Saturday, January 15, 2011

A grey day out, and one head still attached

The last time I visited the Tower of London I arrived after hours to observe the Ceremony of the Keys. This time I was up early to join the first tour of the day, "headed up" by Yeoman Warder McGrath. [See what I did there? "Headed up" - Tower of London - beheadings - oh man. Tough crowd.]

Anyhoo, the Yeoman Warders are the guards of the Tower and keepers of its history. Our tour guide was full to the brim with anecdotes and tall tales of the bloody, tragic and mysterious that have come to characterise the Tower of London. There were a couple of young kids in our tour group and the Yeoman Warder always made sure that they could see and hear everything. I stood not far from them, so I could see and hear everything too. The tour went for about 45 minutes, after which time we were released and left to explore on our own time.

The skies were getting darker by the minute, so I headed indoors to go check out The Crown Jewels. The sparkly collection is truly beautiful. Hard to believe that the jewels have been in the Tower's care for over 600 years - and some of the collection is over 900 years old. In the main gallery room, I rode a small travelator (those moving walkway thingies in airports - aren't they called travelators?) that tootled me past the most impressive collection of precious stones I've ever seen in one place.

After that I stopped into the gift shop (of course) and proceeded on to the chapel, into the White Tower to see the armoury, and back onto the lawns. When I came to see the Ceremony of the Keys I didn't get to see the six ravens that live in the Tower, but I did today. Legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower of London, the kingdom will fall. Have you ever seen a raven? They're damn big. I reckon if one flew into the Tower, that might be enough to knock it down. Or perhaps I've been playing Angry Birds on my phone a little too often these days. To the sound of the ravens squawking at me, I left the Tower of London (through two more gift shops) and had some lunch at the nearby pub, Hung Drawn and Quartered. Their house pie is excellent, but their vegetable side dish is not so much.

I've scored a new job in the US and I start at the end of this month, so I've only got two weekends left to see some key London tourist attractions on my bucket list. Tomorrow is a long overdue haircut (not a tourist attraction) and an afternoon hiding out in one of the city's - and probably the world's - best-loved galleries.


Anonymous said...

Gabi, you underestimate the haircut when you think its not a tourist attraction!

Enjoy your final weekends in London.

Nicole (from St Dom's days)

kilabyte said...

Cram it in there girlfriend becoz there's nothing like it in in New York.

Kate said...

Aww Mikey, you know so much about NY! Speaking of, I fully expect you and Rae to drive the caravan over here now that the Gabster is moving in...

kilabyte said...

Ahahahahaah, K, I can just imagine driving down the main street with a van in tow and all the locals looking, giving me a knowing wink and wishing it was them on holidays ....... However, as I sit here at the moment I can see us coming over to spend 2011 Xmas and New Year - much to Spoggy's chagrin.