A Sunny London Day

The fact that I’m writing this (well, starting it) at nearly 11 PM means I must have done a good job of resetting my internal clock last night. I guess going to bed at 7:30 PM and sleeping for 12 hours will do that, eh? No matter the reason, I’m so glad I was refreshed for another good day in London!

Today was actually a lighter day in terms of stuff I had planned. I ended up relaxing in my hotel room for most of the morning, while writing my post about my fun first day. I was also in touch with my friend Matt about his plans to travel from Brighton to London, as he’s staying in the same hotel for a couple of days. It worked out really well for me that he decided to come in the early afternoon, since I was getting my blog done anyway and was in no hurry to get out the door. But I did get out for a late morning walk (okay, it was just after noon when I left) around the Embankment, which was a perfect activity for a sunny Thursday and gave me a chance to get a few more pictures (Big Ben was really shining!). What’s not to like about that?

This is St. Margaret’s, which is part of Westminster Abbey.
Looking up at Big Ben in the sun.
New day, new selfie!
Bagpipe player on Westminster Bridge.
Another street performer!
Always a nice shot of London when walking back over the Thames.
I took this photo for my brother as he’s a big Sherlock Holmes fan. Didn’t eat there though!

After ~45 minutes walking in the sun, it was time to head back to the hotel as Matt had arrived. Thankfully, it’s very easy to get from Brighton to Victoria Station, which in turn is an easy walk (or tube ride) to the hotel. It was so great to see him for the first time since February 2020! He’s someone I normally see at the big Doctor Who convention I go to in LA every February, but that didn’t happen in 2021 (thanks COVID) and he didn’t want to travel to come back this year (totally understandable, as many other folks made that same decision), so this is the first chance I’ve had to see him since that 2020 convention. It was great to see him! We actually didn’t have any plans right away, but we were both hungry, so we opted to have a pub lunch at The Sanctuary House, which just so happens to be right next to the hotel (I’ve noticed it, but never gone in before). The burger Matt had and the club sandwich I had were both tasty and pretty well-priced, too. I’m sure it won’t be the last time I eat at a pub on this trip!

After lunch and a good catch-up, we made the loooong walk back to the hotel so Matt could check into his room (it wasn’t ready when he first arrived). He opted to take a nap, so I decided to pay my first visit in many years to the National Gallery. Yep, a museum! And one that happens to be very close as it’s in Trafalgar Square, so it’s a pretty short walk to get there. I honestly couldn’t tell you when I’ve been to it previously, but I’m certain I’ve been at least once, possibly twice. It was certainly many years ago though!

While I do appreciate a good museum, I’m not exactly an art connoisseur or a follower of any specific artists, but I do enjoy having a wander through museums when traveling, especially to see notable works of art. The National Gallery certainly has some well-known stuff (as you’ll see below), plus it has the added benefit of being in one of my London happy places, Trafalgar Square (which is also quite close to my hotel, so it’s very easy to get to). I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time to explore (long enough for Matt to snooze a bit), but since I just like to wander through anyway (rather than spend lots of time looking at the art), that worked for me! And as an added bonus, entry to this museum is always free! Of course, there are suggested donations and I happily made one when I booked online (it’s not a requirement to book online, but figured it might save some time when I arrived). It wasn’t especially busy when I arrived, so pre-booking wasn’t necessary in this case, but I was happy to see a sign with three clearly-marked paths through the museum, each with a selection of artists listed, along with how long the path takes to walk. Again, I’m not knowledgeable about art, so I just chose the one that had some artists whose names I recognized (Van Gogh and Gainsborough, mostly). Worked for me!

No photos of our food this time, but here’s where Matt and I had lunch.
Walking into the National Gallery.
This is “Mary Magdalene” by Girolamo Savoldo. Honestly, it was the shiny silver cloak that attracting me to this one!

This series of four paintings by Joachim Beuckelaer are collectively called “The Four Elements” and each one has it’s own sub-title. From top left, they are “Fire”, “Earth”, “Air”, and “Water.”

