Wednesday, April 16th
My friend K., S. and I set out reasonably early (thanks to K. arriving at the hotel with good, strong coffee) to visit the Tower of London on Wednesday morning. I had skipped it on previous visits to London in favour of less touristy destinations but S. provided me with the excuse to make this historic site a priority (K. had been before but she happily joined us).
We took a little tour and did some wandering around on our own. The Bloody Tower and the Crown Jewels (which we visited twice!) made the biggest impression. I am never sure, on these occasions, how much my son is taking in. But yesterday, I was in his class for knitting club and the kids were asking about our visit to London and the Tower, in particular. One of the kids asked, "Which king was it who had his nephews killed?". I couldn't remember. But S. replied, without missing a beat, "Richard the Third."
I checked. He's right.
After a couple of hours at the Tower, the three of us found a heated patio where we could have lunch outside. Then we reluctantly said goodbye to K., who needed to return home to work and family. The visit went by so quickly!
S. and I were both sad to see her go but he perked up pretty quickly when I offered to take him shopping (back to Oxford Street) for cds (he had some cash from Grammy and Granddad to spend and he was pretty keen to do so. After he had managed to procure a Rolling Stones DVD set and some Doctor Who audio cds (read by David Tennant, the good Doctor, in his most recent incarnation) and I had found a Spike Milligan compilation for T., a very happy boy and I met Grandpa at the Statue of Anteros.
After we all had dinner, Grandpa took us to see the Thirty-Nine Steps (a comical adaptation of the Hitchcock movie, itself based on the novel by one-time Canadian Governor-General John Buchan). I love live theatre and it was a real joy to see S. get swept up. In fact, in a week full of wonderful experiences, S. consistently says that the play was his absolute favourite.
Thursday, April 17th
Thursday was the day we had set aside for the Doctor Who Exhibition. Expectations were very, very high as we arrived at Earl's Court but I have to say that they were met and perhaps exceeded.
I enjoyed myself far more than I might have without my excellent tour guide (the young S.), whose detailed knowledge of every episode of Doctor Who since the series was revived in 2005 is truly impressive.
That afternoon, it was time for something a little more highbrow. S. wanted to go to an art gallery and, based on Grandpa's recommendation, we chose to visit the National Portrait Gallery. I highly recommend this gallery, as much as a lesson in history as for the beautiful artwork. I especially loved the portraits of Mary Wollstonecraft (an early feminist, she wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792) her daughter Mary Shelley (who wrote Frankenstein) and Lord Byron (check out the portrait. Doesn't it explain both his reputation and why he made women swoon?).
The Karsh collection is also truly wonderful (especially the famous photo of Winston Churchill, taken just after Karsh had yanked a cigar from out of the Churchill's mouth). It was also neat to see the photo of John Buchan, since we'd just seen the theatrical adaptation of his novel the previous evening.
S. and I both also enjoyed the Vanity Fair Portraits. We disagreed over the amount of time we wanted to spend in front of each portrait (a couple of minutes versus ten seconds or so) but he waited for me with tremendous patience. I was very proud of him.
One of the best things about travelling with S. is that we were both quite content to wrap our day up in late afternoon and head back to the hotel to lounge around for the evening.
And so we did.