Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 12-17 The Rest of the Story

July 2-6, 2014

The next day was our last in Carlisle.  We spent the morning at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, which is basically the museum of the city of Carlisle.  It had everything from Roman artifacts (Carlisle was the western endpoint of Hadrian's wall) to art to a lovely Jacobean garden filled with plants used for cooking and medicine as well as for decoration at the time the house was built.

From there we took the scenic train back to London via Leeds.
JT liked the 'Cafe Choux Choux' sign.
Leeds was preparing to be the starting point of the Tour de France this year and the city was filled with all things bicycle.  Including gold biking jerseys all over the city.

We made it back to London in time to check in to our hotel and enjoy some walking.  The hotel this time was the NH Harrington Hotel, which we liked a good deal- very comfortable, quiet, and notable for toiletries that smelled like citrus flavored candy.  I kind of liked them, but JT professed to find smelling like a Starburst fruit chew a bit disturbing.

The rest of the trip was filled with activities, though not the sort of thing to benefit from a linear recitation.  We walked, of course, admiring the lovely crescents.

We spotted favorite signs:
Outside a pub:  "Well behaved children welcome,
the rest will be made into pies."
We admired noticed public art.
This is either art, or a fugitive prop from
Dr. Who.  You decide which. 
We went to see Westminster Cathedral, which we had briefly walked through on our first trip to London over 10 years ago- this time we took the verger's tour, which was excellent.

The city's attitude toward pedestrians was occasionally worrying:

We got to see new construction.   This new building is sometime called the 'Walkie-Talkie', and is infamous for generating car-melting reflections.   I thought the juxtaposition with the building to its left makes it look more like a giant stapler, jammed hinge-first into the ground.

We went to an exhibition on Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace:

And, having learned about William Kent's role in the interior design of the palace, we also went to see a special exhibition at the V&A on William Kent, Designing Georgian Britain. Very cool- not all of his work survives, but there were films of buildings and gardens that do, and images, prints and paintings of ones that don't.  Also some of the fabulous furniture he used in his decor.

We took in a couple of plays- the musical of Charlie and the Chocolate factory in the theater district. I had wondered how they were going to manage the fantastical effects of the story- as it turns out- brilliantly.  It was excellent, particularly the actor playing Willy Wonka.

Outside the theatre we found a monument to a favorite writer.   It was put up in the theatre district to commemorate the umpty-enth performance of the Mousetrap (which we saw on our last trip).

We had another lunch at the Kerb street food market.  Yum!  Not quite as warm, so there were fewer toddlers rolling around in the fountains.

We went to the summer science show at the British Royal Society- I'll write a separate post about that, as it was fascinating and deserves more time than a brief blurb.

We were able to get tickets for a Shakespeare performance at the New Globe Theatre.  The play was Titus Andronicus (which is obscure for a reason) but the experience was fabulous- seeing the staging, the excellent acting, the use of the audience for crowd scenes,  and the broad humor.

We found another entry for our sign collection- just the fix for droopy cannons:

Speaking of public art, we were non-plussed by the giant blue rooster in Trafalgar square.  You think I'm kidding you?
We had no idea.

We had dinner at Chimes, a favorite restaurant, and went to a classical music concert at St. Martins-in-the-Fields- something else  we've done before and always enjoy.  And we spent an evening at Cecil Sharpe House, home of the English Folk Song and Dance Society in Camden, watching a concert put on by all the various groups that meet there.  The theme was 'Spinning Yarns', which was bound to appeal to me:
Fiddlers at Cecil Sharpe House
We walked back from Camden, enjoying the late daylight and the rosy sunset on the Georgian architecture.

There was more walking, sausages at the Borough market, our traditional last-day stops for English cheeses at Neal's Yard Dairy and Hatchards' book store, a trek to the airport, the ritual last purchase of English chocolate and the long flight home.   And a long sigh for the end of another fabulous vacation.

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