, the rest of them will grace the busy streets of the capital. I have been lucky to have enjoyed most of my favourite lights away from the madding crowd during the pandemic, and on my early morning walks to work. And now that we are back to normal and I no longer work and live in Central London, I thought I'd write about my favourite Christmas Lights just in case some of you are planning to visit London during this time.

1. Regent Street
- It's no doubt that Regent Street has the the most beautiful Christmas Lights in London. The long street connecting Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus is adorned by the "Spirits of Christmas" which are lit up around the second week of November. 

2. Oxford Street
- Always the first one to be lit up, Oxford Street officially welcomes Christmas in London, in my opinion that is. It's my least favourite street in London because of the crazy amount of people visiting the area (mainly for shopping), but I would definitely visit for the lights.

3. Carnaby Street
- When I lived and worked in Central London, I thoroughly enjoyed my early morning walks along Carnaby Street, more so during Christmas time when the street is adorned with beautiful light displays and unique decorations. Last year's "Kaleidoscope" theme was my favourite because of the fluttering butterflies. 

4. Covent Garden
- You will find London's biggest Christmas tree in the heart of Covent Garden. Apparently, the hand-picked Christmas tree will be even bigger this year, so I cannot wait to see it when it's up and lights are switched on. But apart from the iconic Christmas tree, I also love their giant Christmas baubles and mirror balls.

5. Coventry Street
- The last six Christmases, I looked forward to the Christms lights in Coventry Street. They may not be as magnificent as the rest of the Christmas Lights on my list, but this was local to us, hence it was and still is very special to me. 

6. Bond Street
- For the last three years at least, Bond Street was adorned with peacock details. This year, I read that we will be treated with display inspired by the The Crown Jewels. I cannot wait to see the display when it's finally lit.

7. Seven Dials
- Also in Covent Garden, you will find the Christmas lights in Seven Dials. The theme is the last few years has been festive woodlands.

8. Fortnum and Mason
- Fortnum's advent calendar Christmas display will always be my favourite. But it's not only the giant advent calendar that I look forward to each year, but also the shop windows that are adorned with moving ornaments. They are simply magnificent to watch.

9. South Molton Street
- Just off Oxford Street (on Mayfair side) is South Molton Street where the blue-lit triangular archways are found. 

10. Annabel's- 46 Berkeley Square
- Annabel's facade is always spectacular, with their theme changing every season. But it is at Christmas time when the most extravagant facade in London is probably at its best. The last few years that I have been visiting the building, I have seen a giant gingerbread house, candy canes, swans, ballerinas, Santa Claus and even the Three Kings. And yes, last year they teamed up with Swarovski, and apparently the facade was dusted with crystals, but why not?

11. St James's
- The Christmas tree in St James's may not be as big as the one in Covent Garden, but it is my favourite because it is simple yet elegant. I always look forward to seeing this tree lit up every year because it brings me so much joy. 

12. New Bond Street
- Most, if not all shops in London adorn their windows with Christmas ornaments, however it is the Cartier flagship store in New Bond Street that people (mostly influencers) are obsessed with, and I don't blame them because it is truly dazzling.

13. Burlington Arcade
- Maybe I should have written a "Walking Christmas Light Tour" instead on second thought as most of the locations on my list are close to one another and are within walking distance form each other. Anyway, a few steps away from Cartier is the Burlington Arcade. They, too put on a spectacular Christmas display, and for some reason I often feel cosy walking through the arcade not just at Christmas, but all throughout the winter.

There are of course many other beautiful Christmas displays in London, however I am not so keen on walking around in the winter, hence I focused on the areas that are within 15- minutes walk from where we used to live. It just so happened that we lived conveniently near Piccadilly Circus for over six years, that's why I was motivated to see the lights.

Apparently, we will be seeing some changes in this year's displays and also, the lights will be turned on for a shorter period of time this year to save energy.


My London Restaurant Experiences in 2021

Saturday, 22 October 2022

One of the many things that I missed during lockdown was eating at a restaurant with J and my friends. Throughout the whole pandemic in 2020, J and I often had take-aways from our favourite restaurants to support them in what was probably one of the most difficult times in their business history. So, when the lockdown was fully lifted in March last year, I couldn't wait to finally eat and catch up with my friends whom I didn't see for over a year.

It was also last year that Jollibee opened a branch in Leicester Square. I guess it is important to share this here because having lived conveniently close to the fast food restaurant, I used to go there frequently, perhaps every month for the first four months when it opened. And when I got fed up of paying over £20 for slow and bad service, anaemic and tasteless spaghetti and just okay chickenjoy, I decided to spend my money elsewhere. Hence, a collection of London restaurant experiences that I am happy I am able to share with you here.

