A Travellerspoint blog

London, Before the Narrowboat Charter

July 18-19, 2002 Scenes from the Big Bus


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2002 An English Narrowboat Holliday & 2002 Heart Attack at Shroud Key & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Prequel

After Bob's heart attack, we got back from our harrowing trip - sailing up the Intercoastal back home. But our daughter was on a job exchange in Cheltenham, so we made arrangements to visit her. When I finalized the arrangements, she would be visiting Sweden at the time we arrived, so we spent a few days in London first.

End Prequel

Bob and I had both been to London before. I traveled there with my parents in 1950 when I was 12, and he was there while he was a midshipman at the Naval Academy. I wanted to see things that I had not seen on the first visit or things that were relevant for other things that we would be seeing. For this trip I had set out several Goals - places I wanted to go or things I wanted to see. These were (in no particular order - and the ones I achieved are BOLD)

Ride the Big Bus for an overall orientation
British Museum - Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone and Magna Carta
Evensong at St. Pauls
Gilbert & Sullivan at the Savoy
A brass rubbing at St Martin in the Fields

Shop at Harrods
London Eye
See pictures of Salisbury by Constable and paintings by Turner
Have afternoon tea
with clotted cream
Reduced Shakespeare performance

I booked the tickets through a bidding site, and the tickets were cheap, but the flight wasn't direct. At 1:48 pm July 17th, we took off from
DCA (Washington Monument)

DCA (Washington Monument)


and flew first to
West Virginia

West Virginia

sunset from the  plane 8:40 pm EDT

sunset from the plane 8:40 pm EDT


They fed us dinner and before we landed, they gave us breakfast. After a flight of almost 8 hours, we
2061691-River_mouth_Wales.jpgRivers glinting in the sun - 2:17 am EDT i.e. our time

Rivers glinting in the sun - 2:17 am EDT i.e. our time

landed at Gatwick

landed at Gatwick


a bit after 0800, and went through immigration. The guy asked if we were on vacation, and I said that we were retired so how could we be on vacation - what were we vacationing from? Our daughter said that I shouldn't tax them with any unusual responses, but what can I say - I was groggy. We went through the 'nothing to declare' maze and walked out into the airport. I knew we had to go to the other side of the airport to get a train to London, so we did that via moving walkways and non-moving walkways. I saw a brochure that said Gatwick to London £8.20 and grabbed it thinking it was for the Gatwick Express. So I went to the ticket window and asked for that ticket. The ticket agent said to go to Track 1-2. So we did, although Bob protested that the Gatwick Express was Track 4. I had some problem getting onto the escalators with two bags, but eventually we made it onto the train before 0930. I figured out during the ride that I hadn't gotten the Gatwick Express, which I think would have been £14.20 each, but only the "semi-fast" train which stops about 5 times on the way to Victoria Station in London so it takes a little longer. We got off the train a little before 1000, and it was warm and the station was full of people of course, so we went out front where I had intended to get a cab to the hotel instead of using the tube which I thought might be a problem with the suitcases.

Quel horror!! Because of the tube strike today, the taxicab line extends along the front of the station and around the corner, and there are NO cabs in the line - people are just standing there waiting. I don't want to stand and wait for several hours.

I look around and see a Big Bus (BB). I know the BB goes to within a block or so of the hotel because it has a British Museum stop on the green route from a brochure that our daughter sent. I booked that hotel because it was close to the British Museum. So I get us tickets £16 each. The cab would have cost at least £8 and I was intending to get the BB anyway just a little later in the day (it was one of my Goals). So I really saved money this way.

The queue for the Big Bus green route was around on the other side of Victoria Station, and after we climbed on, we rode around by Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and to the British Museum for the first time on the downstairs part of the bus. Traffic was really very slow because of the tube strike. Just to go from stop 67 at Victoria to stop 78 at the British Museum took over an hour. Then we walked up to the Ridgemont Hotel and checked in. It was about noon but they let us check in a little early. We had a double on the first floor (i.e. one floor up from the ground floor - US second floor) with an ensuite shower for £65 (about $102). The small room looked out over the back garden which was nice and quiet.
Window from room to back garden

Window from room to back garden


We had a window that would open but there was no air conditioning. I would think the rooms at the front might be noisy. We had a small double bed (against the wall), a
TV over foot of bed because otherewise there was no space for it.

TV over foot of bed because otherewise there was no space for it.


a hair dryer, several shelves, a chair and a wardrobe. The rooms were cleaned each day and we were given fresh towels. The manager is very helpful with regard to getting show tickets, and the hotel is within easy walking distance of a tube stop, the buses run right down Gower Street in front of the hotel. It is really close to the British Museum. The rate also included breakfast.

