Tag Archives: Photography

A brief note

Still here in the US. Things are still serious, but we’re fighting it as best we can. These days are looking pretty good, and for that I’m grateful. It’s hard, sometimes, being so far away from home.

Home. Tricky subject! I think of a lot of places as home, simultaneously. I guess it’s a mark of the 21st century that this is a common situation. I’m here at home with family; I left my husband back at home. And home is where many of my friends are, where I spent nearly 14 years of my life.

So. Leaving home for home, but not for a couple of weeks. Once I’m back in the southern hemisphere, I aim to update at least once a week. Might be a bit spotty in May, but pick up by June. That’s the hope, at least.

In the meantime, here’s a four year old photo of the Sydney Opera House I took after catching a Judith Lucy show.

I had to sit on some steps and rest my elbows on my knees to get this shot. I think it was a half-second exposure. This was taken, believe it or not, around nine at night.


Day the Fourth Part the First: Westminster Abbey

I got all verbose on the Abbey, so I’m breaking up my entries a bit. Onward, then.

Memories are already fading, which is disappointing, but here we go. I was a little slow in waking up, since I didn’t sleep very well the night before. Part of this — hell with it. All of it has to do with sleeping in a hostel. I’ll be posting a separate rumination on my London accommodation later, but for the time being, just know that it’s a bad idea to forget your earplugs when sleeping in a hostel. That, and the blister demanded some proper attention. Cleaned it up, slapped a plaster on it, and out I went into the incredibly clear and clean and not at all rainy morning.

I bought trip insurance just in case it snowed in the UK. I missed it by a week and a half.

I realize now I was so damned tired I can’t remember how I got there. I’m pretty sure I took the Tube. I didn’t want to be delayed by morning city traffic while riding a bus. But I didn’t get off at the Westminster stop, since I clearly remember walking toward the east, past the Sanctuary, to get to the northern entrance. Did I get off at St James’ Park? Honestly, what-the-what? I know I would have remembered passing by the New Scotland Yard.

This is why I wish I’d written these while traveling. But I guess I’d be forgetting even more things with the increased lack of sleep. This is what photos are for, presumably. Maybe next time I’ll sketch notes as I go along.

I will admit, to my complete shame, that I’d never really understood how significant the Abbey is in British history. I usually like to have a sense of the places I’ll be visiting; I like to be at least a little prepped. But here, I had very little to go on. In a way that was refreshing — I got to feel that rush of discovery as it was happening, in the place itself, but I worry I missed out on some great details due to lack of context.

The LondonPass got me into the Abbey with no trouble at all. There was nearly no queue, but regardless, it was nice to just walk right on up and hand over the little card. Another thing that I liked very much: a free audioguide. These aren’t headphone sets, they’re these elongated things, looking vaguely like an old mobile phone. They hang around your neck incredibly awkwardly, especially if you have a bag of some kind. I had a camera bag, but it stayed shut most of the time. No photography allowed in the interior of the church.

Which is an enormous shame (though I completely understand and respect the reasons for it), because the place is just astonishing. It’s a dark church. Ordinarily I’d find that cold, unpleasant, but not here. Maybe it was the quire with its little lit lamps (one of my favorite places in the abbey). Maybe it was the sheer number of staff and volunteers cheerily helping people out. There certainly wasn’t much light coming through the windows on an overcast winter morning. But it was a close, comfortable feel, like this was a place travelled by people who knew and loved it. This is an important distinction, because in other cathedrals I’ve been to, this sense of close comfort is markedly absent.

And the chairs. So many, specifically set out for visitors. Listen, British museums and historical places are the most user-friendly I’ve ever visited. So I took myself a seat and listened to the little hanset around my neck.

I can’t talk about any of the non-English audio, but the English guide is excellent. In addition to the specific tour components, there are additional items you can listen to, like a welcome from the Dean of the abbey, or an explanation of the ritual of holy communion, which was really well done. There were extras covering the quire, including music, and — this is my favorite part — a video tour of the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, which is too edlicate to allow regular tourist traffic. The handset has a little window, maybe two or three centimeters diagonal, big enough to get a sense of the shrine.

