Monday, November 14, 2011

London, day two

It was a false dawn in terms of weather. Today was London in the mist and rain. It was kinda good; it could have been way too Disney had it all been sunny and golden. Monday in London is full of tiny children in very formal looking school uniforms trotting about on their way to school. Somehow we don't see this in Melbourne. I guess everyone drives their kids to school (we do, anyway). But it was rather charming. We have sort of busted through the jet lag (well, some of us. Myles is still struggling). And this meant that unlike on the first day, we left the house at about 9am which was much more civilised. Encountered lots of school children on our way to the tube. Had coffee from a tiny little cafe run by a couple of Brazilian blokes (coffee still terrible ... is that just how it is to be?). And then we were off to the Tower of London.
It was quite right for everything to be grey and dark and foggy at the Tower of London. It does all look very surreal, like it was all built yesterday for the tourists, but as we went through, that feeling waned and what was left was something like awe and sadness. We were taken through by a yeoman warder (beefeaters). Thsi one was a woman. She was pretty great. And we went through all the areas of the Tower and all the death and despair and torture. She did try her best to tell us stories of hope and happiness but she struggled. Kinda of amazed that people still live in the Tower and more amazed to find out that the Tower is still a royal palace (though not a residence for the royal family). You can see why that abandoned it.
What was really great was the place was filled to the gills with school children. We have travelled half way around the world to see this history and these kids have caught the train for a day trip. They wen't bovvered, I have to tell you. It was all boring, and where are the sarnies, and can't we climb on the fence, and where has Rodney gone? Love that. History nerds such as we are, are starved for this kind of stuff. But we are a bit try hard because of it. History just is part of this life.
So we wandered around; saw the crown jewels. Quite like them, I have to say; each of the monarchs seem to get their own personal crowns though they have to wear the coronation crown on the day of the ... well ... coronation. Me, I'd go for a bit of a spiky crown with lots of emeralds. There was a bit too much red velvet for me. But listen to me. Not quite up to scratch ... Niccolo liked the ceremonial sword (bought one in plastic in the gift shop), Zelda quite liked the weapons of intimate destruction - axes and so on. Paris liked the Bloody Tower where the Princes in the Tower were murdered. Myles liked sitting in the Chapel Royal where all those who had been beheaded by the state were buried (most of them have been dug up and moved, but Anne Boylen, Lady Jane Grey and Catherine Howard are still there). History, he said, under your feet. And me, well, everything. I liked that when you walked around the touched the walls, someone else had done so 900 years ago. Did my head in a bit. Oh, and the best bit. The ravens. Apparently, when the ravens leave the Tower of London, terrible misfortune will befall the royal family and England generally. They have cages for them (six must be in the cages at all times), and some flying around. I just love that the power structures are subject to some black birds.
So we left, but only after hours and hours, and the 62 gun salute at the gate for Prince Charles birthday. Can I tell you that 62 cannon rounds kind of liquified the brain. I had to leave after a while. And frankly, Charles wasn't there at all. There was a man in a bowler hat and a trench coat (I was wearing my trench coat so I felt rather at home) who over saw the whole thing. Rather charmingly.
We found a pub. Up to this point, the food in London has been almost edible (something I don't remember from other trips). But the pub food at the Anchor Tap in Southwark returned me to the place I remember in food and England. Lovely over boiled everything. Vegetables that could have been sucked through teeth. Gravy that was liquid, brown salt. Myles was brave enough to order risotto. I don't know what he was thinking. I couldn't have been happier.
Then we walked down to the Globe. By this time it was getting dark (about 3.30pm) and it was all feeling rather creepy. But the Globe was great. At least for me. Not so much for the rest - Niccolo was close to falling over with exhaustion and the other were a bit bored. But it was amazing. And built by an American (of course). Then over the bridge to St Paul's and onto the tube and home. Niccolo was as pale as a ghost by this time and fell asleep on the couch as soon as we got home. The rest of us were not far away.
Are we nanas?

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