Bit of a late start today…being exhausted from flying from LA to London, and going all day yesterday, has taken its toll…it’s close to noon by the time we finally get out of the house and head to the Natural History Museum.
(One of my favorite things is how London’s museums are free!) and today we’re gonna see DIN-O-SAWRS!!! The line is massive, but it still only takes us a few minutes to get in. And apparently we and every school aged child in London have the same idea of seeing the dinosaurs…it is packed!! But…one of the only times I actually like kids is in museums…seeing their awe, and enjoyment is so fun!! After battling the crowds in the dinosaur exhibit we go see some of the other animals on display. Many of the museums animals on exhibit are old, worn and bleached, but they haven’t replaced them. I like that they keep these old tired specimens stating that for conservation purposes they’ve put off having them replaced. (The Smithsonian in D.C. Also does this, but their animals aren’t quite as threadbare.) Since many of the animals here were donated from a time when it was “cool” to display trophies at your house, I can easily imagine the faded leopard-now almost completely white-living in some lords study in a great house, where maids would be scared to dust it, for fear of it coming alive. (OK-my imagination runs away with me sometimes!) Its always the stories behind that fascinate me, the peasant I imagine seeing a dinosaur bone, now convinced dragons exist. The explorer finding a new species, and naming it for their wife who they haven’t seen in months. That is what I see when I go to museums. (Although oddly I never get that with paintings, they bore me.)
Our stomachs start grumbling and we head out to find lunch, we are headed across the Thames to Bourgough market. This place is absolutely amazing! Filled with food stalls and local items, there is so much to look at! After a quick lap to get our bearings we try to decide on lunch. Eric decides on a pie, filled with lamb, potatoes and vegetables. And I try some wild mushroom soup. Later as we move into the main building we find a stall selling all sorts of exotic meat, (crocodile, horse,ostrich) and we try a kangaroo sandwich. (It’s OK, not very different from beef, although I have to admit loosing my appetite while trying to decide if it was a cuddly animal, or an overgrown rodent.-and yes I know they’re not rodents, but my mind went something like this-kangaroo=pouch=opossum=rat like scavenger=ick)
After an amazing giant brownie for dessert we head past Shakespeare’s globe theater and across the bridge to the infamous Tower of London!
Here we see the ravens of the tower. There is a legend saying that if the ravens ever leave the tower the British empire will fall, so a select few birds actually get posts in the queens guard, and a very cushy life. However there have been shirkers…one bird was dishonorably discharged and exiled to Wales when he repeatedly showed behavior unbecoming someone in the queens service. Another decided after years of hard work to fly the coop and retire at a nearby pub. As we walk around the tower I think of all the people that have been here before. Used as the place to spend the night before coronation for many of Britain’s monarchs, I imagine the anticipation they must have felt…and also it has been a formidable prison. Where people waited hoping for a royal pardon that often never came. I imagine I see a pair of young princes playing on the ramparts. Or Anne Boleyn standing haughtily erect looking over these tourists that invade her rest. After sitting, soaking up the past we hit the tube to another of my favorite persons haunts…Baker Street.
Here he walls of the tube are decorated with tiny mosaics of London’s most famous detective: Sherlock Holmes. A quick walk down the street takes us to 221b Baker st. where he famously solved his mysteries. The house here has a living history museum, where you can poke through rooms that look as if the great detective has just walked out, and when you are done with that you can pop next door to a gift shop filled with all things Sherlock. I’m not quiet sure that everyone here understands that Sherlock was a fictional character. They have a collection of letters addressed to Sherlock on display that you can look through, and all employees are in costume. It is neat to see one little house in a time warp in the middle of modern London. As we get on the subway to get dinner, we make another stop…this one is all for me…Kings Cross station….and platform 9 3/4!! My first visit to London I also visited here, but now commercialism has taken over…there is a line to get to the trolley. It takes us almost 30 minutes to get to the front. There they drape you in a scarf, hand you a wand, provide back lighting and a professional photographer to capture you fake running into a wall…thankfully they do allow you to take your own photos still, but the jaded part of me wonders how long that will last. (they do make it difficult to get a decent picture since their photographer crowds out yours and asks you to look at them.) Next door is a giant Harry potter shop, with the photos popping up on screen that can be yours, for a low price. And they seem to be doing a booming business right now. After snapping some photos we head back on the tube ready for dinner.