London Travelogue: Part III
June 26, 2014
6/8 Sunday Day Six
Up at 7. Breakfast.
We have an hour and fifteen minutes at the British Museum, which is probably my favorite of the museums we went to. See the Rosetta Stone. The museum map has various lists with suggestions with what to see based on how much time you have. There is a one hour list, so I roughly follow that. I don’t see quite everything on the list, but I see everything on the list that I wanted to see, and I see some cool things that aren’t on the list en route to see the things that are on the list. Lots of Egyptian stuff. The Lewis Chessman. Apparently, playing chess well was considered one of the seven knightly accomplishments. The Portland Vase.
Japanese clocks and armor. Armor against time. There is no armor against time except writing, music, art, love, and friendship.
I bump into this piece called Cradle to Grave by Pharmacopoeia. It’s about forty feet by ten feet and is a glass case with all of the prescribed pills someone might take in a single lifetime. On each side are artifacts and pictures from two lives from birth until death. Neat and unexpected, even if it is a bit somber.
Easter Island head (the last thing on my to see list) like the one in Washington D.C. Totem pools. There is a special Viking exhibit, but I don’t have time to see it and it costs money anyway. We depart.
On the street, go by an Oscar Wilde statue with an engraving of his famous quote “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I wonder how much other stuff we passed like this that I didn’t even notice.
Benjamin Franklin House. “Resurrection men,” body snatchers. The house is not so exciting to me, especially since the house is devoid of furniture. To me, Franklin does not come alive through this tour. The tour consists of an actress interacting with a voice and video, which seems a bit on the cheap to me, but other people like it. Something has to be at the bottom of everyone’s list, I suppose. At the end we see an Armonica, an instrument he invented that is sort of like cups of varying sizes stacked together than you can rub and play. I did enjoy that.
Lunch with Shelly and Sam. Marghertita pizza with chicken and at Pizza Express since no one has a clear preference and I ate there the other day and thought that it was good. I briefly consider dessert when the waiter asks if we want to look at a dessert menu. But I decline and say I am full.
Go to London Eye. Serge says he will be 15 minutes because he wants to see what the wait is (he doesn’t want to wait more than 30 minutes) since they will not let us move our appointment from Tuesday at 2:00. We wait about half an hour and he comes back and says the wait is 2.5 hours. Jubilee Gardens, which is where we wait for Serge. We leave and pass through a used book stall but there is no time to look. Poetry section is right at the end where we are walking by. I see an interesting book of poetry about Kensington Gardens, but no time to even think about picking it up.
So we go to the Tate Modern and he says we have 45 minutes and the Globe (Shakespeare’s theater) is right down the way also, so that is available.
I can take pictures of the Globe from the outside. Tours cost money, which I would pay for, but it takes 30 minutes and needs to be set up ahead of time, so I can’t do that. But I am so glad just to see it from the outside. It wasn’t officially on the itinerary so I was hoping just to get some sort of a glimpse of it.
Tate is pretty warm. Matisse cut-outs exhibit but it costs and there is no time to see it. A lot of work from Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer, is at Tate. Patti Smith photos, Warhol, and William S. Burroughs, the one from the cover of Last Journals (hardback edition) I take this as a fortuitous sign because I am doing a lot of work about Burroughs right now. Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus. See a video in which people are holding themselves in a dramatic position like a photograph, but you can see other things, like smoke, moving by.
Greencoat Boy for dinner.
British sun fades. Coolness creeps out. Moon rises. Spices waft in the air.
British Big Brother says the F word and others uncensored and frequently. Counting down 80s movies and there are clips with body images that would never been shown in America—and this is on primetime basic television. I don’t have a problem with it, but it sort of seems at odds with all the monitoring and regulation—the general tightness of things. I’m not sure I totally understand this country. People, animals, and children never seem to step out of line or act up. A few arrests occur over the trip (none involving our people) and they are done quietly, efficiently, unobtrusively, and without resistance. Third night seeing a rat run to the trashcan outside of my window on the street below. I bet they queued up for it.
6/9 Monday Day Seven
Up at 7am. Breakfast. After the first day, I haven’t eaten any more rolls or Nutella. Just hot tea, apple juice, croissants, and strawberry yogurt. We are supposed to leave at 8am. It is actually 8:40 by the time the bus arrives. With the increased traffic, I figure this probably costs us an hour and cuts our time in Bath by half. Phil is our day trip guide. Tight turns and near misses. We go by Parliament. James Bond MI6 building. We pass the factory that is on the cover on Pink Floyd’s Animals.
Pass a pig farm and think about hot, fresh pig milk. Why, I don’t know because that actually sounds quite nasty.
Stonehenge. We have one hour. You can see it from the road and until recently could drive right up to it. In fact, you can see a dirt road from the main road that leads up to the site. In the last couple of years, they built a new visitor’s center and restricted how close you can drive up. So you can walk, which there is not really time for or get onto one of the buses. I like Stonehenge. This is one of the things I was really looking forward to and I am not disappointed. The crows of Stonehenge. Dead sorcerers cawing their spells.
June 20th is the solstice. They remove the barriers and you can go into the ruins. Lots of alternative, New Age, mystical types show up.
On to Bath. The road is not very curvy, but has lots of ups and downs and bumps. Going through village of Shrewton. Tank crossing sign.
Bath. People are very friendly. Roman Baths. Make a wish with a pence in one of the pools. After I go back to the bridge we crossed over that had such a great view so that I can shoot pictures off of each side of it. Consider eating at a Garfunkel’s close by, but there is no time. I go into a glass shop and am wearing my gray Spider Man shirt. The guy behind the counter jokes with me about being Peter Parker on vacation. Very friendly folk. I go into a small café (The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party) and get a soda and then some sort of bar with chocolate on it, a cherry, and lots of shredded nuts inside. This is my lunch. It tastes good.
We gather at the meeting spot to get on the bus. I arrive right on time. Still some people missing. Bath Abbey is right in front of me and I want to check it out so bad. We’re at time, but I go anyway. There is no fee, just a suggested donation that I don’t pay. The woman is trying to hand me something and I tell her that I have to get back and have just enough time to pass through. She hands me a guide anyway “to read on your tour bus” and I walk hastily through. Again, the people are very nice. I don’t take any pictures since they usually aren’t permitted, though I later read that they are, but I don’t really have time anyway. There are various spots in the church where you can pray for various things. I walk through and get back to the group. We leave very soon thereafter. We walk to the bus and there is a cherry tree. Serge eats a few cherries. I eat one. One fresh cherry from the cherry trees of Bath. We get on the bus and go through some of the town. We pass either The Royal Crescent of The Circus. I think The Circus because I recall buildings on the other side, whereas the Royal Crescent has an undeveloped green expanse with no trees. Outside of town, the hills of Wales are in the distance as we are very close to the border.
When he sees my shirt, Serge tells me a story about not liking spiders and finding a great deal on a place in Croatia but he spotted a tarantula in the cupboard, so he passed. Turns out someone in the basement was breeding them and they escaped. The entire building had to be fumigated for 7 days.
As we get back into town it rains and I take pictures through the windshield of rain.
Bistro 1 for dinner. Bread. Spicy chicken, 2 kabobs as an appetizer. Neat glass works dangling from the ceiling. This place has Mediterranean food and I am greatly encouraged by the appetizers. However, we end up with plain hamburgers and frites.