Europe 1999 ???????????

Museums, Harrods, all that jazz

Trying to look at things from a different perspective at the Natural History Museum
[Hyde Park]
Just as I’m trying to take a picture of L and Jeremy strolling through Hyde Park, Isaac comes into view…

Anybody for a Cuppaccino Expresso?


With L’s plans to see Lyle Lovett in concert on this day up the creek due to the trifling matter of the performer’s father dying, we had the full day free to explore London at will. And explore we did. We started off catching the train/tube into the museum sector of South Kensington.

Armed with discount Connex vouchers, we went into the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum), to look around their collection of various artefacts – historical clothing, pottery, photos, that kind of thing. The kids hated it, and made their opinions clear in no uncertain terms, until the adults of the party eventually succumbed to their demands.

Just across the street from the V&A is the Natural History Museum. I knew from visiting the previous year that this was, particularly for kids, everything the V&A wasn’t – full of interactive displays, interesting models of animals extinct and alive, and lots of other kids running around like maniacs. Not to mention the escalator that goes through the centre of a model planet Earth. And the Kobe earthquake simulator. Very cool.

We ate lunch in the museum, then continued exhausting ourselves trying to see all (well okay not all, but the most interesting ones) of the exhibits. This time round, the Creepy Crawlies exhibit was open, and was quite good.

Afterwards we walked onwards and outwards towards Knightsbridge, and took a look inside Harrods, where the security guard bloke asked me to take my daypack off and carry it by hand. Presumably that’s for security. If a revolutionary terrorist comes in with a portable rocket launcher strapped to his back, they probably make him carry that by hand too.

We continued to do battle with the Knightsbridge crowds while looking in more shop windows, before deciding to seek some peace and quiet. A quick look at the map revealed that peace and quiet in the form of Hyde Park was not too far away, so we headed over there. Jeremy had fallen asleep, but Isaac revelled in the open space.

Then we took a double-decker bus through Piccadilly Circus to Tottenham Court Road, and tramped up and down there for a bit, looking in Borders and Virgin and a few other places, and having a chuckle at a misspelt "Cappuccino" sign before availing ourselves of some dinner at a tiny but friendly Italian place.

After that we took a walk down Oxford Street. It was well after dark by now, but the streets were still packed with people. Before making the trek back to Hew’s place, we went into HMV and took a look around the discount and not-so-discount videos, where I found a copy of Quadrophrenia for UKP 5.99 and the Red Nose spoof "Doctor Who: The Curse Of Fatal Death" for UKP 12.99. Both things I wanted to see, and in the latter case, it was for a good cause, so why the hell not!

Back at Victoria station on the way to Hew’s house, yet another beggar approached with his patter being of the pathetic genre, specifically by saying in a worn out voice "I’m sorry to bother you sir…" He didn’t get any dosh from me, as (a) I generally prefer to give to charities instead of beggars, and (b) my change was going into the Web access terminal.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.