I was concerned that Bob was exhausted (he had not slept on the plane, and he had a heart attack last winter), so I told him to take a nap, and I slept a little too and then took a shower. I also decided that I didn't want to eat lunch yet. My idea was that if we stayed up and out in the open air on top of the bus, and ate a meal that would be an early dinner here but would be a late dinner for us, that we would be resetting our clocks to English time, thus defeating 'jet lag'. So I waked Bob about 1400 and we went out onto Gower Street, walked a block down to the bus stop with my trusty bus map, and hopped a bus (£1 each) over to Marble Arch as a shortcut vs. walking back to the British Museum and taking the green route around to Marble Arch. Someone who has never been to London should definitely take a bus tour. We took the Big Bus, and I can recommend it. It gave us an orientation and overview of the city in a relatively short period of time (a bit more than 24 hours) that we could not have gotten in any other way. Also the top of the bus is windowless, so you don't have to cope with reflections. The only problem with such a tour (other than the weather if it is raining) is that you can take a lot of photos in a very short period of time, and may not remember what the thing pictured is

At Marble Arch, we hopped on the Red route BB, and went around via Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's and Mansion House to the Tower.
View from the bus

View from the bus


London street from top of the bus

London street from top of the bus

Belgrave Square houses

Belgrave Square houses

x65955_03_-_Copy.jpgThe City

The City

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey


When I was passing Westminster Abbey, I took a couple of photos of the statue out in front, which at first I thought was part of the Charing Cross series to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Wrong again. I went to the Westminster website and found the answer.
"What is the tall column opposite the west front?
"This is a memorial to those who had been educated at Westminster School who died in the

Monument to the Indian Mutiny and Crimean War 1854-9.

Monument to the Indian Mutiny and Crimean War 1854-9.


A full description is as follows: .. a Gothic column, or cross, nearly seventy feet high, erected, in 1861, as a memorial to Lord Raglan, and other "old Westminster scholars," who fell in the Crimea, in 1854—5. It is of Aberdeen granite, and very picturesque, although somewhat incongruous, which is perhaps owing to its having been executed by various artists. Around the polished shaft, which rises from a decorated pedestal, are shields bearing the arms of those whom it commemorates. At the top of the sculptured capital are four sitting figures, under Gothic canopies, representing the successive founders and benefactors of the School and Abbey—Edward the Confessor, Henry III., Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria. The whole is surmounted by a figure of St. George and the Dragon. The architect of this beautiful column was Sir G. Gilbert Scott; the figures of St. George and the Dragon, however, are by Mr. J. R. Clayton. In 1870, the memorial having become somewhat dilapidated, a sum of £30 towards its repair was voted by the Elizabethan Club..
It is located in Broad Sanctuary and is often overlooked by tourists because they look past it to the Abbey. BROAD SANCTUARY is the name of the area to the north and west of Westminster Abbey, in which refugees were protected from the civil power by the church. Later when the privilege of sanctuary was abused, Queen Elizabeth restricted it to the case of debtors, and it was finally abolished by James I.
Dome of St. Paul's from the bus

Dome of St. Paul's from the bus


In England, there seems to be a charge to view the churches and cathedrals. And these places are often worth seeing. I can understand why they charge in a way because they have to maintain the site and pay the guides. Both Westminster Cathedral and St. Paul's in London, have this charge. There is a mandatory donation for Salisbury Cathedral. There's no charge to see some churches such as St. Martin in the Fields (also in London), and Worcester Cathedral, although there is a request for donations, and Worcester charges to go up in the tower. I wanted to visit St. Paul's for the Evensong performance for which there is no charge. I didn't want a guided tour or to climb into the dome, but I thought I could go to Evensong, and sit and listen to the music, and look at the interior without paying anything. Unfortunately I ran short of time for this.

These are a few of the photos I took, but they may not be in the correct order. If I have not captioned them, it is because I don't know what I photographed.
20020718_1..1024_-_Copy.jpgThe Monument to the London Fire which at first I thought from my photos was a minaret of a mosque from the Big Red Bus

The Monument to the London Fire which at first I thought from my photos was a minaret of a mosque from the Big Red Bus

x20020718-162819.jpgx65955_14_-_Copy.jpgxm20020718..5_17_-_Copy.jpg
I decided to do the free boat trip from the Tower to Westminster pier.
Boats jockeying for position

Boats jockeying for position


The boat we were directed to get on didn't have a narrative with it so I identified what we were passing by looking at the map. It was easy to identify the Tower and
Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge


but the
923212302067160-The_GLA_from..oto_London.jpgThe GLA (the new City Hall - Greater London Authority)

The GLA (the new City Hall - Greater London Authority)


wasn't on the map.
Hayes Galleria

Hayes Galleria

The Golden Hinde from the Thames

The Golden Hinde from the Thames


This is a replica of Sir Francis Drake's famous ship which in the 1570's, became the first English ship to circumnavigate the globe. (He didn't make it all the way around - he died enroute.) I've always thought it was the Golden Hind, but the website spells it "Golden Hinde". There seem to be several meanings for the word 'hind', but the meaning that I hope is the one meant for this ship is the female of the hart or stag (and not the one that refers to the hind end of a person or animal).. There's a bas relief or some kind of picture of an animal on the stern of the ship which seems to bear this out. The Golden Hinde is a fully operational warship on the River Thames in the heart of London, between London Bridge and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. This floating Museum was reconstructed in the 1970's. It is behind a bulkhead because of the tremendous tides in the Thames. The watermarks for high tide are visible.
xm20020718-162514_-_Copy.jpg
The Globe Theatre (which is the white half timbered building in the center just across the Centennial Bridge is a faithful reconstruction of the open-air playhouse designed in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and for which he wrote many of his greatest plays. Where possible, visitors are advised to arrive by public transport or by taxi (which means that there is no parking). On the other side of the Globe (right side of photo) is the Tate Modern. This wasn't a place that was very high on my list or places to visit although there were one of two things there that I would have liked to see.
x200218-1037-65955_07.jpgMillenium Bridge

