Friday, August 6, 2010

London - August 6th

August 6, 2010

St. Paul’s Cathedral, “The Holy Stairmaster”.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a very finely designed and important church to the city of London. The decorations on the inside are very intricate and ornate. The basement crypt has Lord Nelson and others but not the same history as Westminster Abbey.

We climbed all the way to the disappointing whispering dome. The ambient noise from the “other tourists” made it hard to hear, although the view of the church was impressive. We continued up to the top of the dome, a fascinating look at the inner structure of St. Paul’s, and made it to the top lookout, passing many winded sightseers, to the highest point they let the public at. A tight space wrapped around the top spire. It is a fabulous view of all London.

British Museum.

We got there a little late, around 3:30 but it is open late Today (Friday). There is too much to see and you are quickly overwhelmed by history. In one hour I have seen the real Rosetta stone, several mummies, a bust of Ramesses II, Some plaster figures that are 9000 years old, Roman mosaics and much more. I have barely scratched the surface. I think setting aside a whole day when we return to London is what we have planned. You need to be fresh and prepared.

Fish and chips.

A quick dinner tonight since we leave London Saturday morning for Bath. I will be driving. I have very good insurance. I finally have some decent fish and chips in London. The quality of fish and chips seems to be inversely proportional to the price. For 3.80 pounds I have the best fish compared to 12 pounds at the pub that was only OK.

Blog Notes

Uncle Steve has alerted us that the comment feature no longer works. We will try to fix this soon. I just thought nobody cared J

August 5th

August 5

Churchill War Museum

If you don’t think Churchill was a great man, just go to his war museum. It is located in the war rooms in London during the Second World War. It is the actual location with most of the original objects. Apparently after the war they just left and closed the door. It wasn’t really opened up again until the 1970s. It puts you back into the 1940s convincingly. The most powerful thing is the footage of his state funeral.

Kensington gardens

We were going to go to tea here but decided that $100 CDN was just too steep even though it was supposedly the least expensive good tea in London. They had a nice pond with plenty of birds to see, geese, swans and other fowl. Sitting in a chair cost four pounds. We didn’t pay it. Good God, re-reading this, we are cheap Canadians.

Mousetrap (Agatha Christie play)

Holly saw this the last time she was in London. We have just seen the 24,039th performance of this show’s run. It was a good show even from our 15 pound nosebleed seats. I never would have guessed the killer is …. I promised not to tell.

London August 4th

August 4

Tower of London

Tower of London is a fine looking place for such gruesome royal deeds to have taken place. When you stand at the spot of the beheading of Anne Boleyn and the 16 year old Lady Jane Grey it quite disturbs the peaceful setting. So we are off to the bloody tower, er, Bloody Tower. Several Kings, Queens and traitors “in the King’s view”, were held there as prisoners and later executed. It is interesting to see their lodgings. Everything looks great from the outside but 15th century castle living seems a bit like camping to me. Peasants must have really lived like rats.

Tate modern

In sharp contrast to the Tower of London, the Tate Modern is, well, modern. Holly discovers she doesn’t care for much the art here. I am more in the middle. There is plenty of crap on the walls but there are also some very interesting things. Big names are aplenty, Salvador Dali, Picasso and Jackson Pollock to name a few. I found at least 25 pieces I could stare at.

When we left we went over the millennium foot bridge.

Nose crusties

We all get them people. On occasion we all must clear our nostrils, some more than others. We all choose our own cleaning method as well. Having cleared that up (heh, heh), I was alarmed this morning when I was delicately clearing my nostrils to see BLACK crusties. Black? Two options immediately sprung to mind. One: I have contracted the Bubonic Plague. I have heard this is not uncoimmon in London. Two: The air here is disgusting. I am hoping for option two. I have noticed a small red spot on my face but until it becomes more boil-like I shall treat it as a common pimple and assume the air in London is foul. It doesn't look foul but many more people are smokers here than at home. Could it really have had that much of an effect on my sweet little nose crusties?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Best Laid Plans

I have been carefully planning this trip for many years as you well know. I have created itineraries for each day, then rewritten the itineraries as new information came available. According to my excellent itineraries, in one week we could accomplish every major sight worth seeing in London. Yes, it did include long-ish days but we are all fit, active people and would be raring to go! I planned for flexibility so that if people didn't want to do one thing, we'd just flex to do something else. I planned for finances so that if we were running low on cash, we'd cut our losses and focus on the freebies. And then, to my surprise, it was not personal preference or cash that was the issue. It was sleep.

