Just got back from an adventure-filled weekend in London. The general idea was to get together with an American friend who has been living in Ireland but is going back to the States soon, and meet her husband and little girl. A surprising amount of exploration got done!
Had the daytime to myself on Saturday so I headed down to the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich to catch the North West Passage: An Arctic Obsession
exhibition. There wasn't all that much to it but it was free and had lots of lovely old maps and was generally interesting. As I have less than zero interest in the rest of the RMM, I wandered up the hill behind it to the Royal Observatory. Nearly gave myself a heart attack doing so, but the view is well worth the effort!
The highlight of the trip, though, was Greenwich Market - it's an excellent not-so-small market full of pretty things. Restrained myself this time, but I think I'll be making a trip in October and doing all my Christmas shopping there.
While I was in the area, I crossed under the Thames using the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, something I've been wanting to do since I read PD James's Original Sin
. Not terribly exciting, but an experience nevertheless.
Changing to the DLR at Bank was a bit of a nightmare (I can't imagine what it must be like during the week) so I came back via Stratford. I love the DLR because you can see where you're going & I get geekily excited by all kinds of stuff. Am I a bad person because I'm convinced I'd really like a place in one of those new Docklands flats?
Yesterday, a group of us started out by going to Spencer House
, apparently the best-restored aristocratic Regency townhouse in London. I'd never heard of it before, but it's very opulent indeed, and quite a different experience to any National Trust stately home I've ever been to.
Lunch in Soho was followed by a trip to the V&A. We made a diversion to Harrods, where I've never been before. It's even more awful (in a really funny way) than I'd been led to believe. The shrine to Diana and Dodi - photos do not convey the true tackiness of it. In the immortal words of Stephen Fry, there is not enough vomit in the world. (Come to think of it, he was either describing the Diana Memorial Fountain or this when he said these words). Beat a hasty retreat before we got chucked out for laughing too hard at said memorial.
I've never been to the Victoria & Albert Museum before. I still haven't seen any of the permanent collections. It was a bit late in the day when we got there, and I discovered that a) they have a Baroque exhibition, and b) it ends next week. I loved it, especially that they had examples of Baroque art & architecture from India, South America and the Philippines. Because we got there late, I had to charge through the last third of it at a pace I wasn't terribly happy about (but it was better than not seeing it at all, and I think the better and more interesting exhibits were at the start anyway). I bought the book so I can read the descriptions I missed later. If you're in London and have a couple of hours before the 19th, go for it.
Got home today via Wood Green Shopping Centre - believe it or not, it was cheaper transport-wise and faster time-wise to go there from Alexandra Palace to pick up hair dye than to do so at this end. I also had the comparatively unhelpful experience of dealing with the non-Oyster-technology-enabled bus system here. When wrestling heavy bags, it's an awful lot easier to swipe one's pre-pay card than to faff about with coins and wallets.
Looking at all the above, it's hardly surprising I'm a bit exhausted!