Sunday, June 26, 2022

6/26 Partial Pepys Walk & Visit to Liberty Department Store

I got a very good night's sleep last night after my bout with food poisoning.  In fact, I felt good enough to do the two last things I really wanted to do in London:  Walk around some of the places that the famous diarist Samuel Pepys walked around and lived in and also to visit a store that had been strongly recommended to me. 

For those of you who have not heard of Samuel Pepys, the important thing to know is that he lived in London from 1633 to 1703 and wrote an extensive diary for 11 years covering his life from 1660to 1669.  It is one of the most important sources of information about life during the 17th Century.  Pepys was the son of a tailor, but was well-educated for those times, attending grammar school and attending Cambridge University.   He married a young wife, Elizabeth, when he was 22 and she was 14.  

He is known for having a large bladder stone removed in primitive surgery in 1657, without dying and for burying his Parmesan cheese in his backyard during the Fire of London!  As a very young man, he got a job as a clerk of the acts with the navy board, and eventually rose to the position of Secretary of the Admiralty and a Member of Parliament, among other honors.

He wrote his diary in a shorthand code, and it was not translated until 1893.  What makes it especially interesting is that Pepys lived through and wrote about the Restoration after the murder of Cromwell, the Great Plague, and the Great Fire of London.  He also devised a way to supplying the British Navy, enjoyed the company of friends over wine and food, attended plays, and did a substantial amount of philandering!    

Starting in January 2003, a Pepys fan named Phil Gyford posted one entry per day for each day of Pepys' Diary, and I spent the next 11 years reading this site and the numerous annotations various readers added.  One day at a time was a great way to read this diary because you felt as if you were really following his life, as it happened.  If you want a terrific experience, the third posting of the entire diary is set to begin on January 1, 2023.  I may just log in each day and read it again, as it is illuminating and often funny.  Check out this site to begin:   

I am in a part of London I am not familiar with, so I headed to the nearest tube station, Goodge Street.  As usual, there were stairs, so I headed down them expecting the usual couple of flights.  Instead, the stairs were in this sort of round tower arrangement, and when I finally got to the bottom, I found this sign.  Not easy on my knees, especially my right one. 

Apparently,  I missed the signs to take the lifts of elevators in this station!!  Here is a photo of the end part of the stairs. 

So what happens when you have just taken 136 steps??  You find another two flights of stairs.  The London Underground is obviously NOT known for being handicap friendly.

My first stop was All Hollows by the Tower, obviously near the Tower of London.   It is the oldest church in London, and a church has stood here since 675 AD, which makes it 200 years older than the Tower of London. It was a place that Samuel Pepys was familiar with, and he wrote about climbing its tower to view the extent of the Great Fire.  It was just closing as I got there, but I took a few photos of the outside.  I will be going back tomorrow to take photos of the interior and get a tour. 

My next stop was another church that Pepys attended, St Olave's.  It also had just closed, but will be open tomorrow, so I will visit it as well.

Pepys referred to this church as St. Ghastly Grim, but it was the church he and his wife most often attended.  Both Pepys and his wife are buried here in a vault beneath the nave, and over 350 plague victims were hastily buried in the church yard. 

Pepys lived here on Seething Lane, but the street is now modern and looks nothing like the original before the fire.

Don't remember this street from the diary, but it is an interesting name.  Will have to look it up.

The outside of St. Olave's Church. 

This tower was the offices of the Clothworkers union.  It is related to Pepys because he was a member of this association. 

Just an interesting building I could not resist including.  In London, you will often find very old buildings with interesting architecture right next to a row of more modern structure. 

It is a shame that the monument to the Great Fire is mostly hidden from a distance because of the tall, modern buildings surrounding it.

Pudding Lane is where the Great Fire began, and very close to Pepys' home.  Luckily, his home escaped the fire, and his cheese and wine was safely retrieved. 

Unfortunately, a lot of the area around the area where Pepys lived and worked is now full of modern financial institutions.  

This is Liberty Department store.  It was strongly recommended to me as a must-see by two ladies I met in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Expensive and high-end goods, but a lot more interesting than Harrods!   I felt a little awkward taking photos inside of a store, but I could not resist. 

I remember on my first trip to London in 1967, trying to find Carnaby Street, made famous by the Beatles, but could not find it, but here it is!!

My favorite take-out chain.  There is a Pret on almost every block, but they do well because they offer organic food that is made every morning.  What does not sell at the end of the day is given away.  Mostly, they have sandwiches, desserts, juices, and snacks, all reasonably priced. 

 Last comment.  The instructions for the Pepys walk really could use more detailed instructions.  I spent most of today getting lost and walking the wrong directions.  And to make matters worse, at the end of the day when I was really exhausted, I ended up walking several blocks out of my way, and since my cell phone was out of power, I had to get help from two young men eating pizza at an outdoor table.  They looked up my hotel for me and were able to direct me correctly. 

My Fitbit says I walked 12,989 steps and 5.08 miles today.  I am guessing that at least 30% of this was in the wrong direction, however! 