After three days of watching my family sleep until noon, I managed to drag the brood out of the apartment at 8:30am. Yesterday, I finally left with Julia at 11:30am. I had been up for three hours, worked out at the gym, showered, broke bread, cleaned the kitchen, tidied the apartment, uploaded pictures, categorized pictures, planned the day's outing...then replanned the afternoon's outing...then sighed loudly in many directions. I have been positively buzzing with morning energy. Sadly, everyone else gets going about 6pm when I am running out of steam. Of course, they all seem happy enough to get into bed again by 10pm. But I perseverate.

Where guidebooks recommend 2 hours, my family seems to spend twice that amount of time. Who knew my children had the stamina for five hours at the National Art Gallery? Mind you, we flew through the Tate Modern Art Gallery in only 2 hours. My favourite painting was the Shooting Picture by Niki de Saint Phalle (or something like that). She took plastic baggies of different coloured paint and tied them to a board. Then she covered it all with wire mesh. Then she covered all that with plaster. Then she put the whole thing at an art exhibit and invited apssersby to shoot at it with a rifle. I like her. Caused quite a stir at the time, of course. My favourite sculpture was The Kiss by August Rodin. I thought is was interesting that Claude Monet is credited with influencing "abstract art" as a sort of "first abstract artist" kind of guy. I always had a slightly different impression of him. Get it? impression?

The Tower of London was cool. We spent many hours there dodging in and out of towers. I'm pretty sure Tom is jealous of Rick Steves. Every time I mention his name, Tom just rolls his eyes but I tell you, there was no eye-rolling today. Rick said to get to the Tower early and head for the crown jewels so we did. By the time we came out, the line up was three times as long. Another hour later it was so long I couldn't imagine why anyone would get in it! The thirteen Rick Steve's guidebooks I packed are paying off...

The other thing that is interfering with my amazing planning is the travel time. Walking takes forever! I swear we must have walked around the entire city twice by now. Even with my superior map-reading abilities, we always seem to have to walk in concentric circles to find our target. Today, I even broke down and planned to take the bus. We missed the stop and had to walk back to find the art gallery. I'm pretty sure it was just as far walking back as it would have been to walk there in the first place. I may not have to work out in the mornings much longer.

London August 3

August 3, 2010

Westminster abbey

1000 years of royal Church activity with fantastic Gothic architecture. I must have stared at all the craftsmanship for hours; I would spend more time there if allowed. We were there five hours. Julia was sick of me liking all the stone work and wood work. “Not another cool door Dad” or hardware or tile or …. Seeing Sir Isaac Newton’s tomb or Darwin’s was interesting for me as I thought this flew in the face of the church at the time? Poet’s corner was more like a Hollywood walk of fame with Lewis Carroll and Thomas Hardy. Julia said she wouldn’t get married on top of a lot of dead people even if they are famous. Phew, that will save me a lot of money! Westminster Abbey is an interesting connection to tomorrow’s adventure at London Tower.

We have seen Tower Bridge three times now. The first time was from the water as part of our London tour. The guide says “It doesn’t open often, you are quite lucky, we felt lucky as it opened. The second time was in the bus, lucky again. Today we were walking from a failed attempt to see a free show at the Scoop, a outdoor amphitheater, when we crossed the Tower Bridge again. As we are approaching the alarm sounds and you can see that a cruise ship is to be towed through. Crowds gather including us. Hundreds of pictures later the ship is through and we can proceed. Three for three.

