Friday, July 06, 2007

Walking, walking and oh, did I mention walking?

We have gotten a bit behind in our blogging, so in this post we're writing about Wednesday, July 4.

Today we walked. Everywhere. We started out at The British Library where we walked through their gallery of famous pieces of paper. We saw letters written by Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll's diary where he wrote about finishing writing down Alice in Wonderland, the libretto used at the first ever performance of Handel's “Messiah”, which was inscribed with the soloists' names, music written by Beethoeven and Bach, lyrics to Beatles songs written down on Lufthansa napkins and other random pieces of paper. We also saw the log book from the HMS Victory, opened to the report of Admiral Nelson's death. And that wasn't all... There was also an exhibit on the Magna Carta, which included four surviving copies of the document, one highly burned but with the original seal (Did you know they were written down on different sizes of parchment by different people with different wording???). Other highlights included Leonardo Da Vinci's notebook, letters from Newton and Darwin, and many ancient Bibles, Torahs, haggadot, and other religious texts.
 
There was also an special exhibition, which we are hoping to get back to, of ancient texts from Islam, Judiasdm, and Christianity. We were really wishing that Dave's dad, Bob, could have been there to see this exhibition. Among the texts on display were pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a Koran from the 8th century, and Walton's Polyglot Bible – open to 2nd Samuel – which was written in Hebrew, Latin, Greek and several other languages, besides. Dave was also excited to see a Torah from the 10th century; since it was open to the Ten Commandments, he was actually able to read some of it (“Thou shalt not... hmmm... I'm sure that next word isn't that important...”) The exhibition itself mixed the ancient texts with a very modern presentation, which included flat-screen monitors, scrolling LCD displays, and coloured mist.
Then we walked to King's Cross Station so that Natasha could get a picture at Platform 9 ¾ (which is where Harry Potter takes the train to Hogwarts, for all the non-Harry Potter readers out there). She was quite excited about that! Then we walked south to the Strand and Temple Bar so that we could see The Temple Church. This church was mentioned in The DaVinci Code, and features a circular chamber with stone effigies of nine knights templar, and several beautiful stained glass windows.
Then we walked (are you getting the picture of a lot of walking?!) along the north side of the Thames to the monument to the Great Fire of London. We climbed its 311 steps, walked around the perimeter, took some pictures, and walked down the stairs again. It was quite neat to see London from such a height (about 160m).
Then we walked over London Bridge, and along the south side of the Thames to the Tate Modern art gallery. Here we saw a bunch of different art. Dave saw an exhibition on Global Cities, which was a mix of geography, environmentalism, statistics and art, while Natasha wandered around the States of Flux collection. She saw art entitled “Self-Portrait as a Pile of Dog Dirt” and other unique pieces!
Then we walked back across the river to Picadilly Square and found a neat pub called The Round Table where we had a supper of fish and chips, with Guinness to drink. Natasha even had mushy peas – Dave opted for “garden” (a.k.a. “not-so-mushy”) peas, which he eventually traded for part of Natasha's fish.
Then we went to see Spamalot. It was a good mix of familiar – scenes from “The Holy Grail” put on stage, a performance of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” -- and original material – such as “This is the Song That Goes Like This” and a very extravagant version of the “Camelot” song. The highlight, however, came at the end, where the knights found a carving saying “DONE”, and tried to figure out what this meant. They finally decided that it must be a code, D-1, and brought the person in that seat (unfortunately, it wasn't us – we were waaaay at the back) up on stage for a moment. On the whole, the show was a lot of fun, and done in a very Python-ish way.

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