Millenium Bridge

Millenium bridge with police boat

Millenium bridge with police boat


Boat Dock

Boat Dock


What I didn't realize was that this boat stopped a couple of places in between the Tower and Westminster. So we got off at Blackfriars pier. Oops But it worked out OK - because of the tube strike, all the boats were free, so we just got on the next boat going our direction
200218-112..1200_-_Copy.jpgx65955_19.jpg
This one had a bunch of German middle school age kids on it. Judged they were German as they were speaking German. Judged middle school by their behavior. (We both used to teach that age kid.)
963234-Waterloo_bridge_from_the_north_London.jpgWaterloo bridge

Waterloo bridge


963238-County_Building_London.jpgCounty Building

County Building


x20020718-162618.jpgParked Trains from the Thames

Parked Trains from the Thames

x20020718-162616.jpgx20020718-163220.jpg
Looking up the Thames to the London Eye

Looking up the Thames to the London Eye


Clock Tower in the sun

Clock Tower in the sun


The hour bell of the Great Clock of Westminster is known worldwide as 'Big Ben'. Most people think the term refers to the whole clock.Tours of the Clock Tower are available but there is a very limited capacity; no children under 11 are allowed. At present, tours are only available to UK residents. Tours are free, but there are 344 spiral steps.

The story of the Great Clock starts with the fire of 1834 which burned most of the Palace of Westminister. In 1844 Parliment decided that their new buildings should incorporate a tower and clock. The Astronomer Royal, George Airy drafted a specification for the clock, including:
"the first stroke of the hour bell should register the time, correct to within one second per day, and furthermore that it should telegraph its performance twice a day to Greenwich Observatory, where a record would be kept."

Most clockmakers thought this was an impossible specification, so Edmund Becket Denison later Sir Edmund Beckett, the first Baron Grimthorpe was appointed by Parliament as co-referee with Airy. He was described as:
"zealous but unpopular, self-accredited expert on clocks, locks, bells, buildings, as well as many branches of law, Denison was one of those people who are almost impossible as colleagues, being perfectly convinced that they know more than anybody about everything - as unhappily they often do."

Eventually Denison designed a clock mechanism and also a bell for the clock. This bell was speced at 14 tons, which was bigger than any that had been done in Britain before. After the bell was cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry and mounted, it cracked because Denison used too heavy a hammer (against the specs of George Mears, the master bellfounder and owner of the Foundry). After a lighter hammer was fitted, a square piece of metal chipped out of the soundbow, and the bell given an eighth of a turn to present an undamaged section to the hammer. The crack gives Big Ben its distinctive sound.
20020718-1..x500_-_Copy.jpg
We finally got off at Westminster. We decided we were ready for another meal, so we walked around til we found a reasonable looking place to eat (which I didn't write down - I guess I was too groggy). We each had a club sandwich and tea for £15.00 total.
20020718_1..1536_-_Copy.jpg.
British Lion

British Lion


Then we got back on the BB and rode over to Hyde Park. The last bus of the day started off at 1900, so we took that one (green line) to the British Museum riding on top this time.
xg20020718-191225_-_Copy.jpgBarges on the Thames - London

Barges on the Thames - London

19 July 2002- Friday morning

We had breakfast at the hotel which included cold cereal, English bacon (which is really ham), a poached egg, OJ, toast, butter and jam, tea and whatever the special item of the day was - either sausage, beans or tomato. Then we walked up to where we thought the beginning of the green route was around Russell Square, and finally found it about 0730.
Gower Street bookstore on the way to getting the Big Bus

Gower Street bookstore on the way to getting the Big Bus


We took that bus (the second bus of the day -they start at 0700) around to Trafalgar Square where we got on the Blue route BB at stop 32.
Looking from the Big Bus

Looking from the Big Bus


Statues of Great Britain and America on BBC's Bush House

Statues of Great Britain and America on BBC's Bush House


I do not know what the guide said which led me to take the picture, and I absolutely couldn't figure out what it was of. There are no tours of this facility, which is why it isn't in guidebooks. Domestic BBC programming comes from Broadcasting House in another part of the city, and tours of that facility are available. It is between Australia House and India House in Westminster, London. This photograph is taken from the Big Bus on the Aldwych Circle side. The inscription above the columns reads, "Friendship Between English-Speaking Peoples." The World Service does broadcast in English, but also in 42 other languages as well. From 1940 to 2008 (when the lease expires), Bush House has been the home of the BBC World Service (originally called the Empire Service) and BBCi. American businessman Irving T Bush planned the building, and the first part was finished in 1928. In 1929, Bush House was declared 'the most expensive building in the world', at a cost of $10,000,000.

