Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Scotland + Northern England

London - British Museum, British Library

On the plane from Sydney to London I read Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brody and started on Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. During our stop in Singapore airport we went out to the cactus garden, where it was stifling hot even at 4am. I slept a bit on the next leg, but woke up as we were leaving India and had excellent views (we had a window seat) as we flew over Saudi Arabia and Cyprus and then turned north to pass over Istanbul and the mouth of the Danube.

Underground from Heathrow
At Heathrow we had to go to Terminal 1 to get Camilla's tickets to Iceland. Then came the long hot haul on the Underground to Archway, from where we walked to the friends' place in Highgate where we were staying.

After catching up with family news we walked up to Highgate village, where we bought food for Iceland - though since we went to a fancy food store, it was probably no cheaper. We walked back through Waterlow park, watching the ducks, kites, pigeons, and squirrels; Highgate Cemetery was shut.

Wednesday August 20th

Catching the bus into the centre, we found the John Snow pub in Soho, named to commemorate Snow's 1854 removal of the handle from a pump responsible for a cholera outbreak.

The friends we were staying with are epidemiologists, and we had talked the night before about putting together a web site for the John Snow Society.

We then made our way to the British Museum. I concentrated on the European prehistory and Roman Britain galleries, but we also had time to look at the Egyptian and Near Eastern galleries, and a special exhibition on memory.

I'd forgotten just how good the British Museum is -- it really does leave most other museums looking amateur. For those with an interest in history and archaeology, it's a place to come back to repeatedly -- and entry is free, which makes that practical. The new roof over the courtyard works remarkably well, too.
the John Snow pub
the British Museum

We bought some food in a Sainsbury's and ate lunch sitting in Lincoln's Inn fields, then looked at the John Soame museum. St Pauls was undergoing renovations and we'd both visited it before, so we decided to pass on that and crossed the Thames. There were no Globe tours that were practical, so we spent a long time in the Tate Modern.

Picadilly Circus

Having left it a bit late, we had to quick march to Picadilly Circus, where we were meeting some of Camilla's friends for drinks and then another for dinner.

Thursday August 21st

We walked over Hampstead Heath, past the house I'd lived in for six months when I was nine, to my great-aunt's flat in Belsize Park, where we had morning tea. Afterwards we had lunch and visited the lovely little Daunt Books, where Camilla bought The Yan and the Pike, a strange Japanese tale, and I bought Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

Returning over the Heath, we packed and caught the bus to Kings Cross, which was like a mining site with all the construction work. In the new British Library we caught a superb exhibition on the Lindisfarne Gospels, browsed through the permanent "treasures" -- documents by George Orwell, Haig, the Beatles, Austen, etc. -- and looked at the King's Library.

waiting at Heathrow
At Heathrow, we checked in with no problems and had nearly two hours to wait. Fortunately we found some very comfortable reclining chairs, and we had some food to eat, so time passed quite quickly. We were off to Iceland!

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