Monday, October 08, 2007

Many Miles Did We Travel

By now we're logging some serious foot mileage. We're ranging between 5 and 10 miles per day according to my pedometer. (Yes, I'm a masochist. I love numbers.) Today we were all over the place. We began our morning by taking an Original London Walks Tour of Southwark (pronounced suth-uk). We were joined by Mary & Tony from the U.S. Tony is a Dragon Moon Press author, as well, and when he said they were going to England we decided a meet-up was in order. Mary is always a kick and her mere presence causes balky UK mobiles (cell phones) to work. Don't know how she does it. Just happens.

Jean, our trusty London Walks guide, was great. She trudged us all over the back alleys of Southwark, visiting places Dickens would have known and relating stories from that time. She would slip into the proper accents and go to it. I always take these walks when I'm in London as they are very informative. They give you lots of tidbits and then you can do further research on your own. We only went on one this year and this was an excellent choice courtesy of Mary & Tony. As we walked, I made a mental note to come back and eat at the Market Porter (left) just across from Borough Market.

We also visited this very strange graveyard. Currently it's a storage area for a business and stacked with pipes and such. Underneath are at least 15K bodies as the site was used during one of the outbreaks of the plague and for paupers and prostitutes. People have attached little mementos and ribbons to the bars along the side of the graveyard, including a tribute to the women who were recently killed in Ipswich. Since ground is so expensive in London, there is a push to develop every square inch. This memorial is a reminder that often ground is too important to be used for the next supermarket or wine bar.

After the walk, we navigated our way across the river to Covent Garden and The Salisbury on St. Martin's Lane. This is a stunning Victorian Pub with cut class panels and mahogany interior. Do check out the link. I didn't get any decent pictures of this and have made note to do so the next time I visit. And spend more time in there. It was like a shrine.

Of course, I got lost on the way to the pub. That's kinda rare as I know Covent Garden very well. So we wandered a bit, whetting our appetite as it were, and then settled in for good food and conversation. Once lunch was over, Mary & Tony were off on their own pursuits and we went to Stanfords to collect yet another 1894 Whitechapel map (I left mine at home) and then on to Greenwich.

Once in Greenwich, we didn't get a chance to visit the Observatory or the National Maritime Museum. Just not enough time. But we did trudge through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel from Island Gardens (north) to Greenwich (south) which goes UNDER THE THAMES. Okay, I'm not good with old tunnels under water. Neither is my heroine, Jacynda. Gee, I wonder where that comes from. So I felt it necessary to make the journey just to experience the "thrill."
This tunnel is "younger" than the Thames Subway (which runs from the Tower of London to Tooley Street on the south bank) and the Thames Tunnel which runs from Wapping on the north to Rotherhithe on the south. The Thames Subway is closed now, used for fiber optic cables and such. The Thames Tunnel (Brunel's invention) is used for the trains. So the Greenwich Tunnel is the closest I can get to "experiencing" what it would be like to trudge under the Thames in the 19th century even though it was finished in 1902.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to make the crossing in peace and quiet. Bicyclists love the tunnel and even though they're not supposed to ride through, they do at breakneck speed. A couple of the younger ones were shouting at the top of their lungs. The sound reverberated like thunder. I kept moving at a very swift pace, partly because of my phobia and partly because I was counting how many steps it was between Island Gardens and Greenwich. Of course the hubby didn't know what I was doing and kept up a steady stream of commentary, rendering it quite difficult to keep an accurate count. I could have stopped at some point and given him a clue what I was up to, but that wasn't in the cards. Besides, there was a loo (restroom) that was calling my name in Greenwich. Some requirements just take precedence over everything else.

After finding said facility and then repairing to the Admiral Hardy for a good dinner and a pint (or two) of Boddingtons, we took our burning feet back to the B&B. At this point I'll do an unsolicited plug for Burt's Bees Peppermint Foot Foot Lotion. Recommended by my massage therapist, this stuff did wonders for our sore feet. Of course, our room always smelled like a peppermint factory, but that couldn't be helped.

Tomorrow is the London Fire Brigade Museum and Whitechapel. And of course, rain is in the offing....

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