Today is our last day in London. No one really wants to go home. If I had tuppence for every time I’ve had to listen to the human female whine, “But whyyyy can’t we live here?” I would have enough to actually buy a place and move here. Without her.
So we’re all a bit sentimental. Lots of lasts. Last Tube rides to anyplace but the airport. Last of the granola bars for breakfast. Last chance to get to the 357 remaining things on the “Must See” list.
Topping that list is a rather unusual exhibit at the Royal College of Physicians up near Regent’s Park. They have all sorts of displays set up chronicling the life and exploits of one John Dee, physician to the first Queen Elizabeth. We get to wear Important Visitor Tags to enter.
Fenrir’s whiskers, the man had a lot of books! Though his library was scattered, quite a few volumes have found their way home, and many are here today. He was a polymath, interested in a wide variety of subjects. He wrote copious notes and comments in the margins (they were his books, so no one could holler at him for so doing, I suppose.)
In his more pensive moments, he was known to doodle on whatever was handy…
I got my fingers slapped for that when I was little.
Look, Sigyn! His book on the mathematics of solids has little pop-up examples!
Fascinating. And the one about codes and ciphers has an actual decoder wheel mounted in!
So clever, these Elizabethans. Dee was also very interested in spirits and the occult, so they have his scrying mirror and his crystals as well. Spooky!
On the way out of the exhibit, the human has spotted a wooden cabinet labeled “Herbarium.” Wait! You can’t open that! You’ll get us all in trouble! It’s just a bunch of old plants and–
She complains about me, but who is causing the mischief now, hmm? Hurry and shut that thing and let’s get out of here! I’ve heard there’s a garden or something. You like gardens.
It’s sort of tucked away behind walls. You have to be looking for it. It’s all very tidy and British. Sigyn is entranced. Furry lambs’ ears have to be petted (and talked to.)
Why do they call this “thrift?” Does it cost less to grow than other plants? I do not know.
This one has the human female completely stumped! It seems to have overgrown its tag, too, so there’s no telling what it is.
Sigyn would be happy enough to stay all day, but there are so many other places to be! Our next stop is–you guessed it!–another museum. (It was either that or a church, right?) Sir John Soane was a very famous architect and collector of art and architectural doo-dads. He filled up three townhouses in Holborn and left a will that they could be a museum but had to stay exactly the way he left them. Which was a sort of organized explosion of clutter. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed, which is good, because there isn’t room to carry in a camera! My favorite bit is the enormous sarcophagus in the basement, though Sigyn likes the spikey teasels on all the chair seats. They’re not meant to be floral art, dearest. They’re don’t-sit-heres.
Outside the museum, just across the way, is a big jumble of buildings known as the Courts of Lincoln’s Inn. Some of them have been here for centuries. Do you want to know a scary thing? They’re all full of lawyers…
Humans, are you sure we are allowed to be poking about here? We haven’t been arrested yet, and I think I see a few other tourists, so perhaps it is all right. The mortals want to explore–big surprise–the chapel. You go on and do that little thing. I think I’m developing an allergy to stained glass. I think I’ll wait here in the undercroft. There are some fairly good acoustics, so I can have some fun humming.
We’ve done it again–it is time for a very late lunch. Is there any place to eat in this neighborhood? Oh, yes indeed. We shall dine where all the lawyers do! Look, Sigyn–the butter is all fancy. It’s actually a better sculpture than that one we saw in Holland Park the other day…
The human female has ordered “sea bass with braised fennel, Jersey Gold potatoes, and mushrooms.” I recognize the fish and mushrooms–which bit is the fennel, again?
And for dessert? Another museum! This next one is the Museum of London, which deals with the long tale of this multi-faceted city, from its prehistoric marshiness, through an era when its inhabitants were bashing bison–and each other–with stone axes like this:
to its present glass and steel. I’m most interested in the Romans. They seem to have been properly warlike and greedy. They left behind some nice pocket change.
Sigyn thinks the village looks like a good place to have lived.
Are you sure, Sigyn? I don’t see a pastry shop.
Now we’re on to Norsemen. Ack! Am I to be confronted with reminders of my annoying, vainglorious, braggadocious, oafish, puppydog of a pseudo-sibling everywhere I go?
That really is a dorky helmet. But this brooch would look nice on Sigyn.
If, you know, it it was a tenth this size…
This museum is closing now, so we can just get a glimpse of excavated Roman walls outside as we exit. The Victoria and Albert is open late tonight, though, so back we go, to squeeze as much as possible into this vacation and to see if the room with the inlaid cabinet is open today.
Oh, too bad! It’s not. (Ehehehehe!) But we can see a few things we didn’t see yesterday. Sigyn and the human female are dying to get a look at the tapestry collection.
Now I know why. Flowers everywhere! This room is kept pretty dim so that they don’t fade. The male’s good-in-low-light camera is actually coming in handy as something other than a very expensive free-weight.
Whoa–we are now moving very quickly through the galleries. Last night in London! Must. See. EVERYTHING! More tapestries, prints, theatrical costumes, silver, and assorted pretties in a streaming flash of costly substances. Also assorted noises and crowds. The museum is having some sort of soiree in the courtyard and lots of little performances inside, many of them Japanese-themed. It’s a bit sensory-overloady in here, and I really only like large crowds if they’re kow-towing to me, so I’m more than content to bid the V&A good night and goodbye and escape to the relative quiet of the busy streets outside.
One more late dinner remains to us. We’d better make it a good one. I probably should have predicted this—we’re back at the Lebanese place. Hello again, olives.
Hello,— Wait, what is this? There’s supposed to be shawarma!
Fried balls of ground chickpeas and spices? And another plate with slabs of grilled cheese? Sigyn is braver than I am about weird vegetarian food. I’m holding out to see if meat appears. Grrr. Apparently it isn’t going to. It’s either eat the various fried balls and slabs or make do with dessert.
But I’d better hurry, because I think Sigyn is about to deprive me of that option.
One last walk through Kensington back to the hotel and, suddenly, that’s it. The end of our London adventures. All that remains is to cause as much mischief as I can on the homeward trip. It’s a good thing we still have packing to do, because with that much sugar on board, Sigyn is going to be bouncing off the walls for a while anyway. Have you had fun, my treasure?
It’s been grand.