In my last post, I started the chronical of my trip to London last week. I left off before one of the biggest events of my trip: researching at the Globe archives.
That’s right, on Wednesday, my husband and I parted ways for the morning. He headed off to the Natural History Museum. I jumped on the tube and headed back to the Globe, once again walking down the water front. Since I was in London as part of a fellowship to study Shakespeare, one of my main goals was to go through some of the Globe’s archives. I’d already been on the tour and seen the displays a few years ago when I visited with students, but I’d never been behind the scenes to study. I was supposed to meet my husband back at our hotel at 1:30 so we could have lunch, but I was so caught up in my research that I didn’t make it there until almost an hour later. Oops! He called the Globe looking for me and they were very apologetic, blaming themselves for offering me more and more goodies to comb over.
Later that night we decided to walk through Soho. During lunch one day, we’d struck up a conversation with a fellow American. What started as a simple comment about the weather turned in to an hour long conversation about some of his favorite areas of the city as well as a not so brief history of his life (he was Jewish, originally from New York and one half of the small number of gay couples actually legally married in California). He was a riot and based on his suggestion, my husband really wanted to see Soho. I’d seen it before, so it wasn’t too new for me. We did see some licensed sex shops, lots of gay clubs, several arcades, a few clandestine casinos, more trash than usual and possibly the biggest high heeled shoe in the world. It was part of the display for Priscilla Queen of the Desert, at one of the local theatres.
Since our evening was wide open, we once again decided to look for a cinema. This time I was smart and skipped the concierge. Instead I found a newspaper, looked up the movie and found a place fairly close to a tube stop. We headed out and saw Terminator Salvation. I knew going in it wouldn’t be a great movie, but it had Christian Bale in it, so I was game. The plot may have had some holes and some of the dialogue may have been over the top, but even a post apocolyptic Bale is HOT!
Thursday was another day at the Globe. We decided to take our time and do a longer walk, getting off at Westminster. This time we saw Big Ben, Parliment and the London Eye on our way to the Globe. We also saw several interesting street performers, including a guy with his face painted like a dalmation and his head inside a pet carrier and this guy who also had a tiny lizard baby dressed identically to him. They were connected by some wires and when he hit a button, the baby lizard started peddling in tandem. This time we caught a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe.
After the show we were invited to a posh hotel not to far from our own by a friend of my mother-in-law’s (she manages the place). She wanted us to come have a free bottle of champagne in their gardens. Since we couldn’t turn down free booze, we went and spent a few hours there!
Our last real day in the city was Friday. In the morning we headed over to the Tower of London. Ever since I first saw The Tudors on my free preview weekend of Showtime, I’ve revived my interest in Henry VIII. Since he was Elizabeth’s dad and she was one of Shakespeare’s monarchs, I thought it would be cool to go see the royal armory, which is currently featuring several of his suits of armor. When we got there, the lines were huge and it was 17 pounds each to get in. Since we’d both seen it before (including two of Henry’s suits–one before and one after he became so rotund), we decided to skip the actual tower and head to the gift shop instead.
My husband was obsessed with a building our Jewish friend had told us about. I don’t recall the name of it, but it’s kind of shaped like a giant egg. I’d seen it on previous trips, but didn’t know it was considered the most energy efficient building in the country (it may even be in the world). Apparently it’s won all sorts of awards or something. Once I pointed it out to my husband from across the water, he wanted to find it and possibly go up in it. So, after we didn’t go to the tower, we went searching for it. It didn’t take too long before we’d found it. Unfortunately, all of our walking was for naught…it’s not open to the public.
After that we headed to the National Portrait Gallery. We spent an hour or so wandering through the ages, looking at works by some of my favorite painters like Monet, Degas and Seurat. Next, we went back to the National History Museum. We hadn’t really gotten my son anything in the way of a present yet, and my husband remembered all the dinosaur items there. We went only with the intention of getting him a roaring dinosaur head on a stick, but my husband was so excited about all the great things he’d seen there that I had him show me some of the highlights, including the really cool gem room where I saw these cool opals and a really neat collection of over 250 diamonds in every range of color that turned even more colors when exposed to black lights.
As if all this wasn’t enough for one day, we headed back over to Covent Garden for some last minute shopping and hanging out in order to avoid rush hour on the tube. While there we found a neat little church I’d never been in before. I’m not sure why I was so surprised to find it. One side of the church does look out into the big market place in Covent Garden. I guess it’s because there is so much else to look at there, that we’d overlooked it. We found a small alley leading in. The actual church itself was pretty. What I noticed right off though, were the markers of famous people who’d been buried there. The names included Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward and Vivien Leigh. Pretty cool. The garden outside was also lovely. I sat on a memorial bench with a placard that read “There sleeps Titania,” which considering my reason for being in London was pretty cool. I also got to see these pretty flowers. Which was quite nice.
Well, once again I find myself over 1100 words and not quite done, so I guess that means yet another blog to my story…tomorrow that is.