Moving from the quire, you start to circulate around the abbey itself. I felt a bit rude, walking amongst all these graves; I’ve never liked the idea of touring the dead. Setting that aside, though, the stonework — and woodwork — on the tomb effigies was amazing. It’s easy to dismiss the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages, which isn’t true at all. The sophistication in technique and artistry in a number of different disciplines leaves me, in today’s ready-made disposable modern world, in shame.

This is why I loved the Lady Chapel so much. I really wish I could have taken photos of it, but I’ll just have to leave you with this one, of the vaulted ceiling.

The vaulted ceiling of the Lady Chapel

Image from Freemysoul's Flickr. I really wish I could have taken photos. I stared at this ceiling for fifteen solid minutes. Every time I tried to look away I'd find a new detail.

The RAF chapel also called my attention, not just because it reveres those who fought in the Battle of Britain, but because there’s a small hole in the wall, caused by a German bomb. It’s covered with glass to keep the elements out, but it’s clearly a pocked hole, straight through the stone. It’s sobering. Mainland America was never under that kind of threat.

Continuing on, I stopped by the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots (situated very close together in death), and then Poet’s Corner. I hate to say it, but I was very cynical about Poet’s Corner. My university years were spent in the company of a lot of art students (theater and film, mainly), and we all go through our rabid literature fanboy phase. Well, not me, because I had a different rabid fandom, which made me special, and so I looked down on the kids who got all misty-eyed and artsy-arrogant over having visited Shakespeare’s memorial in the abbey.

Unfortunately, the feeling’s stuck, and I wandered by the markers of different actors and authors with a faint sense of irritation. It bugs me that I let those things live on so long, little petty things from fifteen years ago. Who does it benefit? No one. Certainly not me. Anyway. From the Corner it’s out to the Great Cloister. And aside from the fact that I love cloisters, photography was allowed there. So I have pictures to share.

The Great Cloister at Westminster Abbey

Now we're getting a feel for that specific green color of British grass. Yes, I know I sound mad, but I mean it. There's a very specific color to it. Or, rather, colour.

Cloister detail

Lookit me, gettin' all fancy with wide aperture and fast shutter speed! I took a photography class in undergrad, and it still serves me to this very day. And look at that green. I only hope your monitor is calibrated like mine.

Westminster Abbey, Great Cloister

I love the feeling this photo evokes. It's not sepiatone, but he colors are muted in a way that indicates age that doesn't necessarily correspond to the past. The post-production filter takes the image, mirrors it, and overlays it at high transparency.

I stopped briefly by the little snack shops they had on one side of the cloister and had a bit of breakfast, nothing big. It gave me time to just sit on the low stone wall and admire the cloister itself. Have I said that I love cloisters? I think I have.

With food eaten, I stopped briefly by the abbey’s museum, but I felt like time was beginning to slip by and I wanted to get some time at Parliament. So I moved to the final stop on the tour: the nave, where the west entrance is, and where regular worship is held. A service started while I was there. I felt a bit self-conscious, standing there as a tourist while people were attending formal service, but I let it go and instead stayed as out of the way as best I could while still seeing what I wanted to see. A little to the side was a table where anyone could write a prayer request, which the priests would fulfil at the shrine of St Edward the Confessor in the next few days. I can’t remember if there was a charge for it — nothing obnoxious, just a donation box — but I know I left a five pound note just on general principle, to help maintain the church.

Once outside, I was treated to as much Gothic architecture as I could possibly stand. I love Gothic architecture. I suppose a lot of people do. I’m not a fan of modernist architecture, of form over function. I’ve had enough poured concrete and cinderblock to last me twenty lifetimes. I understand it’s expensive as hell to use building elements that have some kind of detailed design in them, as that calls for expert craftsmanship, but come on.

North entry of Westminster Abbey

I can only imagine how many decades it took for the masons to do this. Yeah, I said decades. This is the north entrance of the abbey.

