The breakfast buffet at NH Collection hotels is always a treat. It’s a buffet with baked goods including frosted cakes, Belgian waffles, full English breakfast items including tomatoes, mushrooms, and sausage, fresh fruit, and a topping bar for scrambled eggs. That’s what I always think of it as but it’s actually a station to choose your own ingredients for an omelette.
We took the Underground to the South Kensington Station. Even though it’s a stop in the city and above ground at this point, someone has lovingly maintained a flower garden and has also placed hanging flower pots full of petunias around the platform.
While David visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, I visited the Natural History Museum. It was my favorite Museum last year and this summer did not disappoint. It was over 90 degrees in London so the lines were long, and it was hot and crowded inside, but so worth it. I love how the museum has retained rich wooden cabinets probably from the early 1900s with collections of fossils, rocks and minerals, birds, insects, and dinosaurs. Most magnificent is a giant skeleton of a blue whale suspended over one of the halls. One of my favorite galleries is Images of Nature which I loved last year as well because it describes the value of drawing nature yet this year posed an interesting question: if the only visual records we have of extinct species such as the dodo bird are drawings, how do we know which of many illustrations were accurate? Did the artist leave out any important details? I will share this with my students in the fall who will be keeping an illustrated journal of the Blanding’s turtle throughout the year.
The Natural History Museum remains my favorite museum, but for David it’s the Victoria and Albert. He says he could spend all day in there.
After meeting David, we had lunch in the outside garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Children played in an outside fountain pool in the courtyard and surprisingly, many were wearing bathing suits.
The highlight of our day was a trip to the Tower of London. It is officially the queens royal palace and is located on the north bank of the Thames River. Much of it was built in the 1200s. We took a 45 minute tour with an engaging and entertaining guide dressed as a Beefeater. We learned there are about 30 families living within the compound and we saw their half timbered homes guarded by royal guards. Our guide also told us tales of executions and it all sounded quite grisly. In one of the towers called Beauchamp Tower, graffiti messages from prisoners were inscribed in the walls, most with incredible letters cut into stone. We toured the Crown Jewels and saw the royal crowns. A moving sidewalk inside keeps people from lingering too long and holding up the line.
In the courtyards are ravens who sit on cannons and peer out of holes on the stone walls. Legend has it that if the ravens leave, the monarchy will fall. We learned they do clip their wings so they can’t fly long distances, but we saw them out and about strutting around and making a loud squawking noise.
On the way back to the hotel, we took a river boat which is basically just a way to get from one point to another on the water. There are so many on the river moving from one side to the other they spend a lot of time just waiting to dock on a pier. We noticed people looking for treasures along the shore where people can still find things from long long ago when the river was used as a dumping ground.
Tonight we went back to a restaurant we like called Zizis. It’s a chain where they make fresh brick oven pizza with a thin crust. Tomorrow it is supposed to be much cooler. We will be going to Greenwich for the day.