According to the website, "The centre block opened in 1923, and boasts marble walls and floors. Portland stone was used to build it, the floors were made of Indian Hardwood, and the foyers all have Travertine marble on the floor. The foyers are heated by radiators set inside the stone walls, with grilles letting the warm air through into the rooms." "The main entrance ..[has] two statues... symbolise[ing] Great Britain and America, they each hold a flaming torch and a shield which have the British lion and the American eagle on them. In between the statues is an altar embossed with a Celtic cross."

In 1930, when The Strand was excavated for the east wing, a Carrara marble head of a grim visaged Roman man was unearthed. The slightly damaged head now sits in the Centre Block reception. In June 1944 a bomb landed outside Bush House. Three staff were severely injured, and one of the statues lost an arm. Thirty years later, an American businessman who worked for the Indiana Limestone Company was visiting his daughter in London and saw that the arm was missing. He persuaded his employers to send a replacement, and a stonemason to attach it.
xm7-19-03.jpgBob waiting for the Big Bus with phone box in back

Bob waiting for the Big Bus with phone box in back


Flags on the Embassies

Flags on the Embassies


x7-19-07a.jpg
The Royal Mews was in the second tier of things I wanted to see, and unfortunately, this was as close as I got. I wanted to look at the stables and the horses more than at the state carriages. The mews can hold up to 30 horses (Windsor Bays and Cleveland Greys which are breeds of carriage horses)and they are exercised every day. I would have liked to see that although the website says that the horses are moved to WIndsor when they are not being used for state occasions so they might have not been there. The mews is at the side of Buckingham Palace near Buckingham Gate.
xg7-19-09.jpgVictory Monument

Victory Monument


This picture is NOT of Rotten Row, but of riders near Wellington Arch on the south-east corner of the park.

This picture is NOT of Rotten Row, but of riders near Wellington Arch on the south-east corner of the park.


I first heard about Rotten Row when I was editing a newsletter for a special interest group on horses. One of our members went to England and mentioned it. Rotten Row is the most famous riding trail in Central London. It is three quarters of a mile (1,125 metres) of soft, sandy track. The strange name is said to be because of Londoners' inability or unwillingness to parler français: The name originally, was the Route du Roi, built by William III in 1690 as the royal carriage drive from Whitehall to Kensington Palace, his favourite residence. It is in Hyde Park, King Henry VIII's former royal hunting park. Riding for exercise and recreation was invented on Rotten Row in Hyde Park in the 1600s. Here, in the late 17th and 18th century, men galloped up and down Rotten Row, while ladies in long dresses rode sidesaddle along the adjoining Ladies' Ride.
Harrods facade with permanent Christmas lights

Harrods facade with permanent Christmas lights


Harrods has the reputation of having anything that you would want to buy. I really wanted to go here to the Food Hall. But it took so long to get onto the London Eye, that the closest I got was this picture from the top of the Big Bus.
Museum that looks like a church from the Big Bus

Museum that looks like a church from the Big Bus

Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial


Parade of cows at Marble Arch

Parade of cows at Marble Arch


xb047-19-15.jpg
Think car with map of London on a tow truck

Think car with map of London on a tow truck


Another Big Bus

Another Big Bus


Canaby

Canaby


During the 1960s Carnaby Street was at the centre of Swinging London - Mini skirts popularized by Mary Quant were the thing. Since then it has caters more to tourists than the fashionable but it is enjoying a revival.
Regent Street from the bus

Regent Street from the bus


I took the picture because of the cow. London had these fantastically painted fiberglass cows all over the city when we were there in 2002. Since then, I've seen other areas that had other sculptures like this - Norfolk had mermaids, the Outer Banks has winged horse. The store behind it is Hacketts - it has men's, women's and children's clothing some of which they call the Essential Kit.
xt20020719-21.jpgNelson's Column

Nelson's Column


xb067-19-23.jpg
Piccadilly

Piccadilly


We rode the Blue BB all morning, finally getting off at stop 31 Leicester Square after doing a complete Blue circuit about 1130 (I figured we really got our money's worth out of those tickets).

Now I went to get tickets to G&S. Beware!! There are a lot of rip-offs and scalpers selling tourists tickets for shows. Do not patronize any of the places around Leicester Square calling themselves the "Half Priced Ticket Booth". The Half Priced Ticket Booth WAS the name of the authentic booth that is now called tkts. Because of imitators, they changed their name. The cheapest way to get tickets of course is going or phoning to the individual box office and buying a ticket there. You will not get half price tickets, but you can get cheaper tickets without the service charge. [TKTS sells more of the best or most expensive seats.] You can't book ahead. You can only get tickets for performances on the same day. There is no phone number for TKTS. You can only get them by coming in person.

