Friday, July 04, 2008

King Tut and St Paul

Brit Boy and I have had our bit of Fourth of July today. We just put out our two little American flags on the table. In the interest of fairness, we also have tiny England flags that we put out on St George's Day. (smile) We had cheeseburgers, potato salad, and beans. It was reminiscent of the picnic food that my mom would make for the Fourth of July when I was back home. We would have even more sometimes…hotdogs, ribs, chicken, deviled eggs, and sometimes some homemade ice cream. Then there were usually fireworks in the evening in town. Those were good times. (smile) Anyway, we did our own little version of a picnic and it turned out great. And I have to say, that my potato salad was incredible if I do say so myself. (smile) I got really into it and it turned out great. The secret I think was the bit of dijon mustard that gave it a slight kick. My mom would be proud and my brother Tim would have loved it too. He LOVED potato salad and was known to get up in the wee hours of the morning to make it, because he had a taste for it as he awoke from sleep. (smile)

Just an update, we finally got our broadband sorted out. Basically our old router went kaput and we had to get another one. Doesn’t it seem that there is always something to spend money on? (smile) Oh well, both Brit Boy and I need it for work, so it’s all good. We are just glad that it is working.

So I will pick up now with my story of our trip to London last week. I left off last time with my story of our Wimbledon experience. Well, the next day we headed to the O2 Arena to see the King Tut exhibit and we took a trip to St Paul’s Cathedral.

We started out the day early-ish. Thankfully they fixed our shower, so we could do the cleaning thing. We had tickets to the King Tut exhibit that were for a certain window of entry. Our window was from 10:30-11:00am. We had a bit of a trip on the tube to the O2, but we made it in plenty of time.

The exhibit was interesting and the pieces were intriguing. I did learn quite a bit about King Tutankhamen. Some experts had once thought that he may have had a curvature of his spine, but now they think that he may have not had this at all. But his body was possibly slightly twisted when he was being mummified and prepared for burial.

Here are photos of the outside of the exhibition.

After we came out of the exhibit, we decided that we would have something to eat at the O2 complex since it was getting along to lunch time and we hadn’t eaten. They have lots of restaurants there in the complex, so there was quite a lot to choose from. But as ever, we were trying to eat on a budget. (smile) We settled on eating at Pizza Express which has lovely, authentic, fresh pizza as well as many other tasty things. I wanted to try everything and so did Brit Boy. (smile) We both had two slices of pepperoni pizza, and we shared a big green salad. Brit Boy had a Sprite and I had a Sicilian lemonade and I will just say, it was like being back home. (laugh) I’ve written here before about my search for lemonade. Well, who knew that the southern lemonade that I had back home is a close cousin to Sicilian lemonade. (smile) It was very slightly sweet and tart and just right…smooth.

There is a structure in the lobby area of the O2 that I always find intriguing. It looks like strands of huge pearls suspended. Here is a photo of it.

Once we were back outside again, we headed for the tube station. I had to take a photo of the O2. I love it. It is very unusual looking from the outside. Here is a photo as I walked backwards to the tube station.

Then we headed off to see St Paul’s Cathedral. I have been to London many times now and I have seen a lot of it, but not all of it by any stretch of the imagination. One place neither I, nor Brit Boy had visited, was the cathedral. It was a very breezy day and so as we rounded the corner to the cathedral, I got grit in my eyes that blew up from the street. This seemed to be a recurring theme most days. (laugh) So it was murder on my eye makeup. Anyway, the cathedral is magnificent. They don’t allow photography inside, but I got a photo of the outside. Here it is.

I will just say that the inside is glorious. (smile) Truly divine. Everywhere you look it is just awe-inspiring. The stonework, the carvings, the decoration, the ceilings…just amazing! Visitors are allowed to go up into the rotunda, but you have to brave hundreds of steps. It is so worth the effort. (smile) We walked 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery. When you get up there, there is a railing that you can walk along and look down to the cathedral floor. The cool thing is that you can whisper up there on one side and it can be heard on the other side of the rotunda. It is cool. You are also allowed to go further up to the next level. The view from there is amazing.

When we came back downstairs, they were doing The Lord’s Prayer and invited visitors to join in. So Brit Boy and I participated. After that, we walked around and looked at all of the dedications and such. Over in one corner, there is the American Chapel which is to honor the help of the US during WWII. This caused a bit of a lump in my throat, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, just on a simple level it was good to see cooperation between people for the common good and this memorial was about Britain and America and Brit Boy and I come from across that divide. So I don’t know…it was just deep. But also, my dad was a WWII veteran, and thankfully he made it home. As I have mentioned before, I am the last of a long line of kids and there is a gap between me and the others in years. I was a late comer. (smile) Also, my dad was quite a few years older than my mother, so that is why I have a dad who was a WWII vet and not a grandfather who was one. (smile) So I had a moment there in that chapel.

