A* Life Choice: Impromptu Tourism

On Tuesday afternoon I thought it would be fun to take the Underground from Angel to Tower Bridge, walk by the Tower and across the Bridge then through Hay’s Galleria to London Bridge station and back to Kings Cross. Here is what I learnt:

  • In England, you can never wear enough layers. Ever. Especially if your umbrella is of debatable quality and folds up in anything stronger than a breeze.
  • You should always carry change, because although you might not begrudge the city of London 50p to use a well-maintained public toilet, you will be pretty bummed out if the machine doesn’t take change.
  • They used to keep lions at the Tower of London. Like as extra-toothy burglar alarms or something.
  • I shouldn’t have walked so far when I had work the rest of the week and recently made the decision to use a standing desk.

Tower Bridge

Least it was pretty though… and even if I did spend all of yesterday feeling like a zombie, it was not wasted on me that I could have been in an exam instead. Francesca’s life choices: 1, naysayers 0. Didn’t even get lost. Much.

Where Were You When…?

I feel like the fact it’s both Remembrance Sunday and 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down is monumental, but I don’t really feel qualified to write huge political essays on the foolishness of war and European politics since I didn’t exist 25 years ago, let alone during World War I.

Poppies August Bank Holiday 2014

Looks kind of half-arsed compared to the finished product, huh.

I’m reading Child 44 at the moment (I typed it as Child $$, which should be a band) and it’s one of those books that’s best described as cold. Not in terms of the writing – it’s very good – but its story thoroughly depressing. When and where is it set?

That would be 1950s Soviet Russia.

For god’s sake, humanity, get your shit together and quit killing people! You’re only going to regret it!

I’m torn between yelling at the sky in exasperation and breaking down in noisy tears.

Still, today is a big deal for Europe history wise, which got me thinking about where I was when XYZ happened. I seem to remember being told about 9/11 on the way home from school, and I saw that Margaret Thatcher had died when I flicked the news on during crap TV ads. I think my mum was in Germany when Elvis died, and I missed the actual moment William and Catherine got married because I was trying to ask my nan why she thought I shouldn’t marry a Greek (someone had mentioned the Duke of Edinburgh).

So does anyone have any interesting anecdotes about where they were when? Please note I will probably be telling everyone I know your stories.

Happy Sunday!

A Touritst’s Guide to Being a Tourist: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red Display, Tower of London

I realised that I’d better get a move on with this since the poppies are coming down after Armistice Day (you can also purchase them for £25. Christmas present, anyone?). So I Googled the project and it turns out it’s called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which is slightly more intense although harder to promote on Twitter than ‘Poppy Display at the Tower’.

I’m assuming you’ve all seen the HD news coverage of the installation, which was first, er, installed, in August. I’ve seen it twice, once each when we schlupped up to London for the Bond exhibition and Bernadette’s show. When we first got there, I came over very 21st century HD news watcher and couldn’t really see what was so special about it in real life. Plus it was raining. But I took some pictures and then turned a corner and it dawned on me that there was a poppy for every solider who died in World War I.

Poppies August Bank Holiday 2014

Remind me to practise my photography skills while I’m away… it will be hard to gloat about how lovely my workspace is if I’ve cut out half of it and used a bad flash. In my defence, the best angles are probably either above like the news channels do or right in the moat bit itself, because they’ve got railings to lean over and whoever designed that building gave very little thought to the possibilities of future technology. On the plus side, the Shard looks nice half-hidden!

Anyway, we went back at night the second time, less than a fortnight later, and there were more poppies. Way more. I have no idea how commuters come out of Tower Hill station every day and don’t break down in noisy tears over the unfairness of the world.

Poppies September 2014

The Shard is definitely at it’s best when you can only partially see it, huh.

Event and Place Blood Swept Lands  and Seas of Red Display, Tower of London (go to Tower Hill station and follow your nose)

Cost Only the serious bumming-out experienced by all viewers. Plus £25 if you’d like to buy one.

Food I don’t recommend eating right there because you may be in the way of a budding photographer.

Other people Lots of them wandering about. Exchange a ‘how pretty/heartbreaking’ comment if you want. Don’t fight over the best photo places – apparently the poppies will eventually (or might already) fill the entire moat and circle the Tower, so maybe just walk around a bit. When it’s Armistice Day and the news channels are streaming the finished piece, be sure to say ‘I’ve been there!’ just not too smugly because, you know, it’s an installation that really shouldn’t have even been needed.