1.071.1 Underground, Churchill, NatGal

Tuesday, 2/11/2020

Funny how body clocks work. During the night I woke up several times feeling very hungry. That despite having had a good supper only a few hours before. But it was about 2am UK time, which is just about supper time back home.

Anyway I mostly slept from 9pm to 7am and should now be pretty well synced. The hotel breakfast was a nice spread of stuff to satisfy a tourist from almost any country. However, tomorrow I’ll go out to the nice cafe I see up the street that opens at 7.

First, indeed only, scheduled item today was the Churchill War Rooms.1102_78 steps To get there I walked a few blocks East along Bayswater road to the Lancaster Gate station of the Central Line. The following experience was a rush, in several senses. I had waited until after 9am just to let the morning crush pass, but it hadn’t. So you start by charging down an amazing winding staircase amidst a hurrying line of  people going to work (there is a lift, but no commuter would wait for that). Then on the platform you wait for the next train. Trains come every 2-3 minutes. The first one in was packed sardine-like at every door. Nobody got out, and nobody got in. “Mind the doors!” and off it went. I stood back and made a video of the next one. Imagine a strong breeze and rising sound from the left and then… 

(Notice the guy’s coat-tail hanging out the door?) I didn’t board that one, either. But the next one, 3 minutes later, had a lot of free standing room, so I was off. The sounds in the train are fun, also; the motor picking up speed sounds like a turbine winding up. Two stops to Bond Street, and change to the Jubilee line (which I’d never ridden before; it was built after we left England) and two stops to Westminster.

0211_towerAnd up to ground level in a famous spot, just under the Clock Tower. “They are cleaning it.” (Firesign Theater reference that nobody will get). It was a lovely morning, brisk chill breeze and racing clouds. I walked around a bit before ambling off to the edge of St. James Park and the Churchill War Rooms exhibit. This was quite good. During WWII Churchill, his cabinet ministers, and the major military figures, all had offices in a warren of rooms under what is now the Imperial War Museum. Much of this has now been restored to its 1943 state. In the center is a museum of Churchill’s career, but before and after that you wander past room after restored room, offices, bedrooms, telephone exchanges, map rooms, etc. Here’s one of many.

0211 war room

During the summer it would have mattered that my entrance ticket was for 11am, but now it didn’t, and I went right in at 10. There were only a few other tourists, mostly German I think from what I overheard.

Well, seen that, now what? I decided to walk to Trafalgar Square and take a first pass at the National Gallery. En route passed Horse Guards Parade where two lines of Horse Guards were sitting still facing each other. I took a picture of a London police officer’s horse, inspecting its colleagues.

0211_horses

0211 nelsonFrom the steps of the NatGal I looked back at Nelson facing his glory.

Admission is free to all the major museums. My only charge was to pay 2 pounds for a map. From it I learned that the Gallery has over 60 numbered rooms. I set out to visit them in approximate numerical order, checking off each one on the map. I got through less than half, and only to the 1600s, before I was full up with images.

I decided to go back to the hotel and looked for the Tube. The only entrance to the Charing Cross station I could find was chained off in a rather permanent looking way. There had to be other entrances, but I didn’t see them. Since I was now standing on The Mall with a steady stream of traffic, I thought I’d take a taxi, but the first six or so to pass were occupied. Well then… Uber? And I had an Uber back to the hotel. No free taxis passed in the five minutes I had to wait for my Uber to arrive.

My room was not yet made up (2pm) so I’m in the hotel bar doing this entry. Later, after a nap, I shall sally forth again.

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