We head over to Fleet Street to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub and have a bite to eat at this pub established in the 1500s rebuilt in 1667 after the Great London fire of 1666. You can see the burnt floor joists. We ordered in the cellar where it was cool and had curved brick ceilings. The atmosphere down there was an old prison from Dickens’ time. The beer was terrific but the food tasted like it was from Dickens’ time as well.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Monday, August 2, 2010

Video by Julia #1

The is mom in her state of fear when she had thought she lost her purse. This is a video to go with the first blog entree so please rea the blog before proceeding to watch this Video.~THANK YOU

The Julia View

Today we went in a museum of art. It was very interesting. After the 5 hour walk through 10 thousand paintings and foot aching pain, we moved on to the park ( yay, more walking) it was very beautiful. It was a path dedicated to princess Diana. That path lead to the castle we went to Bucking ham palace, the guards that look like Marge from the Simpsons with the tall black, fuzzy hats weren't outside they were inside. That was a disipointment, mostly to me . We went on the London eye, that was cool. Dad pointed out a carousel I wanted to go on... no one else did... we didn't go on.:( over all the day was painful and fun, so painfuly fun. :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

London - August 1

I wake up at 4 AM , not bad. I get out of bed at 5 and eat some things the lady left us as a welcome. I cook some toast, eat a banana and eat most of the box of Chocolate cookies. I save three for the others like some kind of hero. When everyone is up we head downtown to tae the bus tour. It is a perfect thing to do on the first day, sit on your butt and have others show you the sights. Things that stand out are; Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Architecture, ,the feeling of history and Julia falling asleep. It is funny how we are all on different time schedules. Later we ate our packed lunch and took the water tour to Greenwich to see the prime meridian. Saw a couple pubs that Dickens frequented. Walked the under ground tunnel under the Thames to the tube and returned to Soho for some dinner. Came home and all were to bed by 9:30. It took an hour to write this because typing on a small note book is the height of frustration. I will get better.

Two tidbits I learned Today:

Posh is an acronym for Port Out Starboard Home. When sailing from London to India one side of the ship would be hotter than the other due to the position of the sun relative to the journey. The cooler side of the ship was more expensive. Posh tickes we more costly.

Wharf is an acronym for:

WareHouse At River Front

Talk to you on the morrow.

London - July 30

I wake early. I can't sleep. I have three things to do as soon as 9 AM arrives. 1: meet the nice people renting our house. 2: get some cheques to the bank 3: Forward my mailing address for a year. My parents are away on holiday and we are staying in their house. They turn the heat down in the hot water tank when they are away, this fact comes to me suddenly, in the shower. I save time by showering quickly and when Holly is ready we bolt out of there. We have to be back by 10:30 to leave for the airport.

We get to the post office and find that forwarding your mail for a year is a whopping $140. Next we go to our house and the peaple haven't arrived yet, I guess we won't meet them until next year. I forgot the cheques by leaving so fast, so back to my parents we go. Bank and back. It's now 10:15, time to leave in 15 minutes. Panic. My head is a comlete fog. I can barely function. Nancy decides that I should drive.

We make a relatively crash free trip to the airport and more family is there to send us off. This is very nice. It is starting to seem like I will be gone for a year. Panic. Goodbyes are said and we enter the airport security, things go normal (eye roll) and we load onto the plane. We take off and the flight is long and boring with boring movies, food and scenery.

We land at Gatwick, deplane (its the correct term, really) and head to customs. Two customs agents later they stamp our passports. We pick up our bags and have to choose between two doors "nothing to declare" and "stuff to bring in". After some soul searching I choose "nothing to declare" and we walk in. They trust Canadians apparently.

A quick bathroom stop and we will find the express train to London. I know Holly has spoiled this earlier but it is a funny moment. We are in the UK for ten minutes and her purse is left on the airplane. I want everyone to know I was very supportive and understanding. I knew when to keep my trap shut. An unexpected bonus is that I have some kind of super "get out of jail free" card that I can use later when my blunder occurs.

We take a train to London leave our bags at Victoria station ($32 pounds) and try to get transit passes called Oyster cards. This sucks. Total duration, two lineups and three eons. We eat a nice fish and chip lunch at a pub, I drink a watered down Guiness (I could tell, Mr. Bartender) and we pick up our bags and head to the apartment. Nice looking place, we are five stories up, no lift. I carry all the bags up. Its too much and I need sleep NOW. I manage to stay awake to 6 PM and crash.

august 1st

Today, we are still in England. We went to Greenwich to see the world prime meridian, and i put my feet on either side. :) I also took a tour bus around London, and saw lots of cool stuff. I liked the tower bridge, we saw it raising up twice, and the people here say it doesn't happen often. Unlike yesterday, I don't feel tired anymore. I think I have lessened effects of jet lag. I was disabled in the sense that i couldn't see much because i didn't have sunglasses. I am looking forward to riding the London eye.