The UK's home to many legendary creatures - changelings and faeries, the Loch Ness, Jack O' Kent, and, of course, the romantic hero, as epitomized by Hugh Grant. I came across the real life version of that last mythical creature the minute my train from France pulled into King's Cross station. Fresh from a 12 hour flight journey, A clearly had his priorities right, and had dragged over his luggage, our friends, and their luggage (thanks, guys) to greet me. And this three years into our marriage. Who says things like that only happen in movies?
I was thrilled to see him after nearly two months apart, and promptly revealed which parts of travelling solo hadn't come naturally to me by letting him take over all of them. Through our time in England & Scotland, I refused to carry more than five GBP. I took ten pictures over ten days (none of the pictures in this post are mine). I surrendered my maps cheerfully, along with my obsessive notes. Ah, the joys of having someone else be the responsible one.
At the same time, I won't deny that it was strange to suddenly have company... not to mention hearing all that English around me! No more waking up at dawn. No more walking all over a city on foot. A lot more coordination and planning. It would have been an even bigger adjustment if I wasn't travelling with these particular people, who all had very similar interests. I think we'll all agree that the highlights of London were:
Seeing The Phantom of the Opera. Weirdly enough, I hadn't seen a live musical before, just televised ones. The real life spectacle was magnificent. The props and lighting, in particular, inspired the kind of awe that we've grown immune to when we see special effects on other screens. I can't recommend this show, in particular, highly enough. And if you do go, can you please send me a postcard with the Phantom on it? It was the one thing I didn't have time to find, and I'm still kicking myself.
The Natural History Museum, particularly the dinosaur exhibit. I vaguely remembered this from the last time I'd visited, back when I was eight or nine, which should say it all. This definitely isn't just for kids.
Visiting Oxford, especially because my childhood friend, Vimal, took time out to walk us around, showing us things we wouldn't have otherwise seen, and telling us what we wouldn't have otherwise known. This wouldn't have been nearly as amazing without him (Cambridge wasn't!).
Bath, particularly The Pump Room, which was just as proper and grand as I'd imagined. I suspect the group came along to humour me, an ardent Austenite, but they probably enjoyed the scones nonetheless. Everyone agreed it would have been nice to spend a couple of days in Bath, regardless of the literary associations, just to admire the quaintness of it all.
Wimbledon, which I missed since I was visiting relatives, but which I was told had a very informative tour and scrummy strawberries and cream. I'm not too fussed, not being a big tennis fan myself, but I loved seeing A & R's happy faces outside Wimbledon. I imagine it's the face I had on when I encountered the Rosetta Stone. (Can you imagine if all knowledge of English were lost, and someone generations from now found the key to decipher it? Suddenly, Shakespeare, and Tennyson, and the script of Gilmore Girls and everything would be available to mankind again. </geekjoy>).
I also geeked out over the original Beatles manuscripts/Austen folios in the British Library, and really enjoyed Stratford upon Avon when I went there earlier too. So I'd add these to this list of absolute must-do's for anyone visiting London. My aunt & uncle are there this month, and I can't wait to compare notes!