Costumes and Culture

So. After our incredibly English day, Stephanie and I ventured once more into the urban jungle of London. We met in Trafalgar Square in the shadow of Nelson’s Column and the giant lions guarding its base. We made our way up the stairs and into the artistic halls of the National Gallery. Touring an art museum is so much more enjoyable when you have a partner in crime. We laughed our way through the hideously drawn faces of the Renaissance art, the multitudes of Jesus and Mary depictions, to the incredible landscapes of J.M.W. Turner and the pointillism of Monet. Seriously, though. One would think some of the artists had never seen a woman’s face before. The twisted visages ranged from foreheads the size of billboards to just plain grotesque creatures. Oh, and the babies? Demonic or disfigured. But I digress.

After we regained our composure, we grabbed some sandwiches from Pret A Manger and sat on the edge of the fountains in Trafalgar munching away. Pret can be a bit overpriced for what it is, but the sandwiches are good, natural, and made fresh every day. At the end of each day, the sandwiches that aren’t sold are donated to shelters. What’s not to like about an all-around feel good sandwich? After lunch, we wandered down to Westminster, seeing the major sights along the way: Downing St, Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower, Parliament/Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey. Stephanie snapped a few tourist shots and we pressed on.

Three trips to the UK and I still can’t resist taking a pic of Big Ben.

The Victoria and Albert Museum was our next destination. The V&A is an eclectic collection including artwork, sculpture, and culture from around the world, spanning the centuries. We walked through Roman archways, passed through galleries on Japanese culture, and finally grabbed a map to give a sense of order to our exploration. My favourite part of the museum is that it chronicles life and how people lived throughout the centuries. From dishes and flatware to a replica bed from a Scottish estate, life has been preserved within the walls of the museum.

Did I mention the museum is interactive? No? Well, let me tell you… We went around to all the interactive spots we could find. Stephanie and I had a blast trying on hoop skirts and cravats respectively (I thought about putting the skirt on… but thought better of it), and Stephanie designed her own monogram (my station was malfunctioning). Best of all, we tried on costumes that theatre companies had donated to the museum. Magician, china man, Mr Toad, fire bird… Stephanie was ecstatic over the fire bird, flapping her wings in front of the mirror. We had an awesome time!

Two hours in the V&A and we had barely scratched the surface, but London has so much more to offer. We walked to Hyde Park and rested our weary feet while reading the Evening Standard. It’s a free newspaper that is printed and distributed across London every evening. It’s so easy to stay abreast of current events here, even if the Duchess of Cambridge has dominated the front page for the past few days. I wanted Stephanie to see the park, so we strolled around the Serpentine – a lake in the centre of the park – parting the sea of ducks, geese, and pigeons. However, I was unaware of the damage done to the grounds by the Olympics. The northern portion of the park looks like a wasteland… But we walked onward, heading for Oxford Street so Stephanie could procure some leggings to accompany her outfit for the next day.

We embraced the madness and the horde of people shopping their way up and down the street, trying to locate a decent pair of leggings on a budget. Thus, we arrive at Primark. Far from a high end department store, Primark is good for the essentials. We dove into the crowd, hunting for the illusive leggings as Luna Lovegood hunted for the Crumple Horned Snorkack. Leggings in hand, our rumbly tumblies sent us in search of food. Continuing my duties as culinary London tour guide, we headed to a pub for a platter of fish and chips, another British staple. Our stomachs full and our palates quenched with a pint, Stephanie and I walked down Carnaby Street to Shaftesbury Avenue. This is where Hermione apparated in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows – Part 1. In the books, it’s Tottenham Court Rd, but that’s a minor detail. We wandered around M&M’s World for a bit and then walked down to Piccadilly Circus to see it all lit up. Piccadilly is London’s answer to Times Square. Bright, busy, and lots of people. Taking the photos required of all tourists and having successfully navigated our way through another culture packed day in London, Stephanie and I returned to our respective domiciles.

Pub

Pub food and pints.

Carnaby Street

Union Jack

God save the Queen.

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