Saturday, 19 May 2012

A hop, skip and a jump

Took myself off to the big smoke today.  Having spent my working life in the West End, days out in London used to be a chore, but not being there everyday now I get really excited when I get the chance to go there. Today's jaunt was with my Mum. She has been wanting to go to the Charles Dicken's exhibition at the Museum of London for ages so I agreed to go with her as her designated carer. Anything could happen to her wandering the streets of London by herself, she must be watched at all times.

I skipped out of the house at 9am to the dulcet tones of the girl screaming her head off. Although I love my bunnies so very much this week seems to have been one of the longest of my life so it was so nice to have some time to myself - albeit as my Mum's chaperone (Mum don't protest, you know its true).

I LOVE museums. In fact I'm a bit of a bore about them. The Museum of London used to be my fave rave. I hadn't been there for about 9 years and was quite disappointed in the way it had changed. You can no longer view bits of the London Wall from the galleries and also my favourite exhibit (a head preserved in formaldehyde - the owner having suffered from herpes or some sort of clap!) was no longer on display. I also didn't like the way it was more commercial. But I guess museums have to make money if there are to stay "in business" and have to attract people. It was quite quiet though which was a bonus.

This dress is fantastic, can you imagine trying to get through a door in this! It reminded me of a documentary I'd seen about the Palace of Versailles where ladies just wee'd and poo'd where they were standing in the palace as it would have been too much fuss going to the toilet with the massive dresses they wore.  I personally believe this fashion should have a come back, merely for the fact that you can do your business wherever you please.

Another fabulous dress we saw...
Little girls' dress from 1952 to celebrate the coronation of Liz. I wanted it for the girl! Look at the detail of the print. Would do very well for a Jubilee party now

The Dicken's exhibition was good. Mum was disappointed (well I think she had only come out for food as the first thing she said when we met was "I can't wait for a cake") as she was expecting a bit of role play and people in Victorian dress. Extracts from Dicken's hand written manuscripts were on display which was fantastic to see where the famous characters came to life originally. We also watched a film based around his Night Walk writings but with views of London in the present day which was brilliant. It shows that London is exactly the same as Victorian times despite all the modern trappings we hold. There is still destitution, homelessness, drunkenness, coffee venders, market traders. In fact, there is probably more of a distinction between the have's and have not's today than then as we all sit in relative comfortable, centrally heated houses with our tellys, fridges, ovens and beds; whereas the homeless have nothing but a cardboard box and sleeping bag if they are lucky. The differences jar more now than then I think.  It has inspired me to read his Night Walk essays though.

I read Bleak House at the start of the year. I've had the book for about ten years and watched the BBC adaptation about six years ago so thought I ought to read it. Oh B'Jesus it was a tough one to get through. Once I start a book I HAVE to finish it, whether I want to or not as I feel like I've failed if I can't. Despite having some of the best passages in English literature:

London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full grown snowflakes – gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.

I was glad to have finished it. Great Expectations on the other hand - give me that any day.

We saw two weddings at St Paul's Cathedral
I papped her. Lots of people were looking through the railings to see the bride but no one said "wow" at her dress when she got out of the car! I must admit, if I were to get married in St Paul's I think I would have an outrageous dress on and not a run of the mill one she had on! The other wedding, Mum said quite loudly "I don't think much of her dress". I think she should have just gone up to the bride and told her. How much money does One have to have to get married in St Paul's?!

So after all this culture our mind turned to food. Mum had seen a cake shop online near St Paul's so we found that but to be honest, it didn't look that promising. It was very modern. I want afternoon tea in either a) the Ritz or b) a place like your Nan's front room so we grabbed a sandwich from EAT over the Millennium Bridge, past The Globe and had a stroll. Then, Oh My we realised we were walking towards Borough Market and we chastised ourselves for having a sandwich! When I've been before there has never been any need to buy anything as you can just go round trying the samples of everything but there wasn't much being offered for free today. Very sad. But we couldn't resist the jumbo sausage "lollies" a great butchers had on offer.

We opted for the chorizo one and shared it, although to be honest I think I could have had another four. It was sausage heaven! I did get a bit heart burny afterwards. That will learn me. I thought I had better get some cakes to take home so bought a big chocolate brownie and a Lamington which looked a bit like an old lady's choice of cake (bedecked with coconut). Oh and whilst we were at the stall we decided we ought to try the glorious custard tarts as they may well have been disgusting and we owed it to society to test them.

We wandered in Southwark Cathedral which sits uncomfortably next to the market and were happy to hear the choir practising but didn't stay long in case we got converted.

Tired, full up and needing a sit down I hopped back on the tube and train home. Had a lovely welcome, even though the husband had broken a tooth and we had a thrown together tea in the garden and christened our new picnic bench. We followed it with the above cakes and cheese and grapes (I'm soooo continental).

What a lovely, lovely day spent with my lovely mum in MY London.

"It is not a pleasant place, it is not agreeable or cheerful or easy or exempt from reproach. It is only MAGNIFICENT" Henry James 1869 on London.

Thanks for reading xxxx


  1. Love it Sian, I was right there with you 'cept I would have found the pie an' mash shop... the next time the husband has a few bob get him to buy you a Kindle, great way to read books and most of the classics are free...

  2. Thanks Nick! My view on the Kindle is a post all in itself! I can't abide it! Give me a physical book any day!

  3. Friend of Hassan21 May 2012 at 21:35

    Very good mummy, you're getting better at it already, aintcha? Very well done xxx