Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Mynde The Gappe

bronze iron age axes swords Up before I needed to be, I was ready and waiting for the taxi before it arrived. At the railway station I met Elizabeth who was off to see the Tower of London so we compared phones and added each other as contacts and found seats in the 'Quiet Area' of the train, hoho, and played Dragons loudly for 60 miles.
This was very good indeed for us and the assorted parents as we kept each other entertained for the entire journey. She is seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Crown Jewels so we told her about the silver tureen big enough to bath a baby and she left us at Waterloo Station to go and find it.
We entered the underground network and disappeared into the night. Everybody is in a hurry on the tube and we were pushed along by the rising tide of humanity and took the Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road, changed to the Central Line and emerged, blinking, into the rarefied light of St Pauls.
From there the Museum of London was visible down a nice old street called St Martin Le Grand and we got a walkway over the road to the museum and killed 25 minutes looking at axe-heads and dead geezers and gold coins and mammoth tusks and iron spearheads and wattle and daub.
crime museum uncovered police evidence museumWe barely looked at the Roman occupation but the dark ages and the medieval period were quite fun with the religious architecture, Lord Mayor's rings, strongboxes for treasure, silverware and chain mail.
But our time (15-20 with good behaviour) in the Metropolitan Police's Crime and Evidence Exhibition was up. It has an age-related warning about possible nightmares but I've seen so many Schwarzenegger movies I'm past all that. The Krays sound nice.
This gruesome yet compelling collection has been growing practically since the beginning of the first Police force in the 19th century and we couldn't take photos but I can report that the guns and knives and drugs and the real hangman's ropes and terrorist bomb kits and the acid bath for dissolving bodies and the weapons cunningly concealed in household objects and the inventive murder weapons (butter knife, cyanide syringe-in-a-briefcase and arsenic-loaded flypaper) were all rather fun.
eating pret a manger on steps of st pauls cathedralThe cabinet of 'Real or Fake?' pistols shows you how difficult it is to be a Policeman when you don't know if the bank robber is holding a spud gun or a real gun. This is why the Police have kept everything, to help train new recruits. In the shop I got a London Underground Hat and a London Underground T-shirt and a book about the London Underground and one about the horrors of Newgate Jail.
I liked the knuckle-dusters with integral knives, the morning star, sword stick, naily golf ball-on-a-chain, coshes and false binoculars with spring-loaded nails in the eye holes. The anti-horse nail bombs were less pleasant. They have screens for feedback so I left some, others left messages about bogeys on the glass cabinets etc.
I couldn't quite be bothered to go round the rest of the museum so we exited stage left and found a Pret a Manger outside. On previous visits we've spent an hour in a posh restaurant getting food but this was much easier. For less than a tenner we both got big sub rolls (and I got a chocolate mousse).
Deciding not to eat on the move like so many Londoners around us, we bypassed the investment banks on Gresham Street and sat in the spring sunshine on the steps of little-known parish church 'St Paul's Cathedral'. We saw £1 coins in the fountain but I didn't go in.
palace of westminster medieval tower wallsMy sub roll was so nice 10/10, would eat again right now. This opens up significant possibilities for future trips to London as these Pretamanger places are everywhere.
Diving back below the surface of the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty, we tubed it to 'Bank' but did not visit Threadneedle Street. Instead I confidently hared on up the escalator to the Waterloo and City line, came right back down again with mild embarrassment and followed the signs for the Circle Line to Westminster.
We had to wander lengthy passages, up 7 escalators, down 5 others until we reached 'Monument' and got our train. I was getting tired legs. We have been to Westminster many times, it's practically our default location but this time we skirted around the good old Houses of Parliament and found the Jewel Tower.
medieval cathedral cloisters westminster abbeyThis is the only remaining part of the old Palace of Westminster, offers in the region of 800 years ago when kings were kings and teeth were hard to come by and it was the corner tower of the old castle walls, scars still visible today.
The woman was very nice and let me play with her giant keys and wooden crossbow. I liked the vertiginous stone spiral staircase (no inspiral carpets) and one of the doors is labelled 1621 and Henry the 8th I am I am used it as a furniture store after his gold and silver was moved to another location.
