Yesterday, Saturday, we had arranged to meet Marie in London whilst she was staying there on a short trip from the United States. We agreed to meet in South Kensington Station and from there to visit the museums. There are no photographs of this trip at all for the reason given below.
If only it had been that simple. We had to drive five miles to our local railway station and, of course, I took my camera bag which goes on the back seat behind me so that it's convenient to grab if I see something worth photographing that I wasn't expecting. We got to the station without incident and the train was even on time. It wasn't until the train was pulling out of the station that I realised that something wasn't quite as it should be – I wasn't 'wearing' my camera bag – I'd left it in the car.
That in itself was quite disappointing as it meant I couldn't take any photographs but what was really worrying was that it was in full view on the back seat. As you probably know insurance companies will use any excuse for not paying out and I believe ours stipulate that any valuables should be locked either in the glove locker or the luggage compartment out of sight. That meant if anyone did break in and take the camera I would have lost a lot of money. The village where we'd parked is not the sort of place you'd expect to find thieves but there is always the chance of an opportunist thief. However, to cut a long story short, when we returned the camera was still there – phew!
So, back to the visit. We knew that the Circle and District lines weren't running that day because of maintenance so we'd decided to use the Central Line to Holborn and from there to South Kensington on the Picadilly Line. The Central Line train was as I'd expect on a Saturday and we even got seats but when we got to the Picadilly Line we could see what effect the closure of the Circle and District Lines were having. The platform was fairly crowded when we arrived and people were still pouring in so that by the time the train arrived, although the wait was only a few minutes, the platform was very crowded indeed. The train itself was also crowded, with people standing, although some of them did get off but we still had to cram on – just! We remained packed in like that for the seven stations to South Kensington just like the rush hour.
We met up with Marie and headed off to the Natural History Museum. I have to admit that I last visited the museums about 50 years ago and for Amanda it's about 30 years. What shocked us was the long queue of people waiting to get in although it did move quickly and took only about five minutes or so for us to get inside.
If you are not interested in Natural History but are interested in buildings and architecture then you should visit for that alone. It is an astonishing building, built in 1881, with a vast hall, just inside the entrance, more reminiscent of a cathedral than a museum with an impressive staircase and little animal stone carvings everywhere.
After that we went across to the Victoria and Albert Museum which houses collections of sculpture, glass, ceramics, glass, jewelry, fabrics, furnishings and much more. We didn't have to queue to get in and it was much less crowded than the Natural History Museum except perhaps in their self-service restaurant. It seems to be very popular for whatever reason but it did seem that once you had got your meal you'd be lucky if it was still hot by the time you had found an empty table.
I don't know how a visit to the museums on a weekday would compare – this was a Saturday after all. We shall almost certainly go again soon but during the week so we'll let you know (see the 'News' section of the forum).
We decided to cut our visit short, because of the camera situation, and got a train out of Liverpool Street Station at around 3:18 PM. Marie came to the station with us so we said our goodbyes there. It was lovely to see Marie once again albeit for only a few hours and by the time you read this she should be on her way home.
We got back to our car just as it was getting dark and, as I've said above, found the camera still in place. I hope you enjoyed all the photographs I didn't take.