Outside the nave of Westminster Abbey

Look at this detail. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to do detail shots of the work on the nave's exterior. I must have been really, really tired.

Westminster Palace

From Gothic, to Neo-Gothic. When are we going to stop exalting the concrete box and its accents of glass and steel? The Gherkin's a good start, but we need more progress on this.

From here, it was a short jaunt to Westminster Palace, or Parliament. Halfway there I gave directions to a Brazilian tourist; we met halfway linguistically, me with my Spanish and her with her Portuguese. She wanted to know if the abbey was where Prince William was married, and if the place I’d just come from was the abbey. She kept thinking Parliament was the abbey. I can’t entirely fault her on that, either. At any rate, our exchange was charming and a lot of fun, and adds to the list of places I’ve visited where people stop and ask me directions. Maybe I’ve got a friendly demeanor? Maybe I give off this sense of I know what I’m doing? (I find the last statement hard to believe.)

Next: Parliament, and probably the Museum of London. Now for some sleep.


Just a day or two more

Well, as is obvious, I’m late with my post. There are two reasons: one, it’s brutally hot and humid around here now, making me useless at a keyboard, and two, I’ve gotten into the doctoral program I wanted, and have been a bit busy taking care of paperwork and the like.

I’ve gotten a bunch of hits for Seawise Camden, which I find lovely and amusing. I’m glad I gave them a positive mention, as they definitely deserve it, and are just starting out in their Stable Market location.

So. Next will be Day the Fourth, which comprises Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and the Museum of London. I don’t really have photos from the Museum of London, but I have a few from the prior two places. To make up for a lack of posting, I’ll show you a couple here.

Plants growing in cracks in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey

In the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, I found these little plants growing from cracks in the stone. They charmed the heck out of me.

Palace of Westminster clock tower

I know that neither the clock nor the tower are called Big Ben. It's the bell that chimes the hours. I'm pretty sure that globe was once, a hundred or so years ago, a proper gaslight. Which makes me squee.


Is it cheating?

Is it cheating if I’m already back home, now, and still posting about my trip? I hope not. I do plan to cover every day, and add a quick note about the Tower. It was just getting too time consuming to compose, upload photos, and post every night while still getting enough sleep to be functional the next day.

I like to think that the posts will be better, in a sense, because I’ve had time to mull over my experiences. You may not get immediate raw impressions, but I don’t think that it’s that much of a loss.

Adjusting to being back home is both easy and hard. It’s easy, because it’s home. It feels like home. I missed my Mister, and I missed the boys (we have two cats, no human children). But going from European winter (however mild) to Antipodean summer is a bit off-putting to say the least.

Also, I’ll now benefit from posting off my proper desktop machine of madness (it’s the most advanced and able computer I’ve ever owned), instead of trying to fiddle with photos on a little netbook. This is not to disparage the netbook, as it’s small and light and very nice for traveling. I would have not done well with a full-size laptop.

Anyway, I have to get some paperwork to the university before the day’s out, but I hope to post one or two days more before the end of this one, for y’all’s reading pleasure. And because I feel like a chump if I don’t post a photo, here’s one of London in the wee hours of the morning. Man, I miss that city. I really do love it.

London in the wee hours

King's Cross Road, near Pentonville Road. Gray AM light, slick slate sidewalk. I love it. Absolutely love it.


Minor delay, full post up soon.

So I’m already several days behind. The next post shall be Day the Fourth, which was Westminster Abbey, Parliament (a cool little adventure there!), and the Museum of London, an unsung hero of London’s museums.

That last part sounded weird, didn’t it.

Anyway. I had a lovely dinner tonight with a friend of mine, and it’s already 1 AM, and I want to visit the National Museum of the Middle Ages here in Paris before I get on the Eurostar for London tomorrow afternoon.

But because I’m not entirely heartless, here’s a bonus Stonehenge photo from the iPhone (all the photos in the previous post were from my proper real camera).

