Sunday, 24 October 2010

From her fearful symmetry to our stunning view - a GREAT day of new spots in the Smoke...


And a good Sunday morning to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. Talk about making it count yesterday! Sam and "his angels" hit some GREAT new places, including a to-do that has (inadvertently) fallen off our list!

We got up around 9, and we were out the door just before 11. The day was cold, but there were blue skies above us, punctuated by some of the biggest cumulo-nimbus towers I've ever seen in the UK (that's right - I just used the word "cumulo-nimbus" - sophomore Carolina Geography 11 class REPRESENT!). We walked to Warren Street (which was open for a change) and hopped the tube to a new destination for us: Archway.

The destination was one Puffin and I'd been interested in since completing Audrey Niffenegger's (rather disappointing) book "Her Fearful Symmetry" - Highgate Cemetary. But JT and I read it, and we'd decided to go and explore this place at some point. However, with everything else going on, we just forgot about it. However, as Lady Catherine had it on her "to do" list, we got to cross it off!
The walk to the cemetary was very nice, including a brief stop at the Dick Whittington stone (commemorating his 3 terms as Lord Mayor of London under Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V) and a nice walk through Waterlow park. This "garden for the gardenless" was GORGEOUS - fall colors were alive and well on this SPECTACULAR late fall day, and it was nice to see some green and breathe some fresh air after the past couple of weeks of "city livin'."
Highgate itself was AWESOME, and DEFINITELY worth the visit. There are 2 sides (east and west), with the east being a self-guided section and the west by guided tour only. We got in line 15 minutes before the tour was supposed to start (they are on the hour), thinking that would be PLENTY of time. After all, it's a bloody CEMETARY - how many people could possibly want to visit? Well, we soon learned that they only took in parties of 15, and so at least 18 wanted to visit that hour because the guide SLAMMED THE GATE IN OUR FACES at 12:58 and said,"Come back in 1 hour." No ceremony. No pleading. Just a lot of iron in my face and a dude with a pierced eyebrow who did NOT care about an American's opinion.
The tour of the west side was BRILLIANT, as we learned about the symbols on the tombs, the history of the cemetary, and the lives of some of the more famous residents. Highgate has over 55,000 tombs and 180,000 bodies! HOLY MOLY!!!! The section, the oldest (and prettiest), was something out of a movie - you would NOT want to be locked in there after dark. And perhaps the neatest point was at the end, when, true to form in the afterword from the book, the "little green box" was sitting by the exit. The cemetary costs about 1000 pounds a day to maintain, and consequently all the work is done by volunteers. We'd already paid for our tour, of course, but there was no two ways about it - we simply had to throw a quid in that box.

The east side has plenty of famous graves, including Doug Addams (author of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") and Geoge Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans, author of "Middlemarch"). The most famous, however, is Karl Marx. Hitman, OSC, MattPa, Big Cat - this photo is for you. That's all I have to say. Oh, and POWER TO THE PEOPLE! WORKER'S OF THE WORLD, UNITE!!!!! But seriously - it was cool, even if Alison later on referred to us a bunch of "graveyard groupies."
After the cemetary visit, we rode the Tube back to Euston, where we arrived just in time to a) eat 4 Millie's cookies and b) greet Alison! That's right - fresh off from a lecture in Liverpool, Ms. Lailey rolled in just before 4 PM. Consequently we headed back to the flat, dropped her stuff, added a layer, and then headed out again. The only problem was that we didn't actually know where we wanted to go...
We started out heading toward Covent Garden, but Catherine came through in the clutch YET AGAIN with the statement "Have you been to the bar at the top of the Portrait Gallery?" Ten minutes later, we had an AMAZING VIEW of Trafalgar Square at sunset - WAY TO GO, CATH! We sat there through 2 bottles of wine, watching the sun go down and the lights come up over London (the Eye was particularly active, constantly changing colors inside the wheel). It was GREAT, and it was ANOTHER to do that we'd totally forgotten about.
After that we went to the Salisbury, where, for only the second time EVER, we actually got seats! I couldn't believe it. And I am happy to report that the Heineken was fresh as well. :-)
It was then on to dinner at Manoram Thai, where we KILLED some starters, green curries, pad thai, and even 2 helpings of coconut ice cream (which was utterly DELICIOUS). All in all, it was a GREAT night, especially when we got home and I got back into the cheese! Big Cat - if you think I'm fat now - just wait until the end of the assignment: CHUUUUUUUBBY BUUUUUUNNNNNY!!!!!
We got home around 11, passing out around midnight. And given that it's now 15 til 10, I need to go rouse perfect pumpkin.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny (and Cath and Alison)

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