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Published: October 27th 2010
Max: Ah, finally a night of almost regular sleep. I wake up to gray skies and the sudden realization: I am in London! This is fabulous!
Late the past evening I had received a call from Cousin Roger, but we returned too late to call back. Now he is on the phone hoping we have found the camera—unfortunately no—and ideas of where to buy disposable cameras and get them downloaded onto disc before we leave the country. We talk about the extreme frustration of DNA genealogy which skips you ahead through time whilst trying to find paper trail links to relatives with the same surname in the past 500 years. Then he makes the extraordinary offer to help My John and me by doing look-ups in the British National Archives. I am fairly dancing about the room. We have a lovely chat and say goodbye: he will be in Poland by the time I return to London. DNA genealogy may be frustrating but the cousins I am meeting have been our generous and gracious hosts and guardian angels in the UK.
I know it is going to be a great day and wake Caitlin up by using the
London, Meet Caitlin
All dressed up with some place to go!
fully functioning hair dryer over her head while she tries to sleep. London is calling: today is Westminster Abbey and The British Museum—perhaps a quick tour of Banqueting House. Time to get dressed! Which scarf to wear? What is that peaking out of my scarves and lingerie? Could…it….be….the …….camera? Happiness abounds: IT IS THE CAMERA!
A quick breakfast in a tiny café across “our corner” of Gloucester Road where burly guys-obviously regulars- sweet talk us into the door and the Russian café owner is funny and charming. A short walk to “our tube station.” Caitlin is quick and accurate by now in getting us onto the correct lines. Then before you can say “Bob’s your uncle” we are walking towards Westminster Abbey. It is overpoweringly beautiful and awe inspiring. The audio tour is narrated by Jeremy Irons, is accompanied by choral music and again, there is just not enough time to take it all in.
We walk into the street, past the Horse Guard, and tuck into a pub so Caitlin can finally get her Pub Food! We have a lovely lunch; Caitlin’s Fish Pie is especially good and I have decided that ale for lunch is a
Ready for a Day in London
Boots, short skirt, black tights, trench coat and a scarf. I am sooooo trendy.
perfectly wonderful idea. It also gave way to one of the best lines of the trip so far. I was trying to explain that in the US we have ales that are particularly light and lightly carbonated. I had only part of my sentence out when the waitress says” Yer, we have ales ‘ere too. I’ll bring you a lovely one dearie.”
We passed by Banqueting House which was closed for a private party. Drat! But managed to get a quick peek again at Piccadilly Circus.Then out to The British Museum for a tour of the world through artifacts, sculpture, friezes, and specimens. Caitlin and I drug each other from room to room; although I may have done more of the dragging. Caitlin was totally worn out by now and it was almost closing time when I presented her with the impossible question: would you like to go back to the hotel now or find the mummies? I knew what the answer would be.
Well, if we hadn’t gone to see the mummies we wouldn’t have had a chance to see Friday Rush Hour on the tube, now would we? We are both remarkably impressed by the efficiency
No pictures allowed inside but tqke my word for it, the Lady Chapel, the Poet's Corner, the Chapter House, and the Cloisterrs. Beautiful...
of the tube and the good manners of the riders. Later we would learn that, due to work on the Jubilee Line, it was reported the worst week ever on the London Subway system. That would be hard to prove by us.
Back at the hotel, Caitlin is asleep by the time she takes her shoes off. I take the time to pack up: we are leaving in the morning to drive into The North. It is time to find my roots in the Derbyshire……wait a minute did I just say drive? We have to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road tomorrow!
Caitlin here again: Mom's definition of sweet talk is funny. Maybe flirting, but definitely not sweet talking. As we walked into the little breakfast cafe, a rather imposing man told me that they were reservation only. I mumbled a quiet and awkward "sorry," walked back out and then realized he was teasing me, so we walked back in and I let him know that I wasn't exactly a local. It would have been more funny had I been more awake, but from then on mom referred to him as the maitre
Westminster Abby, too
The entrance to the Abby.
d' and we all got along swimmingly. After a lovely breakfast of lox and creamcheese and perfectly prepared coffees, the proprieter joked with us and offered me a job as a dishwasher. Have I mentioned that I love this town? And its people.
Wesminster Abby was beautiful and touching and interesting and often smelled like my Granny Goody's house. It is a good thing that they didn't allow photos to be taken inside, or you would be scrolling through pages and pages of pictures of the ceiling in the Lady Chapel. I don't know if I've ever seen anything more beautiful or awe-inspiring. Like a cake that's been iced with lace about a million feet up and straight above you. Being in the Abby really was one of those times that it hits you that all the tales of knights and such are true and looking at the ceiling felt like fairy tales coming true. Enchanting - that's the word! Enchanting....
Just like my lunch!!!! OH MY GOODNESS! Fish pie and stewed cabbage and guiness, oh my! Best, best, best EVER. There were hardboiled eggs in my fish pie! (And just in case you don't quite
I Love London
From Westminster Abbey to ...this.
know what a fish pie is....besides the most delicious thing ever.....it basically seemed to be some fish, a whole lot of cream and some mashed potatoes over the top. Yum) And what mom ACTUALLY said to our waitress was: "In America, we call them.....'ales'" As if it were a foreign word. Amazing. Adorable.
On to the British Musem, where I was most interested in clocks and dead people. Back home, via the tube (on which nearly everyone was reading the evening paper - have I mentioned that I love it here?), where I fell soundly asleep til dinner time at a decent Italian restaurant. Mom and I have started a new tradition of a pre-meal "Zesty Walk" during which we go the opposite direction we are supposed to, realize it probably later than we should, and then turn around and head back in the right direction. It's pretty great.
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