Thursday, August 25th–London

The Tube; St Clement Danes church; the Royal Courts of Justice; St Mary le Strand church; St Dunstan in the West church; the Ye Olde Cock tavern; Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese; the Twinings shop and museum; Temple Church; across and along the Thames; Southwark & Bankside; Southwark Cathedral; dinner at Wagamama; "Macbeth" at the Globe; Tower Bridge & the Tube back home with a late night snack from the Gloucester Road station

Best Western Cromwell



I got off to a late start this morning but it was still a very long day. Although I woke up earlier, apparently my body decided I needed some more sleep and when I finally really woke up it was 9:30 AM. I left my hotel room sometime between 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM, and it had just turned 11:30 PM when I walked back in the door to my room. It's now 12:30 AM, after I had a late snack and sorted out my prescriptions for the next seven days.

I'm kind of proud of myself. I used the London underground system for the first time this trip, and successfully planned the routes, stops, and transfers as well as riding at least three escalators that are so steep I have to keep looking straight in front of me instead of looking in the direction of travel. When I did that, I felt I might fall.

My first stop was the lovely church of St Clement Danes, which is the official church of the Royal Air Force. St C D was pretty easy to find, after a short trip on the District line from Gloucester Road. I don't understand why I keep having problems with Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone. It works fine here in my room, but when I'm actually out and about it has trouble contacting the web site or even finding the GPS satellite signals. I've had to use the maps on my home iPhone, and Verizon is glad to bill me a ridiculous amount for roaming when I do so, which is why I got the Irish smart phone in the first place.

Anyway, St Clement Danes really is a lovely, modern looking building. It might also be the church mentioned in the old rhyme, "Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement's".

It's also right down the street from the surprisingly pretty and architecturally attractive complex of the Royal Courts of Justice.

A few minutes up the road from St C D is another lovely and militarily related church, St Mary le Strand, which I had forgotten about until I walked past it. This church is associated with the Wrens, or the Women's Royal Naval Service.

I also successfully found the old church of St Dunstan in the West. This lovely old church is in the middle of a block, with buildings immediately on either side of it. It's perhaps best known for having a historic clock outside, which was the first in London to have that innovation we all know as the minute hand. Besides being an Anglican church, it is also used by the local Romanian Orthodox community. I originally thought they were two separate buildings.

I also walked past the Ye Olde Cock tavern, one of the oldest in London, but didn't go in.

And from the picture on the web site, I'm pretty sure I went by the mysterious Prince Henry's room which is not open to the public.

I needed to stop for lunch somewhere, but most of the places I passed along Fleet Street were very busy. I finally found a small sushi/bento place where there was an open small table and I had a pretty good chicken yakisoba.

I did go into the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, also famous for its literary and historical connections going back to the 16th Century. I didn't take any pictures because it's a bit of a maze of small, dark rooms.

I was also looking for the Twinings shop and museum not far away. I've always enjoyed the Twinings store in Victoria BC whenever I've had a chance to visit that city, so it was a pleasure to visit the London store with its lovely little tea related museum. If I had been coming back here by cab or even the Tube right away, instead of not until after tonight's play, I'd have bought some teas there.

My last stop on this side of the Thames was the famous Temple Church, which I eventually found only to discover that for some reason it was closed to visitors this afternoon when I was there. I might go back since the interior is supposed to be as striking as the exterior is if I'm in the area going somewhere else. I hadn't known until I was there that the Temple church is the parish church for the Inner and Middle Temples, which are two of London's ancient colleges of lawyers. The campus where the Temple church is located is quite pretty and runs along the Thames for several blocks.

I then wanted to cross the Thames on the Millennium Bridge and go by Tate Modern, but somehow I got my directions confused and went a bit further along the Thames in the wrong direction before I finally just gave up and crossed at the bridge nearest to where I was, then figured out in which direction I needed to go to get to the Tate Modern and further along to the Globe Theatre, Southwark, and the Southwark Cathedral although I did get mixed up and thought the Globe was further than the Cathedral instead of the other way around.

Looking at Google Maps just now, I realized I had actually gone all the way down near Westminster, the London Eye, and the London Dungeon in the County Hall complex before crossing over to that side of the Thames, a lot further down than I had intended to go.

I didn't get to the Tate Modern until about 4 PM and didn't feel like I had time to check it out before I needed to find somewhere to have dinner before the play, so I kept going. I got to the Globe about 4:30 PM and stopped by the box office to make sure the ticket I had printed out back home when I bought it would be fine instead of having to exchange it for one with a scannable bar code on it.

Since I was early, I decided to just wander on up to the Southwark Cathedral and hang out inside it for an hour or so before going back to the Globe. On the way up I passed the Wagamama by the Clink Prison Museum and decided I'd have dinner there. I didn't wander around taking pictures of the lovely cathedral today, just sat and read and enjoyed being there until it was time to go to the Wagamama on the way back to the Globe.

Like at the Royal Albert Hall, there are two givens about seating at the Globe–1) there is no seat with what I consider to be adequate leg room anywhere in the theater; and, 2) the only seats with backs are in the top rows of each section where you can lean back against the wall. Knowing that, I did a reasonable job with tonight's seat. It was about 2 if noon is at the middle of the stage, in the middle of the first row in the middle balcony. There was a pillar to my immediate right, which meant there was no seat just there so I could stretch that leg out when I needed to.

Tonight's play was "Macbeth" and was on the whole very well done. There are three areas of the play that are often controversial whenever it's presented–1) how do you do the three witches?; 2) how do you do Banquo's ghost at the feast? and 3) how do you stage Macbeth's vision in his final encounter with the three weird sisters? I didn't really like how any of those three were done but they worked with the rest of the production including the live music, which seemed kind of like a combination of the Dead Can Dance and Cirque du Soleil.

It was still a lovely evening after the play, so I hiked on up to the London Bridge tube station which isn't that far from the Globe, and is actually the closest to the Southwark Cathedral and the Borough Market, for the first leg of the trip back here–see the end of last night's entry for the details. There is a small shop next to the exit from Gloucester Road that was still open, so I picked up a late night snack.

It's now almost 2 AM and definitely time for bed. I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow other than another BBC Proms concert at 7:30 PM, maybe do stuff here in the immediate vicinity.

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