Tower of London
The most part of the day was spent playing the typical tourist in London atop a double-decker bus. My mom wanted to revisit the usual places since the last time she was here was about 20 years ago, which worked fine with me as I wanted to phototgraph them and equally so because her poor footsies would not be able to last a full-long walkathon.
So around we go hopping on and off wherever we pleased and leisurely enjoyed the city. My mom was also able to book us a walking tour of the Soho district which was pretty cool since I hadn't been to that part of town on any previous trips. Again, there were no brochures so the details here will again be quite scarce.
From the meeting place off Trafalgar Square we headed straight for Soho
where our guide pointed out and gave her little spiels on each place - 2i's Coffee Bar
, Ronnie Scott's
jazz club, and Bar Italia
Tower of London
Up the street was Soho Square
, across from which was Paul McCartney's publishing office, MPL Communications
. We obviously couldn't go inside, but it was a pretty bright day and from the park we could see some of the gold discs hanging on the walls through the huge picture windows. Cool, this was proving to be another rock and roll tour. We were then taken to the location of the Trident Sound Studios
where a slew of big name artists recorded their albums, the original location of the Marquee Club
- probably the most smoking venue for musicians, especially in the 80s. Somehow though, I never fail to get a visual of that Wham! video that was shot there everytime I'm reminded of this joint. Hmph. Anyway, the place has closed down and another one has opened in its wake.
On a nearby street is a record bar. Doesn't look striking at all, but it used to be another recording studio that was most frequented by the Rolling Stones.
Of course, ole grandma me can't remember the name of the original studio. A few meters away was Berwick Street
, the location of Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
album cover. I would've taken a shot right in the middle of the street but I rather felt it wasn't yet time for me to be turned into roadkill. We were then faced with a huge mural on a building with all sorts of artists on it. It was colorful and interesting but we didn't really have the time to play go look. Our guide then pointed out the Miranda Mens Club
of which Paul McCartney was part of, what else this was about I can't remember.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Damn the lack of printed information! Before the tour came to a close, we were taken to Savile Row
. Down the road at No.3 was the home of Apple Records
where the Beatles recorded songs like Let It Be. It was also up on the roofdeck where the Fab Four held their last live public performance in the UK one 30 January 1969. I didn't see this coming at all and was so thrilled that we were actually here! I meant to look for this place during the last trip but never found the time.
With the tour over, my mom and I took advantage of the free lunch that came with it. There were two choices and she wanted to try out the one at the Sherlock Holmes Pub
. It was short distance down Trafalgar Square, tucked in a busy street. I liked the place, very old and Victorian English that served delicious food.
Haha, what am I saying, I don't even remember what I had. But no, whatever it was, I remember enjoying it.
The balance of the afternoon was spent back on the upper level of a bus once more. We've been lucky so far, the weather the whole time we've been here has been cooperative for the most part. Sure it's cold and rained a bit the day before, but for people who come from the tropical neck of the global woods, the sun's presence has been a big help in keeping things in check. And then it happened. The sky turned grey and a light rain started to fall. No matter, I was well protected in my coat and the gloom does add a certain mood to photos which I like. At this point, my mother found an empty row up front where it was covered. She called me to join her but I was happy to stay in the back. But then there came this noise, like pebbles against metal. And it was loud and, ouch!! Ouch!! All of a sudden I remembered a message I received from a friend a few years back.
Oasis' album cover location
He had just gotten a Vespa and complained that he didn't realize how rain hurts at 30kph. Oh my lord, this isn't rain. It's sleet!! I immediately got up and found shelter beside my mom, and for the first time, was able to relate to my friend's experience.
If you haven't noticed yet, except for the 2 hour walking tour and the lunch, we pretty much spent the entire day on that bus just going around London! Yep, it sure did feel like being cast in National Lampoons Mother and Daughter Vacation sans the misadventures. I don't remember where we had dinner, but we made it in time for the Jack the Ripper Walking Tour
The JTR Walking Tour happens every night but I was particular on going tonight as I knew Donald Rumbelow
was scheduled to do the tour. When it comes to JTR, Don's your man.
Consultant for every major film and TV production on the subject, he's the UK's most distinguished crime historian, having been a City of London Policeman, the former curator for the City of London Police Crime Museum, and a two-time Chariman of the Crime Writers' Association. How's that for cred? The meeting place was at the Tower Bridge station and for once, my mom and I were actually one of the first to show up. Mr. Rumbelow was already there in a hat and cloak making him easy to figure out. He also had a piece of hand luggage on wheels. I'd been on a walking tour in New Orleans and the guide handed out brown paper bags with gris-gris - plastic roaches and fake rabbit's feet. Nice. Made me wonder what he had inside for us.
Anyway, unlike the small tours groups I had joined on this trip, this one grew ten, even twenty-fold! There were easily 200 people who showed up that night and Don asked some of us to join his colleague who would be starting some 5 minutes ahead of his group. Naturally, my mom and I stayed with his.
Tower of London
Retracing the infamous slasher's footsteps took us to London's East End to all the murder sites - Mitre Square, Goulston Street, Dorset Street, etc. I loved how the district has retained its dodgy and eerie feel despite the fact that it's started to pick up as a posh and artsy neighborhood. Of course, the newer buildings have refashioned the Victorian setting but it was just as thrilling for me. I especially enjoyed seeing Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church looming in the distance from the Spitalfields Market and next to the Ten Bells Pub.
If only there were some bloodstains on the pavement.
Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church
It was only after the tour that Don finally opened the hand luggage he'd been dragging all night. Inside weren't give-away play knives as I had hoped but copies of his best-seller, The Complete Jack the Ripper. I forked over my cash, had the man sign it, and went off in the dark of the night...