I almost didn't go into London today due to the overcast weather, but I was glad I did - I got a lot done. I travelled up on the train a little later than I'd hoped, arriving in London nearer noon than 10am. As soon as I got into Waterloo I hopped on the tube.
My first stop was 'Monument', where for the princely sum of 2 pounds one can climb the monument which was erected to commemorate the Great Fire. The views, to be honest, are modest, but there are nice views of Tower Bridge and the Gherkin, for two quid the views are worthwhile.
From monument I jumped back on the tube and got off at Tower Hill. I then walked pas the old roman wall, around the Tower of London, over Tower Bridge and east along the South Bank, at one point taking a flight of stairs down to the water's edge, which was quite a novelty. I went into the shop of the Design museum, there I bought a Moleskine reporters notebook, which I'm very pleased with.
I walked back along Shad Thames (a stupidly named but quite pleasant road), and then on a whim went into City Hall. This is a very interestingly constructed building, but unfortunately one cannot get higher up than the council chamber itself, and it is quite difficult to get a decent photo of the ramp which continues above the council chamber.
This was my first visit to the British Museum, and I was very impressed. The structure of the building is wonderful, and the glass ceiling is inspiring. The collection is very complete, and this left me with a very strange feeling - it felt almost too complete, it represented a large number of sites which had been picked apart for choice artefacts. I accept that artefacts will go to museums all over the world, and that without this then many people wouldn't have a chance to see certain cultures - I also recognise that this is a neccesary part of conservation (imagine what would be lost if one site had a catastrophe and artefacts were not distributed). That said, the British Museum had so much stuff it left me with a very weird feeling.
From the British Museum I made my way down to Westminster, where I walked around the cloisters of the Cathedral (one enters these to the right of the main entrance via an arch which has a small barrier across). I also walked past the Jewel Tower to the small park south of the Palace of Westminster, this is where the politicians give their interviews. None were doing this when I was there.
The BBC had parked an 'election 2005' bus opposite the Palace of Westminster. They'll be gutted if Tony Blair doesn't declare the election tomorrow after painting their bus so nicely (for the record, I don't think he will wait).
From here it was back onto the Tube, only a short hop to St. James' park, I walked up to Buckingham Palace, stopping at the Queen Victoria Memorial, then walked up Constitution Hill toward Wellington Arch, diverting to the Canadian War Memorial and the Memorial for people from places such as India, Pakistan etc. who fought in the Wars.
At Wellington Arch I went to look at the Australian Memorial. This is not a memorial you want to stare if prone to seasickness, as from a distance it has large place names indicating major battles in the wars. As one gets closer one sees that the memorial is covered with small placenames. These are placenames of the hometowns of Australian Soldiers who fought in the wars. These smaller placenames are made bold in certain spots to make the battlefield names. The small writing and large writing make a smooth transition from one to the other as one approaches, and at some distance I found it hard to focus on one or the other.
Diving onto the tube again, I got off at Picadilly Circus where I looked at Eros (illuminated from behind by a garish, but technologically impressive moving cocacola advert). I then walked along Shaftsbury Avenue.
Something caught my eye along Wardour Street, I forget what now, so I wandered along there not really looking where I was going and I walked into someone. The man muttered 'Oh sorry', and was on his way. I was momentarily struck dumb, for this was Patrick Stewart, thespian extraordinaire and also a Captain in Starfleet. I sade something inane like 'Fancy bumping into you here', but he was already off and walking, acknowledging me with a wave. The man had a show to go to, I had just past his theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue and he was obviously heading for the performance. It's a shame that it was a fleeting encounter and I have no evidence of it, but the man must get bugged a lot, and I didn't want to add to this.
Getting back onto Shaftesbury Avenue I continued to the Charing Cross Road (Les Miserables has moved) then walked up to Centrepoint and to the Starbucks on New Oxford Street (where has Forbidden Planet gone?) It was here that I met up with the wife, who had been working all day. After some refreshments we went to Waterloo and came home.