Sunday, January 26, 2014

London from Above and Within; or, Last Wednesday at Hyde Park Gate

Lady Justice presiding over London.
So, in an effort to catch up before another crazy week starts, let's catch up on what happened in the last one.

For starters, the above photograph was taken from the top of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.

It was a long way up.

This is only a little bit of the long way up, and some of the least scary.
Here is a hole in the floor, about a foot square, looking down into the middle of the chapel. And I wasn't even at the top yet.
Being, as you may know, no great fan of heights, I had to make the climb with three points of contact at all times and with my camera's wrist strap buckled into my watch. But I did it. And it was pretty amazing.

St. Paul's really is an astonishingly cool space. It's a beautifully balanced and planned structure, thanks to the genius of Christopher Wren, and it's full of magnificent stuff, but the magnificent stuff got put in after Wren was dead and couldn't protest "Wait! I had it all neatly arranged! It was clean and symbolic and orderly!" Nope, the Victorians just went and plunked the Duke of Wellington in between some columns because there was room for him, and tossed Admiral Nelson down in the crypt next to a handy bust of George Washington round the corner from a medieval Madonna and Child that no one could think what else to do with. And then there's Samuel Johnson's statue in the nave and another Madonna and Child (modern abstract sculpture this time) in the aisle and an enormous pompous grand high altar standing behind the regular, everyday high altar because eh, why not have two? It's part house of worship, part architectural masterpiece, and part National Attic of Stuff.

Included in the category of "stuff": this truly amazing staircase, with each stair supported only by the one below it. 

 So once we came down from the dizzying heights of St. Paul's, we headed off to the Museum of London, which really is an awesome museum. I would have appreciated it a lot more if my legs hadn't felt like tenderized meat by that point. But I managed to catch a nap in a convenient medieval peasant's hovel, so that was all right.

It's not that I couldn't feel my legs, mind you. It's that I WISHED I couldn't feel my legs.
I learned a bit more about Roman Londinium, through a cool exhibit that tied Roman life to modern with such cool things as Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis and Winnie Ille Pu, which kind of fill my geek heart with delight.

I also encountered a number of very charming hats. 
I even tried a few. Even if this is the rather demodé Spanish pointed, rather than French round, style. I always did like the pointed a bit better. 
A portion of my time in the museum was devoted to watching Dr. O. try to achieve having all of his children in sight at the same time. This was extremely entertaining. Here, he has corralled one of five and is standing in an extremely cool map of London, coded by socioeconomic status at the turn of the 20th Century.
Many children may have been misplaced, but fortunately I found the Lord Mayor's carriage, complete with six life-sized horses to pull it. The horses are replicas, but the carriage is not; they actually take it out for the Lord Mayor to ride around in. I assume they remove the windows, because if not, heaven only knows how they manage to squeeze that thing out of the building. 

So, RoseE, you ask, are we now caught up on your exciting adventures? Well, no, not actually. Stay tuned for (maybe?) tomorrow's episode, featuring RoseE's first bell-ringing lesson and her debut performance in Canterbury Cathedral, as well as a surprise hailstorm, a traffic jam, a good and proper castle, and a fervent resolution to never again leave the house without a scarf. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, I'm an Anne Boleyn tarty type who likes the French hood to daringly show off my hair and scandalize various cardinals and archbishops...but you do rock the gabled hood!