Friday, March 28, 2008

The Towers -- Bridge and of London

London Bridge did indeed fall down in about 1014. And another one was built, but it got too small. So another one was built and so on and so on ...

There is an old London Bridge (but it is in Arizona) ...

And a Tower of London ...

and a Tower Bridge ....

No wonder I got confused.

Not that I am excusing myself, mind you. It is just an explanation. Oh! And I still had jet lag. That is why we ended up walking much more than I expected on our first morning in London. It was not a hardship, because our tummies were full of delicious breakfast, we had handwarmers in our pockets, and we were walking in ...

So, things were good, all things considered.

So, to explain, the London Bridge that we all think of when we think of London is actually the Tower Bridge, near the Tower of London, which is really a castle. The old London Bridge was auctioned off and sold to a guy in Arizona for about two and a half million dollars. The current London Bridge looks like this.

So, when we got off of the Underground, I was completely confused, but we followed the signs. And then you could see the Tower Bridge ... whew! As you can see from the map, we should have been getting off right in front of the Tower of London, but we came up Tooley Street and crossed the Tower Bridge Road. Unexpected but great.

So, we finally make it to the Tower Bridge, and it is just great. I am excited, because this is a view that I have not seen before. And I like rivers and bridges.

It is a lovely old Victorian bridge and it is a working drawbridge, with a couple of famous unexpected raisings over the years. You can go into the London Bridge Experience and walk across the lovely sky-blue walkway, but I thought losing my husband to heart failure might put a bit of a damper on the holiday mood.

However, if we were to have walked across the walkway, I could have taken a picture like this.

But I didn't. So I took this picture as we started across the River Thames, on the way to the Tower of London, across the Tower Bridge.

Across the Thames, you can see the Gerkin ( 20 St. Mary Axe) and the Financial District. I know that you can take barges along the Thames, and I think it would be very fun to do on a summer's day.

Looking back over my shoulder the way that we came.

And about half-way across ...

I stop to take a movie. It is a little blustery.

Coming up is the Tower, and I am already getting excited. Coming from the river aspect, it is different -- for some reason, I can imagine the Tower as a fortress, perched on this outcropping that supplies water and fills the moat.

One of the towers.

The motto of the City of London: Domine Dirige Nos (Lord Direct Us)

And what would it be without gargoyles?

I like gargoyles.

We finished walking across the Thames and took a left. There is a nice walk along the river, with the Tower on your right side.

With the bridge behind us.

A very proper castle, in my opinion.

The day is so clear and crisp, and the light was just great. The colors are stark and wintery, a nice complement to the stone. I am enjoying the different textures.

Wry notices these nifty black and white birds in the trees. Any bird watchers know what they would be?

A Beefeater! We are on the right track. Unfortunately I don't see the entrance, so we just keep walking around. The Tower is not very small.

A cunning gargo-spout

Alas, this entrance was chained off. I was tempted to duck under the chain, but feared for me 'ead.

I wondered what this would look like in the summer.

The Traitor's Gate! From the outside, this time.

You can see me in this picture if you look closely.

I wondered what the hook was for.

We continue walking, the river on our left. A group of tourists is making a lot of happy noise, and taking lots of group pictures. I am feeling happy, with the crisp light and shadows and my new birthday camera.

A view of Wry that I become accustomed to -- him hunched over his notebook, sketching and making notes.

The first glimpse of the buildings that I recognize -- the stripey Elizabethan ones in the inner courtyard. I like the contrast.

And a view of the city as we round the corner.

So, now I know that the approach from the river is called the Western Entrance. I liked this picture because you could see how the moat worked.

Even though it is cold -- a bit more than brisk, there are signs of spring. I was surprised to see these flowers peeking their heads up. Look for more daffodils in the coming shots.

This is our Beefeater -- for those of you looking for more historical facts, refer to Rowan's post in the archives. It was funny, but I actually saw our Beefeater from last year wandering aboot.

