Tuesday, February 02, 2010

London Calling

"Bulleye's and targets say the bells of St. Margaret's" - This is St. Margaret's built right beside Westminster Abbey. Seems the Benedictine Monks did not like the public interfering with their prayers so a second "for the public" church was built. And this is my first glimpse of Big Ben.

We had an uneventful trip - cleared security and I got to keep my small scissors and I stitched a tiny bit. I found it difficult to sleep on the plane and the entire week turned into a not-sleeping event for me. Arrived in London at the cheery hour of 6 a.m. Bought Oyster cards to ride the Tube from Heathrow and caught a taxi for that last little bit to the hotel. Checked in and caught a 2 hour snooze. Well, more like 20 minutes for me. Left the hotel and stopped at the Albert, a genuine if somewhat of a tourist trap British pub. Had the traditional British breakfast of sausage, bacon, toast, egg. And a large Americano to wake us up. Signs everywhere warning us of pickpockets among us so guard your bags! Walked to Westminster Abbey where the audio tour was terrific.

I had tried not to overthink this trip as I like surprises. Here my biggest surprise was upon walking into Henry VII's Lady Chapel. Wow. The fan vault roof is spectacular. And being the sentimentalist that I am, I admit to crying when I reached the Poet's Corner. Couldn't help myself. All those people whose words have delighted me over the years buried in once place. Overwhelming.

We left there and went across the street to the QEII Conference Center - the reason my DH was in London was to attend a conference. And this turned out to be the exact place where the gov't was holding the Iraq Inquiry. Tons of press outside with cameras looking in at us as DH checked his e-mail and called a friend. We were there long enough for the object of their pursuit to leave after testifying. And got to watch the press in action. And the lone protester with his placard trying to be certain his sign got in the televised coverage. Just like being here in Washington D.C. Fortunately, the conference ended before Tony Blair testified on Friday, otherwise this could have gotten completely out of hand for the conference attendees.

My reason for coming to London - the Victoria and Albert Museum. And now comes my unfortunate tale. Most of the textile section was closed when I arrived! Oh the horror. Not a word about this online. Nor had I heard anything from my contact at the Museum. Could be because she no longer works there. Oh well. All was not entirely lost.

There are textiles scattered throughout the museum. The most amazing ones are in the British Galleries. The entire Martha Edlin collection - her sampler, casket, jewelry box, mirror, smalls, etc. Gloves, coifs, curtains, jackets, cloaks. I found myself hyperventilating when I came upon these lovely treasures.

Did I mention my morning walk to the V & A? I got a tiny bit turned around, but knew when I saw the signs for the Inner Ring Road that I was widely off target. I cannot begin to tell you how far I walked each day. Miles and miles and miles.

When I left the Museum, I walked to Harrods. What can I say? It was on the way home.
I totally understand why after you make your purchase, the clerks ask if they can give you directions to some other part of the building. When I left it was all lit up and I thought about popping in to Harvey Nicks, but I was exhausted. Completely exhausted. Hailed a taxi and had a wonderful driver who loved to talk politics and tell bad puns. Interesting combination.

1 comment:

Anna van Schurman said...

How many times have I been to London and I've never even been to Harrods? The dude does not like to shop. But I do get to spend loads of time in the V&A pouring over the textiles. He's good like that. Hope you enjoyed it!