Then we went down into the tombs of the cathedral. We saw dedications to and tombs of: the Duke of Wellington, William Blake, J.M.W. Turner, Florence Nightingale, Horatio Nelson, Alexander Fleming, and of course…"The Guy They Call Sir", Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul’s that I mentioned in an earlier post. There were many, many dedications and tombs and I was intrigued by them all, but I had to see Sir Christopher’s. (smile) I live nearby where he was born, so I had to pay my respects. He did beautiful work on the cathedral also. And I thought this was a nice touch that his tomb is right next to a radiator in a corner. I like to think that it’s there to keep him warm. (smile) Well he deserves it for designing such a beautiful place.

When we came back outside, we noticed the Temple Bar. It is a barrier arch that marks the westernmost extent of the City of London. Here is a photo.

After this we took a lengthy walk in search of The Monument, which marks the spot where the Great Fire started. When we eventually found it, it was covered with scaffolding for work to be done.

After that, we were tired and it had been a long day. So we headed for the tube to go back to our hotel. On the short walk from the tube station to our hotel, we stopped at McDonald’s and had a bite to eat.

Later that night, we were lying around in bed watching a bit of television. I got up and looked outside and saw some teenagers in fancy gowns coming to the hotel. Brit Boy and I watched the scene unfold. Apparently they were having their school prom. I did think that it was unusual that they were having their prom on a Wednesday night, but perhaps they had already finished school. I don't know. It didn't go on too late I don't think. It was nice to see the teens having fun. (smile) Proms have been a part of American high school culture for decades and in the last few years they have become more popular here in England. I was surprised to read some things lately in the news media here about some people saying that proms aren't a good tradition because it costs too much and seems to be all about money or having the fancy gowns or fancy cars and such and it is consumerism gone wild. Some media even went so far as to call it a tacky tradition. Well I don’t agree with that at all.

Proms back in the day in America were more low-key and were usually held in high school gyms and not in hotels like they are now. And from what I hear from my older sisters a lot of the time the gowns were homemade or bought cheap. It was just a wonderful rite of passage to signify the end of your high school days. A first formal affair as kids went out into the adult world. So proms were simply fun. Nowadays, kids want proms at hotels and yes they get fancy gowns and tuxedos and limos and all of that, but these newer ways of doing things are just symptoms of our times. It can get over the top sometimes now, but people should look at our world now…it is just different in good ways and bad. Still, I think that I would rather that kids do get dressed up and go to proms, even in limos, if it will keep them from skipping out on school altogether and the prom, in favor of falling down drunk in the street and puking in the gutters like you see on the news. Yeah, the prom nowadays is a bit splashier, but it is a gentle thing compared to a lot of the evil out there. So I say, lighten up to the media, and let the kids have their proms if they want, here and back home. (smile)And at the end of the day, sometimes some things are just to have fun. What is wrong with that? You are only young once.

When Brit Boy and I were watching the kids arriving, we saw this family…a mom, dad, little sister, and teenage girl dressed in a flowing dress. She was lovely. The golden sheen of her dress was set off by her beautiful brown skin. It was so sweet. She didn’t arrive in a limo. Mom and Dad and sis dropped her off. They parked along the street and took a series of photos of the girl, and then of her with various members of her family. It was a sweet scene and is really what the prom and special occasions in our lives are all about…the memories that we make. (smile) I told Brit Boy that it was just like watching kids back home. It was one of those universal moments we all share whether this girl and her family were here or back home in my Georgia town. It is like that saying goes; we are all alike more than we are different sometimes. I'm not saying that everyone has to do what America does, because I believe in cultures having their own thing going,but after all, it's just a fancy dance for teenagers. (smile) I love individuality like the next person, but sometimes there is a tug from within when I see shared experiences reflected between people. I think it is important for Britain to have its traditions and America and everywhere else to have their traditions, but I don’t think it hurts a thing or encroaches on anybody’s turf to see ourselves in each other sometimes. (smile)There is so much bad in the world that we all have to share, so why not share a fun thing. I know it may sound simplistic, but sometimes things are debated too much and it is much ado about nothing.

After all of the photo-taking, the family all hugged…even little sis and big sis and then this lovely young lady’s parents waved her off and she walked into her prom. They will never forget that moment within their family, and neither will I.

1 comment:

Mikaela said...

Hiya again. :)

Europe feels often inferior to the US and that's why it's difficult to accept any American traditions for many people, I believe. That and the fact our cultures tend to get more Americanised all the time.

Here in Finland many people despise Halloween and how they try to sell the idea to children. Still, even in Finland people used to celebrate the harvest and even go from house to house in disguise and ask for food. It just wasn't called Halloween (but "kekri") or trick-or-treating. :)

If my children want to celebrate Halloween one day in an American way, that's fine with me. One American holiday I would love to see imported here is Thanksgiving. I love all family holidays, and I think the idea to think about what we are and should be grateful for - at least once a year - is lovely.