The website says: You'll find it in the clocktower building on the south side of the garden in Leicester Square. It's easy to find - it is the only free-standing building actually within the Square, rather than around the edge. Beware the many imitators around the Square!
TKTS is run by the Society of London Theatre, the trade association that represents London theatre. Most tickets are sold at exactly HALF PRICE plus a service charge of £2.50 per ticket. Some additional shows may also be available at a 25% discount or at full price, giving you the broadest choice of on-the-day tickets available in London. Payment is by cash (Sterling or Euros), credit card or debit card, or by Theatre Tokens (cheques and travellers cheques are not accepted).
Bob standing at TKTS bulletin board

Bob standing at TKTS bulletin board


Look to see which shows have tickets available by looking at the two noticeboards in front of the building. One of the noticeboards at tkts gives details of matinée (afternoon) performances, the other lists evening performances. Note: Tickets for Matinee and Evening shows are sold from different windows. Check the signs above each of the windows so that you get into the right queue. I stood in line at the half price TKTS booth for tickets to "The Mikado" (£40 for two including handling charge of £5.00 or $64 whereas the normal prices are about £25-35) and then we ate lunch.

From Leicester Square, we headed for the National Gallery. I'm not exactly sure what the front of the National Portrait Gallery looks like, because we came to it by the side door, but I do know that it is right next to the National Gallery. Since we came to the National Portrait Gallery first, we went in and went through the "Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter:Portraits of Children's Writers" exhibit which was free (and was quite interesting and worthwhile). This consisted of portraits (photographic or sculpture or graphics) of writers of children's books (In addition to Beatrix Potter and J. K. Rowling, this included
Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett


A. A. Milne

A. A. Milne

,
Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Raymond Brigg, Travers etc.), and they had some of the books there for kids to read. I looked at some of them because I had never heard of some of the people featured. J R R Tolkien's portrait showed him almost invisible sitting among tree roots. We also did walk through the portraits of the Kings and Queens of England. The portraits are arranged in timeline order, and the timeline ended (with contemporary portraits) next to the special exhibit gallery. But the National Portrait Gallery really wasn't on my list of things to do so we didn't spend much time on it, but continued next door to the National Gallery.

In the National Gallery, on the way to the English painters wing (Goal), we passed by the satirical series Marriage A-la-Mode by Hogarth (unfortunately we started at the end instead of the beginning), and we also saw the huge George Stubbs painting of
Whistlejacket

Whistlejacket


But I was primarily interested in the
Captur2e.jpgConstable paintings of Salisbury Cathedral

Constable paintings of Salisbury Cathedral


because we were going to visit Salisbury later,
Wind Rain and Speed by Turner

Wind Rain and Speed by Turner


and I just really like Turner paintings
National Gallery from the bus stop

National Gallery from the bus stop


Then we went across did a rubbing at St. Martins in the Fields. (Goal) There is a large set of brasses to choose from and then you pick your paper and the colour crayon that you want to use and pay for it. You can also have lunch there - there's a little restaurant in the basement next to where you do the rubbings.
Street beside St. Martin in the Fields

Street beside St. Martin in the Fields

Rubbing my daughter did for me

Rubbing my daughter did for me


before having dinner (fast food) and going back to the hotel to change for the theatre. I worked with a Gilbert & Sullivan group in college. I didn't sing well enough to be on stage, but I did costumes and scenery. We put on one of the plays each semester. We did Pirates, Mikado, Gondoliers, Princess Ida, Yeoman, Patience, Ruddigore and Iolanthe So I was looking forward to seeing one of the operettas at the Savoy.

One of my Goals was to see a Gilbert and Sullivan production in their theatre. Richard D'Oyly Carte apparently had the foresight to see that Gilbert and Sullivan's works deserved a theatre of their own. The small uncomfortable theatre he purchased for the D'Oyly Carte company was considered after it was remodeled in 1881 to be the most beautifully fitted theatre in Europe. The Savoy Theatre became famous as the first public building in the world to be lit by electric lights. Then it was again remodeled in 1929 by Rupert D'Oyly Carte with Frank Tugwell as the Architect and decorative designs by Basil Ionides. The Theatre re-opened on 21st October, 1929 with a revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers. Subsequently the Savoy Theatre became a listed property. It was ravaged by fire in the early hours of 12th February 1990. The auditorium (which is underground) has now been restored to the 1929 vision of Tugwell and Ionides.
Marquee of the Savoy

Marquee of the Savoy


In front of the Savoy where cars drive on the right and not the left

In front of the Savoy where cars drive on the right and not the left


Bob waiting for the opening of the Savoy Theatre

Bob waiting for the opening of the Savoy Theatre


Bob wore a coat and tie, and I wore a long dress which seemed appropriate. In the evening, we actually got to the theatre before 1900 and had to wait for them to open the doors. We stood outside where it was cooler, and watched the traffic in the little cul-de-sac, as the Big Bus guide had said that one street traffic is on the right instead of the left. We got to see some fancy cars. The Mikado was terrific and we really enjoyed it. We were in the center of the very front row (the stalls - when I heard that someone had tickets in the stalls, I always thought of horse stalls like boxes with dividers, but I guess that's not it). The TKTS tickets are usually half priced of the most expensive tickets because that's what doesn't sell.

