Tuesday, April 3, 2012

That's a Wrap: Part 5 & Done

Fleet Street, former center of the universe for journalists and printers. Nice mosaic advertising on the left-side building.

Somerset House. I'd heard it announced on Tube trains as a place to exit, but didn't know what it was. As we walked along the Strand we saw an entrance to a courtyard and went in to find this exhibit of 10,000 ceramic blooms placed in the grass courtyard. Somerset Place, as it used to be called, was originally built by the Duke of Somerset. After he was executed at Tower Hill it was used by Princess Elizabeth before she became Queen Elizabeth (mid-1500s). The east wing now forms part of King's College London.

Never know what you'll run across as you walk around London.

For instance, this is another courtyard that caught our eye as we walked along the Strand. No idea what this is about, but it's impressive.

Just another ordinary building on the Strand.

Lots of pubs in the Strand and Fleet Street area. The George has been here since 1723. Samuel Johnson, author of A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), used The George as his postal address for a while.

The hand-carved exterior decorations of The George are beautiful, if not puzzling. They depict naked men chasing geese, pigs, and roosters. Makes perfect sense to me.

We find ourselves at the Inner Temple again. The Inner Temple and this entire area is one of four Inns of Court in London, professional associations for judges and lawyers. Dating back to the 1300s. 

Inner Temple window.

Inner Temple entrance.

A tour guide tells her group about the Inner Temple.

Robin reads a plaque about the history of the Inner Temple.

One of the courtyards in the Temple area.

The Middle Temple, in an adjoining courtyard.

Detail of the Middle Temple entrance. 

One of the entrances to the Temple courtyards. Just assume everyone you see in this area is a lawyer or a judge.

It could be my imagination, but the number of pubs seems to increase with the number of lawyers and judges in the area.

It's 5 p.m. Do you know where your lawyer is? Standing outside the nearest pub, I'll bet.

I'm sure someone is getting billed by the hour for this. 

That's a Wrap: Part 4

It's our last visit to London for a while, so why not go back to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for lunch and another dose of its gloomy charm. According to a plaque nearby, Charles Dickens operated out of the Cheshire Cheese pub while working on his journal All The Year Round.

The entrance has almost been worn away. This metal grill protects what's left of the original stone step. It also provides a more predictable exit for intoxicated patrons.

The front bar is small, gloomy, and charming. There are four bars tucked away in the rabbit warren-like pub. Or, at least, that's how many we've found so far. On our last visit here, we didn't explore downstairs beyond the restrooms. But this time around, we found some stairs just past the restrooms that took us to some small wine cellar rooms, then some more stairs that went to yet another bar.

Maybe I'm just a gloomy guy, but I think this is the perfect atmosphere for enjoying a cider.

Looks like someone needs another gloomy glass of wine.

After ordering food from the bar below, I searched for our table and Robin. Aha, found them.

These stairs go from our gloomy table, down and to the left, to a gloomy bar below.

The bar below. The Tube isn't the only Underground here.

Here's to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Robin points out that the phrase "Ye olde" comes from the misunderstanding of old writing of the words "The olde." The drawing of a "T" in old manuscript writing usually looked like a "Y" and the use of the incorrect phrase "Ye olde" became common.

An iconic UK sight, for me. A bubbling pint of cider. Lots of bubbles. Pints of cider are usually served filled up to the brim of the glass. This pint partially empty because I've already had a sip. Lest ye think I have ye olde cider problem, let me remind you that cider is a very mild drink, about as potent as apple juice.  

As you can see from the bubble-inducing pattern in the bottom of the glass, we're drinking cider from an Arcoroc glass. They make glassware for restaurants. If you can figure out what the symbols mean, let me know. The important thing is, the dots make bubbles. 

After a typical pub meal (cottage pie) and a farewell to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, we leave the pub's small side street and make our way to Aldwyche Street and the Novello Theatre to see Noises Off.

That's a Wrap: Part 3

St. Bride's Church. They say this spire is the inspiration for the traditional bride's cake. This might be one of the oldest churches in London. It's at least the seventh church built on this site, going back to the 7th century. In the late 1580s the parents of Virginia Dare (the first English child born in America, on Roanoke Island in 1587) were married here.

St. Bride's close-up. 

St. Bride's even closer-up. This small and quiet secluded courtyard, just a few steps off Fleet Street, seemed to be a popular place for a lunchtime snack.

Next to St. Bride's is The Old Bell pub. I'm sure it has a history, like the other dozen pubs in this block, just off Fleet Street, one of London's prominent streets (famous as the street of journalists and printers).

Pubs in the city are full of suits. Usually with young guys in them, smoking. Lots of young women in suits also. Especially around 5 p.m.

Among the old, historic buildings, modern streetscapes coexist.

We stumbled across The Cartoonist pub, a must-have photo for me. 

The walls are covered with vintage, original cartoons. I assume some cartoon friends originally started this pub. Now, as we've come to expect, the people who work here don't know anything about it's history or have any idea why it's called "The Cartoonist." In the late 1940s, from what I could find online, a group of cartoonists met here regularly to draw from life and to critique each other's work. 

That's a Wrap: Part 2

St. Paul's Cathedral is a popular place to gather. Most of these people are teenagers, waiting for the tour group leader to give them instructions. This reminds me of how we kids used to hang out in front of the First Baptist Church in my home town, waiting for the evening service to begin. Mmmm, maybe not so much, now that I think about it.

A statue something like this would have been nice in front of my hometown church.

In front of a building that face St. Paul's, a series of six columns stand watch, called Angels.

How great is this? Very.

London. Great art everywhere.

Love it.

Walking up Aldersgate Street, where Mary Sidney had a house (and where she died), Robin took me to  Postman's Park. In the park is a small memorial to Heroes who died saving (or trying to save) other people's lives (it can be seen in the background).

The simple monument exhibits ceramic plaques that honor people who died in heroic acts of courage.

A London walk keeps your camera busy.