Stonehenge

Yes, it's Hipstamatic. I know I should be doing the work myself by adjusting aperture and shutter speed and doing post-production on my own with PhotoShop. But this just takes a click! And it came out quite handsomely, I think.


Day the Third: Road trip! And a note on expectations.

Indeed, Sunday was a trip to Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath. I haven’t forgotten the Tower, it’s just I can’t seem to find the time to write everything I want to, upload photos, and post, while still getting a decent amount of sleep and consuming enough analgesic to keep the foot demon at bay.

Brief aside: I am loving the UK. I’ve been wanting to come here for years. High school, really, let’s be honest, which would make that more than twenty years. So the truth is that my husband kindly sent me on a bit of a dream trip.

Like many people, I’ve watched a decent amount of television from the UK. BBC fare that features in blocks on PBS, usually Sunday evenings, plus documentaries by the inimitable Sir David Attenborough, and wonderful fun stuff like Dr Who and Top Gear. Television is not an accurate commentator on any society; everything ends up with hue saturation and contrast jacked up to eleven. Trust me, I spend a good bit of time describing the American middle road to my Australian friends.

So it stood to reason that I’d hyped London and Britain beyond hope in my mind for two whole decades. I was aware of the risk, knew I could have been disappointed with the real thing. But that’s not the case at all. I find myself frustrated and delighted at every turn: frustrated at how little time I have here, and delighted with all the things I experience, big and small.

So: road trip. My hostel has a deal with Golden Tours, offering discounted packages for day trips and other similar things. I picked the Windsor, Stonehenge, Bath combo. I really feel I did get good bang for my pound (I probably should have rephrased that), but the drawback is that there’s too little time in each place. It’s a trade-off, and if you’re on a trip that’s less than a fortnight, it’s a good trade-off to make. If I’d had more days, I would have dedicated more time to each place, and I sure as heck would have gone to Dover. Well, there’s next time, can’t be helped.

Anyway, Windsor first. I had no real expectations; it was a bit of a bonus, getting to see Windsor, as my main target was Stonehenge with Bath a near second.

I’m hopelessly fascinated by medieval fortress architecture. Because I’m American, all these structures pretty much live in the realms of fanstasy and RPGs. Our historical societies feel a surge of pride when they protect a building only a mere two hundred years old (and please note that I fully support the preservation of heritage, regardless of its age). Here, these buildings aren’t just important parcels of national heritage, they were historically used to protect, control, and defend strategic locations. In other words, the grafitti is genuine, miserable last words from a real prisoner looking the gallows in the eye. The pocks in the stone walls are from early cannon. People lived and died in noble and terrible ways on every stone I set foot on. Okay, more or less. But this is no movie set.

Windsor castle

This? I am not messing with it. Look at the parapets and arrow slits. No. No thanks.

Detail on arrow slit

So. What made those pock marks? Pollution? I'm not so sure.

Winding entry for invading forces

That's a long way to walk through the equivalent of a shooting gallery. No thanks. Unless it's a tourist trip, then it's lovely.

Mott and bailey

Lookit! You can see the original mott and bailey in that central tower on a hill. Squee!

So I took as many photos as I could before the bitter wind chased me into the safety and warmth of the State Apartments.

I was shamefully unprepared for this part of the trip. While I respect the royla family, I’m not all that interested in them, and in my mind Windsor Palace is a fancy place where certain people live a privileged life. Seeing how interested I am in the minutiae of everyday life, I should have known better than to dismiss Windsor as “uninteresting.”

Particularly since the first thing that blew me a way were the racks of arms and armor on all the walls. I’m a weapons geek, a fully-fledged twelve year old boy living in thie head of mine. I admit it. I spent a good bit of time gawking, but I wasn’t out of place because everyone else was, too. Granted, these days, swords shileds and wheellocks aren’t the top of the line in national defense, but I’m pretty sure many of these arms were up on the walls when they were the mainstay of a military. It’s as if the monarch was pointedly saying, “This realm is so impressively powerful that we can afford to hang hundreds of blades and firearms as mere decoration. Provoke at your peril.” Which I suppose was the point in the first place.

