Friday, March 27, 2015

My London Town

(Fair warning: This will be a long post with oodles of pictures!

When you think of going to London, what comes to mind?  Westminster?  The palace?  Big Ben?  This is true for most people.

As you know if you've been around here long, I'm not most people.

I had one day in London, with BB.  Did I see any of those normal touristy things?  Nope.  I did, however, ride a double-decker red bus.  And I stayed near King's Cross and visited the Harry Potter store at Platform 9 3/4.  So, where did I go?

Why, it's elementary, dear Diary.

When you exit the underground station at Baker Street, you see this:

Welcome to the lore of Baker Street's most famous resident...who never actually lived here.  Sherlock Holmes.

It's not a far walk from the station before you find yourself in front of 221B Baker Street.  The entrance is guarded by a bobby, who has a collection of hats you can wear to pose with him in front of the famous address.  Inside, you can your the apartments of Holmes and trusty Watson, as they would have looked during his time at Baker Street.  The museum shop is next door.

The building even boasts one of those blue plaques, denoting the years when Holmes would have lived there.

It might be important to note that this is not a "real" blue plaque...because Sherlock Holmes never really lived here...because he's not really real.  Except, of course, in the hearts of the devoted readers an followers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. People like me who will bypass common tourist traps to visit the home of someone who only lived in the pages of a book.

And I collected some of his business cards, while I was at it.  You know, just in case.

We made our way through the streets and fascinating architecture of London.  I looked down each side street, captivated by places like this, that sat behind the shops and hustle and bustle of London's busy main streets and sidewalks.

Keep in mind that for Brits, there is no holiday like Thanksgiving between November 5th and December 25th.  So, the Christmas decorations were out in force!  And soon, we found ourselves in front of this magnificent display of holiday cheer:

It's actually snowing "outside" that window.  We'd arrived at Playland.  Otherwise known as Hamley's, the world's oldest toy shop.
And might I add, HUGE toy shop.  Six stories of toy lover mecca.  They even had ice cream and candy counters in the store.  It was amazing!  Something for kids of all ages, including high end collectibles.  We explored it ALL.
Who can resist a Lego floor featuring life-size sculptures made from the little blocks?  Check it out:

The crown jewels

The Queen, with Corgi

Prince Charles

Prince Harry, and Kate and Prince William

All this royalty reminded me of a question I wanted to ask BB.  "In the US," I said.  "We get a lot of speculation about whether or not Charles will ever really be king.  Is that talked about here?"

He thought for a moment.  "We don't really get a lot of discussion," he said.  "But we do notice that the Queen and William ride in the bulletproof carriage, while Charles and Harry are out in the open."

And there you have it.

Hamley's also has an impressive section of collectibles.  Fans of about every franchise can get their nerd on here!  I was particularly drawn to the finely crafted wooden wands for each Harry Potter character, kept behind glass cabinets:

We found some friends in the massive stuffed animal section of the store:

My cuddly BB, cuddling a little tiger

Do you know this Teddy?  If you're a fan of Mr. Bean (like me!), you know him and are making the little voice right now!

For the umpteen millionth time during this trip, the song "Happy" came on while we were in the toy store.  It seemed a most appropriate place to groove to it.  So, we did.  Because we truly were so "Happyyyyyyyy!"  

(I know...cheesy.  But oh so true!)

After rounding up our purchases in Playland, we made our way to another London landmark, Piccadilly Circus:

The famous fountain at Piccadilly

And we soon came across another monument to impeccable British literature - the statue honoring Agatha Christie

 This was an accidental find, but one that I found thrilling!  Her books and mysteries enthralled me as much as Holmes did.  Her real life was just as intriguing as her fiction, too.  This was a good find, on our way to the big destination of the day.

Covent Garden and the London Film Museum's "Bond in Motion" exhibit.  You got it!  We were on the hunt for...

Bond. James Bond.

Or rather...his vehicles. The largest assembly of them in the world.  

We were aquiver with antici.....pation.  Here we would find the relics of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan, to name just a few.  The excitement was palpable!

We wandered the displays, BB photographing them in order of appearance in the films.  Is he a fan?  I do believe so!  He does a lovely Sean Connery voice, I must say!

Here we were as Bond was, with the lovely creations of Q....

The Jaguar XKR from "Die Another Day" 2002

The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish from "Die Another Day" 2002

Mercury Cougar XR7 from "In Her Majesty's Secret Service"1969

Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II from "A View To A Kill" 1985

Rolls Royce Phantom III from "Goldfinger" 1964

Screen used model from "Tomorrow Never Dies"

Alligator Submarine from "Octopussy"

3D Printed Model Aston Martin DB5 (AND the real one!) from "Skyfall"

Ford Mustang Mach 1 from "Diamonds Are Forever" 1971

That last one, the Ford Mustang, had the most impressive display.  Each vehicle had a clip playing on the wall above it of the actual screen time in its movie.  This Mustang is known for the scene in Las Vegas where it goes between buildings on two wheels.  So, it was posed in the museum for that scene, with the illusion of the lights of Vegas panning across it.  Like this:

When we left Bond in Motion, it was dark outside.  The plaza of Covent Garden was decked our in Christmas finery, including a giant reindeer of lights.  We made one more stop before dinner that evening, to a large Forbidden Planet nearby, where I purchased a Wonder Woman passport cover for my trip back home.  Then it was time for my last dinner in England.  My last evening with BB...for now. 

Saying goodbye at King's Cross the next day was excruciating.  I loved England, my time there...and BB.  He held me tight before I boarded the Piccadilly line for Heathrow.  Tears were in my eyes, and I didn't care who saw them.  My love for this man had deepened, and the thought of parting was horrendous.

We have made plans for more visits, both for me to go there again and for him to come here.  He wants to experience the American West with me.  We have many adventures ahead, dear Diary.  I pray each day that these dreams will be realized, and not dashed like so many before.

For now, we talk every day.  Thank goodness for Skype!  We share and we love.  What dreams may come!  Stay tuned!

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