Hard to say goodbye to this amazing city—center of many universes that it is. But on with the schedule: we take the train to Lyon tomorrow morning. New apartment in new city in new country with new money and a new language. I have to admit that my plan to buff up my college French has not gone well, no fault to Duolingo, which is a great (and free) program.
But here’s our last look at London. (small apology and quibble–this webserver doesn’t allow me to post any pics larger than 2 MB–I’m not happy with how fuzzy most of them look when they get converted down). But onward to some observations, then more pics.
There are far more racially diverse couples and families here than in any US city we know. Most of the servers in the restaurants and pubs we’ve been to are not native-born English speakers. There are lots of all women groups in both pubs and restaurants. Beetroot jam! Two more bits of graffiti: “Patience is half way to happiness” and “Technology won’t impress me until it can download beer.”
It’s been a busy three weeks—museums, little trips out of town and lots of music. The out-of-town ventures were to Bletchley Park (the WWII decoder camp, most recently seen in the movie The Imitation Game) and Stonehenge and the neighboring standing stone circles at Avebury.
Bletchley Park was terrific—extremely well done exhibits and excellent explanations of very complicated stuff. We hadn’t seen the movie, but tried to watch it afterwards. Gave up about half way through—why couldn’t they just tell the true and totally amazing story?
Stonehenge and Avebury similarly astounding and well explained. If you haven’t been, when you do go, be sure to include Avebury in the itinerary—it is three huge stone circles that you can walk around in and touch, which you can no longer do at Stonehenge. There was a little group of Druids there holding hands; later they stuck flowers into some of the stone crevices.
Back in the city, more walks in the park, and a terrific nighttime light show that closed parts of the main streets (Piccadilly, Regent, Oxford). Museum exhibitions we visited included a wonderful Calder exhibit at the Tate Modern—he did a lot of stuff before mobiles—little wire sculptures of circus acts that moved. Very fun. Also new platinum prints of Hurley’s photos from the Shackleton Antarctica expedition, including some in color and some moving picture film, at the Royal Geographical Society. Also a terrific Charles and Ray Eames exhibit.
We trekked out to the Thames Barrier too. The engineering is quite amazing. Makes us eager to see the hold-the-water-back constructions in Venice.
Music was all classical—we heard Sir Simon Rattle conduct his new London Symphony Orchestra, Joshua Bell conduct and play with St Martins in the Field and Gustavo Dudamel conduct a Venezuelan orchestra. Each in a different venue around town.
Finally, we took the train, ferry and buses to spend a couple days on the Isle of Wight (since Peter’s turned 64—remember the Beatles’ song?). We walked 10 miles one day along the Coastal Path on the west side—huge windstorm, gusts well over 60 mph. At one point we had to hang on to a fence to stay upright.
Can’t resist this final city picture: