Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Our half-term trip

Like many epic journeys, ours included King's Cross station, where Elaine tried her best to get onto Platform 9 3/4, without success. You can see they provide you with a cart!

We planned to get to London early-ish last Saturday and see some things, maybe take a bus tour to give the kids an idea of the place, before getting the train to Salisbury, but we were slow getting out the door, just missed a train, and got to King's Cross at lunch time. So we ate, took a bus to Trafalgar Square, which was full of barriers, sound and light equipment, loud heroic music and a bazillion people, all celebrating the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson.

We just wanted to look at pigeons and big statues of lions, so we avoided the large gang of navy recruiters and headed off towards Big Ben. We didn't end up at Big Ben, but we saw this post box, which I thought photo-worthy for the following reasons: it's graffiti'd, which ya don't see in Cambridge; it's Edward VII, which I hadn't seen in this style before; and it has the stickers above the two slots, one for 1st class and one for 2nd. Just a small delight on our way through town... "Stop, lemme find the camera... oooh, who wants a smushed banana from the bottom of my bag... wait, some kid come and stand here for scale..."

We got down to the Thames, but as we had gone on a bit of a diagonal, we didn't come out at the Westminster Bridge, but at a footbridge on the Embankment. The Embankment was built partly to disguise the new (in Victorian times) sewage pipes and drains, and there is a plaque there to Joseph William Bazalgette, the engineer who was finally able to get London's sewage going somewhere other than just into the river, after some cholera epidemics and something called The Big Stink.

We paid no attention to this enormous wonder of civil engineering, but crossed the river to a park where we saw these mime artists all painted silver who would bow slowly when anyone put money in their pot, and this escape artist who, after juggling in a capable but not stellar way, actually got someone to put him in a straightjacket and then wrap him up in a chain. He put on a piece of music that was three minutes long, shimmied and wriggled around, and managed his escape! Hooray! Not quite the sight-seeing we had planned, but the kids liked it fine, and we were now near Waterloo Station, where we got our train to Salisbury.

We got there in plenty of time for dinner, but had to wander all over town to find a place that was not too posh, allowed kids in, had food on Saturday night, and was not completely filled with smoke. This proved to be a recurring challenge! I don't know what it is with the smoking, but people smoke constantly, in train stations, in the park with the kids, even riding their bikes!

Anyways, Salisbury is a lovely old town with lots of half-timbered buildings, a market area with streets named Oatmeal Row and Butcher Row, and a cathedral with the highest spire in England. Also variable weather! Here is the cathedral in light evening cloud.

Well, I had thought this trip summary would be much shorter and quicker than the epic about Mull, but it looks like it'll take days and days to relate. At least my internet connection is fine and fully functional, so I can spend all my time doing this..... I waited for 5 hours today for a technician to come and plug in a new modem! Sheesh.