Life in London

Christine’s Visit – Part 5

Tuesday also dawned a miserable, rainy day. What’s new! We decided it would be a good day to spend at Westminster Abbey. We spent at least twenty minutes queued up outside in the drizzly rain (not too bad because we ALWAYS carry umbrellas with us).

Unfortunately you can’t take photos inside the church, which is a bit of a bummer because there are graves of and memorials to a lot of famous people inside. A lot of people I had never heard of, but there was also a lot of royalty (eg. Edward the Confessor, Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry III, V and VII); poets, authors and composers (Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Lord Byron, Lewis Carroll, John Bunyan, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Handel); scientists and mathematicians (Isaac Newton, Lord Kelvin, Michael Faraday); politicians (Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, William Wilberforce, William Pitt, Oliver Cromwell – who was disinterred from the abbey after Charles II was restored to the throne, so they could hang his body); missionaries, ministers and bible translators (William Tyndale, David Livingstone, William Carey) among many, many others. We took audio guides through the abbey and spent a good two or three hours there.

Afterwards we decided to try and pop in to the British Library to look at the exhibition gallery there before heading home for tea. Only upon getting there, we found it closed. While the signs and the website all said it was closed Dec 24 – 26, nothing said anything about it being closed on New Years Eve. We found a security guard and asked him, and he said they’d closed early. I was not happy, because it was raining and we’d come all that way for nothing. But we popped down to the nearby King’s Cross Station to see Platform 9 3/4. Yes, they have a sign on a brick wall with the back end of a trolley attached to it to look like you are running through the platform barrier! However when we got there we were in for a bit of a shock. It was not just a sign on a wall with the back end of a trolley anymore. They had official Warner Brothers Harry Potter queue barriers up, an official photographer, someone on hand to help set up the photos, and a whole shop nearby filled with souvenirs where you could buy a copy of your photo! Fortunately they do not charge people to pose with the trolley and you can take your own photos, not obliged to buy the professional one. Christine posed with the trolley in a Ravenclaw scarf and we got some photos of her, then popped in to have a look at the shop but didn’t buy anything, knowing we’d be seeing a much bigger Harry Potter souvenir shop later in the week.

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So it was back home for a quick tea before going to Guy & Helen’s place with some friends from church for New Years Eve celebrations – some supper, games, and watching the fireworks on TV! We took the TimTams Christine had brought over from Australia and Andre showed everyone how to do a Tim Tam Slam, which only Guy was brave enough to try (successfully!).

New Years day ended up being a bit of a dead loss. It was grey and drizzly again, so we decided to go to the British Museum. It was closed. It was virtually the only museum in the entire city closed on New Years Day. So we ate our packed lunch in the warmth of Starbucks (Andre bought a coffee so we had an excuse to be there) while we figured out what to do instead. We decided to try the British Library again, and checked the website just to be sure that it didn’t have any warnings about being closed on New Years day, which it didn’t. But when we arrived… it was closed. It did actually say on one of the signs that it was closed Jan 1, which I’d not noticed the night before, but there had been no warnings on the website, and I was not happy.

However, we were in the right neighbourhood to go and have a look at the building where they shot 221b Baker St for the BBC Sherlock show, so we walked down through the drizzly rain to have a look at it. Unfortunately Speedy’s Cafe (the cafe beside 221b, made famous by the show) was closed, but we hadn’t really been expecting to go in anyway.

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We got some photos of the house, with Christine poised to knock on the door, and there were a few other Sherlock fans out photographing it too! By this point the rain was picking up, so we decided to find a dry underground station to figure out our next move. Christine and Andre were both keen to have a look at the Science museum, which required us walking across to a different underground station, by which point it was well and truly pouring rain and blowing a gale. My puffer jacket (not waterproof but til this point had been thick enough to keep me dry) was soaked through, Andre’s jacket was soaked and all our jeans were soaked through. Christine was the only one of us who owned a waterproof jacket so she kept semi-dry – umbrellas utterly useless and not worth even trying to use in wind like that.

We got to the Science Museum though, and got to spend a few hours there until we had to head off in time to get to Greenwich for the second Hobbit movie. We had tea at Nando’s in Greenwich – not as good as Australian Nando’s – then caught a bus to the cinema to see the movie in the IMax in 3D. It was a pretty pathetic IMax screen and didn’t look any different to a normal cinema screen to me. I’ve never been to an IMax cinema before so didn’t see what the big deal was, until Andre told me that was a very small IMax screen. Lesson learnt: don’t pay to go into the IMax cinema at the Greenwich Odeon theatre! And at least we knew the place we were going the next day would be open: The Making of Harry Potter studio tour!

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