Day 2:    Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, Cecil Sharp House, Westminster Abbey

 

Day 2 Photos  (29)

London double-decker transit bus to Piccadilly Circle area.  A fantastic, though drizzly view of London’s diverse architecture – years and years layered on this huge city. So much fun to see it through Hank’s structural engineer’s eyes!

Breakfast in upper crust Richeau Restaurant…right where the bus dropped us, and we were hungry.  Full English breakfast for us both: Cumberland sausage, grilled tomato and mushrooms, eggs, toast and tea. Coffee for the man.

Walked through Green Park, past a jogging troop of Queen’s Guards in camo, to Wellington Arch, purchased English Heritage passes and explored the history of Waterloo and the great general on the way up to the top. Views off to Big Ben and other iconic landmarks.

Walked  through Hyde Park, a serendipitous encounter with mounted Queen’s Guards fully uniformed and on their way to the Changing of the Guard at the Palace. Found the public loos just in time to discover that we should have exchanged a few dollars for pounds because we needed 20p to pee.  A kind lady thought I needed a tutorial on the turnstile operation. When I explained the monetary crisis (hopping from foot to foot) she dug into her pocket and gave me the entry fee.  And another 20p for Hank—the kindness of strangers …

From the north tip of Hyde Park it was only about 15 blocks to the English Folk Song and Dance Society at Cecil Sharp House, opened as a memorial upon his death in 1924. We sang “To My Old Brown Earth” on the stage where countless folk gatherings have occurred over the decades.  Sang to an empty room but then an orchestra showed up – the hall is rented out for all sorts of community events.

An hour or so in the excellent library there and then back toward the tube station. Past a street market and funky architecture and noticed “Best Independent Fish & Chips 2014” at Poppie’s, so had our lunch there. Have to say, fish and chips in Poulsbo are more flavorful and way less greasy.  When we got home our Brit neighbors opined that this may well be the case as regards all UK classic fish and chips. There’s a reason they wrapped it in newspaper! But Poppie’s DID get our attention with the authentic Crapper toilets in the loo!

We rode the tube just a few stops to Westminster Abbey and the Halls of Parliament, getting there late afternoon, with the sun streaming through the scudding clouds…classic beauty.  Into the interior rich with history from the founding of a Benedictine settlement in 960, to Edward the Confessor’s Abbey dedicated in 1065 to 1245 when Henry III commenced building the current structure.

 It was our first taste of the British passion for wall-mounted memorials, hewn in stone and inscribed with all manner of Latin and English poetry and dedications.  It would take days to do justice, and the docents know this, so they point visitors to the very most famous—Chaucer, Darwin, Newton—and of course, there are gazillions of those! We opted to wander on our own without benefit of the audio guides. Made for delightful discoveries and the trade-off of missing “something” was acceptable to both of us.  

Hank suggested we each light a candle when we came upon the chance to do so. Quiet reflection and thinking of our loved ones gone and the families we have blended together…so much gratitude. We lit candles several times during our travels. Recognizing the inadequacy of our short visit, we often purchased color brochures to study at home. 

After taking in some of the splendor of this awesome space, we enjoyed the sunshine in the statue garden (Mandela, Gandhi, and more), on our way to the tube and train taking us back to NE London.  Excellent home cooking for dinner and early lights out. 

 

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