Digging history, part II

Ruins not being my thing, Gary explored the Richard III castle in Penrith while I sat at the train station waiting for our bus to Keswick (after a rainy walk with luggage to the Inverness train station and a multi-train ride with a delayed connection). I made friends with Chris, who we later kept running into in the Lake  District, and who saved us much agony by kindly taking our forgotten key to the bed and breakfast as we were leaving Keswick. (More about the Lake District soon.)

Supposedly one of Richard III's castles, Penrith

One of Richard III’s castles, in a park where kids played (illegally) on the walls

Bath is one of the most unusual cities I’ve ever visited. The host of our B&B was a former mayor, and he gave us an orientation using a map drawn in a circle, so maybe I have an image of it being round. But it is very centrally oriented, with the Roman Baths and the Abbey in the middle and streets seeming to radiate outward. We spent an evening touring the Roman Baths, rich with history while using ultra-modern technology.

The Roman Baths in early evening

The Roman Baths in early evening

An example of the Roman use of Celtic art in the baths

An example of the Romans’ use of Celtic art in the baths

From Bath we zipped across to London, changed trains (and stations, from Paddington, on the Tube, to Kings Cross) for Cambridge. Our main destination was Kings College Chapel, but Gary noticed the Polar Museum was on our route, and I’ve long been fascinated with polar exploration, especially the Antarctic. It was possibly my favorite museum, although it’s sort of like choosing a favorite child. Having read the diaries of Robert Falcon Scott, I was brought to tears seeing objects he used and carried on his ill-fated journey. (I had a running complaint, when Gary was forcing what I called the daily death march a bit too far. I’d say “I feel like I’m on Scott’s expedition, and remember, they DIED!” )

Me in front of the Scott Polar Research Institute and Museum, Cambridge

Me outside the Scott Polar Research Institute and Museum, Cambridge

We ended our visit back in London, with plenty of museums yet unvisited. We used our last Britrail day for a run to Greenwich (which is also easily accessed by boat or Tube), and spent a morning at the Maritime Museum, another technologically marvelous facility.

Oversized ship-in-a-bottle outside the Maritime Museum

Oversized ship-in-a-bottle outside the Maritime Museum

Smile, please!

Smile, please!

Handsome dudes, maritime heroes

Handsome dudes, maritime heroes

We also visited the Greenwich Observatory, but didn’t go in. There’s plenty to do outside, including straddling the Prime Meridian, and the hilltop views of London are splendid.

Straddling zero longitude. We didn't dress alike on purpose.

Straddling zero longitude. We didn’t dress alike on purpose.

London view from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich

London view from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Brief late afternoon visits to the Royal Naval College‘s Chapel and Painted Hall were followed by a walk past the Cutty Sark. It’s good to see the old girl restored after a devastating fire in 2007.

See the small figure on the mast?

See the small figure on the mast?

Toward the end of our trip, tired and sated on so many wonders, we spent a few hours at the British Library, which defies description. Jaw-dropping music manuscripts include Bach, Britten and the Beatles, the Magna Carta, a special exhibit on propaganda. A few hours near the end of a trip can’t scratch the surface.

Strange statue of Isaac Newton outside British Library

Strange statue of Isaac Newton outside British Library

Should we be proud of the icon of propaganda?

Should we be proud of the icon of propaganda?

Gary was interested in seeing the National Army Museum, so late in our penultimate day, after several other sights, we walked from Sloane Square to what no doubt is a fine museum. I found it to be a labyrinth, so I gave up and sat in the gift shop/cafe and eavesdropped on conversations, since all the books were way too military for my taste. A pre-school camp (!) let out while I waited and it was fun listening to grannies and kids–“Oh, that’s smashing!” When the museum closing was announced, I kept expecting Gary to appear. I told a docent I was waiting for my husband, and she must have contacted other docents. He finally found his way out, but my labyrinth analogy turned out to be correct. So, no pictures of the Army museum, but here’s a red-coated elephant:

Some cities have cows, Austin has guitars, London has elephants.

Some cities have cows, Austin has guitars, London has elephants.

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2 responses to “Digging history, part II”

  1. Dugutigui says :

    Nice pics and post!

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  1. Oddities, Characters and Random Reflections | wigginswordsandimages - December 11, 2013

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