Day Two: In which I get led around by nice people

Last night I got the arch of my left foot to pop, which cured the shooting pains. Unfortunately, though today contained about half as much walking as yesterday, that was still about 40% more than my feet wanted to do. If I can survive Westminster tomorrow morning, though, I think I’ll live. After that, there will be more sitting, less walking.

So let’s continue with my perambulations, as taken (mostly) from my journal, whose formerly sleek black exterior is rapidly becoming war-torn indeed.

Dude, I was wrong! Queenhithe is still there, though deserted, maybe entirely unused. Looks maybe sixty feet square, maybe a little more. Awfully small, really; even when the drawbridge was in use (apparently its last raising was 1500), I doubt many larger craft could have fitted.

Paul’s Walk, Three Barrels Walk (eastward from Queenhithe), Three Cranes Walk. Where that meets Walbrook Wharf, the path is temporarily closed, as a crane unloads cargo from a barge on the river. Some things haven’t changed.

Using Cousin Lane to get back to the river, I notice another thing I missed yesterday: the next bit of the Thames Path is Steelyard Passage, with a pair of cannon to mark it. (This was the headquarters of the German Hanse merchants, if I recall correctly, and the guns of the Steelyard fired in honor of Elizabeth once — well, more than once, but some particularly memorable occasion — I think when Mary released her from the Tower.) I end up following another pedestrian onto Waterman’s Walk; she’s far enough ahead that I don’t see her climb over the construction barriers I vault, but she must have done, or she wouldn’t have been there in the first place. I get some odd looks from construction workers, though, and feel slightly shamed.

Walking under London Bridge, I find yet another thing I missed: what may very well be the only remaining public river stair. The entrance to it is odd, like maybe it ought to be chained off, but it’s open, so I go down, and try not to wonder what other pedestrians think of me as I shed my backpack and jacket and brave the tide-threshed waters to acquire a bottle of Thames water. (Yes, it’s a ridiculous souvenir. Yes, it might be easier at the Wapping stairs, or when I go to Hampton Court Palace, but having discovered this stair — beneath the Bridge itself! — no other place will do.)

Southwark. The ward of Bridge Without, a name which never ceases to charm me. The cathedral is spitting distance from the bridge, and very lovely, though I have to pay for a photography permit. (Permits and visitor donations are a major source of income for the cathedral’s upkeep; I don’t begrudge it much.) Here there is a monument to Shakespeare, since he was a parishioner, and also a Harvard Chapel. Yes, that Harvard. I guess he was from Southwark?

The Golden Hinde, Drake’s ship (or rather a replica thereof), is not yet open, nor is the Clink Museum. I am disappointed, but may try them on Sunday, since soon after they open I need to be at the archives of the New Globe Theatre. So I wander around Bankside to kill time, reflecting on how much tamer it is these days (where are the blood sports and the Winchester geese?). Find Bear Gardens, sans bears, and the exterior of the site of the old Rose Theatre.

I will not subject you to the next eighteen pages of my journal, as they are my notes from the archives. Suffice to say: being a researcher is the best scam ever, as it gets me into the archives of the Globe, and the exhibition itself — including a tour of the Rose site, what there is to see of it — for free. Ditto the Tower, a little while later. I may be getting eviscerated by food prices, but at least I’m not paying admission to things.

I suffer a disappointment, actually, at the archives; it turns out the reproduction costumes are still stored in the wardrobe department, and with a matinee today, I can’t get in to see them. But I do get to see the old Ophelia costume they use for a demonstration in the exhibit, and to take a million photos of other things on display. (And see above about not having to pay.) Also, the lady there is incredibly nice, and attempts to hook me up with some other museum collection; she is not to be blamed for the utter unhelpfulness of the V&A and the Museum of London, but much to be credited for referring me to another place that rents out costumes for events. I may try them on Monday; we’ll see. (The list of places to go on Monday keeps getting longer and more random. Do I really need to search out an obscure church in Deptford where a body that might not even be Kit Marlowe’s is hypothetically buried? moonandserpent, don’t answer that.)

I wrap up my business there later than anticipated, and book it to the Tower, where not only do I get in for free, another nice lady takes me places not open to the public, namely, the room in the Bell Tower where Elizabeth was supposedly held prisoner. I say “supposedly” because it turns out there’s a good chance she was actually held in the old medieval palace inside the Tower, as would befit a prisoner of her rank. But the Bell Tower is the popular story, as is the idea that she came in through the Traitor’s Gate (the Byward Tower postern is more likely). I’m pretty sure Shekar Kapur ran with both of these in his movie, and I may fudge it myself. Ah, the joys of historical fiction, where people may complain you got it wrong, when in fact you’ve just done more research than they have.

Now, as last night, I face a dilemma: how the hell does one find an affordable supper in this area? The entire place closes down at 6 p.m., just about, and I got gouged for a thirty-dollar dinner last night. Might be time to venture into Covent Garden and see what I can find there.

0 Responses to “Day Two: In which I get led around by nice people”

  1. drydem

    finding affordable food in london is pretty hard. There are places, but few and far between. Try Indian.

  2. ckd

    The West Cornwall Pasty in Covent Garden is pretty good and not so expensive as everything else (though with the USD-GBP exchange rate where it is, nothing’s going to be cheap).

    • Marie Brennan

      The real challenge was combining cheap, nearby, and open at later hours. Covent Garden failed the “nearby” requirement, which tended to matter after a day full of walking.

  3. kendokamel

    It sounds simply marvelous!

    There was this dive of a local place that I ate at multiple times, when I was in London several years ago. I wish for the life of me that I could remember where it was, because it had the most delicious food… and I never spent more than about 5 pounds per meal.

  4. sapphohestia

    There was a pizza place just over one block down from the streets that run perpendicular from Great Russel St., right in front of the British Museum. The pizza was good, thin crust, and cheap. I can’t quite remember the name: it was two words and seemed kind of uninspired (not a person’s name), something like pizza cafe, or first pizza, or something like that. But the food was great, and cheap. Probably on Coptic Street or Museum Street.

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