Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 5: Windsor and a Night Out

Our last full day in London, we went to see Windsor castle. In some sense you can say we saved the best for last! But unfortunately only two of the areas were open, and we missed the changing of the guard because we attended on a Sunday. The two areas open to the public this day was the drawing room, and the Princess Margaret's Dollhouse. It's a shame, because the other places would have been marvelous to see (as would Eton college), but I suppose that will have to wait for my next trip to London! I had a glimpse of the grande hall while we were admiring the artistic prowess held by some of the ceramics on display: I made a mental note to myself that I will need to see it in full, at some point. I would definitely love to return for a second visit one day. All in all, the place was really grand. It had that certain feel to it that just made me and KP quite content inside, and the view of the forest outside the castle walls was, in a word -- stunning. There were ivy strands curling their way up the castle walls, and the inner garden just outside the tower was probably my favorite place in all of Windsor.
Queen Mary's Dollhouse was about the size of three bathtubs all piled atop one another, and then two rows at that. It had various rooms, servants quarters, toiletries, garages, working electricity and (I believe) even plumbing. Everything was made in exact detail and simply miniaturized -- it was not for children, but just because Mary loved small things. It was really something, and as a student of art I couldn't help but be a bit smitten with the craftsmanship. In addition to that, just outside there were some examples of art int he Drawing room. Do you know that drawing done by DaVinci, the one with the fetus? I have no officially seen the original parchment and ink. I kind of just had to stand there for a while and fathom what I was seeing. It was great. Of course, examples of his mirror-script were also on display: Leonardo really was a paranoid crazy sort of guy, wasn't he? Good going, Leo! I enjoyed those displays a lot, but there were also multiple areas dedicated solely to the photography of the Royal Family that were also rather interesting.
When we left, we couldn't help but get a picture with the Grenadier Guard, either.

We stopped by a sweetshop on the way back and it instantly reminded us of Hogsmead from the Harry Potter world. In fact, just after saying that, someone shouted out the name of 'Harry'. It was funny, and I felt a bit awkward asking if they had some Potter-esque jellybeans. Yes, they did.

On the way back to central London, we met a guy named Rhys on the train and he helped us get to where we needed to go. He's a film director (aspiring) and was living in Kellowna BC for a while. Before he lived in London he lived in Africa, and all in all he seemed fairly interesting a person.

Kirstie and I also went to see the National Gallery again, to catch up on what we missed earlier. I caught a glimpse of these the first time, but because we were so rushed I couldn't really take in the experience, and I had missed a lot of the rooms previously. This time I was thoroughly able to enjoy the depictions done by Gainsborough, Van Gogh, Leonardo DaVinci, Rubens, Vermeer, Titian, C├ęzanne and Seurat, Monet and Rembrandt. I was excited to see some Caravaggio, too. Of course to mine and KP's delight, they also had a number of Hogarth on display. I got a kick out of telling her the narrative in his stuff. We also had the chance to see the painting by Holbein the Younger where a cloth on the floor looks like a skull when viewed from the 'right' angle. It was really a great time. We were in the gallery until closing, obviously!

After that we went for dinner at the Shakespeare (Hampton Court being too far away), and ate. finally we had our 'bangers and mash'! Then KP and I went searching for a pub. Being a Sunday night I am not surprised we didn't find much, however, there were some skeezy promoters on the streets trying to populate a nearby club. We went in, thought it was disgusting and not at all the scene we were looking for (we wanted a nice friendly pub), and went back to the Shakespeare instead. Interstingly, we saw fun little things along the way. For one, on the train that day we saw a rowdy group of men dressed in a sports uniform with green. They said "new targets, boys!" as soon as we got on, but we ignored them for the entirely of the train ride, except for a few laughs at their pure ridiculousness. We thought they were just random drunken guys. But, I realized after looking at their shirts that they were from Australia and on a team of some sort. They sang "Ra ra ra, the ozzy boys are in town!" and between lyrics I caught them say "We're the biggest cocks in the south!" and some other verses I can't much recall. However, they did try to talk to us from across the car; "Hey whities, where you from?". We had a few laughs at their expense which they seemed pleased enough with, and then we departed the car, doors closed on them talking about cunucks and complaining about kiwis. Later on I learned that the men may have been part of the Australian rugby team! Another instance where I slap myself for not being more opportunistic with my camera. Good going, Andrea.

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