Ko-Ko was played by Jasper Carrott who is apparently a British TV star. Everyone was in white-face like mimes, and even the costuming was funny. The "Gentlemen of Japan" who are usually in kimonos were in suits and spats, except they had the Japanese hairdo, and an obi around their waists. Koko's song "I've Got a Little List (They'd None of Them be Missed)" mentioned the mayor of London with his traffic reduction schemes, a critic whose name couldn't be mentioned "because he always sues", and spoke disparagingly of "an actress from the west [I think Pam Anderson] and a pop star who announces he is gay and his ** publicist." He also spoke of a 'leftist monarchist' as an anomaly, and talks about the "idiots who draw on railway carriages" who will be "condemned to ride on (in the original it was parliamentary trains, but in the updated version it was) partially privatized trains." I enjoyed it so much that I asked Bob to get me a program £5.
Bob reading in bed on the British Museum - a booklet from our daughter to prepare for tomorrow

Bob reading in bed on the British Museum - a booklet from our daughter to prepare for tomorrow

July 20, 2002 - British Museum - Roman Britain

After breakfast at the hotel,
Street with Bob in front of hotel

Street with Bob in front of hotel

Doorknocker at the Gower House Hotel  a couple doors down the street

Doorknocker at the Gower House Hotel a couple doors down the street


we walked down Gower Street (and I took photos on the way) over to the British Museum, (one of my goals)
Street in Bloomsbury

Street in Bloomsbury

Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts


entering the back way. After I visited the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles I wanted to go to one other quintessentially British section of the museum - something that I could see here better than anywhere else. They have mummies in the Smithsonian. I decided on Roman Britain. I knew there would be a FREE guided tour (called an Eyeopener Tour) on Roman Britain (room 49) at 1100 (because I had gone to the site on the internet and printed out the tour schedule), so first we went up to the starting point for that,
Horse figures in the Roman section

Horse figures in the Roman section


and it was very interesting and informative. The guide told us the significance of the tombs and mosaics that were there
Bacchus on a tiger in the British Museum

Bacchus on a tiger in the British Museum

Venus rising from the sea mosaic

Venus rising from the sea mosaic


and about the silver that was found by someone plowing their field (the top item was a little damaged by the plow - these items are on loan and are considered one of the 10 most valuable items in Britain).
Bob looking at Roman Silver

Bob looking at Roman Silver


There was a model of a Roman camp, and the guide pointed out the flushing outhouses on the perimeter of the model.

She showed us the little wooden shim-like things that they wrote on. She said that up until those were found, everyone thought that people just wrote on papyrus or sheepskin or paper like material. These wooden pieces were normally burned after use, so the fact that these were found was due to them getting wet and not burning. There was one there where someone was apparently practicing writing, and the teacher had corrected it, and written "Sloppy" on it.

There was also an invitation from the commander's wife of one camp to the commander's wife of another which was written by a scribe, and on the bottom, in different handwriting was an addendum which said something to the effect of "I'd be honored if you would come to my party". The guide said this was the first known instance of a woman writing.

Then we went down to the main hall with the big dome window and Bob sat down while I tried to find out where the other things I wanted to see were, and also tried to find a bathroom. (Never actually went to the bathroom.) After I connected up with him again, we walked in to see the Rosetta Stone which I consider enormously significant because it is the source of our ability to decipher hieroglyphics (and I tried to explain what its importance was to Bob). It had so many people clustered around it that it was impossible to get a picture. Then we walked back to see the Elgin Marbles (the frieze from the Parthenon). They are called the Elgin Marbles because it was Lord Elgin who facilitated probably illegally the removal of the frieze and shipment to England
Reconstruction of the Nereid monument

Reconstruction of the Nereid monument


Elgin Marbles  A section of the frieze from the Parthenon

Elgin Marbles A section of the frieze from the Parthenon


Elgin Marbles Closeup

Elgin Marbles Closeup


Originally the frieze had been around the outside of the inner temple, and they would have been painted. In the original setting they could only be seen from below at a sharp upward angle. In the 1930s they were cleaned of their paint and are now probably overwhite. Here, the frieze was displayed at viewing height all around the room on the walls. We sat down and contemplated them for a bit. The horses appeared to be racing, and in very shallow relief their legs were arranged in constantly varying patterns.

