Friday, January 6th, London

Wifi troubles; by Tube to the Baker Street station; Sherlock Holmes museum; lunch at the Volunteer; by Tube to the Guildhall and a tour of its art gallery; by cab to Trafalgar Square; a pint at the Chandos; dinner again at Prezzo; the Brandenburg Symphonia at St Martin in the Fields; by cab back to my hotel & learning some bad news from home on the way

Best Western the Cromwell



I had a very pleasant day despite a change for the worse in the weather followed by another excellent and very enjoyable concert only to have my cabby on the way home tell me some disturbing news which might impact my flight home on Sunday.

I started this morning by doing something that resulted in my not being able to connect my laptop to the hotel's wifi. I could connect on my Kindle Fire, my home iPhone, and my Samsung with the UK SIM card but not on my laptop. I managed to get connected again a few minutes ago.

The best part about being able to connect to the wifi on my laptop is I can open several windows and connect to different web sites at the same time, like looking up somewhere I was interested in going to in one window, looking up a different place in a different window, and using a different window to look them up on Google Maps and figure out how to get to each place and from one place to another. This morning I had to use my Kindle Fire and one of my smart phones at the same time to do what I can do simultaneously on my laptop.

I wasn't in a hurry to get going today since my last concert at St Martin in the Fields wasn't until 7:30 PM. This morning when I was looking up where I might want to go today I decided to skip going to the churches I mentioned last night, and just go to the Sherlock Holmes museum then go to the art gallery at the Guildhall and maybe see the medieval Great Hall there if I had time and it was still open. I thought I'd then walk to the Monument to the victims of the Great Fire of London and over to the Tate Modern before heading over to Trafalgar Square and St Martin in the Fields.

I had one of my Slimfasts for breakfast and headed out of here around noon. I took the Tube over to the Baker Street station. I enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes museum although I found parts of visiting it annoying, at least when I was there. You have to of course go all the way to the back of the very nice gift shop to buy your ticket and then go back out through the gift shop and back outside where you stand around in line to be let into the museum itself in small groups. When I was there buying my ticket it was very crowded in the store with people blocking the aisles. The museum itself is in a series of small rooms, usually two to a floor, over four floors of a narrow townhouse. Inside they do a very good job of recreating rooms and scenes with period furniture and decorations and often match the original illustrations in the Holmes stories and novels as first published. There were several groups of people together on the tour when I was there, who each had to take a selfie or have a picture taken of themselves in front of a piece of furniture or statue or wearing a hat. I basically just waited until everyone else had left the room I was in so I could take pictures.

Nowhere in the material that I could see there do they even mention that the address of the museum itself, 221B Baker Street, is actually as fictional as Holmes and Watson. At the time Conan Doyle was writing 221B didn't exist which is why he used it. According to Wikipedia it wasn't until 1932 that a building encompassing 219-229 Baker Street was built. In 1990 the Sherlock Holmes museum put out a plaque claiming it was sited at 221B although technically & officially it was between 237 & 241. It wasn't until the company located at the real 221 closed in 2005 that the dispute about who was really at 221B ended and that street number assigned to the museum.

While I was waiting in line to get into the museum I noticed that right up at the next corner was what I hoped was a nice pub. It was about 2 PM when I came back out and I was ready for lunch, and I'm glad the place did indeed turn out to be a nice pub, the Volunteer. I had a tasty pint and very good sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy.

After that I took the Tube over to the station nearest the Guildhall and walked the rest of the way. I got there just about 3 PM, right on time for the short tour of the gallery's highlights. I really enjoyed the gallery, the paintings there, and Ian, our guide. One of the painting he showed us is on loan to the gallery and depicts a couple of ravenous polar bears going through the remains of the Franklin Arctic expedition. Before I left after our tour I asked Ian if he'd heard the song "Lady Franklin's lament". He hadn't so I suggested he look for it on YouTube since they have several different performances of it. The first version I ever heard of it was this one by Pentangle.

Although the gallery dates at least as far back as 1885, with some 17th Century material in the collection which is owned by the City of London itself, the current building only dates back to 2002. It was supposed to open several years before, but when routine archaeological survey work was going on prior to beginning construction everyone was amazed when the remains of London's Roman amphitheater was discovered. Anyone who pays the low admission cost is allowed to wander around the small gallery on their own but the free guided tours are the only way you can access the amphitheater. I really enjoyed the whole thing.

