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Sunday, September 11, 2005

London - Day 3

Over breakfast, a chat ensued that went something like this

Me: Southwark Cathedral was lovely
Hostess: Southwark what?
Me: you know, it's Shakespeare's church
Hostess *blank stare*
Me: it's right there, right beside the market, right next to the Golden Hinde
Hostess *blank stare*
Me: the Golden Hinde, you know the replica of Drake’s vessel
Hostess *blank stare*
Me: the ruins of the old palace where pretty amazing too
Hostess *blank stare*
Me: this morning i'm going to the National gallery to see "The Hay Wain"
Hostess: ohhh, is that in the gallery?

The other thing on my must-do list was a visit to the National Gallery to see Constable’s "The Hay Wain." It's been something that I've wanted to see for as long as I can remember. The chance to see it was something I couldn't miss.

With a spring in my step it was back off into hell, or the underground, still as hot and steamy as yesterday. As I'm on the correct line there's no changing of trains to get to Piccadilly Circus.

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Famed Piccadilly Circus was fairly underwhelming - I had expected it to be more like Times Square. I'm contemplating making a t-shirt, "I went to Piccadilly Circus and all I got was this crappy photo." I didn't linger and made my way quickly to the gallery.

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The National Gallery is another of these places that say they have free entry but require a voluntary/compulsory donation before they let you in. You also aren't allowed to take photos or videos.

Armed with the gallery plan I managed to navigate my way to Room 34 and finally, there it is. Right in front of me. I'm suprised by it's size - it's much larger than I expected. I can't help but smile. Having come so early, there aren't many people about so I can really just take my time and look at it at great detail.

Up close you can see all the things the prints miss. In the reeds to the right is a boy with a large pole, fishing perhaps, workers dot the fields as a woman kneels at the house's edge, her hand reaching into the waters.

The man facing us is actually talking to his dog, which is intently focused upon his masters words. You also get a sense of urgency in their actions, a storm is approaching.


In the same room there can also be found Turner's "The Fighting Temeraire" which apparently, had just been voted "The Greatest Painting in Britain" (The Hay Wain came second) in a poll conducted by the National Gallery in association with BBC Radio 4. Needless to say, the result has sparked much debate.

The rest of the results are as follows
3. A Bar at the Folies-Bergère - Edouard Manet
4. The Arnolfini Portrait - Jan Van Eyck
5. Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy - David Hockney
6. Sunflowers - Vincent Van Gogh
7. Rev. Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch - Sir Henry Raeburn
8. The Last of England - Ford Madox Brown
9. The Baptism of Christ - Piero della Francesca
10. Rake's Progress III: The Orgy - William Hogarth

Having satisfied the cultural element of my journey and with a questionable looking sky I opted to see a little more of london by bus - The Original Tour open-top sightseeing bus.

Unfortunately the area around Trafalgar Square (where you can catch the bus) seemed to be in the midst of traffic gridlock. It turned out work was being carried out on the Fourth Plinth, or should I say, the controversial Fourth Plinth, on Trafalgar Square.

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I managed to get this pic of the work using the camera phone.

The plinth is to be unveiled on September 15th - shucks I'm going to miss it...by that much.

It was interesting to see london from another aspect - having travelled under, I now got to travel over the Tower Bridge and see a little more of the Tower of London.

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A travel hint, if you wish to go to The London Dungeon, pre-order your tickets, the queues are quite long, going past on the Bus there were at least 200-300 people waiting in line.

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I just like the name on this building - Grand Trunk Railway - it always gets a chuckle out of me. Yes, I’m simple that way.

Midway through the bus trip we had a change of commentator. The first amused me with her questionable jokes such as:
The zoo has bred a camel with a gorilla - it’s called a camilla.
I’m sure at the time we were approaching the Tower of London, a few hundred years ago, jokes such as those might have well seen her spend some time in there and possible see her part company with her head.

The second guide constantly made jokes about the opposition tour company, The Big Bus Company, calling it the Big Bore Company and pointing out it’s head office as a place to dump our rubbish. Meow.

It’s a fairly enjoyable way to travel over a lot of London, with the ability to hop off at the sights you wish to spend some more time at. Unfortunately due to my time constraints I had to satisfy with a sound overview.

The bus also afforded me the opportunity to hop off at Waterloo Station and find out about getting my Europass validated (and check out the station). I have a three month pass that needs to be validated at a train station before I can use it and as I’m heading off to Paris tomorrow I needed to get this done.

Heading for Eurostar offices I was told that all I have to do is show the pass at Counter 3 tomorrow and they will validate it. Simple. That’s a relief.

With that out of the way I headed back to the B&B - time to organise myself and pack up my belongings.

If you’d like to see a few more photos from today you can continue looking here:
London Set

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