You can see some of the remains of the Roman wall on this site. As Wry said, "what else would you put behind the ruins of a Roman wall, but the bird cages?"

As you walk up the hill into the quad, you can see the buildings and the different styles. Wry was blown away by the striped ones.

We walked around the White Tower, because there was construction on the front part of the building. Just to let you know, February seems to be the upkeep time of year. I did not mind, because I saw some things I did not see last time, such as this ...

A wonderful, old, ornate cannon -- it looked like a Chinese dragon.

And the ancient city ruins.

It can't mean the same thing as in Narnia.

Wry going up the stairs. The stairs were removable and on the second floor to make it harder to invade.

When I saw this, I thought it had something to do with ... sanitation. Sure enough, it is what a Norman would have in a castle for convenience sake.

And some armory pictures.

All the King's horses.

Just for the students -- Wry next to the giant and mini armor. He promised.

The Beauchamp Tower held many prisoners. There are plaques with their carvings on them. It was hard to read them in the dim light.

The stairs leading up are in the corner.

And up to the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist.

It is one of the earliest church interiors preserved in England. Supposedly the interior was painted brightly at one time, but I like the tone on tone, texture on texture of the current chapel.

The chapel is small.

The only color comes from the sun shining through the stained glass. It is austere and not welcoming.

Although it is small, it is not intimate or inviting. It is beautiful, but there is no music. If there were monks chanting, it would be perfect.

As we were leaving, I saw this door. I wonder where it goes, because it had an odd, otherworldly feel to it -- as if it would open into a garden or another, hidden world. That is why there is no knob.

Up the stairs through the armory -- lots of big guns. Some of them had whimsical inscriptions and fanciful work. One was shaped like a lion, with the mouth of the cannon the mouth of the lion.

And down the stairs again.

I liked this view -- you can see the wall and the walkway. The Thames is just beyond.

An outer wall.

I like the way that the people looked like projected shadows -- almost two dimensional. The tree branches looked like toile against the stones.

Wry and I walked back up by the Roman wall near the entrance for a last look around. We were both struck by the same shot. I can't remember who took which one, but I think that the better one is Wry's.

If I knew how to work my camera better, I would be able to get artistic pictures.

But I was pleased with this one of the trees through a hole in the ancient Roman wall.

The handwarmers were still working. I had been experimenting and found that one of the best ways to keep warm was to put them in my front pockets. It paid to keep them moving, because if they stayed in any place too long, it became uncomfortable. I was surprised at how much warmth they provided, which was good -- because stone walls in February are cooooolllldddd.

After I wrestled the camera away from my husband, I got to take pictures of lovely daffodils.

More signs of spring.

We were just going to leave when we realized that we had not walked along the Tower wall. So we did. I think that people thought that I knew what I was doing because I took so many pictures and asked me to take pictures of them. I think I got some nice ones.

A view of the Tower Bridge from the Tower wall -- an angle I had not been able to get before.

Finally, we went into the either the Wakefield or the Lanthorn Tower. The Hall tower has a pasage that led through the Great hall into the King's bedroom.

The reason that I don't know where we exactly were was because of a bit of a problem I was having. As I mentioned before, I had on a nice pair of tights to help me stay warm, and somewhere as I entered this structure, the top began to roll down, in a slow, inevitable, curl.

This is the kind of thing that, if you can find a quiet corner and nip the top edge before it drops down too far, can be stopped. However, when one is in a historic building with hordes (well, not hordes, exactly, because it was February) of tourists lurking around every corner, things can get mighty out of hand. On at least three occasions, I thought I had a quiet moment, but noooo. So, I kept walking, feeling the dratted things roll down, a millimeter at a time, until some critical mass was reached and they rolled, like, down to my knees. I felt like I was mincing along.

Here is the king's bedroom -- I think. At this point, I was sending telepathic distress signals to my husband, entreating him to be a human shield so I could attend to my personal needs.

It was used by Henry the III as his bedroom and private chapel.

It was used for private devotions until Henry VI was stabbed to death before the cross. Yeesh. It was somewhere after here that my tights also gave up the ghost.

