It's now about 10:45 PM and I got back from a late dinner a little while ago. I didn't actually go to dinner all that late but just took my time over it.
Today was quite enjoyable, with weather that I thought was almost shorts warm if you were in direct sunshine and the wind wasn't blowing. When I was in the shade and in the breeze I was glad I was wearing my fleece vest, though.
I started the morning by sending my podcaster friend Alan a text message asking him to call me if he were up and about and we talked somewhere around 10 AM. We're going to meet for coffee somewhere closer to his home area at the Clapham Junction rail station, in a part of London I've never been to before. The past two times we've met, Alan has driven over to this area from his home so I'm pleased to meet him on his home turf.
I then sent Jorge, my construction manager, a long text message reminding of what we had talked about yesterday with my email and other contact information, my Heritage insurance claim number, and the names of and contact information for my Heritage adjuster and United Water project manager, and asked him to please remember to get back to me via email with a progress report when he can.
I actually had to send it twice since the first time I did so I hadn't turned airplane mode off on my home iPhone and had to retype and resend the whole thing after I'd done so. That was a bit annoying.
I had thought of going to five different places today, and had mapped out how to get to the first one and then walk from one to the other and how to get back here. I was going to go to, in orderthe Cenotaph , which I don't think I've ever knowingly been near; St Margaret's church, which I've never been to but have been past, near Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament ; the Abbey itself; the Jewel Tower, one of the few surviving bits of Westminster palace, which I've also never been to before; Westminster Cathedral; and finally the Queen's Gallery which quite frankly is the only part of Buckingham Palace I'm interested in. I decided to take the morning off and just go to the Cenotaph, the Jewel Tower, and the Queen's Gallery today and save St Margaret's, Westminster Abbey, and Westminster Cathedral for tomorrow or Saturday. I'll go to the Museum of London, St Paul's and Tate Modern whichever day I don't go to St Margaret's and the Abbey and Cathedral.
On my way out I stopped by the reception desk to let them know I am actually leaving next Monday, the 17th, as I'd originally made my reservation. I also asked about how much their usual drivers charge for trips to Heathrow terminal 3 (about 50 GBP, which I think is less than the cab) and when I should be picked up to get to the airport in plenty of time for a 1:40 PM flight (about 9:30 AM). They suggested I wait and ask them Friday morning to actually reserve the ride so I'll do that.
The Cenotaph was quite easy to find and is worth making a visit to at least once if you're in the area. It is of course much more important a symbol than it is a physical artifact.
I could tell there was or was going to be something going on in the immediate area, which is not only near Parliament but the headquarters for the Ministry of Defense is very close and of course Buckingham Palace is not far either. I could see a large police presence, some of whom had automatic weapons, and streets were being closed off.
I got a little confused and turned around getting from the Cenotaph to the Jewel Tower and sort of just wandered around parts of the Westminster Abbey complex before I got within sight of the Tower. It's at the end of a very nice small park, with several benches, so before I went on over to the Tower I just sat on one of them and read a couple of chapters in the book I was readingReady player one, by Ernest Cline, which I read last shortly after it originally came out a couple of years ago. Then and now I found the book to be quite absorbing and enjoyable, since it's set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of the population throughout the world spend most of their lives in an all encompassing virtual world.
I wound up taking far fewer pictures today than I usually do, for technical reasons. Shortly after I left the Cenotaph I noticed that for some reason the eye piece on the Nikon I'd bought almost exactly a year ago no longer worked although the back digital display did. I used that for a while until the battery I had in the camera failed, and so did the supposedly charged spare battery I had with me did the same. I think when I get home I'll see if I can find somewhere to take it in for repairs. So I wound up taking pictures on my iPhone the rest of the day, which is for some reason even more of a two handed job than using the Nikon is. I'd normally be looking online right now for somewhere to go here in London to buy a new camera since I don't want to have to use my iPhone all the time, but shortly before I left on this trip I had received a reminder from Best Buy that the service agreement I'd bought when I got my then new Sony digital camera last Spring was going to expire. That camera died when I was in Armagh shortly after I got to Ireland last summer and never came back on even if I replaced the batteries with ones that were supposedly charged which is why I then bought the Nikon. Before I left home I was going to take the Sony in to Best Buy to have it fixed and tried it with newly charged batteries and oddly enough it came back on and seems to still be working. The Nikon has a better zoom lens but the Sony does have a feature I like better than the Nikonthe Sony's lens has an automatic zoom which means I can often use it one handed.
There is not much to see in the Jewel Tower itselfkind of like with the Benjamin Franklin house, there's very little furniture in it but there is quite a bit of well done and informative signs about the place and its history.
Before I left to walk over to the Queen's Gallery I sat on one of the benches at the other end of the park where I could hear some kind of rally going on from what sounded like the direction of Parliament.
I got a bit confused again making my way over to the Queen's Gallery and spent a bit more time wandering around the Westminster Abbey estate before I got back to a main road and onto the Google Maps directions. Along the way I stopped at a very small Asian noodle place for some quick, pretty good and inexpensive vegetable gyoza and somewhat spicy chicken udon. I couldn't sit at the tiny stools and high counters inside but one of the two tables outside were open.
The Gallery was pretty easy to find and not that long of a walk. I rather enjoyed it, the building itself and much of the art inside. The British monarchy owns one of the largest collections of works by Canaletto in the world and that was the special exhibit this time. This Gallery and the Queen's Gallery in Edinburgh seem to operate the same waythey run a series of special exhibits and display only works from the collection that are appropriate to that chosen theme.
It would have been a bit complicated to get back here by Tube and I was tired of walking so I took a cab back from the Gallery to Gloucester Road. Traffic downtown was even more crowded than usual. When I mentioned to the cabby that I had thought I could hear a demonstration over by Parliament earlier he said I probably did, but that there was also a state visit to Buckingham Palace and somewhere else some Formula 1 race car drivers were being greeted. Once we go to Harrods Gloucester Road was pretty busy so he decided to take a back way around to the Station.
I got back there shortly after 4 PM. Instead of seeing if I could find a seat at the Starbucks for an iced coffee or at the Stanhope Arms for a pint, I decided to go to the Richoux across the street for the traditional afternoon tea with its finger sandwiches, scone, and pastries and it was all wonderful.
Afterwards I just came back here to my room and hung out until I went back out for dinner around 8 PM. I went back to the Comptoir Libanais around the corner, where I had their mint tea iced, their mixed grilled meats with lovely rice, and their amazing baklawa sampler with small pieces of six different types of baklawa.
And now it's 11:30 PM. Time to check my email and see if there's anything from my insurance adjuster or contractor.