6/25 Sick in Hotel & My Experience with the UK Medical System

No photos for this posting, but I thought I would share my experience with being really, really sick in a hotel.  Basically, I last night, Friday, after getting home from Jersey Boys, I took my evening pills, and it felt like one was stuck in my throat. Drank water and had a bite of cookie, but it got worse.Then two things started happening--diarrhea and vomiting all night. (Tip: taking several ziplock bags for emergencies are a great idea.)

Anyway, my whole system let loose, and my stomach was hurting, plus I got no sleep and was exhausted after the end of this long day. Had to keep getting up to bathroom, and every time I laid down I would get nauseated again. Spent night watching British TV and partially sitting up in bed. My thoughts were "Oh, no, I finally got COVID," and by morning was feeling so lousy, I decided I needed to see a doctor. Other issue was I had to check out at noon and change to another London hotel--very stressful. (This trip has been terrific until last week!) Figured in my condition and not wanting to pass on disease, I could not take taxi to next hotel and really needed medical help. 

I was really panicky all night because I knew I was supposed to fly out on Tuesday, so having COVID would really mess things up, as would spending a few days in the hospital!  What a mess!! 

However, I went down to hotel desk at 9 am and told them I needed to see a doctor. They called an ambulance and handed me the phone so i could tell ambulance staff what my symptoms were. They said they would get there when they could but had to wait for a free ambulance since I was not really an emergency. I went back to room and tried to rest, but ambulance people (lady and man) came knocking on my door about 10 am. 

What was interesting was that unlike in the U.S., they do not just check vitals and rush you to a hospital. They spent over half an hour giving me a complete workup, including blood test, blood pressure, oxygen level, EKG, and a lot of prodding and poking, as well as asking a ton of questions. (Did not do a COVID test because they said my symptoms did not warrant it, and it would probably not show positive anyway this soon.) The decision was that I likely had food poisoning, NOT COVID, and so did not need to go to a hospital. 

So, they wrote out notes, gave me copies of EKG, and recommended I go to pharmacy and pick up drug for nausea, plus get a few more COVID tests and do one each day for a few days. They said I was clear to take the taxi to the new hotel, but I should wear mask and be careful about what to eat over next couple of days, sticking to bland food. I felt horrible with huge headache by now because of dehydration and lack of sleep. I managed to walk to pharmacy, picked up anti-nausea stuff, then retrieved bags from hotel, had hotel call taxi, then checked into new hotel. Too early, but the desk person could see how wobbly I was from lack of sleep, and found me a room in a few minutes. Also gave me a glass of milk and bottle of water. 

Cost of the ambulance coming and evaluation??? Absolutely zero!! I was really pleased with that and the fact that they had done pretty much the same workup as an emergency room would have done, but without the long wait and cost!! Compare this to what my experience would have been in the US where they take you to hospital no matter what so they don't get sued.

Anyway, drank a little milk after taking the anti-nausea stuff and fell asleep for almost four hours, and felt MUCH better.  Also took a COVID test, and it was negative. Will take one each night for a while, just to make sure.  Went out tonight and got a croissant and a Coke. Am eating and drinking slowly because I don't want to upset my system again. Hard to find bland foods like rice when you are traveling, so this was best i could do.

So, the really good news is that COVID had NOT finally caught up with me, and that I could head home as planned.  Whew!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

6/24 Victoria & Albert Museum

 I had more than a little trouble finding this place because I had no handy map and my GPS took me way east to the Victoria and Albert Children's Museum.  This means I spent at least an hour and a half in a hot subway car during rush hour for nothing!  The good news when i got here, to the right museum, was that it was open until 11:00 pm on this Friday with many extra events going on.  Other good news is that it was free, so I can go back tomorrow or maybe on Sunday. 

The museum was built following the 1851 World Exhibition that was sponsored by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria to preserve the examples of art and architecture that were exhibited then.  Since then, tens of thousands of items have been donated or loaned to continue the collection of modern and older art. 

In each of the square boxes in this arch is a quote from portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds that says, "The excellence of every art must consist in the complex accomplishment of its purpose." 

It was a warm and mostly sunny day, so lots of people took advantage of this pond in the center of the courtyard.

I started out in the gold rooms.  These are a sample of the many gold snuff boxes in gold the museum displays.  I always thought snuff boxes were small so they could easily fit in a pocket.  These were huge, as big as 4" by 6" so how are people supposed to carry them?

The next area was the silver collection, or a tiny part of which is shown here. 

Would you believe this 3,5' high clock has a china tea set hidden in a drawer?  Look carefully at the partially opened drawer near the bottom.

This looks big enough to be a bath tub, but it is actually a silver wine cooler. 

And this section had gold and silver items from religious groups. The item on the left is described below. 

There is an incredible room filled with jewelry.  While I do not like to wear jewelry, I like to see it as art. This is a circle of rings in various gemstones.

Lots and lots of "baubles, bangles, and beads," all in gold with precious stones.

Victoria did not like to wear the large and heavy British crown, so her husband Albert had this small one made for her.  You can see her wearing it in many portraits.

This is the back of the museum.  Very different looking than the front!

After picking up a couple of items from the gift shop, I headed to the Trafalger Theatre to see a performance of Jersey Boys.  Terrific show.

 My Fitbit says I took 5,473 steps today and walked 2.2 miles.