“Lots and His Daughters” by Abraham Bloemaert is currently on loan to the National Gallery. As I learned from the description next to it, Lot’s daughters are trying to seduce their own father because they believe that’s necessary to ensure the survival of humanity. So, there’s that!
This painting, “Young Man with a Skull”, is by Dutch painter Frans Hals and dates back to the early 1600s. I just liked the creepiness of it!
I really liked the colorful flowers in “Bouquet in a Clay Vase” by Jan Brueghel the Elder.
When I was a kid, I was really into weather, especially storms, so the storm depicted in “Mountain Landscape with Lighting” by Francisque Millet really called to me.

I did also take a couple of photos of the museum itself. Great architecture!

“Water-Lilies” by Claude Monet. This is a big painting!

It was cool to see several people doing this – getting engrossed into the art while sketching their own versions of it. Wish I could have seen their finished products!

Another Monet painting, “The Thames Below Westminster.” Since I’m staying in Westminster, I had to get a picture of this one. 🙂

A couple of Van Gogh classics here – “Two Crabs” and “Sunflowers” (I love when painting names make the content very clear!). Fun fact – “Sunflowers” is actually the fourth painting in a series, so Van Gogh has a number of paintings with this content.

Another large painting, “The Blue Boy” by Gainsborough actually belongs to The Huntington in California, but is currently on loan to the National Gallery.
There was all sorts of great tilework on the floor at the end of my self-guided tour!
As you know, I always get pictures of Trafalgar Square when I’m in London, but I never get them from this angle. This observation spot is at the end of the National Gallery tour, so of course I had to check it out!

With my culture quota filled for the day (possibly for the trip – haha!), it was time to get back to the hotel, get my photos edited (makes writing the blog later easier), and then get ready to head back out for an evening of geeky fun at Doctor Who: Time Fracture. What’s that, you may ask? Well, according to the website, it’s an “immersive theatrical experience” and those of us who go are there to help the Doctor ensure a “dangerous rift in time” doesn’t destroy the universe. That was about all Matt and I know about it going in though! And now, having been through it for ourselves, I can’t share the details with you! It’s sort of like The Mousetrap – I can tell you that I went to The Mousetrap, but I can’t reveal the details of what happened when I was there. 🙂

Okay, I know my Doctor Who friends want more information than that! I really can’t share any of the details of the plot, but here’s what I can say:

  • It’s longer than I thought it would be! We went to the 7 PM show and we didn’t walk out of UNIT HQ until nearly 9:30 PM.
  • I’d heard it’s an experience you can go to multiple times because of the different adventures/paths you can take and that’s certainly true. There were lots of stories happening at once (as the website says, there are 40 actors and 17 worlds to explore – definitely more than anyone could experience at one time), so I can see how people would want to come back multiple times.
  • Another thing I’d heard is that it’s similar to an escape room, which I can somewhat agree with. It’s very fast-paced and you definitely work with others, so don’t expect to just sit back and watch.
  • There’s a LOT going on inside and each attendee really is part of the action, so be sure to participate and join the fun.
  • If I had to choose one word to describe it, I think I’d use “frenetic” because there’s just so much movement and action, plus a bunch of parallel stories happening at the same time.
  • As for the story itself, it felt a little confusing, but what’s a Doctor Who story without a plot hole here and there? 🙂

And that, my friends, is all I can tell you! Of course, no pictures were allowed inside, but I did get a couple before and after the action.

Lining up to get inside and start our adventure.
Top secret! Also, as you can see by the sign, the performance we were at was filmed! Matt told me he would let me know when it aired as part of Blue Peter and he was true to his word! Though you can’t see me in the show at all, Matt is glimpsed once or twice. Check it out here!
With the TARDIS at the end of the adventure.

Well, that’s it! We made our way back to the hotel (with another market stop so Matt could get some munchies), where I ended up staying up until midnight (eek!). But I got a good start on this blog (though obviously didn’t finish it until now) and got to talk to Scott back home. And I wasn’t all that tired – quite a change from Wednesday’s desperate fatigue. I didn’t sleep as well last night as I did the previous night, but still felt good when I got up around 8:30 this morning. We’ve got another show planned for tonight (the sit-in-the-audience kind, this time), so come back to learn how it goes.

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!