1. Cafe Biltmore- 44 Grosvenor Square
- I am very lucky to have friends who are as curious as myself and would not hesitate to try restaurants that they have not heard of before. Kuya Dennis is one of those friends, and I am glad that he said yes when I asked him to go to Cafe Biltmore with me, as I have heard so many good things about this restaurant. It is the 4th Jason Atherton Restaurant that I have been to and the quality of the food and service is consistent in every restaurant. At Cafe Biltmore, we had an amazing time not only because we had the restaurant all to ourselves, but because the food and service were excellent. Their calamari was paired with sweet chilli sauce which complimented the rich batter. We both ordered steak for mains which satisfied our cravings for protein. I would love to go back to Cafe Biltmore for brunch or an Afternoon Tea.

2. Gunpowder Tower Bridge- 4 Duchess Walk
- My friend Pearl and I have birthday traditions that we started a few years ago.Our birthdays are less than a month apart, so we often go to an Afternoon Tea for my birthday and lunch for her birthday. Last year, Pearl chose Gunpowder Restaurant for her birthday lunch- a modern Indian restaurant that is located just a few metres away from Tower Bridge. I have been to a few Indian restaurants in London, some Michelin starred, and Gunpowder is not far behind as far as I am concerned. Their grilled prawns and soft shell crab made my eyes water, but that didn't stop me from eating every bit of them (even the prawn head). They were that spicy good! The spare ribs was perfectly spiced and cooked that it fell off the bone easily.

3. Scott's Mayfair- 20 Mount St
- The trip to Scott's in Mayfair was a Christmas Meal with my Ate Elvie, my seafood buddy. It was also a part of our quest to find our favourite crab, but somehow we still got it wrong. And so we ordered the Devon whole cock crab. I mean it was good. A crab is a crab, it will always be a luxury for me. But, as much as we enjoyed our time in Scott's because we also loved the octopus carpaccio and griddled prawns, we still wished the crab was cooked in a different way, hence our journey to finding the best crab continues.

4. The Ivy- 1-5 West St
- If you have been following my blog, you know that The Ivy in West St is consistent on my annual list of London Restaurant experiences. I have been to a couple of The Ivy Collection restaurants, but the experience is different. There is no doubt that our dining experience at The Ivy in West Street is more special. The customer service is always delicate and attentive. The ambience, always graceful. By now, we have tried all the dishes on their roasts and grills menu and a few more others, but of course there's more to try. I am also happy that my favourite sticky toffee pudding is now back on the menu. So yeah, The Ivy remains our favourite restaurant in London, and if you ask J where he wants to have dinner on his birthday this year, I have no doubt that he will say The Ivy in West St. :)

5. Mildred's - 45 Lexington St, Carnaby
- Refreshing is the word that best describes the food at Mildred's. It was my first 100% plant-based restaurant experience and it was a really good one. I know of Mildred's because my favourite chef Matt, who sadly passed away in 2018, had a residency there. I have always been curious how it's like to dine at Milred's because I love my meat, and I was worried I wasn't going to enjoy it. But it definitely proved me wrong. Just by writing this and looking at the photo, it already brings me back to that fresh, tasty and simply amazing food. A restaurant that is definitely on my "to go back to" list.

6. Imperial Treasure- 9 Waterloo Pl, St James's
- There are only two Chinese restaurants in the West End area that J and I frequented when we lived there- Imperial Treasure and Orient. I have been to a few restaurants in Chinatown as well, but the service has always been careless. I was previously told that this is to be expected in Chinese restaurants, so I no longer expected otherwise. Until I discovered Imperial Treasure (and Orient). So when my friend Kristy suggested Chinese for our first catch up post pandemic last year,I brought her to Imperial Treasure. It was then my fifth trip to the restaurant, and I was reminded why I loved going back there. We were greeted by friendly, smiling staff. The service was polite and efficient as always. The ambience remained calm and relaxing. And the food, pure excellence. And if I haven't mentioned before, I also love the fact that it is discreetly located in a less busy street near Piccadilly Circus. So if you are in London and craving for a really good Chinese food, perhaps try Imperial Treasure. You will not be disappointed.

7. Orient- 15 Wardour St
- J is not as keen on Chinese food as myself, however if I crave for roast duck and ask him to go with me, he would but only if we go to Orient. Hence, Orient is J's official favourite Chinese restaurant in London. Orient can be quite busy at times, however the many times that we have been there, we were always guaranteed a seat. J loves their stir-fry beef, whilst I would always order the mixed barbecue platter to have some of my favourite meat dishes on one plate- roast duck, honey roast pork and pork crackling. Dining in Orient with my friends is a completely dfferent story though, as we often order ridiculous amount of food and will devour them like it was our last meal. I guess Orient is the place you go if you want a quick, no fuss Chinese food fix. 

