March 30th, 2007

little review

Greetings from London

On Friday we took the train from Catford to the Docklands Museum, which is terrific...a history of London via the Thames, including a full reproduction of "Sailortown" in the 1800s with a model pub, animal emporium and nautical equipment. The museum traces the history of London from the Romans to the present, and as an extra surprise there was a replica of the Discovery -- one of the ships that founded the colony at Jamestown -- docked just outside, along with a couple of other historic ships. We met one of apaulled's friends for lunch at Leadenhall Market (walking by way of the Tower and the old Roman wall), where we had sandwiches under cover since it was drizzling. We had planned to go from there to tour the Golden Hind, but it started raining in earnest, so we went instead to St. Paul's, which was in the midst of major renovations when we visited four years ago. This time we could see the tribute to US military personnel who died during World War II and the magnificent tiled ceiling.

From St. Paul's we went to Westminster, where we saw Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the way to the Horse Guards, Whitehall, Nelson's Column and the Admiralty Arch. We had plans to meet Vera at the National Gallery, which we visited only very briefly so I can say nothing intelligent about the artwork (and younger son would say that the best part were the pigeons that would land on people's arms if they held out food). We walked to Chinatown, where we had dinner at a buffet with very good lemon chicken, and Vera brought us organic chocolate Daleks from Marks & Spencer's that say "EXTERMINATE!" if you press on the boxes (this proved to be hilarious, as every time one of us bumped into a bag, we would hear, "EXTERMINATE!" and all crack up). We were going to go to Forbidden Planet to get Doctor Who action figures, but the store was just closing as we arrived, having shut the doors early because Neil Gaiman was there and a mob had gathered outside trying to get a look at him. Woe!

Vera had brought us tickets for Spamalot, which we saw in the evening after looking in vain for a non-mobbed coffeehouse to sit for half an hour. We were all very familiar with the score and with all the Monty Python movies it is based on, but we didn't know for instance that "The Song That Goes Like This" was performed as a Phantom of the Opera parody, nor that the audience always sings along on "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." We had an immensely good time, and also had entertaining people in neighboring seats at the theatre who turned out to be Doctor Who fans and were fortunately amused when they stepped past us to sit down and our bag said "EXTERMINATE!" to them. I'm sure I'm forgetting a dozen small things, like stopping in Boots to get Cadbury Creme Eggs. Here's just a handful of photos, I'm too tired to deal with the rest now!


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