Now, kingly dining halls. They’re supposed to be big, grand affairs, place that impress the power of the king or queen while still making you feel at least a little welcome. And it did. I can’t remember of the wood paneling went above or below what must have been hand=painted wallpaper, but the walls went up what must be three stories, ending in a finely worked ceiling. And so much light!

The smaller chambers were even cooler because you got to get up closer to things. I particularly liked the queen’s tea room, and the ocatgonal dining room. –Speaking of which: in that dining room I saw a door whose knob was only a third the way up from the floor. It’s not the first time I’ve come across such a low handle — the outside entry to Boots pharmacy in King’s Cross St Pancras Underground Station is just as low. There must be a reason for it.

Is it like the low entry in traditional Japanese tea houses, where you’re forced to humble yourself before entering the space? If that’s the case, then what space does Boots now occupy? What was it before?

I had to rush a bit due to the whirlwindiness of the tour, so I moved more quckly than I would have liked through the remainder of the apartments. I did, however, get a chance to see Queen Mary’s dollhouse, a work of art that still blows me away when I think of it. Sadly, no photos of any interior spaces due to camera restrictions.

Afterwards, it was about another hour to Stonehenge. I tried not to fall asleep; I wanted to see the countryside. Now, I’ve seen it on TV in both American and British shows. I thought maybe it was just a particular region that was this amazingly green and partitioned with ancient hedges.

Turns out I’m wrong. England really does look like this. I have never seen grass this particular shade of green in my life, and I know my camera will not do it justice. Shakespeare meant everything he said about this “emerald isle” very seriously.

Fields

This is not the awesome green that I saw. You'll have to take my word for it.

Because I was so keen on watching the countryside, I was rewarded with two things: I got to see a chalk horse, high on a distant hill. That gave me goosebumps, I readily admit, and immediately brought all kinds of XTC songs into my head (I have that album). I was also rewarded with seeing Stonehenge emerge from behind a shallow hill as we approached.

Stonehenge

We weren't allowed to get close, which made me sad, but I understand the reasoning.

I’d been told it was in the middle of a plain with roads running right by it. I hadn’t really believed it, but sure enough it’s in the middle of a field with a road running right by it and sheep grazing so close they need an electric fence to keep them off the grounds. Not kidding. Also, I have not been as cold as I was on that windswept plain in a very long time. And I was in New York City for almost 14 years before moving to Oz. My fingers went numb working the camera; the wind bot through my layers and into my bones. I thought it was hyperbole but I assure you it is not.

More Stonehenge

I took a slew of pictures of Stonehenge. These are just two of them. You're welcome.

Now, I’m not one to believe in ley lines or druid healing or mystical things of a mean and base nature. My brain just doesn’t work that way (anymore). But there’s something about the stones that disquieting. They’re there, and they shouldn’t be there. What process brought these monoliths here? We still can’t figure it out. I know it’ll be something blindingly elegant and simple — I’ve found that a lot of neolithic solutions to problems we find complcated are like that — but until we hit upon it, these stones sit there and dare you to figure out what they mean.

I recently saw a documentary talking about new theories on Stonehenge, how it was a place where tribes met, a central location where the most important people were buried, where timekeeping and religious observations went on. More than just a calendar or observatory, more than just a temple, more than just a burial ground. I like this theory. It makes sense to me. I’ve found, as I’ve grown up and older, that for the really important things in life there’s no one simple reason for being. It’s a confluence of things, in which the absence or difference of just one of them would have led to a very different outcome. Airliner crashes are like this, too. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what archeologists learn at the site in years to come.

Finally, Bath. I know it a bit better because I dislike Jane Austen. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I dislike Jane Austen because when I was in the sixth grade in a brand new school because we’d just moved, I ended up in an English class led by a woman who was deeply Old Southern in her ways. And I was a filthy newcomer. I could have been a welcome newcomer if I’d played the little political games, the propriety games, done some sucking up and worn a dress once a week, maybe. But I didn’t. And what galled her the most was that I was smart and made good grades despite her best efforts. She once gave me a B for a project on which I did twice as well as my partner, who was one of her favorites, and who got an A.

