Day 2: British Museum for culture and Marylebone for Regency.

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When I was in Macao I was very taken with the baskets of red flowers they had hanging in the streets. London has the same thing. They’re everywhere and they make the streets look so pretty.

 

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Bright and early, though not as early as yesterday, we walked to the British Museum to see the exhibition of … can’t remember the name but it was about the human body’s depiction in ancient times, so there were a lot of sculptures from Greece, Rome and other places. Quite a few Greek vases with very explicit illustrations, a few artifacts and lots of genitalia.  The highlight for me was the little drawing hung on the wall, right near where the exit was. It was a Michelangelo… Scott commented to me that he watched a lot of people walk right past it, oblivious.

I have to say, some of those Greek guys knew how to wield a chisel. Some of the detail was incredible. We weren’t allowed to take photos, but I’ll remember a couple of them forever.

 

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One of the things I really wanted to see was the Rosetta Stone. I was talking to Evan18 yesterday and I mentioned I was going to see it. He said, “I thought that was only made up for Harry Potter!” It made me laugh. (I devoutly hope he was joking!) It was difficult to take a photo as it was in a glass case and all these stupid tourists wanted to take photos and crowd around it at the same time as me.

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We wandered through the Egyptian section, where I thought I’d take a few photos of cat mummies in case one of the boys wants to take up a new hobby when Daphne and Maris shuffle off this mortal coil.

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We walked into the Medieval section, where one of the first things I saw was this buried treasure. It was hidden by a Lancastrian lord when the Yorkists were overrunning the town. I can’t help but feel for his widow. Can you imagine her and her kids going out with a spade and digging around for the rest of their lives, saying, “I know Hubert hid it somewhere around here? He picked a good place this time, damn him…”

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Scott almost hyperventilated when he saw this Richard III boar brooch. I was lost in contemplation of the poor widow and her children, starving in a ditch but still digging… digging… digging…. when he raced around, grabbed me and dragged me to look at it. The History!

We also saw a big thing on the Sutton Hoo. I’d never heard of it, but just imagine casually asking the gardener to start digging in one of the big mounds of earth in your garden and then he starts finding bits of armor, gold jewelry, weapons and  goodness knows what else? How exciting would that be? This happened in 1939, and the guy was buried in about 600. You’d think someone else between now and then might’ve dragged out a spade and had a little poke around?

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I had to see the Elgin Marbles… now called something far more PC but after reading ‘Arabella’ by Georgette Heyer when I was 16 they’ve always been the Elgin Marbles to me.  in the novel, (or maybe it was another one of Heyer’s… I read and loved them all), they went to see the Elgin marbles and one of the characters had a rant about them on the way home, saying that it was a total ripoff as none of the statues had heads, their arms were missing etc. I remembered about the rant while we were looking at them and I got the giggles. I’d just finished saying something similar to Scott about the label on a broken bit of stone with a few chisel marks on it saying that it was “probably a nymph rising from the water to save someone’s life” . (Or something like that.) HOW could anyone tell anything from the block with a few vague marks in it that was in front of us? That label was a bit on the fanciful side.

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But some of them were terrific.

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Then we left, grabbed lunch and went on my first walking tour. It was fantastic!

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I thought Scott had run a little mad when he suggested this. People who know me in real life know that I don’t ‘do’ exercise. I live 12 minutes walk from work and in 14 years I’ve only walked it a handful of times, usually when the car was getting serviced. So signing up for a two-hour walk was a big leap of faith in my tour guide. But he did pretty well on the first day, so I decided to trust his judgement. Thousands wouldn’t, but I’m an excellent judge of character.

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It was great. Choosing this walk was another Georgette Heyer moment. It was in the area where a lot of her novels were set and I knew I’d be walking where the characters I’d loved when I was a wee slip of a girl had walked. (Well, they’re fictional, but you know what I mean.) It was very Regency, especially when we went to where the Wallace Collection was housed.

No photos were allowed, which was a real shame, but as we went up the big staircase I could imagine Sophy, Leonie, Arabella and the rest of them in their little muslin gowns flirting with their suitors and being in places just like this. Our tour looked at just a few paintings, (one was of the Regent himself), but the most exciting thing was when she led us towards a little painting. When I got closer to it I literally gave a squeal and leaped into the air. It was The Laughing Cavalier. (I used to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, so this was exciting. It’s shown on the link I gave for the Wallace collection in the paragraph above. ) The only painting MORE exciting from a CKCS breeder’s perspective is this one . I’d drag Scott to the Tate to look at it but it says it’s not on display. I have a print of it in my bedroom anyway.

I want to go back and have another wander through as it’s jam-packed full of things. We didn’t even scratch the surface. Maybe when I have time to fill in in London before my tours I’ll duck back.

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London streets are full of bollards. Rightfully so, as the drivers are maniacs. Seriously, they’ll mow you down soon as look at you. At least, that’s what Scott says. I didn’t believe him until I saw an elderly Chinese man with a walking stick get pulled back out of the way by a random guy when a double-decker bus was barrelling around the corner. That bus wasn’t slowing down for anything or anyone. Anyway, back to bollards. I’d never paid much attention to them, but the woman on the tour said that the ones shaped like this one above were made from melted down cannons after the war with France was done. It still has George IV’s details on it. How amazing is that?

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They also have some original lamp posts put up when he was king. Look! This was near the entrance to Regents Park.

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Here’s a modern one to compare it to.

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The walk ended in Regents Park. We walked back to the Marylebone church, where Scott’s great-great-grandparents were married, but it was closed. We then sat in the park next door, sipping iced peppermint tea and enjoying the ambience. It was then I realised that I haven’t seen a squirrel or a hedgehog. We decided to find a cute little pub that we’d walked past on the tour, so we set off to retrace our steps.

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We’d both remembered it being towards the end of the tour, which was incorrect. We found it eventually and sat outside, where I tried my first Pimms and lemonade. I took this shot as we left. The couple under the blue umbrella were having a serious talk about his jealous rage about a guy this girl had been seeing. We were sitting to the right of them and couldn’t help hearing it.

When we went inside to order our drinks, the menu over the bar said that the Tudor Rose special was spam hamburgers. I couldn’t help but muse over spam being a delicacy that the Tudors would eat. Can you imagine Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn sinking their teeth into a spamburger?

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Earlier in the day when we were looking for lunch we found it really hard to find an eatery in Bond st. On the tour one of the first stops we made was literally around the corner from Bond st… a little street filled with cafés and restaurants. We headed back for dinner, then back on the tube to the apartment.

Today we head out to afternoon tea at the Athenaeum, as a treat for Scott for his sterling work. Lots to do and see around that area!

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Day 2: British Museum for culture and Marylebone for Regency.

  1. Urspo says:

    I am mad-jealous; I could spend weeks in the British Museum.

  2. foodnstuff says:

    I am mad jealous as well. Longing for London, the only other city apart from Melbourne that I would be comfortable living in. The photos have now come out on the blog. Thanks for sharing your trip. Nice to see sunshine and people in short sleeves while we freeze in dark and cold Melbourne.

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