Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The London of Tower

My day off in London went really well and was super-relaxing. I took the 8:45 train, which got me to town at about 10:30. I'd finished the last of my books (The Savage Garden, which was ok) earlier in the weekend, and hadn't had a chance to pick up a new one. I've since started Edward Rutherford's London, which I thought would be way too heavy to take on the train. Anyway, I ended up doing something that I hate: going on a train with no reading material. ACK. I did have my iPod, though, so I looked out the window and listened to the Verdi Requiem and some Kate Rusby.

I then did a little shopping in town which will remain secret until after May 1 (Mom's birthday), but was v. enjoyable. I walked over to Covent Garden and met our friend M. at 'Food For Thought'. It's an earthy-crunchy vegetarian place with very few seats and even fewer menu options. We got there bang on 12, which was good because we were third in line and got our food and a table relatively quickly. I had really tasty quiche and salad (they give you pasta salad, green salad, and a bean/grain salad). V. cheap and tasty. By the time we left at 12:40, the line was up the stairs and out the door. Not sure where all those people work that they have time to queue for 40 minutes during their lunch hour.

At 2, we went to the Transport Museum to meet up with my friend Nate, who I used to babysit for and who was in London. I was really impressed - he's a senior in high school and had completely organized a trip to London for spring break with a bunch of his friends. My senior spring I went on a chaperoned trip to France that I had nothing to do with planning. It was awesome and fun, and I can't imagine the logistics of having planned it myself!

Anyway, it was me, Nate, and 9 of his (girl)friends. M. set off to do some shopping and other fun things, and we found N + 9 some lunch and then bussed over to the Tower of London. I'd forgotten what it was like traveling with a clump of highschoolers - it's like herding cats. Granted, Nate seemed to have Pied-Piper-like ability to lead them wherever - we'd set off and they'd just troop along behind. It was cracking me up.

Right as we got inside the tower (while I was feeling v. virtuous and frugal for having printed off a 2-for-1 coupon that went with my eye-wateringly expensive train ticket), they announced that a tour would be leaving in 5 minutes. We decided to hop on the tour, with the option to abandon if it wasn't any good. Our Beefeater was FUNNY. And a really good storyteller - one of those people who makes leading a group tour look completely effortless. He had us eating out of his hands - 'ooh'-ing and cheering at his stories. There was a little boy on our tour who thought he was great, and the Beefeater kept trying to scare him with gruesome beheading stories. I don't know who was laughing more: the Beefeater, the boy, or the rest of the tour. Here he is, mid-story:

Here we are in front of a guard (had to do the tourist shot to prove to our parents that we were, in fact, there):

We saw the crown jewels and sped round the rest of the tower, which was closing and it was clear that all the docents were ready to go home.

Loved this sign:

Most of the group peeled off and went back to their hostel to prep for a big night 'out'. Nate and two friends and I went to a Thai restaurant that I had found on the interwebs, although we were somewhat delayed by the fact that I had completely misread the map and marched us in the wrong direction for 10 minutes. Had to ask a v. nice City commuter who corrected my pronunciation of the street and then pointed us in the right direction. Once we got there, food was v. tasty and relatively cheap for central London. They did attempt to add a 12.5% service charge to our bill, which I merrily crossed out (and then left a tip on the table). Pah...we may look like tourists but I'm a LOCAL now, bitches.

Last night, I went to Old Newton to ring the bells, where I had two minor bell-milestones. First, I rang the treble for Plain Hunt on 5 bells (which I'd done, muted, on 4, and counted along with for weeks and weeks). Then I let down a bell (on purpose) all by myself. I caused much laughter in the tower when I took a slightly larger coil in the rope than I meant to, and was lifted off the floor, but otherwise it went well. Woohoo!


Anonymous said...

Kate i love reading your blogs. A pleasure always. It was so lovely to see you and catch up over yummy lunch (thank you). Glad you enjoyed the rest of your afternoon with N & co at Tower. M x

C said...

Oh goodness, I love that ravens sign. The last line - is that Japanese? - is the best. It's so short, I'm imagining it translates to "BITING RAVENS!"

Your description of Nate and his cluster of girls sounds like the mamma duck I saw last night with a her babies, following her around in a tight, inseparable little clump. Cuteness!