Donald Simmons (theengineer) wrote,
Donald Simmons

London Update

Been up to a lot in the past few days, all the SF stuff itself will get a separate posting shortly.

Spent a whole day at the Science Museum. Spent the first 3.5 hours on the first floor alone, and that was with half the Space exhibit closed off for work (but they had a V-1 and a V-2!!!). The steam engines alone I could have practically spent the day at. The Modern World room, which contains everything from Stepheson's Rocket to a Cray supercomputer (and has the years engraved on the floor, advancing towards today as you walk thru it) is a masterpiece of how to use space. All the London museums have impressed me with how much they can fit in how neatly.

Other highlights were a tremendous Spitfire exhibit, and their working Babbage engine (which wasn't working that day). Only had time to duck thru the history of flights, and left two floors untouched.

Next was the Houses of Parliament. They only do tours during the summer months (ending Sept. 30), so I've just got in under the wire. Almost all the old building burned down in 1837 (and the House of Commons was bombed and rebuilt in WWII) so what is there today is a gothic reconstruction. The oldest part, Westminister Hall, is currently undergoing extensive renovations, and parts of it date back to 1097.

Parliament has over 1000 rooms (including restaurants, bars, and a hairdressers), but the tour kept to the big ceremonial chambers, lobbies, House of Lords, and the Commons, which isn't very big at all. When they rebuilt it, they kept it to the same size as the first Commons in the 1600s, even thought it can't fit all the MPs today. And we couldn't sit down in the Commons, we were warned we'd get shouted at for that.

Took a walk along the Jubilee Walk on the Thames, past the London Eye (cloudy day when I went by, so I figured it wasn't really worth the $30 for the ride around), and had lunch at Cafe Manga, which indeed does have manga available. (owlfish says she misses having people to watch anime with here, we finished off Pretear the other night with five episodes in a row).

The Imperial War Museum I've going back to tomorrow to finish off, I only had 3.5 hours there before and that just got me thru WWI and the Secret War exhibit, I missed all of WWII and the special Somme exhibit. And they have not only a V-1 and a V-2, but a Polaris Missile!!

Went to Greenwich and saw the Meridian. Actually, the Greenwich Observatory is great, some of the building are by Christopher Wren and are magnificent, the Harrison Chronometer exhibit is wonderful, and their collection of clocks and watches may be second to none. Plus I was in time to see them raise the Time Ball to the top of the Observatory staff and drop it at exactly 1 PM. And the view of the city form there is wonderful. Also saw the Cutty Sark (the last of the tea clippers), which is getting into pretty bad shape, they're working hard to raise the money necessary to properly preserve her.
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