Friday, June 08, 2007

And the grass was as high as an elephant's eye

Well, maybe a medium sized dog's eye. Seems my housekeeper was expecting me tomorrow, and was hoping to get it all done before I got home. Well, looks like not. In fact, it looks like it has not been done since I left. On the other hand, there was, like NO trash lying around, so I suspect that he actually did do some of it. I wish he had remembered the strip beside the was knee high and seeding. As is my rhubarb! Well! Looks like a fair amount of yard work to get done here this weekend!
Brenda packed it in at nine in the evening last night. That would be three in the morning Europe time, I am amazed she made it this far. Long day in London yesterday and day before yesterday....when we got to London we went immediately to our hotel. Nice location, on Belgrave Street, only 500 meters from Victoria Station. Like all directions made by and for hotels, this distance is suspect, you have to go AROUND the station to get in and out of it, and it is a BIG station, and that little detour added an extra thousand steps. But the worst was when we were assigned our room....on the fourth floor. This makes for five stories of narrow stairway with no elevator because, of course, in Europe, the main floor is floor zero, and the what we call the second floor, they call the first floor.
Thump thump thump, a step at a time to get this heavy suitcase up to a tiny little room. Well, it was London don't expect luxury, not even on Belgrave street! So we got up there, and found a nice full double bed, a side table, a desk and lo and behold, a shower and a sink. Brenda says to me...isn't there a toilet in here? The e-contract says there is a bathroom. Oh right, I remember, in England, a bathroom and a toilet are two separate rooms. Yup, we got a bathroom. Or rather, a shower room. The toilet was in the hall. You would think that a hotel which would save money and floor space by not putting a toilet in every room would make the communal bog nice and fancy! Hah! Airplane toilets have more room! Oh well, its not like I am sitting in there with a cigar, and a newspaper for hours, so who cares. The bed was comfortable, and even though you had to step into the "bathroom" to change your mind, the room was cool, pleasant and quite up to the job of crashing us for the night!
So it seems the Victoria and Albert Museum is not open past 5:30 on Wednesdays after all! Oh shucks. So Brenda thought...."hey, I've never been to Greenwich". I regarded it as a pretty little town, at the end of the Docklands Light Railway run past Canary Wharf. The home of the Dominion Observatory, the Prime Meridian, and the school for Naval Navigators back when Britannia ruled the waves. There is a musum of well known naval chronometers in there, but I have never ever had the chance to visit it, this was no exception, so I contented myself with checking out the fairly recent statue of General Wolfe, who is overlooking the famous "roll down" hill at Greenwich. Interesting (to a Canadian) is the fact that Canadian's had donated it (no surprise) but that the present Compte du Montcalm had dedicated the statue. Canadians will appreciate the irony, all others will just say "huh?"
The Cutty Sark in all its burnt out glory was still there, surrounded by wooden boards like a construction site. Quite depressing to see the burnt timbers and exposed iron beams. The cutty sark had an iron skeleton, and wooden cladding. It was a fire trap, even when I visited it a few years ago, it looked like it was crumbling away, the hundred and fifty year old railings were turning to tinder dust and the aft section was filled with P.E.G. in an attempt to stabilize the hull. The famous figure head of the woman running from the ghost is totally gone (removed last November according to the "Times",)
The name "cutty sark" is from a Scottish short story about a woman who ran from a ghost, who grabbed her nightgown. Swift thinking, she slashed her nightgown (the sark) away from her body, leaving the ghost holding part of it, which evidently satisfied the spector, but because of the magic involved, she had run several counties over, ending up far from home and half dressed. A perfect subject for carving, and a great name for the fleetest clipper ship to ever ply the tea trade! Even now, the speed she did her runs has not been beat....the modern ships conserve fuel and plod to and from their destinations.
The upperworks of this ship can be replaced, but the figureheads were lovingly salvaged from old boatyards, attics, and boathouses all over the Thames Valley, and this collection was the only such collection in the world. It was one man's life work. And it seems to have been removed last November and stashed someplace, but nobody seems to know where.
Nobody is talking about the causes of the fire either. The headlines seemed to scream out that vandals had done it, but then, these are UK newspapers, not noted for good solid background checking of sources.

And the Guardian has wonderful pictures of it here....

And of course, the London Times, which DOES check its sources, tells me the good news is that the figurehead and all artifacts inside the hull had been removed for conservation!

The links above are full of great pictures.

A nice long flight back to Canada. Into the trades the whole way, which added an hour to the flight. Boring movies (Billy Bob Thorton ----Astronaut? Pullleeeezzzzeee!) An hour helping Steve mow the hayfield which used to be a lawn, and then early to bed. Today, download some pictures. Brenda has about 500 pictures. What would be a good way to display them? Any ideas? Should I go back over these blogs and insert pictures into the narrative, or put them on a photo bucket, or should I start another blog beside this one with updated narrative and pictures?


Anonymous said...

Egads… I’m making a note to never get a hotel in London!

I’m sorry, I do have to chuckle at the lack of lawn maintenance while you were gone since that is practically ALL I have been doing. Rhubarb – yum! My grandfather used to grow it and my mother made the best rhubarb pie. NOT strawberry-rhubarb pie, which is for sissies. Straight rhubarb with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Mmmmm. Thanks for the memory!

Oh, and I like the idea of using Photobucket.

~ Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Bill and Brenda. See you Sunday.


kimberly said...

Glad you made it back safely, we were beginning to wonder what had befallen you since there was a lack of posts.
Looking forward to hearing about it in class!

Kim & Lorne