Saturday, February 24, 2007

Let the touring continue!

Let's see, let's see . . . . Thursday I spent many hours at the National Archives, finishing up my research there. For this trip, that is. That evening I stayed in for some much-needed rest. The next day I trekked out to North London to visit the British Library Newspapers location. It took me nearly an hour and a half to get there. Oy. (Or, say it with a British accent.) Once there I looked through The Red Triangle, the British YMCA magazine published in my period. It was slow-going but good to do. Unfortunately, it took longer than I hoped, so I didn't have much time in the afternoon to be a tourist. I did manage to get out to Buckingham Palace and walked around downtown London until I met up with JDS, TC, and the others for dinner---at an excellent Turkish place in Soho. Next up was the theatre. We saw "Avenue Q," which was very well done and entertaining. I enjoyed it. It's quite American, though, so I wonder how it goes over with non-North Americans around here.

This morning I woke up and quickly (for me) got ready to leave the house and meet up with CS, a former Torontonian, historian, and all 'round excellent person. We met up just after noon, went for lunch at a great Thai place in Soho, and then randomly walked, walked, walked! It was too much fun; CS is too cool. We had an awesome, history-filled time. I think the thing that really makes this city so interesting and beautiful is that it's been around for hundreds of years. Heck, give Ottawa and Washington---already lovely in their own North American way---a thousand years, and they'll be pretty nifty too!

For one example of how old regular things can be around here, this is a random church sign we came upon. Click on the image to read the text.
Most interestingly, we had a look around several churches, most of them in the City. The first one we saw was St. Clements Danes, an RAF church! I still can't get over this. It was very cool. Old church with lots of history gets bombed by the Germans---we saw the battle scars on the outside---gets fixed up in the 1950s and becomes an Air Force church. All over the floors are the signs (heralds? what's the word?) for the various units. And all over all memorial plaques, etc. In the basement parts of the original church are to be found preserved in the crypt.

Our next stop was the Temple Church, nestled away in behind Fleet St. So unexpected! This was the where the Knights Templars worshiped beginning in the 12th century. Craziness. Afterwards we made our way through some unknown passages and arrived at what we later discovered were government lawyer and judge chambers. We'd seen the church-like Royal Courts of Justice building (see picture, below) a few minutes earlier, and it looked like this area is where a lot of legal stuff goes on.

The other churches and cathedrals we saw were less interesting in terms of our astonishment at their existence, but very nice too. In one of them, we happened upon a rehearsal of a chamber trio. Their music was very beautiful. We dawdled much longer than we would have inside, marveling at the several hundred year old stonework and taking in the free concert! We then happened upon the London Monument and quickly decided to drop 2 quid each and go for a bit of a climb. 311 steps later (though it seriously felt like way more) we were at the top, taking in the amazing view. Later, after visiting yet another church, CS taught me how to pronounce "Southwark." No, it's not Southwark, but Suthik.

We trundled onward along the Thames, enjoying the view---by this time, the sun had set and the lights were on in the city---and heading downtown to search for a place to eat. (The photo to the right is of the Tower Bridge.) After our hours of walking, we were getting peckish. Fish and chips was had and enjoyed by all. Yay! Anyways, that's basically the day. I just left out the part of the story where we went into a bookstore and made a bee-line for the history section ;-). What a super fun day. Today was totally my best London day. Thanks, CS! Next time I'm in London, I'm gonna make you walk all over with me again.

1 comment:

ec said...