And then to London! But first an intervening week of ‘holiday’ at home where I find out I don’t know how to be on holiday without constant activity. First the guilt factor, the ‘I’m awake so I should be working on my PhD’ factor, then the ‘well if I’m not working on the PhD I must always be doing something’ mindset. So I decorated my office-and I am never doing any form of DIY again. Then I went shopping, I wasted hours on the internet (hmm not so different to ‘working’ on the PhD then) but did not for one minute manage to actually relax.
Good thing for a weekend in London then. People always ask me why I love going back to London (and New York come to that but that’s a topic for a blog-or a book -of it’s own.) especially when I used to live there. The cliché is true that there is always something else to do, or even something you’ve done a hundred times-almost every time I go I walk the South Bank from Westminster to Borough Market and I never get bored of that. There’s also many tourist related things I’ve never done, which some of this weekend was devoted to, with varying degrees of success.
So things we learned in London:
1. Former residents still go the wrong way on the tube.
2. We wouldn’t want to live in Buckingham palace.
3. Jeremy Irons will give you a tour of Westminster Abbey.
4. Taking a pink suitcase to Baker Street doesn’t end well.
So after arriving with much mishap (Mum managed to badly cut her leg, we took the wrong tube, walked the wrong way down the road-a usual day for us then) we had a pleasant evening of theatre (see last week’s post)
On Saturday we undertook an epic tourist day, the kind I’d usually scorn but actually I really enjoyed.
Buckingham Palace, no matter what your opinion of the Royals is a fascinating building (History teacher remember....) and the tour itself though through ghastly headsets not live people and though it’s a bit of a cattle market being herded from place to place, is really interesting. And we saw Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Now I was largely indifferent to the Royal Nuptials, until it came on TV and I didn’t move for 3 hours, but in another life where I have artistic talent I’d have been a designer of some kind so all the information and the chance to see that dress up close were worth the trip itself.
We’d started being touristy so we continued on to Westminster Abbey, now this I loved! (Again History teacher....) I can’t count the times I’ve read/taught something that ends with the words ‘is buried in Westminster Abbey’ plus the history that has taken place inside those walls...ok I’ll stop. Anyway the audio tour for the Abbey has the added bonus of being read by Jeremy Irons (to some of you that’s Scar in The Lion King, to me he is always Charles in Brideshead Revisited) Anyway it turns out Jeremy Irons is both informative and bossy! So while telling me about Elizabeth I’s death mask he also frequently told me to ‘KEEP MOVING!’ or ‘Go up the stairs’ which was highly amusing. Sure you’re not supposed to giggle in the Abbey.
Aside from a general need to see several important people’s graves-Elizabeth I, Henry VII, Lawrence Olivier, I was on a mission for one man in particular: William Wilberforce. An odd choice and one that will have many scratching their heads saying ‘Who?’ Wilberforce who was intrinsic in ending the slave trade was one of the few things I was interested in while training to be a History teacher and he and William Pitt the younger became another one of my ‘academic hobbies’ (I have many) mainly because I knew nothing about Britain’s role in the slave trade and became fascinated by a ‘new’ period of history, and there also was involved a film by the name of Amazing Grace. Plus, given the debate over Pitt’s sexuality I can almost write this off as research. After much searching and right before I was about to give up, I found him. Soon after a tour guide brought her group over and started giving a highly inaccurate account of his life so I had to walk away.
The next day was consumed with theatre, and specifically Shakespeare. Now I appreciate it’s not normal to want to spend six hours of one day watching theatre, but I also appreciate I’m pretty far from normal. I’d do that every weekend if I could and if 3 of those hours include David Tennant and Catherine Tate then I certainly would. I’ve reviewed the play already but I have to mention just how brilliant it was to see these two on stage. It’s fair to say I have a crush on both of them to about equal levels for different reasons Tennant is both 'my' Doctor and a fabulous and gorgeous actor. Tate is an inspiration for being a fabulous woman who doesn't fit the 'beautiful' mold, writes her own material and is also a fabulous and gorgeous actor. Let’s just say I was a very happy fangirl that day, but not only was it that I saw them but just how good the performances were, which cycilally reminds me of why I’m such a fan in the first place. Phew.
|This pretty much sums up my face for the rest of the day|
|Signed by Catherine Tate!|
Sunday was also devoted to a bit of geeky indulgence, sort of. Another of my ‘academic hobbies’ is Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle- I teach Conan Doyle and have developed quite the obsession since (helped along by the wonderful BBC version that aired just before I started teaching it) so Mum and I with a pink suitcase in tow (unintnetionally) took a trip to Baker Street (we tooke the tube rather than a cab, seemed sensible). We failed to go to the Sherlock Holmes museum due to what appeared to be a busload of Spanish tourists who had just arrived (we had a bus home to catch) so we proceeded on our own geeky tour, which I present in photo form (apologies to those who wont get the joke
|The address is 221B Baker Street|
|We took a Pink suitcase from Cardiff to London in the rain and then to Baker Street. We didn't take a cab though.|
|At the feet of the great man|
|We discovered where Mycroft gets his umbrellas|
|Actually he prefers the chinese at the end of Baker Street|
|Oh the fanfiction that is waiting to be written....|
And so ended a geek filled trip to London, proving that even when you've lived there you're never done with the place, that you can have fun doing cheesey tourist things and that taking a pink suitcase to Baker Street is never good luck.