Half a world in 380 days!
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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Well, I've been here almost a week now and London has pulled out all stops to make my arrival as pleasant as possible. At the risk of jinxing it the weather has been absolutely glorious since then and looks like it will continue for a good while yet (definitely should not have said that!). I've also been kept busy socially, administrative matters are falling into place and even the job market seems pretty bouyant here, despite being in the middle of the holiday season, which means I've started down that path a lot earlier and in a more promising a fashion than expected.
So much for having a rest or getting much sightseeing done then! My apologies also for the unusually long delay in getting this entry posted.
First of all I should say that I've finally done it - I've completed the overland odyssey and reached London. From recent correspondence I know there are a few avid readers out there that are pretty sad that the bog will end now that I've made it.Well don't despair yet, I will keep it open for the time being as the upcoming period of resettlement will be an interesting time in my life and I may well have some experiences and ponderings to impart. It's a good way to keep friends and family up to date and being based here opens the opportunity to travel within Europe, so short term adventures that are very blogogenic will probably be posted here too.
We'll see how work goes (more on my decisions for that shortly) and whether it's feasible to keep it open in the long term, but you haven't heard the last from me just yet.
Back to the present, I've been shacked up at my sister's place since arriving which is most excellently located in Angel, slightly east and north of the city centre and a really pretty place with the tree-lined canal flowing alongside. Certainly an area I'll think about renting in. Her balconies overlook a park that many fit young Londoners have been using to maximum advantage in the sunshine, sun-baking and whatnot, and it's an easy bus, tube or even walk into town.
Which is handy as I've been to London a number of times before, mostly on social visits however, so I haven't really stopped to look at the vast array of sights around town. Since everyone has seen Big Ben and the Tower before I thought I might use this great location and two or three entries to cover some of the lesser known (but often more interesting) attractions here as a wind-up to the first section of the blog. There is always something happening in this city teeming with 8 or 9 million souls so I'll try to portray the smaller details and the summertime vibe too.
One of the best places to be in this sterling atmosphere is the parks around town. St James's Park is between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace and is filled with trees, lovely lawns, large ponds and a variety of blasť, waddling water birds that make it an amazingly natural space to loaf in so close to the pulsing city centre.
Victoria Embankment Gardens on the other hand is filled with statues and monuments beautifully shaded from the heat and glow above the canopy of the surrounding trees. One of the statues that stopped me in my tracks is dedicated to the fallen of the Camel Corps who served in the Middle East in WWI - names from around the Commonwealth including a large contingent of Australians.
I never knew that London had it's own Egyptian obelisk, but Cleopatra's Needle has towered 20 metres above the Thames for more than 120 years, now sitting between two goofy sphinx statues. It's one of a pair from Hierolopolis dating from the 14th century BC (nothing to do with Cleopatra) and the other sits in New York's Central Park. Both very bizarre.
Sometimes you have to head inside to beat the heat, so another place I conveniently bumped into whilst trying to get my laptop fixed was the London Museum - a vortex of London through time from the paleolithic age to WWII. For sheer number of archaeological exhibits and very slick presentation this is one of the best museums I've seen on this journey. Even better, it's free, FREE I TELLS YA! Brilliant.
Now I enjoy a chunky historical novel and can now see how Edward Rutherford wrote his epic 'London' tome that journeys through similar times and lives. Collections from every age are displayed, often in context and setting which makes it much easier to imagine the everyday existence of the often hapless residents of this amazing city. Invasion and civil war, plague and fire, corruption and decline have all made their mark in the stratum of excavations that stocked the museum and they were very effective inspirations in Rutherford's work.
I loved the massive Auroch skull displayed in the first room, showing the dimensions of this giant but now-extinct ox-like beast. The Roman coin caches (gold and otherwise) compliment some of the better living quarter re-constructions I've seen from the period. I also found some of the exhibits from the polluted and disease ridden time of the Industrial Revolution very interesting - religion, povery maps and cholera warnings the name of the day, whilst the first tabloid-like press articles kind of explain where the rabid contemporary newspapermen came from.
On the stranger end of the scale is the river-side precinct of Temple. It's actually an 'Inn of the Court' and where every law-talkin' guy (barrister) has to come to study before being admitted to the Bar. It's just below The Strand so sits on some of the oldest turf in town, but was severely devastated in the Blitz so much of the architecture are austere, post-war reconstructions of Georgian-era buildings. It's mainly offices I think which is a good thing as it does not look like the most fun place to live.
Continued next entry (>> shortly)
Words from the Wise #41
"All of us are worms. I just happen to think I'm a glow worm."