(This is on my phone’s wallpaper. I took it on the morning I left. Bit of a mistake… every time I see it I miss Mrs Popplesfield and young Jeffrey.)
It’s just after 6AM and I’ve been in England for a little over 24 hours.
It’s the most amazing feeling to be able to type that sentence and for it to be true! I’m sitting up in bed with a coffee by my side, having just finished a Skype call with Evan18 and Ryan19 (and Poppy, Jeff and Maris 🙂 ) and now I’m talking with you all. Isn’t technology the most incredible thing?
I landed in London soon after 5AM after not a great deal of sleep on the plane. On the way to the train to Paddington I saw a place to buy sim cards for the phone, so I debated with myself as to whether to get one now or get one later in London with Scott. Thank all the gods that I decided to get one then.
On the way in on the train, I texted Scott that I was coming and he texted back, “Have you got your ticket ready?”
Umm.. what ticket?
Turned out he’d emailed a ticket to me… the ticket man was coming up the carriage, I’m frantically getting my computer out (thank God for free wifi) and looking for it. The ticket man was standing by my left shoulder. I’m saying, “I know it’s here somewhere…”
Scott texts, “Sending it through again.” It pops up on the computer, the guy scanned it and all was well. Phew!
We met at Paddington and took a LONDON TAXI back to the apartment. London cabbies don’t help you with your bags like our ones do… We’re in a ground floor apartment in Holborn in Red Lion Square which is close to everything.
After getting settled in we went out and walked to the tube. Our underground has 4 stations and is fairly deep. This one is slightly larger. And deeper. You go down one escalator (“keep to the right so people can overtake”) to what seems to be the bowels of the earth, then down another one. Molten lava is probably on the other side of the walls.
Then whoosh! You’re off. We emerged at Picadilly Circus. I had to take a picture of the statue of Eros. See the empty steps? London was strangely devoid of people. I know that the British are a nation of tennis lovers, but if they were all at Wimbledon then the place would be standing room only. We went to Trafalgar Square next. OMG!
That’s Scott at the fountain. They were setting up for an opera transmission that night but we blithely went down and took a photo before we were asked to skeddads.
Standing up on the entrance to the National Gallery you can see Big Ben. No, really. We walked down there later in the afternoon when we decided to see Westminster Abbey.
Nelson’s column. Huge. So much taller than I’d imagined. The lions around him were fenced off so we couldn’t go to them.
Here’s St Martins in the Fields (except there’s no fields), from ‘Oranges and Lemons say the bells of St Clements…”These places actually exist. Crazy.
It was a bit too early to get into the National Gallery, so we took a walk to Covent Garden. On the way (I think) we passed through Leicester Square.
Look! Cobblestones! At Covent Garden!
Look. Such excitement. Here’s the portico at St Paul’s church where Eliza and Henry Higgins meet for the first time. (“So cheer up Captain; and buy a flower off a poor girl.”) Pygmalian/My Fair Lady. We were going to go into the gardens but they were closed for a memorial service, so we decided to have lunch. It was only 11AM but we’d both had an early start.
It was fortunate that they were still on the breakfast menu. I wanted to go all out so I had Bubble and Squeak with black pudding and a poached egg. As we were sitting there were could hear some people singing opera, probably from the church. It was very elegant. We were under the umbrellas at the front of the café as the weather was very sunny. Imagine my luck? Mid twenties forecast for the whole week I’m here!
After lunch we wandered… well… strode… back to the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. Time for Kulture.
I took this one for Mum. xx
Wow. Just wow. Here’s another one:
Then we ducked around the corner for a look at the National Portrait Gallery. This was something I was particularly interested in going to. All these people I’ve read about… what did they look like?
Erasmus. With a book.
And of course you can’t have Erasmus without Sir Thomas More. I watched three episodes of Wolf Hall on the way over, to get mt into the Tudor ‘zone’, and the depiction of him was poles apart from ‘A Man For All Seasons’. Interesting.
These next few are for Jenny, Poppy and Jeff’s breeder. Here’s Charles II as a child with a Cavalier. :
And here is is a few years later. His portrait faces the door and as I entered the room I smiled at him. I knew instantly who HE was! Look at the face..
They had his wife and his mistress’s portraits next to each other. Poor Catherine! She had a sweet expression but no wonder he strayed so much. She was no oil painting… oh, wait a sec..But of course the one I really wanted to see was little Nell Gwynne:
“Let not poor Nelly starve.”
After that excitement we headed up the road to Big Ben and the Abbey. They’re right next to each other, which was very considerate of the English as my feet were getting sore in my sandals. On the way we passed by the Banqueting Hall, where Charles I was beheaded.
That’s me with my newly red hair. Stupid hairdresser. Then we went across the road to Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, the line to get in was crazy, with only an hour to go before closing time, so we walked around the outside instead.
We sat on the grass… my aching feet… and I looked up at this old, old structure and wondered how many of my ancestors had looked at the exact same sight? My grandfather lived in London when he was a boy.
Here’s the front. It’s magnificent.
We have nothing like this in Australia. Can’t wait to get back and see inside, especially all the tombs and Poets’ corner.
After that we hopped on the top of a double-decker bus and went for a drive up Regent street. It’s lovely. I’d say that I have to buy it every time I play Monopoly now but the boys are reading this and it’ll mean they’ll rip me off for it every time. We passed by Oxford st (jam-packed with people) and went by a little shop called Liberty. Craft girls, thses next shots are for you:
After that we went back and had drinks in a 500 year old pub, then did some shopping for upplies and went back to the apartment. The minute I hit the couch my eyes started rolling around me head. Scott was adamant that we had to keep going till at least 8PM to avoid jet lag, so we went out to grab dinner. It was a struggle, but at 7:15 I went to bed.
Woke up at 5AM, which was a decent night’s sleep. I sometimes wake up that early at home so I was happy. Skyped the boys and will now hit ‘publish’ as I can hear Scott moving around. It’s now 7:40AM… British museum day!