It’s Thursday, and I had to move out of my double room today.
Before I did that, I started to check over my camera from my trip to Westminster yesterday, and what do I find, but the UV filter on my 80-200mm lens is smashed to bits, and it’s bent into place.
I forced out the broken glass with a pencil, and tried to shake out the bits, but only so much would come out.
I knew I had to get it to a camera repair shop stat.
Note to self: don’t forget the lens brush next time, dummy. Also, add a layer of padding to the drop-in camera case.
So it was off to Calumet in SoHo in a frog-strangler of a downpour with my crappy umbrella. They pointed me down the alley to Sangean, who told me they could fix it by tomorrow for £76.
That includes a new UV filter. While I was at Sangean, I asked them where to get a decent umbrella, because the one I got at Boots was just junk.
Here’s a tip: if you need an umbrella, NEVER buy one at a chemist’s/drugstore. It will always be a disappointment. The ones in コンビニ (conbini, Japanese for convenience store) aren’t much good, either.
The advice I got lined up with common sense: buy one at a department store at the very least.
I stopped by Calumet again and got a UV filter for the other lens. I realized that I could use one for the main lens, because I’ve been shooting with nothing on it. (I left the UV filter at home. D’oh.)
England, Land of the Umbrella
After that, it was off to Marks & Spencer’s for a decent umbrella, because it was still raining like rain Armageddon, if there was such an event. (It would make a great Hollywood movie.)
Ignoring the Hare Krishna who was trying to give me some sort of book, I headed into the store and made a beeline for the men’s department. I found a good umbrella, but it’s annoyingly big.
It’s not a cane style umbrella, but it’s at least a foot and a half long. Maybe longer. It keeps me dry, but it doesn’t really fit in my backpack. So it’s maybe 2 feet long? When I get back to the States, I’ll have to hunt down a good, compact umbrella that also expands to something BIG.
All of that fiddling around aside, I needed to do something. What to do, what to do, I’m in London, time’s a-wasting. It’s raining like hell, so it had better be indoor stuff. I know, let’s go look at the document that started it all, the Magna Carta!
“My First BL Experience”
So it was off to the British Library, up by King’s Cross. (What did you think I meant?)
It’s a neat place, but it’s a bit of a pain. I had to put everything in a locker, and to use the locker, I needed a £1 coin handy. I would get the coin back when I’m done, but troublesome things are still troublesome.
I didn’t have a coin handy, and the smallest bill on me was a £20, so I had to withdraw £10 from the ATM, then bust that into 10 £1 coins, just to use the locker.
15 minutes lost.
Bring a £1 coin with you if you’re going to the British Library!
Then it was off to look at some historical books and documents. I saw some quartos by Shakespeare, and notes from other famous authors like Milton, as well as compositions by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, and the original score for Handel’s Messiah. It was all very cool. There were also famous religious texts, including the Lindisfarne Bible, the Gutenberg Bible, and the King James Bible.
And, of course, a few copies of the Magna Carta.
What? You didn’t know? There isn’t just one copy of it. In fact, as many as 35 copies of it were made, and nobody knows which is the “original,” or if there ever really was an original, but if you go to the British Library, you can see two of them.
It’s pretty cool, if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also see the Papal bull that invalidates the original Magna Carta soon afterwards, because kings are chosen by God, and a bunch of scruffy nobles cannot put limits on God’s chosen kings.
A somewhat-watered-down version was put back in force later on.
There was also an interesting exhibit on science fiction, and even a version of the TARDIS to look at, as well as an exhibit of Mervyn Peake‘s works.
The gift shop was… a gift shop. I don’t remember buying anything there.
I Said Lunch, Not Launch!
After that, it was back to Piccadilly Circus, and the Japan Centre for lunch. It was time for pork ramen and some fried chicken, Japanese-style.
Good food, although the ambiance left a bit to be desired. There are only a couple of big picnic-table-style benches in the store, and a couple of tables outside. I probably should have eaten outside, but I didn’t have sunscreen on. (The sun was back by then, and I have two settings– pasty white and sunburned. I think someone forgot to give me some melanin when I was born.)
The ramen was served in a plastic bowl with a plastic Chinese-style spoon. Eating out of a plastic bowl only does so much for me. But like I said, the food was good, and in the end, that’s all that really matters.
Another thing– when you order noodles there, you get a LOT of choices, down to 4-5 kinds of soup to put them in.
The Museum of Vague Dissatisfaction
Then it was off to Covent Garden, and the London Transport Museum, because by this point, I am completely fresh out of ideas, and I like transportation stuff.
I’m not a full-on train nerd, but I like interesting public transport in interesting places. It’s probably because the public transport where I live is dull, and because I’ve traveled a lot, so I’ve had a chance to see all the different ways people have approached the same problem. It’s interesting.
The Underground has an antique feel to it… New York’s Subway is pretty old, too, but the Underground has that crazy architecture that flaunts its age. I really get that feeling when I pull into Earls Court, with its big glass roof. It feels like someone with muttonchops and a top hat will accost me at any moment with a “Sirrah!”
I won’t say I’m a railroad/transportation nerd… I just have an appreciation for it, and I enjoy a nice train ride… and subways fascinate me as part of the underside of cities.
Okay, I’m a bit of a nerd in that regard.
So with that in mind, it looked like the London Transport Museum would hit my strike zone.
The London Transportation Museum has a really good gift shop. You can get all kinds of cool Underground-branded stuff there.
Oh, the museum? Well, my £13 got me in to see some exhibits on… err… okay, there are some cool things there, but not £13 worth. You can look at a few 19th-century mockups of Underground carriages which were interesting, and there are a few double-decker buses through the ages that you can sit in, and even the front end of one you can pretend to drive, and all of this is probably great fun.
If you’re 11 years old, that is.
There’s also a bit of London Underground memorabilia… which was somewhat interesting. I was hoping for more, really, but they only had a few cases’ worth.
And that was pretty much it.
The main problem was that there just wasn’t a whole lot there, past the vehicles. It was okay, but not worth the outlay of funds. £13 is more than $20. Yikes.
The gift shop was pretty good. I bought lots of souvenirs for friends and family.
Would I recommend it? If you have kids and money to burn, yeah, maybe? Or if you can get free admission on one of those museum deal cards. Only on those conditions. Otherwise, skip it. (But the Underground logo ice cube tray will make an awesome gift for one of my friends…)
Covent Garden itself is a really nice part of town, with street performers and food vendors all over the place, and lots of shopping, if you’re into that sort of thing. Frankly, I wish I had spent more time wandering around Covent Garden, and skipped the museum.
There’s a lot you can learn from museums, but there’s also a lot you can learn from interacting with people.
After the museum, I had pretty much hit the wall, so I limped back to the hotel, ate some sandwiches, and called it a night.
The new room is 302. It’s a single, and much bigger than 114. (It’s hard for any room not to be bigger than 114.) The bed isn’t as good as 114, but I like having enough room for my bags. Also, the TV has a kind of weird red cast to it, but since I don’t watch much TV, it’s not a big deal.
The showers still don’t do hot water properly. I haven’t had a room yet that does hot water properly. It usually goes from too hot to too cold to lukewarm, to generally unpleasant.
I haven’t had a really good shower the whole time I’ve been here.
But I didn’t really come here for the bathing.