Something historic being re-enacted. The entry of Anne Boleyn, I think. I pause to admire for a moment and then hustle Wry off.

The last shot of the Tower of London ... it was beautiful.

We went over to Wagamama's and had a nice bowl of noodles. I immediately left the table to go and pull up my tights.

Wry notices that the pound coins have different edges. He is pleased.

I like the exit signs -- everyone is so peppy!

No one just leaves at an amble, no sirree.

We head back to the hotel, as Wry has something set for us to do tonight. I am willing to be surprised.


rowan said...

Hey! What a great and detailed post! loved all the pictures.

I think the birds are magpies, a sort of black and white crow. They are famous for pinching shiny things and hiding them in their nests. Perhaps that's why they hanf around in the vicinity of the Crown Jewels!

Bob...I hope you remembered me to the beefeater from last year. I got a picture with him, I recall. A fine and jolly fellow!

And (squinching eyes narrowly) time yer in Wagamama, email me some pas see ew or any other delicacy I might like, as an attachment. I can open such files on my PDA when my need for noodles is great. Have not worked out where the microwave programme is in the system menu, but I will.

Look forward to the further adventures of Bob and Wry!

rowan said...

I think European magpies are mayhap different from US ones. There's a really good pic if you scroll dfown to the second page. I like magpies. There were a few great big ones around the Stirling Uni campus, lang syne. (It is set in the lovely grounds of an old estate.) The magpies would roll around fighting with eachother, right in front of my feet, then fly up to a nearby branch and continue cursing eachother in a jovial and bombastic manner. I think it would not be fun teaching them if they metamorphosed into human form.

bama said...

Hey!! Great post! I'm enthralled with London thus far. I think I'd be so overwhelmed just to stand in the prescence of such history.

I love the pic of the blue lamp...and there was one of the bridge, I think, with a black tree in the foreground. Loved that one too.

Sawry about the "tights debacle". I HATE when that happens...and, of course, it always happens at the most inappropriate moment!

rowan said...

OOrgh - Bob and Bama - with yiz a' on the fally-doon tights thing. It always happens to me when I'm running for buses, and suchlike. The Tights Gremlin is evil indeed. Mayhap her mother wanted a frilly Pollyanna sort of girl, and called her "Pretty Polly", so she takes her warped vengeance indiscriminately upon hosiery wearers of all brands.

The Tights Gremlin is the wee insidious voice that tells you in the morning that, "Yeah, they don't come up as far as you would like, but they will stay up, with a bit of luck."

Bob, I think those are maybe emergency exits, so you're supposed to scoot oot o them. I don't think ortdinary exits would be marked. Generally, useful stuff like that doesn't tend to be!

Yeah, the blue lamp pic is lovely. And the lacy tree tracery. Tower Bridge looks superb. I am gonna do the "Tower Bridge experience" someday, and climb the gazillion stairs. My fellow Haverers can carry the smelling-salts and beta-blockers. Oh, and Creme Eggs, lest altitude-induced diabetes sets in.

Et in Arcadia Eggo! :D

(everyone needs a Latin motto.)

Dr. Bob said...

what the heck! I have glitches! Eeeek.

must fix.

rowan said...

What are the glitches of which you speak? This blog is a thing of seamless beauty.

Wish i could say that of my tights...

Looking forward to reading aboot yer nicht oot! Sigh...I wanna go to Lundin. There is a wee village not far from here called Lundin Links. I could get there by shoogly country bus, but it would not be the same. :/

More blog! More pics!

MadMad said...

Whoa - you have MUCH better pictures, hon! I'd LOVE to go to London! (Especially if I could leave a certain someone - or two - heck, all three of them, if I'm honest, back home.)

Thanks for coming by!

Dr. Bob said...

Madmad -- thanks for coming by! Glad you liked the pictures. I don't scrapbook or put pictures in albums, so this is my only way of remembering what in the heck we did.

(going sans children is pretty great!)