So what does this have to do with Jane Austen? She was the author assigned to me for a research project. It could have been any author of English literature. And to this teacher’s credit, it was a great way to introduce the class to a lot of authors we wouldn’t have heard about at the age of 12. But I hated her, and she didn’t like me very much, and I held that grudge against Jane Austen, too. Completely unfair, but there it is.

On the way down the hills, I remembered my old enmity and dropped it the moment I saw the city from hillsides. It’s astonishing. Now I know why the city is used in period dramas all the time: the architecture stopped advancing after King George IV. I wish to everything I could have had more time just to walk the city, but our goal was to see the baths that gave the town its name.

I’m accustomed to Roman ruins; I spent ten days in Rome, and ten days in Spain another time. This isn’t to say I’m jaded, but Roman ruins aren’t a first-time thing for me. This said, the facilities around the bath are fantastic and well maintained. I got to see the overflow chamber, where water that doesn’t fit into the bath itself pours off with little puffs of steam. And I started to get a better sense of how the Romans changed society in Britain, and how their withdrawal from imperial lands left not only a power vacuum, but a technology vacuum as well.

Bath, in Bath.

There used to be a roof, a high arch, above the water. It collapsed and was never rebuilt.

I finished off the tour with a glass of the famous water of Bath. It’s quite warm, and very heady when you take a sip. It’s not unpleasant, it’s just unexpected and heavy with minerals. It doesn’t have a metallic or sulfurous taste, which was my worry, but you definitely know you’re drinking mineral water.

Overflow from spring

Britain's only thermal spring. Spits out something like 12 gallons a second. This is the overflow outlet; there was steam rising from the water, but it's hard to make out in the photo. Look at all the minerals making the stonework all oxidized!

As an aside, my foot bgan to heal after that day. I’d touched a stone at Stonehenge, and drank of the waters of Bath. Of course, it would have just been the diligent disinfecting and application of blister plasters I’d been doing for a couple of days, but who knows?


Day the Second: Routemasters and the Tower of London

Today was the day the blister won, but more on that later. On the way to pick up my LondonPass, I stopped by a pharmacy to get things to take care of the problem, namely antiseptic and blister bandages. I seem to be destined to hew to the Northern Line, so I grabbed a train to get me Leicester Square, the closest stop to the address listed for picking up the pass. It was listed as 11a. This is just a little misleading. The building marked 11 is on one side of the street; 11a is the basement of a kiosk in a tiny island of no man’s land between two streets.

So, know this: if you’ve pre-purchased a London Pass and need to go to 11a Charing Cross Road to get it, get off at Leicester Square, walk south, and when you get to 11 turn around and head for the little kiosk you’ll see. It doesn’t look like it could possibly have a stairway in it, but it does, a tiny winding thing. With it you get a little booklet listing all the places where the LondonPass gives you an advantage (usually admission, sometimes fast-track admission, but not always; in some places you get a free simulation ride or a free guide book in addition admission).

It is completely worth it to get this thing, I promise.

Remember what I said about liking the Tube? Still true. And I managed to take one of my favorite photos so far in Euston Station.

Train arrives at Euston Station

Sometimes, I am very lucky. The photo kami were with me on this one.

Anyway, I didn’t have much of a breakfast (my hotel, Clink 78, provides toast and cereal, but I am a carnivore and require something more substantial than that before long), so while between Leicester Square and Charing Cross I looked for a place to eat. I missed out on getting an English breakfast, as it was past 11. So I took a look at the Bear and Staff, but wasn’t really thrilled. And so I happened on the Garrick Arms. Now, after doing a bit of research, I think I would have been too intimidated to go had I known then what I know now, but I can tell you they have well earned their reputation. The staff were friendly, relaxed, and helpful. The barman recommended an ale to go with the Suffolk pork sausages I ordered, which was fantastic (unsurprisingly a Greene Knight IPA, but to my delight pulled from a cask!), and the manager (possibly the proprietor) was moving around among the customers, making sure everything was all right.

