Jet-lag is a mysterious thing; there are all sorts of remedies for getting over the time differential quickly and for lessening its impact, but nothing beats a nice long sleep, which we enjoyed last night – such a long sleep that Gerry and I awoke just four short minutes before he was to meet his colleagues this morning! There definitely was some scurrying around to get him out the door swiftly.
My morning was much more leisurely. After showering, I located a local grocery store and wandered the aisles finding fruit, cheese, bread …. and DR. PEPPER! We have a small frig in our room where we can store these goodies for our convenient use. I made a small lunch with some of my purchases, then headed for the Strand, a busy London boulevard steeped in history. Rick Steves’ guidebook was my companion as I wandered down the street (which changed names at least three times, from “The Strand” to “Fleet Street” to “Ludgate Hill”).
Favorite stop #1: St. Clement Danes’ Church, one of 50-some churches Christopher Wren built way back in the 16th Century; many were destroyed over the years, but 23 still exist in original and restored states. This one was heavily blitzed in WWII and when it was restored, it was designated as a memorial and remembrance for the Royal Air Force. Books of Remembrance line the walls with the names of all those airmen who died in the war; one book is dedicated to the Americans who fell:
Favorite stop #2: Twining’s Tea Shop.
The shop exists in its original 1706 spot and dimensions; it is VERY narrow, but loooonnng with its interior sides filled with all sorts of tea. A small jar of tea leaves by each flavor can be opened and sniffed, which was fun for me to do. At least five kinds of tea are available for tasting at the back of the shop; I chose jasmine tea and enjoyed its fruity refreshing flavor.
“Now that’s cool” stop — The Old Bank of England pub – a modern-day pub installed in a lavish late-Victorian interior:
“It IS spring somewhere!” stop: Off the main drag, reached by following one of the many narrow lanes that shoot off the street (Samuel Johnson: “Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must … survey the innumerable little lanes and courts.” I read this on a plaque, then did what it said.), I discovered a touch-of-spring garden. With the Royal Courts of London on one end of this street and Old Bailey off to the side, the Inns of Court provide a get-away for the lawyers that serve the legal system. There are apartments, fountains, and greenery with lawyerly-looking folks striding about the sidewalks.
A “Now is that really the truth?” stop: St. Bride’s Church, Wren’s tallest with a 226-foot stacked steeple, is supposedly the inspiration for the modern-day wedding cake. A Fleet Street baker, gazing out his shop window at St. Bride’s Church, was inspired to make the first multi-layered cake ever. Hmmmm– Of greater interest to me were St. Bride’s (The church is dedicated to St. Bridgit – or Bride – of Kildare; the name has nothing to do with the fact that bridal cakes look like the church’s steeple.) crypts.
WWII blitz bombs excavated St. Bride’s so deeply that layers of earlier history were suddenly accessible, layers from as far back as the Roman occupation. Artifacts from throughout history, from the structures that were built in this spot (almost always associated with some sort of church), are displayed in chronological order.
The most humorous was this newspaper clipping from 1830 detailing the case of one George Gunn, who was arrested for snoring in church:
My goal for the day was to reach St. Paul’s Cathedral, which I did just before 5 p.m., just in time for Evensong. Sitting right below Sir Christopher Wren’s splendid dome, listening to the reverberating choral voices, soaking in the aesthetic, and speaking the words to the Apostles’ Creed with others from around the world was a great way to end the day.
Gerry spent his day doing Doyon things; he says my day sounded much more interesting than his, but I know talking geology all day is something he enjoys and at which he is quite good. The APPEX conference actually begins tomorrow and he’ll be giving a professional talk on Wednesday.