Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Winston Churchill didn't like staplers, and other fun facts I learned today

It's another bright blue sunny day in London—but c-c-c-c-cold! So I put on my big winter sweater and my bright warm duffle coat and put my hooves into my warm wooly mittens as we headed out onto the Circle Line to Westminster and off to one of my very favorite exhbitions in London: the Cabinet War Rooms located deep under the Houses of Parliament. What fun could it be crawling around in someone's basement, you ask? Well, a heckuva lotta fun, pal! These are the actual underground fortified headquarters of Mister WInston Churchill and his cabinet and military advisors during World War II: a safe place to run the country from during the Blitz. It's extremely-well preserved and renovated and gives you a very clear and fascinating look at how the British government was run in crisis. Most of the small underground rooms are preserved exactly as they were during the war, including tiny cots, work tables, meeting rooms, maps, radio rooms and plenty of interesting period signage reminding you yes, there was a war on: keep your mouth closed and be careful about what you do! I have long heard the saying "Loose lips sink ships" and I thought it was just something about being careful with the boats in my bathtub. Now I know what it really means!

There's a fascinating and easy-to-follow audio tour included in the price of admission that takes you room by room through the underground cabinet war rooms, and teaches you a good deal of history as well as admiration for Mister Churchill. There's a lot of period recordings of his voice on the audio tour, so it's a fun and educational way to get to learn more about the great man. One thing I did not know: Winston Churchill did not like staples! He would not use them or let his staff use them because he didn't like the noise that staplers made. Instead, every desk in the War Rooms had a handheld hole-punch called a "klop" and threaded tape to hold sheafs of paper together. (I think Mister Churchill was almost as fussy about his office supplies as Mister Rusin!) I've been here before and truly enjoyed it, but it was even worth going again this second time as many new areas have been opened up on the tour including new tunnels and underground offices, plus the all-new Churchill Museum, which taught me even more about the great man and was filled with all the latest in exciting new museum technology. (I liked the multimedia displays). Add to that a dead brilliant couple museum shops at the end with all sorts of WWII memorabilia and souvenirs: I bought a Biggles book, some ration chocolate, and a postcard of Mister Churchill giving his famous "V for Victory" salute to pin up on my wall. Then, back out into the cold morning London air. Were our London adventures over for the day? Not by a long shot!

You can't really say you've been to London unless you've seen London's famous Big Ben, so we strolled over back through Westminster so I could set my wristwatch by the biggest clock I have ever seen:

It's another picture that just screams: BULLY'S IN LONDON!

And then across Westminster Bridge to the startlingly modern and surprisingly large London Eye:

I heard there was a ferris wheel around here. Anyone know where?

Yowza! That thing's big! I'm a little afraid of heights so I was kinda secretly glad we did not go up in it. But you know who was up in it? Olivia! (note: not all by herself). We waiting for Olivia and her parents (brrrrrr, it was cold) to take their London Eye trip and then we walked onto the Hungerford Foot Bridge (which John says has really changed since he remembers dashing across it to get to the National Theatre in 1983: it is now on the other side of the railway bridge and an elegant suspension-type footbridge like the Millennium Bridge) back across the Thames. By then everyone had gotten a bit peckish (that's British for "hungry"!) so we headed into the guessed it...Pizza Express for a late afternoon lunch! They are always reliable and yummy and their menu is huge:

Gosh! I love Pizza Express.

Lunch really became dinner as we sat there for quite some time and relaxed. Afterwards John and I went off on a little adventure of our own to find one of the finest comic book shops in London, but more about that later! In the meantime, if you want to see the photos of our daily adventures (and you really should, you know), they are right here. Plenty of cute Olivia photos in this batch, folks, so don't miss 'em!

No comments: