It's funny as having dreamt of England and specifically London since about the age of four, I had preconceived notions that were, of course rediculous. When we arrived at Heathrow and started driving towards Reading in Berkhsire I was thinking 'this isn't much different than where I grew up in Virginia'. And much of it really wasn't - except for when you hit the small villages and your expectations are delightfully met. And you don't see hillbillies with autos up on blocks as was frequent where I grew up.
My rediculous expectations of London (no old men in tweed jackets riding bicycles by old style double-decker buses) were off to a degree. Lots of buses, but more modern in appearance. Tons of traffic and a tad dirtier than perhaps I had imagined. But I soon fell in love and it was truly magical. Soho is a great time after you fight your way by the chaps trying to sell you drugs or a trist with woman or man. Many a fine ale was had. The Cheddar Cheese was a great place. I was commenting at the age of the place and the barkeep casually stated 'it's not that old really, it was rebuilt after the fire' - which of course was 1666 with the place rebuilt in 1668 I believe. Not that old?
I stayed for the first part of the trip at an estate called Swallowfield Park in Reading. It was simply amazing and somethign out of a novel. Drove to Dover to see the cliffs, down the coast and back through the charming town of Bosham. Stopped at Tangmere to see where the old airfield was. It's now a farmer's field, but the old control tower still stands. You can almost hear the Hurricanes and Spitfires taking off and the ringing of the scramble bell. Then on to London as a guest in the RAF Club in Picadilly.
A wonderful trip in a beautiful and magical country filled will a lot of really nice people. Few in London seemed to be English or even from Britain of course. But the treasures are there.
One great thing was meeting a Guardsman in a pub (called The Guardsman I believe!) who told us that they were practicing for the Queen's birthday the next morning. He told us where to go, and even sent a text message before marching out to let us know where to stand. We got to see at least a thousand of the Guards battallions in red tunics and bear skins marching in practice, with all of their bands.
A trip I won't soon forget.