Bugger that phone charger. It's not working and upon closer inspection I noticed that some of the wires are frayed. I think I had better spend some time trying to hunt down a replacement if I can find one. The phone is 4 years old so I might be out of luck there. My plan for today is to wander around Lincoln's Inn gaping at the centuries old architecture and then going to the Soane museum which is right round the corner.
I get off the tube at Chancery Lane near the old half timbered Staple Inn, one of the few original buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1666. Of course it has shops in it now but there's a little courtyard with a garden in behind it. My first quest is to find a phone charger.
Several phone and electronic stores later, it's clear that I can't replace it. It's too old. In the end, I bought a cheap new phone for the Virgin network which matched my SIM card. This phone, though, isn't tri-band I later discovered so it won't work back in Canada *and* I have since discovered it is locked to the Virgin network, not unlocked.
Oh well. At least I got a nice shiny *working* charger with the phone *and* a hands free set. Off I toddle behind Holborn and down Chancery Lane where the London Legal Profession makes its home. First a stop in the London Silver Vaults though. This is a series of safe deposit rooms built in the late 1800's and rented to wealthy families as a place to store their silver and jewellery. Now it houses shops that deal in antique and modern silverware at dealer prices. The goods on display were diverse and astonishing. Better than the Crown Jewels if you ask me!
This whole area, right down to the Courts of Justice on the Strand and into the Lower and Middle Temples are all former lands owned and occupied by the Templar Knights. After their banishment, the legal profession moved in. There are four Inns of Court, Grey's Inn and Lincoln's Inn being the nearest to Chancery Lane. This area of London is centuries old and the buildings in the Squares of Lincoln's inn go back as far as the 16th century though the organization goes back probably another couple of centuries.
The quiet courtyards and squares, lined with *very* expensive cars, and buildings from various eras. There's an old chapel from the 1700's and a "New Square" which is actually 300 years old but newer than the Old Square which is 200 years older though a few of the buildings are actually Victorian now. There are Stone Buildings which are mid-18th century and a Great Hall and Library (Victorian) . The old gatehouse is 16th c and The Chapel (early 17th c) and Library wasn't open when I was there. It would have been nice to have a look inside. There was a lot of damage to the area during WWII and there is a plaque and marker near the Chapel that marks the spot where a bomb from a German Zeppelin in WWI fell. I wandered, taking photos, for an hour or more. Again it's overcast and sticky with humidity.
Outside Lincoln's Inn is Lincoln's Inn Fields, a large green square laid out by Inigo Jones in the 17th century surrounded by 18th century buildings, the oldest of which, Linsey House, is now painted red and white and well kept. The north side of the Fields is a row of Regency era houses designed and built by the architect Sir John Soane and houses his eclectic collection in a museum that covers three of the houses. But I'm warm and tired and decide to sit on a bench in the park and play with my new phone first. So close and yet so far! I was about 30 feet from the museum but I had to be down in the City to meet a friend for lunch for 12:30 and by the time I was cooled off, it was well past 11:00 a.m. and there really was no time to have a good look in the museum if I wanted to do it properly. Best laid plans often end up turning into guidelines and what I end up actually doing will often change on a dime, depending on weather, time, state of exhaustion.
Off to the tube to go to Monument and meet Fiona for lunch. We jumped back in the tube to go to a café that is in the crypt of St. Mary le Bow church, the famous church with the Bow Bells. The café, The Place Below, is vegetarian and has the most amazing homemade soups and dishes and sweets! Try it!
After leaving Fiona, I walked down to the Thames, hoping to find a Smuggler's Museum in the Custom House building (according to that walking book I have). Turns out that museum has moved to the Maritime Museum in Liverpool. I walked down along the Thames to the Tower of London for a good view across the river at the new beehive shaped glass City Hall. The queues to get into the Tower were astronomically long! Apparently it had been closed al morning due to a Royal Visit so that's why. I walked back through the tall towers of the City of London to see another new building, an insurance building shaped like a long pickle, affectionately known as London Gherkin, complete with rounded top. No good angle to get a photo though! Unusual shape for an office tower!
More walking, wandering, finding myself back at Liverpool Street station. It's mid afternoonand I am due to meet some friends at Marble Arch station at 6:00. I've decided to check out a few shoe shops on Oxford street but I really don't see anything I like. A lot of the shoes on sale are sandals and strappy heels and I'm after blister soothing comfort. What now. A cup of tea and sticky bun I think. Sitting in a Pret café across from Marble Arch is relaxing and I spend an hour updating my travel diary. Still have plenty of time. I'll have a wander in the Mayfair area, looking at the mansions on Park Lane and the streets behind it.
The houses here are all very nice too, and pricey no doubt. I come across the American Embassy on Grosvenor Square. This has to be the ugliest building and looks completely out of place beside the tall and graceful houses that surround the other three sides of the square. It's big and concrete, surrounded by high chain and barbed wire fences, big warning signs and armed guards patrolling the perimeters. The square itself is green and has fountains and trees and statues, including a large central one of Roosevelt. (FDR, that is) and many of it's old houses and mansions are converted into hotels. I sit there for a half hour and head off towards Marble Arch again.
Halfway to the station I realize I've left the bag that the box containing the phone charger was in on the bench in Grosvenor Square!!! Yikes! Another glitch and after all I went through with the old charger, have I lost the new one? I rush back but thankfully it was still there. I never thought until I was reminded later on about the security risks of leaving a package supposedly abandoned in public like that *and* outside of the American Embassy! There were probably snipers trained on me when I went back to pick it up!
I met my friends at the station and we situated ourselves in a nearby pub and spent the rest of the evening there lifting a few pints. I caught the bus back to the hotel about 10:00 or 10:30, plugged in the new charger to the new phone, and hit the sheets.