8. Kasa and Kin - 52-53 Poland Street
- The sister restaurant of Romulo's Cafe was an instant hit when it opened in Central London late last year, and I wasn't suprised. If you are probably used to big servings in a Filipino restaurant, you will not necessarily appreciate Kasa and Kin. However, if you have the understanding of their tapas concept, then you will love the food. I have visited the restaurant a few times since it opened and I have so far enjoyed every visit. And whilst some people said that they were left unsatisfied, I was more than satisfied. I suppose because I have  learned through the years to appreciate the quality of food rather than the quantity. And this is exactly what Kasa and Kin has to offer. I have been to two other Filipino restaurants in Central London and I was very disappointed twice over. I guess what makes Kasa and Kin extra special for me is the personal touch from the owner, Ate Rowena. The only contact I had with her prior to Kasa and Kin's opening was through email and instagram during the pandemic. However, whenever she sees me in the restaurant, she would always come to my table and say hi. For me, this adds more meaning to the experience.

9. Food with Mae's Kamayan- Various Locations
- I know this blog is about London Restaurants, however I cannot write about my food experience in 2021 without mentioning my favourite Filipino chef in London, Mae. I only ever met Mae on social media and she became my instant favourite because her recipes are simple and easy to follow. Would you believe if I say that before I came across Mae's tortang talong recipe, I didn't know how to cook this basic Filipino dish? Yeah, so I owe this to Mae. Anwyay, she used to have pop-up Kamayan Boodle Fights in various locations in London. And when I found out that she was having one in Covent Garden, I knew I needed to go. It was my first kamayan experience in London and it was so much fun. Mae was very hands-on and her crew was very nice. I believe that Mae's success is not just her talent, but also because she connects and engages with her customers in a humble way. I am also happy that she finally has her own small business. So, please if you're from London and reading this, support her via &dine

10. Coco's Lounge- 12 Willesden Lane, Kilburn
- I didn't realise that in 2021, I went to five Filipino restaurants, actually six including Jollibee. One of the Filipino restaurants I went to was Coco Lounge which I never heard of before. I liked their bilao concept which was new to me as well. The food was very good. The bilao contained most of my favourite Filipino dishes. I guess it's fair to say that the portion was good enough for 4 people. We also ordered pork barbecue on the side which tasted authentic. Just looking at the photo makes me want to go back again and indulge myself with some Filipino food goodness.

11. Ading Ysa's - Unit 58, Broadway Market, Tooting High Street
- My first vist to Ading Ysa's was fantastic. The food was cheap and cheerful. J and I were flat-hunting at the time and I've just heard of this Filipino restaurant in Tooting. J, although quite picky with Filipino food, agreed to have breakfast at Ading Ysa's with me. J ordered their tapsilog whilst I ordered their longsilog. We also had sisig on the side. I enjoyed the whole experience, hence I went back for the second time with friends from work. It was an authentic carinderia experience and I loved it. The price was also reasonable. In fact, the food here is better than some of the fine dining Filipino restaurants that I've tried. Promise.

12. Ramo Ramen- 28 Brewer St
- When Ramo Ramen opened in Soho, I was excited to go because their menu included oxtail kare kare and chicken sopas ramen. I was aware that this was fusion, however I expected that the Filipino taste will dominate the ramen. I was disappointed when my oxtail kare kare ramen didn't taste like kare kare at all. The only thing that made it kare kare was the small beef that perhaps was slow-cooked in peanut broth. And my cousin's chicken sopas was literally chicken Japanese ramen. I'm not normally critical about food, however I expected more distinct Filipino taste in my ramen and Ramo didn't deliver. Besides, the restaurant feels cramped and staff exuded an "I Don't Care" attitude. So yes, my experience wasn't great. I would rather spend my money in other Japanese Ramen restaurants to be honest.

13. Madison- Rooftop Terrace One, New Change
- Another dissppointment was my second trip to Madison. When J and I first had dinner at this rooftop bar and restaurant, we already knew that we would not go back. However, my friend Pearl and I decided to go for the St Paul Cathedral's view. Of course, this was a mistake because you don't really need to pay for the view, and we knew that. But it was too late to change our minds, so we had lunch at the restaurant. We were surrounded by younger people who were in competition with the loud music, intoxicated at 230pm. Actually, from my experience dining in rooftop restaurants, this is quite common. Anyway, their chicken salad was mediocre and my pasta was very dry and bland. It definitely was not worth our money.

It seems that my 2021 London Restaurant Experiences was mostly about Filipino food. I didn't even realise this until I started writing this blog. It was also nice to go back to some of our favourite London restaurants and discover new ones. 


