Saturday, February 21, 2009

Follow every rainbow

The next day we headed to Greenwich, for the day I will subtitle "The Day of Walking." After our last trip on the DLR, we were excited to take it to Greenwich. Sadly, our stop was under construction so lift was out. And the escalators. And remember how the DLR is elevated? Only at certain stops, it goes underground for the stop itself, so we had to climb stairs to get out. Over 8 flights. I lost count in there somewhere, along with my breath. The husband carried J, and I carried the stroller (it collapses into a backpack-like contraption, unwieldy but manageable empty), and we almost died. In fact, I thought the elderly woman, there with her grandson behind us, really would die as she got further and further behind me. Eventually, we made it and headed over to the Royal Observatory by way of the Maritime Museum grounds. There were all kinds of Christopher Wren sights we missed along the way, but J really isn't as into architecture as one might imagine. But the Prime Meridian? Well, he could really get behind that one!

That is, until we saw the Royal Observatory, picturesque in the distance...and at the top of a VERY steep hill. I mean really, it was steep. We think it was at least a 20% grade. Of course, one would expect an observatory to be at the top of something, one (read me) just didn't expect that one would have to climb to the top of that something. People were dropping like flies on the way up and zooming down precariously. The husband took on the task of pushing J up, and the fact that he was in a stroller made very little difference in the husband's overall burden, believe me. But then we arrived and were able to stand in both hemispheres at once, see all kinds of clock and time contraptions, look at a camera oscura, and generally revel in the mass of information there. One display was called "When time stood still" and invited patrons to fill out cards describing the moment when time stood still for them. Most were the usual, marriage, birth, death, etc., but one was a person after my own heart: "Time stood still for me the day Christopher Eccleston turned into David Tennant on Dr. Who." Priorities, people!

Next we visited the National Maritime Museum. The husband saw much more than I did, Baby J having fallen asleep after his exciting trek up to the Observatory and death-defying plunge down, but what I did see was interesting, in a "man, this museum is all about ships!" sort of way. We also visited the Queen's House, the summer place of, well, a queen, known for it's impressive Tulip spiral staircase decorated with lilies in wrought iron (which people thought looked more like tulips, hence the name). The rest of the house is empty except for lots of art. A strange place, really. I think much more could be done here, given the intensity of the surrounding sights.

We decided to go to a different DLR stop because that would allow us to walk under the Thames. Unfortunately, the lift on our side of the river was out, so down we went, 8 more disappointing flights of spiraling stairs, then the long walk under in the cold tunnel filled with bicyclists patently ignoring the many posted injunctions to walk their bikes (but can you blame them? The Thames is wider than you might think!). Helpfully, the lift at the other side was operating, a lift the size of your average bedroom, octagonal in shape with wood paneling. I'd show you a picture here, but we were strictly forbidden to take them (more signs). Why? Because the Brits don't want us to know they have some sort of crazy giant lift technology they don't utilize anywhere else? Who knows!!

That night, I visited Primark in the evening while the husband put J to bed. I thought that perhaps the crowds might have thinned by then. I was wrong. If anything, there were more people and more employees in funereal black uniforms, folding clothes as if their lives depended on it and growling at customers who might need to find a size on the bottom of a pile. I did manage to get two cute shirts and would have gotten more but the place was actually more than I could bear, shopper that I am, so I headed instead to get a few more groceries on the way home.

That was a VERY long day!

Day 12: stitches removed "remotely," trip to pharmacy for plasters and baby food, H&M, Sir John Soane's museum for me and Hunterian Museum for the husband and Baby J, Covent Garden Market with schlock and street performers (cured me for Camden), Leister Square and Picadilly Circus craziness.

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