It was Saturday, so the museum was very crowded. Since the museum was so crowded there was a line up (queue) for lunch at the museum, so we left the museum.
Pediment of the British Museum

Pediment of the British Museum


They happened to be having a Roman day at the museum, with gladiator fights on the front lawn, auguries on the steps, tents and static displays in the forecourt all day long. This was very serendipitous since we had just done the Roman Britain tour. There were folks that were demonstrating sword fighting,
Mock battle (Roman gladiators)

Mock battle (Roman gladiators)


and they also showed how the armor was put on, and, later, how wounds were bandaged. We stopped to watch some of the re-enactments
Ruler and wife watching gladiators plus a Roman butt scratcher

Ruler and wife watching gladiators plus a Roman butt scratcher


and look at the exhibits on the way out to lunch. We also walked around to the 'static' displays.
Roman armor and cavalry equipment

Roman armor and cavalry equipment


A "Roman" horse at the museum

A "Roman" horse at the museum


This was a semi-static display on Roman cavalry - the horse wasn't static, but the other stuff was just a display. I don't know if they rode the horse, or he was just a display object.
Women re-enacting Roman crafts

Women re-enacting Roman crafts

Roman re-enactor taking photo of other re-enactors

Roman re-enactor taking photo of other re-enactors


They had tents set up showing the kinds of things they ate, beds, pottery, weaving etc. We left the forecourt area then, in search of lunch and wandered over to New Oxford Street, and went to Savoire Faire.
Bob at the table - his back to the street

Bob at the table - his back to the street


I had croque monsieur, and Bob had a steak sandwich. I found at this time that to the English, lemonade means Sprite. This was one difference between American English and English English that I had a hard time accepting. It seemed really perverse to me to call something lemonade that wasn't. It wasn't even as though the English didn't HAVE lemonade. Later I discovered that I could get a non-carbonated, non-caffeine non-bottled-water something to drink by asking for squash which is a sweetened juice concentrate. And sometimes a bartender would give me canned pineapple or some other type juice - a very small can, but regular juice. The lunch was £13.20 (which turned up on my credit card as $20.99). After lunch it was time to find the London Eye
Red Post Box in London

Red Post Box in London


The London Eye was one thing that certainly was not in London when we were there in 1950 (a Goal). I thought it would be wonderful to see London all spread out in front of me like a map. We took the bus over to Waterloo Station, which was as close as I thought I could come to the British Airways London Eye (a big ferris wheel type arrangement) on public transportation. We walked a good ways trying to get to the actual site. I'm sure there's a better way to do this, but I don't know what it is.

We got there about 1400 and stood in line to get tickets (£17.00 pounds for two seniors plus £2 for the little pull-out photo crib sheet which worked out to $30.22). You need the crib sheet so you can figure out what is in your photos later. But our 'flight' wasn't until 1630, so we sat around and people watched, and then at 1600 stood in line. The people behind us in line were English from the south of England. I had been told not to talk to strangers because the English did not do that but we had a nice conversation with them. They had been there earlier and had been told there were no flights until 1830, but when they came back they were able to get the 1630 flight.

Bob thought the queues of people were inefficiently managed, as there were numerous opportunities for folks to jump the queue. You could start to line up a hour ahead, and then half an hour ahead, they moved you straight across the area that people leaving the London Eye were coming out.
But whatever.
Other people waiting to get on

Other people waiting to get on


It looked like it might rain, but when it did any raining (just a drizzle) it was when we were under cover. We had a relatively peaceful go-round
Getting in the capsule

Getting in the capsule


although the shiny walls of the pod made it hard to take pictures and avoid the reflections. And the fact that it clouded over and was dreary made the pictures not as good as it would have been if it was sunny.
6351732965005-HMS_Belfast_l..002_London.jpgCharing Cross station and HMS Belfast

Charing Cross station and HMS Belfast


2065674-Westminister_Greater_London.jpgWestminster

Westminster


View from the top

View from the top

2065675-Thames_Greater_London.jpgLooking up the Thames

Looking up the Thames

St. Pauls and Oxo tower

St. Pauls and Oxo tower


256676592065692-Looking_out_..ter_London.jpg2065697-Thames_Greater_London.jpg726899902065695-More_photos_..ter_London.jpgLeft - Royal Air Force Memorial: Right - BT tower in distance

Left - Royal Air Force Memorial: Right - BT tower in distance


835088862065696-More_photos_..ter_London.jpgLooking over London from the London Eye

Looking over London from the London Eye


County Hotel

County Hotel


705158-Tower_on_County_Hall_London.jpgTrampolines next to the London Eye

Trampolines next to the London Eye


Trampolines and outdoor tables

Trampolines and outdoor tables


Near the end of the trip, they ask you to stand and look at the camera and they took an automatic picture of the riders on that capsule. I totally didn't see where to stand when they said they would take our pictures, so I didn't even look at the picture booth when we got off.

The long wait meant that we couldn't go to evensong at St. Paul's, or go back and shop and have tea at Harrods. So I probably would have been better off to skip this, as I really regretted not being able to do those things. We also couldn't go to the matinee of Reduced Shakespeare. (3 goals down the tube). If you go, don't go on your first day in London - wait until you have some idea of what you are looking at. Try not to go on a sunny Saturday, which was what we did. We had to wait 2 hours for our 'flight' because everyone else in London had the same idea as we had. Go on a clear and preferably sunny day (or at night - I understand it is wonderful at night with everything lit up). The day we went was sunny to begin with, but by the time we got on, it was cloudy and rainy. You can also book on-line which will save standing in one queue (line) at least.

