May 11, 2019, Greenwich & London, England — I’d spent Friday, my last day onboard abroad, packing. I got off the Sun at Greenwich (our berth) just long enough to have a little walkabout and lunch with my darling cuzzes from Kent, who drove up for the occasion.
Our pre-prandial aim was to visit St. Alfege Church. The original was erected in the 12th century and rebuilt in 1712-1714. It was frequented by royalty, as you’ll read on the little sign.
The purpose of our visit was to see this ‘Tallis Keyboard.’ Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585) was, according to Britannica, ‘one of the most important English composers of sacred music before William Byrd.’
Here’s what the sign says.
Forgot to take a family photo this year, so here’s last year’s post-prandial snap. We look much the same, though my hair has now finished its transition.
I had told the cuzzes (died-in-the-wool Brits) that I’d been made a ‘dame’ onboard the ship. ‘That’s impossible. An American cannot be a dame.’ Then this Viking Vocalist walked past me and said, ‘Hello, Dame Susan Nash.’ Thanks, Josh! That’s the Cutty Sark in the background. ‘Cutty Sark,’ by the way, is this ship... it’s also a scotch... and it’s a lady’s short petticoat. Now you know.
Fast forward several hours: By 10 p.m., my two giant bags were in the corridor for collection while I theoretically slept. Wake-up call for 4:30 in order to appear in the Atrium by 5:15 for the final muster. I was awake by 3:00. View of ‘downtown’ London from my veranda, at 4:40 a.m.
We had to leave the ship in color-coded groups by ‘clipper,’ the Thames tenders that took us all of 100 yards from ship to shore. Only alternative was to swim it. My cousin Lawrence is descended from Thames lightermen — a lighter being a small, flat-bottomed barge. The kind of characters who pulled bodies out of the water in Dickens novels.
The baggage retrieval ashore was much better organized than last year, and there were porters aplenty, so we were aboard our last buses quick-sharp for the hour trip to Heathrow.
As happened last year, the bus driver took us on a bit of a panoramic tour... over Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London...
... past The Hung Drawn and Quartered (a pub, I hope) and past The Sherlock Holmes (another pub, no doubt) and the London Eye.
And a shop called ‘Beretta...Since 1526’ (yes, that Beretta: it’s a firearms gallery, the largest in London), just off Pall Mall.
Through Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s Column (erected in1845) with Nelson on top. King George IV is the guy on the horse. That’s the National Gallery in the background. It is now illegal to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Sq., due to health and sanitation concerns.
...past Pall Mall, up Piccadilly, past Hyde Park Corner, through Knightsbridge...
...past the Victoria & Albert Museum...
...then thru Kensington. And palm trees — I hadn’t remembered palm trees in London proper.
London is a wonderful city, full of history and great architecture — though the modern ‘architecture’ most often has nowhere near the elegance of the classical buildings. Case in point: The daytime view from my veranda — you can almost make out the two most distinctive modern buildings: The Gherkin, that pickle- and phallus-shaped oddity, just down the block from The Shard, which looks like… a shard of glass.
Next up: Mathematical summaries of 128 days at sea. #