Perhaps there are no free lunches when it comes down to it, as there are always trade-offs, but the good news is there really are free museums in England, which is awesome.
On one particular day in London, I wanted to see Diana’s memorial in Hyde Park and then go off to Churchill’s Pub in Notting Hill. On the bus ride I snapped some photos of cool old tile work on the side of an old auto showroom which is now an art gallery or some such thing.
Doreen, Les, and I got off the bus near Albert Hall to see Albert’s gold gilted memorial encased in scaffolding across the road in Hyde Park. From there we walked off on a quest to find the memorial for the late Princess Diana and after a few queries, and a lot of walking following signs which made little sense in the end, we arrived at the anti-climatic Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial. I assume the artist’s heart was in the right place, but the actual placement of the memorial was off the beaten track and smaller than I had imagined. The different ways the artist had created the water to flow in the circular stream, and how it rippled and bubbled, was an imaginative concept, but the geese left their markings in various places on the concrete structure making it look pretty unkept and a less than flattering memorial to a young woman who was married only to bear children for the crown, gave her time to charities only to be hounded by the press, and left this life too soon leaving two young boys motherless. However, it was pleasant to wander around it as the 3 of us gave our interpretations all the while I took photos. There was also one odd duck whom I had to photograph as he appeared to be only one legged and looked like a cross between a goose and a mallard.
From there we hopped a cab for Churchill’s and had fun looking at the flower laden exterior as well as the various oddities hanging around off the ceilings, on shelves, mantlepieces, you name it. I spoke with the manager of 29 years about his watering techniques for both the roof (sprinkler system and a couple of “lads” who helped him) as well as the back restaurant’s hanging garden (he waters those by hand). I knew of this place only by a random photo posted on Facebook and then research done to track it down. Wasn’t hard to find.
This was the kind of pub where one can feel comfortable over a pint, however, since it was only 11 a.m., we asked for coffee and when I heard it would be the instant kind, I asked for tea. Oh, and a very odd thing was that the restaurant in the back was not a typical British-fare variety of English pub food but rather THAI FOOD of all things. Weird as hell, in my opinion.
Doreen went off to work and Les again ferried me about London on buses and taxis to see the museums. The Natural History Museum was high on my must-see list after I had seen a random photo of the building on Facebook months ago. What a beautiful building! After I took loads of photos we bee-lined to the Vault and the gem room. More gorgeousness was there for the eye to behold. And, for my 7 year old grandson Gabriel's benefit, I had to see and photograph the dinosaurs to email him the photos.
Across the street from the Natural History Museum was the V&A Museum, aka Victoria and Albert.
We didn’t have loads of time to spend before it was time to get dinner before the theatre, so again, we bee-lined, this time through some impressive sculptures, to the gems. These were more in the form of old jewelry settings and were just exquisite. My mom would have loved this exhibit… On that note, being in London with our new family has made me feel a little bit melancholy that she isn’t here to meet our “long lost cousins” too. But if some Medium was here to tap in to the Beyond, I bet they would say something like, “Your mom is so pleased that you have had this opportunity to meet your grandfather’s side of the family after 63 years. And your mom also wants them to know how happy she is that they had never given up on finding her.”