The food arrived very fast, and I ordered a side of cabbage for the heck of it. Never had it, and I enjoyed it very much. Of course, it’s quicker to list the foods I don’t like compared to those I do. Anyway, the serving size was generous: three sausages set over cheddar mashed potatoes, in a shallow bowl with just the right amount of gravy. The sausage was exquisite, cooked to almost crispy on the outside. I did take pictures of the food, but it’s very difficult to keep bangers and mash from looking at best unappetizing and at worst faintly vulgar.

Garrick Arms

Lunchtime picks up at Garrick Arms.

After geting fed well enough to keep me from getting hungry until well past dinner, I decided to walk to Trafalgar Square, since I was not far away at all. I realize the National Gallery is there. While I am interested in painting and scuplture, I only have so many days, and they’re pretty much laid out. I love taking high speed pictures of water, so I hung around the fountain at the start, watching people climb up on the lion pedestals to get their photos taken. Moving away from the gallery, I discovered the view you get, and took a couple of pictures of that.

Lion at Trafalgar

I feel like a bit of voyeur, taking a photo being posed for someone else. Can't help but like it, though.

Trafalgar fountain

Man, I love high shutter speed photos of water. And the statue is just brilliant.

Parliament

"Ooh, pretty fountain, so pretty -- oh. Had no idea that was behind me. Right."

It was getting a bit late, so I wanted to get moving to the Tower. A quick check of my map showed me the 15 bus would get me there, and I’d heard they had some vintage Routemasters on that line. Transit geekery compelled me to take the bus. And as I was looking for the stop, what should pull up but a vintage Routemaster?

Routemaster

Transit geekery! A vintage Routemaster! I love this kind of thing, I really do.

I still can’t believe no one would come up to the top deck with me. Silly people.

Routemaster interior

I only wish I could have taken this photo without some obnoxious modern storefront name in it.

More Routemaster

Vintage-looking photo for a real vintage bus. I'm quite pleased with this, and the combination of filters was accidental.

About thirty minutes later I arrived at the Tower. No waiting for me, with my LondonPass, and my timing kept its good record as I arrived moments before a Yeoman tour. My thoughts on the Tower will have to wait; I’m still mulling things, and doing a bit of research. But if you haven’t gone, and you’re going to London, go see the Tower. And do stick around for the whole Yeoman tour.

The bridge at evening

I must admit, I really like the paint scheme for the Tower Bridge right now.

Close-up of the bridge

See? Cool colors.

After the Tower, I walked east along the river, taking in the view of the Tower Bridge. By this time my foot was beginning to seriously hurt. After a frustrating search for a toilet (found a pay toilet, happy to cough up the 50p once I got to it), I ended up back along the 15 route. And what should turn up? Another vintage Routemaster! The only trouble with the heritage route is that it terminates at Trafalgar Square. I’d been counting on it to go further, so I could get off at Piccadilly Circus and take the train back up to King’s Cross that way.

Another heritage Routemaster

You can't have too much Routemaster. You just can't.

But the blister won the day. I went ahead and took a cab. What a fantastic car the London cab is! My poor cabbie didn’t sound too thrilled with my destination, expecting the worst from someone asking to go to a hostel in King’s Cross. His attutude completely changed when I remembered to give him a proper tip–the fare came to £10.80, and customarily you just round up to the nearest pound. Twenty pence is just not enough, so I bumped it up to £12, which still left me feeling a bit like a cheapskate, but he seemed genuinely appreciative.

So now, back at the temporary homestead, I’m taking things easy. I’ll try to take a shower tonight, though I’m not looking forward to it (unisex showers–fantastic). Tomorrow is Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor, so I have to make sure the foot is appeased and I get some rest, since I don’t want to sleep too much on the tour bus. Bonus: got reservations at St John Bread & Wine for after I get back. If I’m too tired to get there on my own, I might take a cab again, but that’ll break my daily spending limit (set by me as a personal exercise, not by any financial institution).


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