Monday, June 2, 2008


So I've got London on the brain. We leave in a little more than three weeks and I can think on nothing else these days. It'll be my second time there, the first being a whirlwind 4-day excursion down from Scotland, oh what, 12 years ago. I bet a lot has changed. No London Eye back then for one thing.

I've been scouring my Time Out guide for the best places to go, our reservations at Gordon Ramsey's Petrus are made (yay!) so what if it's 10:45 on a Monday night? For this small-town girl eating at a 2 Michelin star establishment is a complete dream. I can't frikkin' wait.

After seeing Ewan MacGregor in a full-length Belstaff jumpsuit here, I'm also determined to visit this store, and possibly buy something (eating Ramen noodles for the next 10 years). Yeah, superficial I know, but I bet a Steve McQueen-esque leather jacket would look mighty fine on my husband's Triumph (and on my own bike someday).

It also doesn't help that this trip kinda coincides with the season finale of the Tudors. I've been neck deep in Tudor intrigue for the past month, and now I get to go where it all happened! Tower of London and all those palaces that I can never keep straight here I come! (I just remember they're all connected by barges - in the show they're always heading off to some barge to travel to the "other" palace down the river)

But I digress. Even though it was only 4 days, London remains one of my favorite cities. So international. So damn clean. The Tube so efficient. And high tea. And Graham Norton.

The place I remember best was Westminster Abbey. Being an English major, it was my London mecca. The friend I was staying with in Piccadilly had lived in London 2 years and had never been, which floored me. How could you not go to the place where all the literary giants were memorialized? Where Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were buried on top of each other - two women who HATED each other with a passion, forced to share a tomb for all time. I couldn't wait to go.

I arrived just before 10 on a beautiful sunny day. The place is enormous, just huge. I spent hours traveling past every statue, looking at every dead British notable there was. The throne for the King of England is there - a beat-up, wooden chair with names carved all over it. Such a homely thing, used for such great purpose. Evidently back in the day it wasn't seen as that big a deal, and doubled as a chair for the royal schoolchildren, who would carve their initials in it when they got bored from classes.

I loved the immensity of the place - you could really get lost just wandering around every little hallway and turret.

And then I stumbled upon the Literary wing. Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, Yeats, Keats, D. H. Lawrence, all the greats were here. It stunned me so much I had to sit down. Inside I did realize that it wasn't that these giants of literature were actually buried here, but the thought that someone had chosen to have them all remembered in such a grand, holy place made me feel that it warranted a long moment of my time. I took a seat in a pew and let it all sink in. And then I pulled out my journal to write. It seemed the most natural thing in the world. To write in this place.

I sat there the longest while, just putting down my thoughts (wonder where that journal is now....hmmmmmm........should find it and put it here) and as I finished, the bells began to chime. Twelve noon. Time for the daily 15-minute period of silence to honor the dead. For 15 minutes all you could hear throughout this ancient giant structure were soft footfalls, and the creaking of pews as people got up to leave. No one spoke. It was one of the most spiritual, holy moments I've ever experienced. The weight of the history of this place was all around me, and through me, and in my bones. I'll never forget it. I can't wait to go back there.


where i've escaped...

template by - header image by Martin Walls