On the weekend I traveled down to Chatham, Kent for the wedding of a close friend. Our parents were friends – even before my parents were married, so relations go back a long way with us. I don’t remember Mark being born, mainly because I was only 2, but we did do a lot of growing up together. The wedding was lovely, the groom looked nervous but excited (no tears though, Brett) and the bride stunning.
So, after a weekend of merry making and being asked a lot of questions (the English people like asking us questions!) I traveled back to London on the train. And the crowded tube and streets was like coming home. Familiar, but still so strange & full of promise and unexplored areas. So, storing my bags in the luggage room at St Pancras YHA, I hit the streets of London again. St Pancras, not Pancreas. Saint Pancras was a Roman Christian who was matyred in Rome at the age of 14. His name means ‘One who holds everything’ and St Pancras station seems to reflect that. The Cross refers to one of the crosses erected by Edward I. His beloved wife had died while he was on campaign and he rushed to follow her body back to London, erecting a cross at every point where the procession had rested. I think only one of the crosses remain, but I’m not sure where. Romantic, yes? It seems that after she died, he became a lot of more ruthless and ‘hammered the Scots’, stealing their Stone of Scone and sitting on it. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, in a plain coffin, and according to legend, he requested that his son boil all the flesh off his bones and take them to battle against the Scots.
I had designs on going to Spitalfield Markets, but first I just had to go across the street from the YHA and go into the British Library! That’s right, it’s just across the road. I’ve been every day since, and checked out the Treasures of the British Library Collection and the Maps. Incredible. To see the handwriting & parchment of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Caroll (Charles Dodgson), Shakespeare and the Beatles…
Making my way through the massive station of Kings Cross St Pancras, I went to Leicester Square instead of Liverpool Street, due to a little befuddlement on my part. So, I walked to Covent Gardens, where there was all manner of Sunday afternoon fun going on. Market stalls, street performers, even the sun was out that afternoon, making everything warm and pleasant.
I wandered around and around and found myself at Sommerset House, and then down by the Thames. Here I found the Victoria Embankment Gardens, which I thought (at first) to be the ugliest, gardenless gardens I had ever seen! But I was only a little mistaken, as what I was on was like a viewing platform, looking down on the Thames. I walked down in the section with shrubs, flowers and trees in it for a while, looking at the various statues. Apparantly, London has so much greenery and trees, that it can be classed as a forest!
The house that this imaginative weather vane sits atop belongs to Lady Astor, the first woman to be in British Parliament. It was she who said to Churchill that if she had been married to him, she would put poison in his coffee and Churchill replied, “Madame, if I was married to you, I would drink it!”. I liked the whimsy of this ship before I knew whose house it was – just seemed in character with London – someone proud of it’s naval heritage, or maybe it was something connected with Admiralty (does that still exist?) who knows, in this city.
Onto a bus to Liverpool St, where I wandered around the markets and met up with Jean & Goran. I resisted the beautiful Handmaiden Sea Silk, just bought a green cotton top for a bargain price of 5quid. When things have settled for me, I’m going to do my clothes shopping at Spitalfields and Anthropologie (I bought a pair of shorts there today, to prepare for the 30 degree days of Italy!).