16 January 2012

January 2012 London Excursion

A weekend away - yipee! - and London too... haven't been there for ages.  Further excitement would be to travel there by train: very sophisticated, leisurely and again something I haven't done for a while. It'll be January but who cares if it's cold, we'll still have a great time.
Well, I set off from home to walk down the hill to the station but a few yards down the hill the suitcase handle broke, so ran back home to change to a (much larger) suitcase, slipped and cut my knee and incidentally broke the camera, only just catching the train.
Ah well, it was Friday the 13th!

Had a good journey up to London and when I arrived at Paddington Station (complete with stall selling Paddington Bear memorabilia), we took a turn around the Serpentine, then wandered over to the Charles Dickens Museum (http://www.dickensmuseum.com/). 

In the basement, we watched an informative film about Dickens life, and on hearing his story, it was easy to see where he got many of his ideas for his atmospheric, sometimes harrowing, tales.

The house contains much furniture of the period, including the actual desk where Dickens sat and worked when he was a clerk, engraved with many names, perhaps even the great man himself.  
(part of the cellar of Dickens' house, complete with rat)

This is a very interesting house, crammed full with editions of stories by Dickens.  It has a super cafe which serves tasty snacks and, as it's set on four floors, is about to have alterations to make it accessible to the disabled.

The next day we rendezvoused at the British Museum.  Since I was last there the British Museum Courtyard has gained a new, circular building and the gap between that and the main building has been covered over (rather like the roof coverings at the Eden Project).
It gives a marvellous feeling of space and light and of course means there's much more display space and room for the public to mooch around.

We had a good look around, seeing the Elgin Marbles (http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/w/what_are_the_elgin_marbles.aspx)

Then the Chinese Section:
It's a baby's feeding cup, in the shape of a rat - something not likely to catch on these days!

And then we looked at the horology department (clocks to you and me).  This is the equivalent of an early teasmade, although it doesn't actually make tea.  When the alarm goes off the lid of the box opens, the candle flips up and the mechanism from the flintlock pistol lights the candle!

Lastly, we visited the exhibition of the potter Grayson Perry- Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman where photos were not allowed so this link is the next best thing:(http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/grayson_perry.aspx).  

On our last day we (along with many other people) decided to visit Covent Garden Market.  On the way I saw these unusual dark grey phone boxes (possibly they belong to a BT competitor?):

These flats look interesting, especially juxtaposed with the more traditional architecture.

What we bought at the market has to remain a secret as it's birthday presents ...

Over the weekend we enjoyed: picnics; a sushi bar; pizza restaurant; tasty teashop fare and a noodle bar, so fairly cosmopolitan eating.

As always, the journey back took a long, long time (and the train was freezing, why do train companies want their passengers to freeze?) and it was great to eventually get home and have a nice cup of coffee!

Well, where shall we go next year?

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