Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Which We Go to England: Part 2

We have now spent our first entire week in England, and we are feeling all settled in at last. We use the Tube like pros, hardly ever open the map and say things like "lift" and "surgical spirits." This week we didn't do as much sight seeing, primarily due to time constraints, but we did see some exciting things this weekend. Instead of doing a detailed summary (or saying I won't do a detailed summary and then do exactly that), here are three lists to sum up our life here at the moment--5 things we liked this week, 4 things we didn't care for and 3 things we're looking forward to in the coming week.

Five Things We Liked This Week:
  • The National Gallery. Oh, loveliness of lovelinesses! All of my life, I have only ever thought of the British Museum so when we saw this place during our visit to Trafalgar Square I was intrigued. We went on Saturday (after the British Museum decided to hate me and have their Egyptian collection closed for a few more days and their Roman collection closed INDEFINITELY) and it was heavenly! I saw not one, not two, but THREE Caravaggios! I had to limit myself to 12 postcards. We will definitely be returning, especially since we somehow missed the Botticelli. Also, it's free! England loves me.
  • St. Paul's Cathedral. This was a site of particular interest for Mr. Graham, and since we weren't able to see it last Sunday as we planned originally, we went on Friday night. It was just so BIG. We ate dinner on the stairs and fed the pigeons. We fed four and then more came along and I named them all: Henrietta, Piccadilly, Gustave, Ophelia, Bustopher and Jonesy. Afterward, we took a short walk over to the Millennium Bridge, featured in Half-Blood Prince, and clung on for dear life as we watched for Death Eaters. None came around so we continued on to take a look at the Globe Theater and all of its clever Shakespeare merchandise.
  • Regent's Park. It's so large and scenic. We walked through it about 4 times in a few days, since we had to get to the Underground station on the opposite side of it.

  • Stability in our living quarters. It's a long story of the hows and whys this all happened, but on Monday we left our first hotel in Bayswater for a second hotel in Harrow, and then on Tuesday evening we left that hotel for a house where we will be staying for next few weeks. So now we're here, in a place with laundry facilities and a kitchen until we move for the last time to some apartments back down by Bayswater. It's so nice to finally feel a little settled.
  • The Camden Market. We hit this on Saturday morning, and while we weren't wild about the whole thing (the crowds, the stalls that all seemed the same, the long walk over and back), we did find a great fruit stand. 7 peaches for a pound! 3 mangoes for a pound! We loaded up and we loaded up for cheap. Also, Mr. Graham got a swell hat that I have no pictures of.
Four Things We Loved Less:
  • All the time spent in cabs. Up to Harrow and down from Harrow, and both times we had to direct the driver to our destinations (as we did for the other two drivers we have had). They have GPS, but I'm not so sure they know how to use it. Also, one of our drivers very nearly ran into a couple with their baby.
  • The batty woman in the Underground station. Picture, if you will, a 65-ish year old woman wearing a flimsy white miniskirt. With blue socks featuring the British flag under wedge sandals. And for the finale, a tank top (sans bra) with an open back with three little ties. I say we loved this less just because...because.
  • The weekend Underground closures! All of our most frequented lines seem to close on the weekend, which forces us to be much more creative with our travel plans.
  • On that note, after we leaving the National Gallery, we went over to Piccadilly to investigate theater tickets. We took the Tube from the Charing Cross station at Trafalgar Square over to Piccadilly Circus. Once there we walked a few blocks and found the ticket stand we were looking for...then looked up and saw the back of the National Gallery only a block away. Yes, as it turns out we could have walked behind the Gallery (easily done) and been right where we wanted to be. Maybe we should take that map out more often after all?
Three Things We're Looking Forward To:
  • Love Never Dies! It's going to be a delicious disaster! I can't wait.
  • Stonehenge on the weekend? That's the plan! If there's any possible way for Mr. Graham to lay down in the middle, he will surely do it.
  • No moving at all! Ah, sweet stability.
And that has been our week here. We are happy and excited that we still have so much time to see all the other sights we possibly can. Just this very afternoon we are heading back to Westminster to sit in on a service. So cheerio! Cheerio, dah-ling!*
*Name the movie.


  1. I know it, I know it! But I won't tell in case anyone else wants to guess.

    What a great lot of pictures and news. I wish we had taken a picture with my awesome new lid. Soon enough, I guess.


  2. I tried to lay upon an alter like our Tessie, but I didn't dare--there were ropes around the lying down stones. BUT, did you get the "inner circle" pass? That's how you can go in and among the stones. Did I tell you already? Do it.

    Did you go UP the stairs in St. Paul's? Inside? To see the view? The awesome, awesome view?

  3. We PLAN to get inner circle passes, but we have not yet got any passes (that's the task for tomorrow). And yes, you did tell and yes, we shall :)

    We didn't get to go inside St. Paul's at all-that is what happens when we can't get to places until 6. But we still liked it!

  4. You two should try to go up to the whispering gallery in St Paul's. One on one side and one on the other, and you can whisper very clearly to each other across the dome.

    That quote... where have I heard it before? A shame my memory's so spotty...

  5. The National Gallery! Stonehenge! ST PAUL'S!!! St. Paul's is actually one of my very very favorite places in all of London. Besides the Mary Poppins references, I love the mosaic on the ceiling (Sorry Mr. Wren) and I absolutely love the Whispering Gallery and the view from the top. You must see it!

    I'm very impressed. You two are making great use of your time in London, and your taste in touristy-ness is really quite superb.

    Also, because I'm a library nerd, I'm going to recommend that you go to the British Library. I think you and Mr. Graham would like it a lot. Cool old illuminated manuscripts, Jane Austen's writing desk, and recordings of famous writers like William Butler Yeats and James Joyce reading their work. It makes a great place to visit on a weeknight. I highly recommend it.

  6. Wow. You are seeing EVERYTHING. How about Stratford-on-Avon ([pronounced AY-ven sort of)?

  7. British wannabe2:05 PM

    Please write down the ingredients (in order)for the wonderful British ice cream!

    We're in to Foyle's War now. Very interesting.