The tower is not very big. We bought some chocolate for Jof and I illegally invaded the old moat and looked up the old drainpipe.
Right round the other side of Westminster Abbey is the Pyx Chamber, accessible through the Dean's Courtyard. This small dark subterranean room with big thick walls and a door with 6 locks is another old treasure chamber and the only other place we can get into free of charge with our English Heritage card. There was a 15th century oak chest for priest's capes.
st edward confessor king englandIt did mean we could explore 2 sets of medieval cloisters (very groovy) and see Britain's Oldest Door (950 years and counting) and that's when I started taking pictures on my phone. We could NOT get into the rest of the Abbey on our free ticket because of the armed priests on the doorways and it would have been another £29. A chap at Bud's work has a family coat of arms up in Henry the 7th's Lady-chapel (just by the Lady-garden) and we had planned on looking for it but the £29 factor put us off. I did get a medallion and pewter model of the Abbey in the shop. Quite heavy on religious finery, as I recall.
Also, we were supposed to cross Lambeth Bridge and go to the excellent Promised Playpark in Archbishop's Gardens but my tired feet were throbbing a lot and I elected to walk across the slightly nearer 'Westminster Bridge' again to the London Eye, with slight stop-off to sit and play with my phone 100 feet above the roiling Thames.
This has been a bone of contention since I first met it 6 years ago. On the day I climbed to the very top of the dome of St Paul's, I didn't want to ride the Eye. In the years since, Jof said that she wanted to rotate upon it with us as a 'Family Outing' so we have studiously avoided it, going out to plenty of other perfectly good places.
boy in precarious position over river thames bridgeBut today we rebelled and bought some very expensive tickets. The Queue was very short and we were served by the obligatory Australian (see previous post on the London Dungeons) and joined the main Queue. The polite chap who couldn't grow a proper beard told us that we had to exchange our tickets for some other tickets in City Hall so we went there, with confusion, annoyance and our perfectly good tickets.
Queue #3 was very big. I elected to sit on the radiator and play on my phone while he queued to gain official ticketed authorisation to join the queue. That got us back to Queue #2 which enabled us to have our bags searched ("Did you bring your flick-knives today, Sir?") while he surreptitiously wiped a metal-detector up our legs and then we joined Queue #4.
I can tell you, it's a Big Four-Queue to the entire Coca-Cola London Eye Customer Transit Experience.
ferris wheel london eye passengerAs our pod inched ever closer, we could see the staff procedure. A pod disgorges its human cargo and 2 staff members with mirrors on sticks run on and sweep for bombs left under the central benches. Then, Staff Member #3 runs on and sweeps for litter and the pod is deemed fit to accept another dozen tourists with assorted languages and 37 cameras each.
The wheel does not stop turning (how are we supposed to dance?) under normal function but when the litter-bomb sweepers have a problem, it stops temporarily. You can see for miles and we saw the Queen's house and Downing Street and Waterloo Station and the Mobile Phone and the Shard and the Prong and the Wombat and the Cucumber and the Tate Modern and a tiny bit of Tower Bridge and lots of little tiny humans and busy boats and London Buses.
london underground hat shirt coins telephone boxNext time I'll take Jof. Once we'd been disgorged, I squashed 6 different pennies in the tourist souvenir coin-squashing machines and didn't look at the guitar busker or the street magician but did do some sterling work in the recently renovated wooden climbing park right next to the Eye.
This park used to be a regular stop-off for me but they destroyed it and now it's back with a vengeance and a new name - Jubilee Gardens. The logs are rounded and high up and for a while there it was quite hairy until my gymnastics training kicked in and I traversed the whole installation without using the ropes or touching the Hot Lava.
Then I was thirsty so we bought lots of beer at Waterloo and only just found a seat on the 12th carriage of the 12-coach train and visited Worplesdon and Godalming and Jof said she'd pick us up.
I occupied 3 seats horizontally and gradually people got off so it wasn't so obvious that I was hogging. I had a shower-bath and was quite tired really, although I quacked and hooted a lot and my light was switched off for me (against my will) at 1130.

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