I left shortly after 4 PM. I had been told that the medieval Great Hall in the Guildhall itself would still be open until 4:30 so I should have time for a quick pop in. That might have been true, and I might have tried to go in the wrong exit, but everything on that side of the courtyard seemed to be closed.

It had started raining by now so not only was it cold but cold and wet. I decided I'd give the Tate Modern a pass since I'm not the biggest fan of modern art anyway, and just catch a cab on over to Trafalgar Square. I figured if I could find nowhere else to kill some time that had a short table and place to sit, instead of high bar stools, I could hang out in the Café in the Crypt until the concert and have dinner there.

I first went to the Chandos, the older pub right there on the Square. It wasn't too busy when I got there about 5 PM so I found a small table in a little nook which I had all to myself for about half an hour, then I was invaded by two different groups before I left.

Prezzo, the Italian place there on the Square I'd been to earlier on this trip and when I was here last July and also in July 2015, didn't look too busy and I was able to get a small table upstairs right away. I had some delicious butternut squash soup followed by a pasta dish with mushrooms and asparagus.

Tonight's concert was by the Brandenburg Sinfonia, the small ensemble I heard last week at the performance of Handel's "Messiah". They were an even smaller ensemble tonight, often just a string quintet, although they were joined by a trumpet for the first and last numbers. It was also different that tonight the director also played a small electric parlor organ, which also differed from any other similar organ I've seen before because the keyboard was high enough it has to be played standing up instead of sitting.

Tonight's program was music from the Baroque. Some of it was just instrumental, but they were joined by a soprano for the last piece in the first half and two pieces in the final half. And except for Pachelbel's "Canon" everything else was something I don't think I've heard before.

The first piece was the wonderful trumpet overture from Henry Purcell's "Indian queen". Next was the Pachelbel. That was followed by the interesting and enjoyable "Oueverture des nations anciens et modernes" by Telemann. The last piece in the first half was the "Gloria" by Handel for the ensemble and the soprano soloist.

The second half opened with the soprano solo "Rejoice greatly" from Handel's "Messiah" followed by the aria "Heart the seat of soft delight" from Handel's "Acis & Galatea". Next was Mozart's "Divertimento in F". For the final piece the strings and the director playing the organ were joined by the trumpet and the soprano for Bach's "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen".

I had decided that if it wasn't raining or if I couldn't get a cab quickly I'd walk up the street to the Leicester Square Tube station and take the Tube back here but it was still raining and I caught a cab almost immediately. I had a nice chat with the cabby and after I told him I'm from Ft Lauderdale and would be flying back home on Sunday he told me that five people had been shot to death in the baggage claim area at the Ft Lauderdale airport earlier today.

When I was checking the paperwork for my flights home on Sunday I noticed I'd somehow thrown away my receipt for prepaying for my private shuttle from the airport home which I need to show the dispatcher at the Ft Lauderdale airport. I briefly turned roaming back on for my home iPhone and called my local office of the Go Airport Shuttle and was told I needed to call their national number instead. The local office gave me my receipt number and the national phone number and the person I talked to emailed me the relevant receipt and information a few minutes ago. I might see if I can have someone at the reception desk print it out for me sometime tomorrow.

What am I going to do on my last day here in London on this trip? I had planned on going out to Hampton Court Palace because I was pretty sure I'd seen that their Winter festivities were still going on through this coming weekend but when I checked a couple of days ago I didn't see them listed, so I don't think I'll go there.

The first thing I have to do is drop a last load of laundry off downstairs before 8 AM. I might come back up and take a bit of a nap after breakfast. It's now almost 1 AM, so let's see how well I sleep tonight. Then I think I probably should call Lufthansa at Heathrow just to confirm I'll be able to fly home Sunday morning. If I can leave as scheduled, I think I'll ask at the reception desk if they can arrange a ride to the airport at 6 AM Sunday for me.

I've always wanted to visit the Petrie museum of Egyptian archaeology at University College London. I still haven't been to the Churchill war rooms or the Jewel Tower. Or I might go back to the Tate Britain. I'll see.

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