Daily Archives: June 17, 2013

Sunday afternoon

After lunch today we caught the Tube from Kings Cross Station to South Kensington and the Natural History Museum.

I don't know how I managed to miss this on all of my visits, especially since it is right next door to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I have visited. The Natural History Museum is WONDERFUL as so many of you told us. It is in a magnificent Victorian building, opened in 1881.

Outside the Natural History Museum

Waiting in the queue

The inside is just as spectacular as the outside, with huge vaulted ceilings, sweeping staircases, and bridges across the open space two or three stories high. Very Harry Potter!

The foyer is dominated by a large dinosaur skeleton at one end and a statue of Charles Darwin at the other end. The Museum is testament to the influence of Darwin's theory of evolution and natural historians' zeal for collecting (interestingly, I didn't see any mention of Alfred Russell Wallace who developed a theory of evolution simultaneously but independent of Darwin; you can read all about it in Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen; I highly recommend it). One room had display case after display case of rocks and minerals from all around the world (and from outside this world in the form of meteorites), all lovingly catalogued.

The foyer of the Natural History Museum

Oliver's favourite part was a display on the evolution of man and our nearest animal relatives. He spent ages reading the displays and trying to work out if the evidence meant that we are more closely related to chimpanzees or to gorillas.

An exhibition on the evolution of man

Later we visited the dinosaur display. Oliver was especially taken with a massive diorama with an animatronic T-Rex that moved and roared. He thought it hilarious that a previous child visitor had lobbed a toy saxophone into the display so Oliver could say: “mum, look what has survived from the time of the dinosaurs … toy saxophones”!

The T-Rex and his saxophone

Both Oliver and I LOVED the Natural History Museum!

As we caught the Tube home from Gloucester Road to Paddington, I asked Oliver which was his favourite part of the day. He said: “the Natural History Museum”. Then he stopped, corrected himself and said: “Actually no. It was spending the day with you.”

Looking from above in the Natural History Museum

Tomorrow we are off to Windsor Castle and Legoland.

See you soon!


Sunday morning

We had a very busy Sunday!

We started by catching the Tube from Paddington to Oxford Circus. We walked along Oxford Street all the way to Piccadilly Circus. After stopping for some breakfast we walked by a film set, which was just in one of the side streets. They were filming a period drama.

Having some breakfast then walking past the film set

We then walked on to the British Museum, which is such a great building inside and outside.

Outside and inside the British Museum

We first walked through the Egyptian collection. It is fabulous. Wonderful, huge carved figures and pieces of statues: heads, arms, bits of beards now missing off these statues in Egypt. I always feel a bit uncomfortable visiting this part of the British Museum and the Egyptian mummies section on the floor above it. As Oliver said:”Doesn't this stuff belong to the countries they found it in? Shouldn't they give it back?” I guess then we wouldn't have anything to see in the Museum but …

We then walked through the Greek section, which has lots of classical statues without clothes. Oliver found this hilarious and he will post about this separately. Finally we went upstairs to see the Egyptian mummies. Oliver found them a bit confronting. We've tried to make a mummy at home with a hot dog; preserving it in a mixture of salt and spices then wrapping it in bandages. But it's more gruesome, yet fascinating, when the mummies are people.

A painting Oliver liked in the Coptic section

Before we left we called into the gift store for a magnet (I collect them) and something for Louisa, then we headed back towards Oxford Street.

Our next stop was a Sports Direct store. We got a great tip from Flynn's mum (from Oliver's soccer team), Aurealia, that this is the place to buy soccer kit. Oliver is now the proud owner of a Chelsea kit (blue) and a Manchester United kit (red).

We jumped on the Tube again at Oxford Circus and headed up to Kings Cross Station to meet my friend Martin Conway and his partner Judith for lunch. They took us to a lovely restaurant near the canals where we chatted, ate lunch and had a long rest after so much walking. Martin is a Londoner and was a train driver before he became an academic, so he taught Oliver some cockney slang.

It was a busy morning!