Today and tomorrow are my museum days.
I don’t recall, as I write these notes, who it was in the comments to last year’s trip journal that recommended the Museum in Docklands to me, but thank you, whoever you were. By going there, I get a first-hand view of the fabulous model of the old London Bridge. It’s excellently conceived; the structure is split down its length by a translucent wall, so that the east view shows the bridge circa 1400, while the west side shows it in 1600. I saw some online pictures before (which were invaluable for a certain MNC scene), but in person it’s even better, with excellent accompanying panels.
It’s a cool museum in other respects, too. I may have to pay it a return visit for future books, if the docks end up playing any role; many parts of the exhibit have nice models, and there are a couple of reconstructions you can wander though (including one that reeks — presumably for authenticity). Alas, I’m going to miss their Jack the Ripper exhibit entirely — it opens the day I leave — but the current one on sugar and slavery has me pondering ways to include an African character or two in this book or the next. (Or both.)
But I can’t motivate myself to give more than a cursory glance to the material that substantially post-dates this book — which is most of the museum — so I end up zooming through the rest and finishing by lunchtime. Now, what do I do with the remainder of my day?
I go hunting more seventeenth-century building survivals. After detouring by the Stone to see if a cloudy day produces a better picture, I head west, to see what the liberties of London have to offer.
The answer is: some boring architecture and some gorgeous gardens. Seriously, the brick buildings put up after the Great Fire are just . . . uninteresting. The Inner and Middle Temples, however, which I wander through on my hunt, have lovely gardens, both in sight and scent. I take frequent breaks, and not because I need them. Back to architecture, though — I find I pefer the timber-framed look of Prince Henry’s Room on Fleet Street, which is more characteristic of pre-Fire styles. (Though I remind myself that the plaster between the beams would hardly have been that pristine. And, y’know — flammable bad, yo.)
Pie Corner is, well, a corner, that happens to have a fat little gold-painted cherubic boy stuck into the side of a building, supposedly to mark the furthest extent of the Fire in that area. Not true, but that’s the story. (And maybe I can play with that in my story.) Apparently my camera does not like the cherub, because it refuses to take a picture. I think it’s trying to tell me its battery is low, but as I don’t think I’ve ever drained it before, I can’t be sure. So I head back to the hostel.
It’s a good break. I recharge my camera, my computer, and myself. Nobody else is in the room, so I stretch, which is the best idea I’ve had all week. My restored camera then still refuses to take a picture, which is when I notice the dial on the top got spun around to a new setting. I have no idea what it was set to do, but putting it back in the usual place gets me a working camera again. Oh well — I’ll be heading close to Pie Corner if I do a certain stupidity tomorrow, so I’ll get another chance.
Down Cannon Street I go, having noticed the other day that it has places which not only serve dinner but do so for a price lower than my arm and both my legs. Except that in the place I choose, the things they label “Bigger Dishes” turn out to be what most people would call “Dinner.” My cunning plan of frugality nets me rather less food than I had expected: the dish they put in front of me barely qualifies as an appetizer. Apparently if I actually want to conserve money, I should eat at McDonald’s every night. (I freaking hate the exchange rate. Even Wasabi, which by local standards is both cheap and plentiful, costs me about ten dollars.) I end up stopping by Yo Sushi on my way back to the hostel and buying some edamame off the conveyor belt in the delusion that this will somehow turn what I’ve eaten into an actual dinner.
There may yet be a candy bar in my future, after I’m done typing this.
My evening entertainment is a DVD I purchased online, that’s sold in the Museum of London store: Fire and Fever, the story of the Great Plague and the Great Fire. (I really think it should have been Fever and Fire, which would be chronological.) It’s unimpressive, frankly, but oh well. It doesn’t require exertion on my part, and it keeps me from thinking about how little I’ve had to eat.
Yeah, typing the description of “dinner” made me hungry again. Can you tell?
And that was my third day. Tomorrow: the Victoria and Albert Museum, and possibly some stupidity in the late afternoon or early evening.