Sunday, February 28, 2016

Just Ducky (London 2016, Part 7)

It was very fitting, of course, that as I waited for Sarah at Euston Station, I found this in a souvenir shop.

Yes, it came home with me.

And then, I saw Sarah walking towards me, there was a bit of a mutual jump-and-hop towards each other, and a huge hug of greeting. Just because we'd never met in person before, doesn't mean the friendship isn't special.

Cali Swimmy finally meets Timmy Swimmy. Watch out,
Our first order of business was to walk a short way up the road to King's Cross Station (we made one accidental detour a bit too far to St. Pancras Station, but I got a few cool photos from it, so no big deal).

Yes, you've seen this in Harry Potter.

I loved and adored this statue in St. Pancras.

A very cool building.
Our purpose for visiting King's Cross was, of course...

It was Sarah who said, "We should have our ducks out in our picture, right?"

"Duh! Of course!!"

"They can be our Patronuses...or is it Patroni?"

"That's a good question. Eh, whatever they're called, we must do it."

It was decided.

Most people go for the running pose, but Sarah and I grabbed the wands and held our ducks up, prompting some perplexed looks from those waiting in line behind us, and from the photographer and her assistant. (The assistant, by the way, held Sarah's scarf up until last second and let it go to get the "flying" effect.)

Expecto Patronum!

Of course my Patronus is a rubber ducky.

We went to the shop, then, to see our pictures (the above is a picture of a picture on a computer screen, taken with an iPhone...I'm getting confused), and the young woman working the photo printing area took one look at our pictures and burst out laughing.

"This is a first for me!"

Sarah and I just laughed, and I gave my stock answer: "It's a long story...and a good one."

But she loved it. It's certainly different.

Our next goal was to find Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub frequented back in the day by the likes of Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson (a dictionary guy) for some lunch. We took the Tube part of the way, then hiked around looking at my Streetwise London map on occasion.

We chattered and laughed, and I took a lot of pictures.

Some street names in London are just...great.

Come on, admit it, you laughed, too. 

Another pub sign.

The official City of London (a borough) is marked by these
 We finally found the pub, which has an entrance in a narrow alley.

The building next door is largely glass.

A list of all the kings and queens who have reigned in the
time that the Cheshire Cheese has been operational.

That's the main difference between England and the US: In England, it's a
polite notice. In the States, it's a WARNING (in all caps). 

Sometimes alleys hide the most pretty little doorways.

A half pint of cider in a dark pub.

The place had atmosphere.

I had to use the flash to take a picture of my bangers and mash--the only time
I had this particular dish all week. It's very rich. 

While we ate, Sarah gave me a belated Christmas gift--I just
happened to be wearing my charm bracelet that day, which
was perfect. So now, I have a piano. a treble clef, a clarinet,
and a ducky. 
There are many different levels and cozy, dark rooms in the Cheshire Cheese.

When we emerged, we started walking towards the Tower of London, as we had a 3:30 launch time on a Thames Tea Cruise from Tower Pier.

St. Paul's Cathedral

A pair of bobbies on their horses. I don't know if they had guns, but I saw other
police in London with guns--way more often than I have in previous visits.

London's curious and amazing mix of old and new. 

"Lombard Street!!" I said to Sarah. "There's a very famous Lombard Street
in San Francisco!" 

Sarah, Lindsay (another Duck Lady) and I all love a moment in the TV show
Supernatural in which Dean, in an attempt to fit in at a hospital, drops trou
and yells, "PUDDING!!!" So, this sign pic gave us some giggles.
 The tea cruise was nice--very touristy, of course, and a bit rushed for an afternoon tea service, but they only had so much time. We set off from Tower Pier, sipping tea and munching on tea sandwiches, chatting, and taking pictures.

I suppose I'm just going to have to make piece with this
Shard thing. At least it's not right next to Big Ben or

The Globe

We couldn't finish it all, thanks to our huge pub lunches.

Blurry picture, but I was excited to see these, as I'd read about them--the lions
are not decoration, they're warnings. "If the lions drink, London is in danger."
That means the Thames is too high. 

I still think that building on the right looks like something Dr. Suess would
have designed. 

Blurry, but yes, London Bridge. It's fairly boring compared to Tower Bridge,
Blackfriars Bridge, and pretty much every other bridge in London.

Back towards the Tower, but we cruised by instead of returning to the pier, and
got to enjoy some of the Docklands before returning.

 Once off the boat, we mostly just wandered, stopping at the Tower of London gift shop, taking some pictures, and then heading towards the Tube again. It was starting to rain a little--not heavy enough that we needed umbrellas--and we were both exhausted from having fitful sleep the night before. I had been my usual chatty self all day, but by this point, I was yawning a lot.

For an iPhone shot taken at dusk, this turned out pretty nice.

A Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) stands guard at the gate to the

There's that stupid Shard again.

The Gherkin. It took me a while to come to love it in 2004,
so maybe--maybe--there's hope for the jagged glass thing
across the river.
 We landed at a pub across the street from Euston Station, having a half pint and chatting until it was time to get Sarah back to her train. The pub was lively with end-of-work-day customers.

All too soon, I was hugging Sarah goodbye, promising to return to England as soon as possible, and then heading back "home" via Tube, with a change at Tottenham Court Road.

I've now met two of my dear duck ladies--Sarah and Maayan--and this just makes me more determined to meet the rest as soon as possible.