It’s getting to that time of year again. It’s cold, the leaves have fallen and the rain is falling. Money is, as it usually is at this time of year, thin on the ground and the prospect of another Christmas in this dump is making me glum. Every year I say ‘this is the last one’ but I haven’t been lucky so far. This year though, with my ongoing hunt for a publishing deal/fame & attention in full swing it may well indeed be the last one. But as decent a goal as that is and with every penny going towards achieving that goal and with every hour spent either writing or building a name for myself there’s been almost no time for adventure- Not near and certainly not far. I might end up heading to Chester again but if I do then it will probably be work related.
And how long has it been since I was last abroad? Eight years? That is too long by any standards and as soon as all this business is done and I can afford to spend a week or two not working I think I’ll be off to Italy to practice my Italian skills. Florence I think… Firenze! I’ve wanted to go down to Italy by train for a while so maybe I’ll do that, make a huge adventure of it- Stop off in London and Paris for a couple of days along the route.
In fact, whilst I’ve got this downtime I can be planning, planning the big one for when the task is finally done and I can get a long couple of weeks away. I should start with London. I’ve been to London once before- A school trip at the end of year 8 that was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster- It was as bad as almost vomiting in the house of lords (It was the heat, not the working class rebel in me) and having to single handedly preventing the dorm room from being invaded by chavs- And then I got lost in Windsor Castle thanks partly to my being weird in front of Zara Phillips. So another visit is definitely on the cards. I’m never going to see it all in one go and certainly not in the space of a few days (say… Three and a half?) so I should just pick out a few things I might want to do.
1- St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey?
Now the last time I was in London I did visit St Pauls… But I only got to see one side of it and the crypt- It was a really poorly organised trip as well as being an unmitigated disaster and they forgot the book the damn tour of the cathedral. So I’d like to see the inside and the rest of the outside as well. Downside… It costs a whole eighteen mo-farking pounds to get in, which isn’t good.
On the other hand I could try Westminster Abbey. It’s got more history than St Paul’s, more to see- The tombs of poets, writers and kings. I’d quite like to get a look at Henry VII’s tomb to be honest. And hey, one day they’re going to put my memorial stone in poets corner (Just telling you this now Westminster… You’ve got a few years to prepare but consider this your notification.) In fact I can choose where I want it- I’m thinking next door to Dylan Thomas at the moment, the Welsh Walter Scott and the Welsh Robbie Burns brought together! But other than that it should be worth looking around for all the history of the place. But it’s £20 to get in, more than St Paul’s.
So it’s one or the other as I am certainly not paying forty pounds to walk around two Cathedrals… Unless there’s some ‘attraction pass’ which can get me into a load of places for free. Then I’m up for it. There is? Whooo! (St Paul’s doesn’t look to be included in that one though… Damn!)
2- The London Dungeon
When I was in York last year I was tempted to go and visit the York Dungeon. In the end I decided against it. There was too much else to see and do and I had already done one of the ghost walks so I gave it a miss. I’ve actually wanted to see one of the Dungeons for ages and the London is the original and probably the best of the lot. Sad part is that I don’t think it’s included in the pass and it costs another near twenty pounds to get in.
3- See A Play at the Globe
Down in the dirt with the other peasants, the traditional Tudor way! The pass linked above gets you on a free tour as well. The plays don’t run all the year round, they tend to shuffle off for the winter and next year’s performances aren’t announced till January. Looking at the list of previous performances they haven’t done Troilus and Cressida for a while so that might be there… Twelfth Night (one of my favourites) hasn’t been done since 2012 either so I would expect that. A Midsummer Nights dream or Julius Caesar would be good… But It depends on what they have going at the time.
4- See either The Mousetrap or Les Miserables
This would be an alternative to the play at the globe, should I find myself in London whilst no plays are playing or if they haven’t got one that interests me. As an Agatha Christie reader the Mousetrap does interest me and prices are reasonable for the West End. But then there is Les Mis… After seeing the film I really want to see it on the stage. It’s a choice of which I would rather see more. Plus… If I see Les Mis I can visit Notre Dame in Paris and do a double ‘Victor Hugo’ sort of thing. I might be tempted to join in but that shouldn’t be a problem. I doubt either are going anywhere any time soon so whichever I choose (or if I choose neither) they will still be there on another day.
5. Do Something Literary (Besides the stuff I’ve mentioned already)
London is awash with literary heritage. There’s Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes museum- Although we are again talking a steep price to get in (£15!) and it isn’t included on the list of pass attractions. The Dickens museum is free though, as would be a wander around the sights of Dicken’s London. I could visit the real life Old Curiosity shop The Grapes down by the river, which is associated with Dickens and now owned by Ian McKellen. Or I could go up to Highgate, burial place of Literary greats such as Karl Marx, George Eliott and Douglas Adams. There’s Dr Johnson’s House. After spending so much time trailing the old grump across the country it would be interesting to see where he lived. And what about Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross or the British Library? London is packed with literary gems and I could probably spend all three days exploring them all… But where to only scratch the surface?
6 Walk Down Fleet Street
As a man with one toe in the world of journalism I’m fascinated by this place. The newspaper industry has long since moved out but to see it, see the street that once rang to the sound of typewriters, a place where journalism was a respected profession, would be an experience. It ties in with the above as well, especially as a huge number of famous writers (including our grumpy old friend Dr Johnson) lived on this street or nearby. There’s also the Sweeney Todd association- I wonder if there’s a pie shop down there?
7. Covent Garden
Another place I’ve seen before but I want to go again and have a proper look around this time. The last time I was lumbered with having to walk around in a small group and nobody else wanted to look in the same shops as me and refused to go in them or wait outside whilst I went in and looked round. (Twats.) They also weren’t really interested in the place. So I want to wander at my own pace and leisure and go in those shops I couldn’t go in before (if they’re still there!). Plus now I’m older I can appreciate the place a bit more than I did then.
So packed with history, how could I not? There’s the Royal Observatory, The Royal Naval College, The Cutty Sark, The Maritime Museum, The Queen’s House… I’d need a full day for all that I think! It might even be worth getting there by river cruise. One of my favourite museums ever is the Maritime Museum in Liverpool and I’d like to see the London one, see if it’s any better. And the Naval college has been used in so many films (It was used in Les Miserables, for instance) that it might be nice to see the place as itself for once.
I think that’s enough planning for now, don’t you? But hey… If you have any suggestions for what I might like let me know down in the comments.