The Queen's Funeral: My Personal Experience

Thursday, 29 September 2022

I have been quite lucky to have seen The Queen and the Royal Family three times in the last few years- first during the Queen's Golden Jubillee and subsequently twice in the last five years at Trooping the Colour. And having lived a few minutes walk away from Buckingham Palace for over five years, I had the immense pleasure of running past one of the most famous buildings in the world on most weekends during my morning runs. No matter how many times I have seen the Palace, until now, I still can't help but take a snap of this momentous building whenever I pass by. The Buckingham Palace became my favourite subject when I was trying to experiment on photography, taking photos of the building from different angles. Needless to say that this place has become a very special part of my Central London life. 

That's why when I heard of Our Majesty's passing, I knew that I had to pay respect one way or another. Hence, that Saturday following her death, I went to the Palace at sunrise to do just that. I intentionally went there very early to avoid the crowd and so that I could run after. The experience was quite surreal. There were already people outside the Palace, laying flowers for The Queen. By this time, the tribute area has been moved to Green Park. They were no longer allowing the public to leave flowers outside the Palace. There was chillness in the early morning air, but the sadness in the surrounding was more perceptible. 

Four days later, The Queen's Lying-in-State commenced. I was very tempted to go, and wished that we still lived in Central London so I could have gone at midnight. However, the queue went longer as the days passed, so I decided not to go at all. But I was not going to miss her funeral. 

The last time I saw The Queen in person, it was at the Trooping The Colour (The Queen's Annual Birthday Parade) in 2019. I was finishing my morning run but decided to hang out at The Mall and waited for the parade. I waited for at least three hours at that time, so I knew I was going to wait longer at her funeral.

So, I arrived in Constitution Hill around 0715. I chose Constitution Hill because I knew that there would only be single barricades in the area unlike in The Mall. This meant better view of the procession. As expected, the area was already largely packed. Luckily, I found a good spot midway to Wellington Arch, where the procession would end. Three lovely ladies were kind enough to allow me to join their group. 

From 0715 to almost 1200, the crowd waited patiently for the procession. Some people brought their breakfast at the venue. I spotted people who brought a box of Kelogg's cornflakes, some waffles and a bowl of porridge. But that morning also opened my eyes to a lot of different breakfast habits. As early as 0715, some people were eating crisps, French fries, cookies and cakes. Some people brought hot drinks, others queued up for two hours to get a cup of coffee in Green Park. A lot of people came prepared of course (someone even brought a box of tampax), however there were no signs that people slept in that area overnight. All of the overnighters slept in The Mall I think. I was in my running clothes and I had nothing to sit on. I thought I was going to manage to stand up for five hours, however, my feet started to feel numb after two hours. Luckily, the ladies were kind enough to share the coat that they were sitting on. So, there I was sat on the ground, on my mobile, chatting to a friend who didn't believe I actually went to watch The Queen's funeral procession.

At around 0730, the members of the Metropolitan Police started marching to their posts. People cheered on them. The atmosphere at this point was light and kind of joyful. I could hear people talking fondly of The Queen like they knew her personally. Some shared their experiences in meeting The Queen many years ago. Some talked about the hats that the Met Police was wearing and what they meant. Others were videocalling with their families, wishing that they were there.

When the Westminster Abbey finally opened at 0800, people tuned in to BBC to watch The Queen's coffin taken in procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey, and subsequently the funeral service. The radio in Green Park was turned on. One of the ladies I was with connected her mobile to a power bank so we could all watch on her mobile. The mood suddenly changed. People became silent and somewhat reflective. Some people started to tear up. There were so many "awws", "bless" and "this is sad" comments.

Then the British National Anthem, "God Save The King" played on the radio. Everyone around me sang with emotion. Soon after, the service finished and the procession began. At this point, everyone was back on their feet. We were lucky to be behind of only two people. The Met Police in front of us served as our onlooker, at times, other people's mobile phones. As soon as we heard the beat of the drum, we knew the procession was approaching. 

March music was played by members of the Irish and Scottish regiments, the Bridage of Gurkhas and the Royal Air Force ahead of The Queen's coffin. Minute guns were fired from the nearby Hyde Park. Soldiers marched with their rifles reversed as a sign of respect.

Approximately 142 Royal Navy Sailors pulled the gun carriage that carried The Queen's coffin. When the carriage approached the area where we were standing, everyone became emotional. It was surreal seeing the Queen's coffin draped in The Royal Standard Flag, her crown, sceptre and orb on top. The coffin was followed by members of The Royal Family, grief evident on their faces. 

It was a privilege for me to have witnessed a moment of history. Growing up, I only knew The Queen through the television and the nursery rhyme, " Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat Where Have You Been?". To physically be there at her funeral procession, sharing my grief with strangers, is an experience I will never forget. Her Majesty, who in 70 years has shown nothing but resilience and grace despite the many uncertainties she experienced throughout her reign- war, recessions, a global pandemic, family scandals and personal loses. She was indeed an epitome of a remarkable leader. We will never have a Queen like her ever again.


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