Some archeologists believe that Stonehenge - the mysterious arrangement of enormous elongated stones in England - is actually a crude effort by the Druids to build a computing device. ~Dave Barry

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Keeping Busy

We went down to Brighton and the Beach. We explored the pier and walked along the beach. The beach is interesting in that it is a pebble beach. Small rounded beach pebbles, until you reach the high tide mark where it becomes a sand beach. Brighton is a sleepy town south of London, very relaxed compared to London, with very few CCTV closed circuit TV) cameras. It is the artsy “wild” part of England lots of small shops selling almost anything you would want. A bit bohemian.

For dinner we went to Harry Ramsden famous fish ‘n chips for….wait for it….Fish ‘n Chips!! We started in the restaurant, but after waiting way too long we made our way to the take-away (take out) counter. For about ₤5 we had fish, chips and a drink, I had the cod; deep fried with a light batter. It was quite good. We may go down to Brighton again for dinner with a friend of Chris.

Doing things here always seem to take longer than you expect. Monday for example, I was hoping to do the Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and St. Pauls. Good plan right. I thought so too. I take the earliest train with an off peak rate, 9:00 am, to London Bridge, the closest to everything. And then head for the bridge.

The bridge exhibit explains the history and building of the bridge, allows you to walk across the two foot paths at the top of the bridge, you can even go into the old engine rooms to see how the bridge was operated. Nineteenth century engineering at its best.

Just a note, Tower Bridge is NOT London Bridge. There has been a bridge at “London bridge” since Roman times, and the bridge has been rebuilt many times, the current bridge is of modern design and construction. Tower Bridge was built to help ease the congestion in and out of London. There is more information on the web.

After getting a quick and too expensive lunch, I head for The Tower of London. I purchase my ticket and head toward the welcome center, where there is a brief introduction to what is in the tower, then I make my way into the tower. A guided tour seems the best way to get the most out of the tower. The tower is not what you would expect of a “tower” it is more like a castle with towers. To continue, There are tours given by the Yeomen Warders, or Beefeaters. They bring life to the tower, explaining the history and telling stories about who did what to whom and why…sometimes.

They point out the main buildings, major historical facts, and explain who they, the Yeomen Warders are. They are the Queen’s personal bodyguards. They are all retired military personnel holding the rank of sergeant major. Aside from the Queen’s family and personal staff, they are the closest to her.

The tour is about an hour long, but they do not take you through the armory or the crown jewels…not those jewels!

The crown jewels are the Queens crowns and other symbols of her power. Whatever you think of the Queen and the royalty, the crown jewels are stunning. There are gems from all over the world and pieces from the early kings and queens. Although the Queen owns the crown jewels, I doubt you’ll find them on eBay any time soon.

From the crown jewels, I went to the White Tower, the oldest part of the Tower of London. The White tower was the first castle built to show the king’s power. It is 900+ years old!

Four floors of history, including artifacts, weapons, real suits of armor, especially Henry VIII’s with a, shall we say, large cod piece…if you get my drift.

The Bloody tower was next. I’ll find an explanation somewhere on the web J

Back to where this all began, I spent more that 3 hours exploring the tower and its galleries. It was now after 4 pm, and the tower bridge would be raising at 4:30 this afternoon, something that doesn’t happen too often.

By this time is was too late to get to St. Pauls. It will have to wait.

I went to the Jewish Museum, both Branches, Finchley and Camdon Town, only a couple of tube stops away from each other. Both museums contained the history and artifacts of the Jewish community in England, The Finchley branch was a social history, with a special emphasis on the holocaust, with a survivor’s story in his own words and his family’s pictures and artifacts. Camdon Town’s branch was a religuos history, with lots of holiday and synagogue artifacts. It was interesting not because of what was in the collection, but the age and the stories about where things were found. There were pieces from the 1600’s and 1700’s
From the Camden Town museum I head up to Golders Green. I need some meat! And Golders Green is where I will find kosher restaurants, a butcher and a baker, no candle stick maker. Although Golders Green was the heart of the Jewish community, it no longer is, but it remains central to the Jewish community. I got a small kosher salami and some karnatazel hurray!!

Tuesday Night
I went back to Brighton with Chris to see one of his friends perform and to be at the launch concert for a new album for Kit Ashton . A good time was had by all J

Train Strangeness
I take the train into London every day, it seems that I can take a train the leaves Horsham at 9:00 AM and arrives in London about 10:10 am. I can also take a train that leaves Horsham at 9:20 AM and arrives in London at 10:15 Either train is ok, because the museums and attractions only open at 10 or 10:30. I just thought would mention it because it’s strange



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