Saturday, October 4, 2008

Photo Diary: London

So here are the results of my trip to London, gleaned before my camera decided to die (fortunately, nothing TOO interesting was missed due to its determination to eat my batteries). The SLC group hit up the Tower of London together, but after lunch, we were left to do our own thing, and my friend Kimberley and I had a fine time knocking about London and seeing the sights, all the while attempting to locate the bus that would eventually take us back to Oxford. (What we learned: find a helpful Irishman). We got to Westminster and Buckingham Palace, then wandered somewhere past Hyde Park, getting rather tired, before we ran into said helpful Irishman, then dozed for most of the hour-long coach trip back to Oxford.

Once we got back, it was dark, and we were hungry, so we decided to go find some dinner. We ended up at the Bear, which is the oldest and supposedly most haunted pub in Oxford, and I would have gotten some pictures of it if my camera hadn't been farted out. Accessed down a narrow cobblestone street, it's tiny, with the narrowest stairs imaginable up to the ladies' room, and dark wood panels just a few inches above my head (and I'm a pretty tallish woman). It has hundreds and hundreds of college ties in picture frames on the wall, each signed by someone, and I'm sure there were a lot of luminaries included there, but didn't get a chance to look at all of them. It was quite noisy and boisterous, and Kim and I sat in the back with dinner -- I got a very English meal, fish and chips and a pint of beer. After that, I finally took the bus back home to my flat, which is where I am now, somewhat dismayed at the fact that I keep having to miss all the baseball playoff games. Other than that, and the small money issue, I've decided I never want to come back. Unfortunately, I might have to.

Onto the photos!The entrance to the Tower of London. In case you couldn't tell or something.

Tower Bridge.

This I believe is the White Tower, the central building of the Tower of London (according to our tour guide, a Yeoman Warder of the Tower who also happened to be extremely amusing, there are twenty towers in total, 6 in the outer ward, 13 in the inner ward, and one in the middle. Did you know that? Now you do). The White Tower dates back to 1078 and was built by William the Conqueror, and again there was some renovation going on on the right side that I decided to edit out.

This is Traitor's Gate, the entrance to the Tower from the Thames, through which they brought prisoners. The entrance is boarded up on the river side now, but the gate remains... I think this is one of the coolest pictures I got.

The Bloody Tower, where a lot of the Tower's trademark goriness took place. That portcullis you see is 700 years old, and allegedly it is a bad idea to pause beneath it (so said our tour guide) because the ropes holding it up are also 700 years old... Speaking of the many famous prisoners who were held there, they included two of the wives of Henry VIII (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) and Lady Jane Grey. We went into the Tower chapel, where they're buried and which is beautiful, but we were not allowed to take pictures, so that went sadly unrecorded. Take my word for it, it was cool. We also saw where Sir Isaac Newton used to live, but I didn't get a picture of that either. Also, we heard that the first man and last man executed on Tower Green were both named Simon, and the latter was Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, a leader of the second Jacobite Rebellion. If you're a fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon such as I am, you will know why that's cool. William Wallace was also executed here. (Think Braveheart, except more historically accurate).

A window slit in Beauchamp Tower, one of the inner ward towers, which is famous for having a number of scriptures and names carved into the walls by prisoners there. They've taken most of them out and preserved them now, but there are still a few.

Me in Beauchamp Tower. It was actually a lot darker than this, but then my camera decided to turn its flash back on.

The Tower ravens. Some king (can't remember, it might have been one of the Edwards or Jameses) stipulated that six ravens be kept on the grounds at all times, since legend goes that if they ever leave, the Tower and the monarchy will crumble, and various horrible things will befall England. So, this is 2008, do they still believe in that superstition? Do they still keep six ravens on the grounds? Nah! They keep nine, just in case.

The River Thames from the top deck of our boat, which had a very Cockney tour guide. He said both "nuffink" and "summat," which I thought was very amusing.

Kim with the Tower Bridge in the background, this while we were boating for the wait to leave.

Outside entrance to the Traitors' Gate, which as I said, is boarded up (no need to take prisoners in anymore. The last prisoner held at the Tower was Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess at the end of WWII). But it's still cool.

Not that notable a picture, eh? Well, until you take into account that that unremarkable-looking concrete span is London Bridge. And yes, I know I just stuck that song in your head.

The white building on the right is the working replica of the Globe Theatre, which of course is a famous place for Shakespeareites.

St. Paul's Cathedral, as seen from the Thames. Sir Christopher Wren, the famous 17th-century English architect who designed it, went to Wadham. So yay Wadham.

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on our approach to Westminster Pier.

Big Ben from directly underneath.

Part of Westminster Abbey. In sheer jaw-dropping grandeur, Westminster takes the cake -- this is definitely the place where we were acting most like tourists. It is just beautiful. Most unfortunately we didn't get to go inside since Saturday visiting hours end at 1.30 pm, but we're planning to return for an Advent service.

The front of St. Margaret's Church, part of Westminster.

Me at Westminster.

Detail of Westminster Abbey.

The front of Westminster. Like I said, beautiful. I wish we'd have gotten to go inside, but I guess that comes later.

The gates of Buckingham Palace. Most unfortunately here was where my camera decided to give up the ghost, so the photos have to end here. Note to self: keep more batteries on hand.

Tomorrow I have an offday, so I'm going to sleep in (it's been a busy week) and run some errands. Back to Broad Street, which is also a beautiful part of Oxford, and to the grocery store, which is slightly less exciting. Next week focuses on activities for Wadham "freshers," so we have more spare time. However, I do get to meet my college mum and siblings on Monday, which I am looking forward to. Funnily enough, after formal dinner in Hall last night, I went to the college bar with some of my friends, and ended up meeting my college father, brother, and grandfather. (My college mum's college husband, his college son, and his college father. I have a whole family now. Who knew).

1 comment:

Darcy said...

Did you mean waiting for the boat to leave? You said boating for the wait to leave. Love you and miss you.