We walked over to Westminster Bridge, and got on a double decker red bus and rode up to Regent Street. I thought we might window shop a little, so we got off and we walked up Regent Street (stopping in a china store to see if we could find a wedding present for my niece in her requested pattern) to Liberty's. I remembered Liberty prints for women's clothing (they now describe these as "blurred and washed out 50s style florals" but I still think they are nice). It was close to closing time (1900), so we went down to the basement to Arthur's Bar to have tea. I think the Art Bar Café was already closed. Arthur's Bar is named after the founder - Arthur Lasenby Liberty - and has leather sofas at the rear. We had tea there, cucumber sandwiches, tea and Bob had a chocolate cake and I had a lemon tart (£17.89/$28.45). Bob thought the price was ridiculous for the amount of food (one sandwich although cut into tiny pieces, a pot of tea and one slice of cake). But we did do tea, just not with the clotted cream. We browsed in the furniture (Oriental rugs and lamps) and accessories section (handbags, scarves) and wandered around the store and looked at their fabrics nearly until the store closed at 1900. Bob thought the fabric prices were also exorbitant. I hadn't intended to buy anything anyway and possibly the Harrods prices would have been worse
Inside the store after having tea

Inside the store after having tea


Lighting section

Lighting section


I remember that my mom was completely crazy about half timbered buildings when we were here in 1950. I wasn't as impressed, but there were a lot of things about Europe that my mom thought were wonderful that kind of went over my head. I'd forgotten about that until I was in Liberty's of London, and we walked out a different way than we came in and found ourselves here
Half Timbered buildings

Half Timbered buildings


I wasn't sure that I had the proper term for this type of construction, so I went and looked it up. In the definition I found it said that England used oak for framing until the 17th century. (Oak like all deciduous trees is a hardwood.) I knew oak was a very "hard' hardwood - if you are sawing oak in a mill it makes much more noise than poplar (which is also a hardwood) for instance. Because oak is so hard the oak logs could be halved. The term "half-timbering" refers to that fact.In other areas of Europe, such as Romania and Hungary, there was no comparable hard wood available, houses were more frequently constructed using whole logs.

But another source says that Half-timbering means that In half-timbered buildings the walls are filled in between the structural timbers with other materials - not that the logs were cut in half.

"Often the upper floors project out over the lower ones. There are several conjectures as to the reasons for this. One is that houses in cities were taxed on the width of street frontage they used. So a high, narrow house saved the owner money, yet to maximize interior space the non-taxed upper floors were lengthened. Also, the projecting upper floors helped protect the lower house from rain and snow in the days before gutters and down-pipes.""By the 15th and 16th century timber framing began to be exploited for its decorative qualities. Timbers which had minimal structural importance were added to the frame, to enhance the decorative effect of dark wood set into whitewashed walls. The Jacobean period saw this use carried to extremes."
Chimney pots on half timbered houses in London

Chimney pots on half timbered houses in London


Although Liberty's is old dating back to 1875, these buildings were built in 1924 when all the buildings on Regent St. were torn down and rebuilt in this style. Liberty's was built with the timbers from the HMS Impregnable and the HMS Hindustan.


Goodge Street Station

Goodge Street Station


We walked back to the hotel from the tube station
Backs of buildings on Gower St

Backs of buildings on Gower St

.Tree-lined street behind our hotel

Tree-lined street behind our hotel

The next day we took the Docklands Light Rail to Greenwich

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:08 Archived in England Tagged london_eye british_museum rosetta_stone gatwick liberties savoy big_bus g&s tkts constable brass_rubbing elgin_marbles

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Comments

What a packed couple of days! Unfortunate that you arrived during a Tube strike but I'm glad you found a good solution. The Big Buses are good value if you use them as much as you did. I think you must have ended up on the Clipper boat rather than the sightseeing ones but I often recommend them to visitors as they are lots cheaper and cover the same routes albeit without commentary, as you found. By the way, you didn't miss anything by not going to Harrods imho ;)

by ToonSarah

Thank you for the comment. Yes I thought I was quite clever to figure out transportation.I find I am unable to save things as a draft so I have to publish and then add the photos. This is particularly difficult in England as I have over 1000 photos taken there. So I hope you will look again when I put the photos in.

by greatgrandmaR

If you can't save a draft there must be a glitch, as I have no problem doing so and I know other friends also use the draft function. Worth dropping Peter a line, or posting in the forum for advice?

by ToonSarah

It is mentally that I can't save the draft. I can do it, but I just can't restrain myself from seeing what it is like when published. The only glitch that I have is that the map star does not follow my narrative

by greatgrandmaR

Ah, I know what you mean in that case. I don't like to use 'draft'. But I find after a year or more blogging here I can make a good guess how the photos and text will look

by ToonSarah

Wow, you certainly saw a lot of London. Much more than I've ever done and I'm British.

by irenevt

Well I had lists of what I wanted to see and when you are living in a place you are concerned with normal life - eating, sleeping, working etc.

by greatgrandmaR

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