London has been filled with visitors all looking into the dried up moat of an ancient royal palace. The poppies commemorate the First World War. It’s the 100th anniversary of the beginning of that war this year. This was the war that was going to end wars. It didn’t. The other thing last weekend was that it was my birthday. I wanted to see the poppies as an art installation. I was duly whisked off to the capital for the weekend.
There’s always a special joy in a spontaneous trip that never comes with too much planning. That said there were lots of things I wanted to see and we were going to make the best of this weekend. Number one on the list, Science Museum.
The new Information Age Gallery where the Queen sent her first tweet a week or so ago. From Babbage’s difference engine to the latest satellite through Macs and mobiles. Brilliant.
My real Kensington love is the Natural History Museum building. I was confused to enter into a darkened hall and ride the escalator through the core of the earth to a display on vulcanicity. We experienced the Kobe earthquake in miniature but where was the building?
A quick trip back to the information desk told us we’d come in by different entrance. Joy! That wonderful building is still there. Of course we climbed to the top.
Of course no birthday is the same without friends. This one was no exception with buddies in Greenwich putting us up for the night on condition that we would go to the fireworks on Blackheath. Why not continue to celebrate a (failed) plot to blow up the whole of parliament? What other country would allow people to explode tons of gunpowder every year like this? Still, if it helps people NOT to try again I guess they figure why not?
A spectacular evening wrapped in the warmth and love of friends and family…with bangers and mash!
We followed a restful night with a very busy day. Up and pit to Greenwich park and a trip to the Royal Observatory where the excellent Doctor Geof (whom we had met at MCM Comicon and his steampunk chums had ‘punked’ the latitude story. The curator confided that some visitors quite believed the wild tales spun by the merry pranksters of miniature squid powering crazy machines and time travel in the courtyard.
Of course time does start and end at Greenwich Meridian so with one foot in each time zone maybe its not so hard to believe.
Onwards to the market for lunch.Then my long awaited trip under the Thames. Not on a train this time but on foot. Something about this place ties in with the Jack the Ripper mythos and yet, it seems, its a place to run, walk, commute. One Gentleman of the road Banjo Nick told us of his travels and how great the tunnel made the sound of his banjo.
And finally I stand directly in the middle of the river without getting wet.
Through the river tunnel and ever onwards and upwards we found ourselves close to the dome and thinking back on the last time we were here for the Paralympics. (I really need to post about that!) we wandered towards the DLR for a hop towards the Tower of London and the poppies. The tubes had been stopped because so many people were wanting to see this tribute tho the dead of WWI. There are poppies there one for each person killed in combat but 306 short because 306 men were shot for desertion and cowardice. Shot in effect for having PTSD.
Though it was a great art exhibit I cannot say I was moved as the crowds mad any form of reflection impossible and at the back of my mind was that once again war was being remembered as glorious rather that deadly. Sorry, if you want glorification of men killing each other for power and land you came to the wrong place.
We strolled along the Thames towards Blackfriars meeting a sponsored walk team en route. London’s church bells began to sing out Oranges and Lemons as we sought the underground for a couple of stops to The British Museum last refuge for dead Egyptian pharos and weary, tea seeking travellers.
We made the evening train. I just wanted to thank Virgin Trains for a great sense of humour which made me chuckle after a nine mile walk across the capital….