London Travel Blog

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Tower Bridge. But you knew that. more photos to follow.

Roughly three hours after I intended to go up to London, I finally left the house.  Dad was spending the day having needles stuck in him in the hospital, so I swallowed the guilt and went off to have fun for the day.  The journey in (once I ascertained the low emission zone doesn't apply to Little Orange Cars) was uneventful, depriving me of the chance to share funny train excuse stories with you, and I made it to Barbican without so much as a scary looking creep on the tube to riff on here.

The Barbican is a fine example of late 70s/ early 80s architecture.  I mean, you can totally see what they were trying to achieve.  But it still has the air of a big ugly concrete lump.

No idea, but it is sort of sweet
  Luckily, inside, it is pretty cool.  This is the second time I've been here - third, if you count the IT thingy I went to on a school trip when I was 14 - and the second genuinely weird exhibition. 

This time it was the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art.  The entire exhibition sort of forms one over-arching piece of concept art, in fact. It is presenting contemporary art, a lot of which puzzles the life out of me, as if it was contained in a sort of Martian version of the British Museum - "this piece of art seems to relate to some sort of kinship network" - that sort of thing.  The majority of the art was totally incomprehensible, even to me, and I like a lot of contemporary art.  Maybe I should have got the audio guide.  But the flying double bass and the totem poll made of golf bags were fun.

View from the Barbican Art Gallery foyer
  And there was a really cool display where a guy had written to loads of heads of state, giving them a tie to symbolise cultural... ties, actually.  And then the art work was all the letters, some returning the tie (the White House, the Queen, and loads of other rich nations), some saying thank you for the kind thought, and a fair few ties in return, mostly from rather amused sounding African presidents.  There were some seriously interesting ties, too.  And I amused myself trying to read the letters in the original French, Spanish or German.  Mostly I got the gist, but totally failed to even guess what the Panamanian letter said, which is embarrassing because I should have been able to guess the Spanish for "thank you for the nice tie, I appreciate the sentiment, here's one of mine.
HMS Belfast. Actually, in this murky cloud cover, she really is camoflaged. Who'd a thought it?
"  I managed for some of the other Spanish letters.  Maybe Panamanians speak a different kind of Spanish?  Maybe I'm a little thick?  Who knows?  :)

The exhibition took about an hour, all told, including reading the tie letters.  SO I'm not completely convinced it would be worth it full price.  Oh well.  I was meeting Lori at 5.30, so I had a bit of spare time to go a-wandering about the city.  After a little thought, and a brief calculation about what was left on my brother's Oyster card, I went for a walk towards the river.  By this point, I really wanted a coffee, and I thought that maybe the tower wouldn't be a bad place to look for one.

UNfortunately, when I went to the tower, none of the coffee smelt of coffee.

Facing away from the tower on tower hill
  A good cafe - hell, even a starbucks - should reek of the stuff.  If it doesn't then they're serving the more traditional British Brownish Water, one of the traditions of the UK that I will be glad to see die.  It mostly has.  Not at the Tower though.  I wandered about, ran out of camera batteries, and crossed tower bridge.  I love tower bridge, and right over the other side is Hays Galleria.  ANd Hays has a cool statue and a Starbucks. 

Naturally, the latte made really good friends with my hard-to-wash jumper.  But caffeinne and sugar are good enough to forgive. 

Initially I thought I would walk up to join Lori in Faringdon - it was only one stop from Barbican and that was about half an hour from where I was.

Why I love London - view of the Gherkin from the Tower, with both in shot
  But it was a bad idea.  The City* was emptying for the night, and the streets were full of grumpy people in suits.  Many of the grumpy people were casting disparaging looks at my lovely trainers, in a sort of "what is this scruffy person doing in my city?" sort of a way.  This would not normally bother me, but when those people are also barging into you and sighing that you delayed their journey home by 0.0003 seconds, then you kind of think that there must be an alternative route.

This alternative was to take the tube.  The tube at 5.15 on a Tuesday is as close to purgatory as... the M25 on a bank holiday, that's how close it is to purgatory.  Londoners must totally get free passes to heaven, unless they are actively evil, because 30 years on the tube would totally do the job of penance for you.

Sometimes, in London, you aren't sure if something is art, a joke, or just dumb. If this wasn't rigth outside Barbican I'd go with just dumb!
  Honestly.  It's horrible.  Even if like me, you let the first two tubes go and wait for the next one where there are actually enough air holes to get three stops without passing out.  I was soooo glad to get to Faringdon.

In Faringdon I explained to the nice Oxfam man that I was already signed up to their are you in campaign, and that my MP was sick of hearing from me about child trafficking.  He grinned, and then Lori turned up bang on time, and we went to t'pub.

I can't remember what the pub was called, but it was one of the Wetherspoons.  We had a really nice night talking nonsense, deciding that I was OK not to call my Most Recent Ex right now, and that actually, steak and pepsi for £7 was a great deal.  it was with great reluctance that I went home to see mum, and hear about dad.

The hospital have tried every single vein they can think of, and have got a painkiller line in his leg.  Tomorrow he will be well enough to visit, with luck, so I shan't be having any adventures then.

*The City, in this sense, means the square mile of towers fullof rich traders, stressed secretaries, and money.  The City of London, as opposed to London, the city, which is several miles across and has a far smaller concentration of people who care that your trainers cost you £30 and are technically last season models. 

sarahelaine says:
Thank you! It was a kinda funny day. :)
Posted on: Apr 17, 2008
lovely_lori88 says:
Sarah your writing is so funny!
Posted on: Apr 17, 2008
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Tower Bridge.  But you knew that. …
Tower Bridge. But you knew that.…
No idea, but it is sort of sweet
No idea, but it is sort of sweet
View from the Barbican Art Gallery…
View from the Barbican Art Galler…
HMS Belfast.  Actually, in this mu…
HMS Belfast. Actually, in this m…
Facing away from the tower on towe…
Facing away from the tower on tow…
Why I love London - view of the Gh…
Why I love London - view of the G…
Sometimes, in London, you arent s…
Sometimes, in London, you aren't …
photo by: ulysses