The Trip, Part 2: The Queen, Tate Britain, and the V&A

My first morning in London I woke up very early. There were birds chirping because it was already light outside. I grabbed my phone and scrolled through Twitter to see what people back home were doing as their nights came to a close. How strange, to be on the other side of the ocean, awake at 5am, reading people’s observations about The Tonight Show. Strange for me because I’ve been on the other side of it for so long.

I made myself turn over and go back to sleep. It was too early, my hostess was still sleeping, and what would I do in London at that hour anyway? I was happy enough to drift back to sleep in my cozy bed for a few more hours.

The bed. Now, remember, this entire trip was an Airbnb adventure. I’m glad I made the decision to go that route because I experienced a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise. There was one aspect of this particular place that I was unsure about, even though I knew it was often the case in these scenarios — I was putting the hostess out of her room. Whenever she has a guest she sets up camp in her living area, a room with two couches, an assortment of tables, afghans everywhere, and these floor-to-ceiling windows that still invade my dreams. All that to say, sometimes when you Airbnb, you kick a stranger out of their own bed. I was too tired at night to really be bothered that much.

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I had a late start that morning as I received another long talk about the bus system, why a person should never take the Tube (too expensive, in Kay’s opinion), and the importance of layers. “Always wear a coat,” she said. She was right. I was rained on several times that day. I got used to being damp in London.



I walked toward Westminster Abbey and sat there for a while, listening to a few Americans complaining that the church was closed again to tourists. Because they were having a church service. In a church. Where you have church services. Get with the program.



I knew Her Majesty was inside and I wasn’t leaving until I’d seen her leave or at least figured out that she’d exited through some side door.



There was quite a police presence around the place and the way they manage traffic here, allowing a few cars in to pick up people near the front of the church, was sort of crazy. I mean, that’s a busy street that runs through there.



I finally saw her car leaving and while I wasn’t in a great position to get a photo of her, it was so cool to really see her while I was there. The chances of that happening again are slim, I’m sure, so I’m pretty pleased it happened. You take that as a sign, right? When, on your first day in London, you see the Queen. Even my Paw Paw was impressed by this, as he told me a few days ago 🙂




From Westminster Abbey I walked past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to head toward Millbank. It was a nice walk beside the river to get to the first of many museums I visited on this trip — Tate Britain.


Hi, George.

Quick note: If you’re in London at the end of this month, think about attending this talk at Tate Britain — Walking and Belonging: Place, space and imagination. I am sad that I can’t.

First of all, there was this ship. So much of this trip was turning my head and glancing something out of the corner of my eye only to be drawn to it or find it familiar and realize I already knew it. Granny had a print of this hanging in her dining room for as long as I can remember. It’s not there now, so I should probably find out what happened to it.

There’s almost too much to say about this place. It’s one of the parts of the trip that I felt was more absorbed and experiential and I’m not sure I’m equipped to write about it. Instead, I’ll leave you with a list of things I saw and loved.

Sketch for ‘Hadleigh Castle’
The Girl at the Gate
Caligula’s Palace and Bridge
The Beloved (‘The Bride’)
The First Cloud
St Martin-in-the-Fields
Liverpool Quay by Moonlight

Then there was this guy. I saw him from across the room. Had a good, long look at his face before I read his name. Turns out he’s a relative. It made me smile.

I spent hours there and could have gone back for more, but my time in town was limited and there was a lot more I wanted to see. On the way home (I walked back) I stopped at Tesco to pick up a few things for dinner and for the rest of my stay. A little box of tea that followed me around for the rest of the trip. I went home, turned on the radio (Kay keeps it tuned to Radio 4), made dinner, and settled in to write about my first day.

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The next day, I took a bus over to the Victoria and Albert Museum and when I go back, I’m going there. There is so much to see.




Heh. My reflection. For a while I thought that might be the only evidence that I was actually on this trip, but we’ll get to that later.









The wedding dress exhibit was great. No photos allowed inside, but you can click through and see some of the gorgeous items that were on display.

After a long day of walking around here, I wanted to rest my feet so I decided to hop on a bus and go wherever it took me. Then I got off the bus at the end of that route and got on another. An hour or so later I was pretty far from home and turned around to head back. I stepped through the door, a little soggy, had more tea, tried to watch tv, then settled into bed for the evening.

While I Was There: I saw the Queen today.

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