Sad stone lions, perky squirrels in Postman’s Park and deadly Daleks are amongst the splendid sights I came across on my unexpected time off last week!Monday afternoon was happily spent catching up with my pretty buddies Emma and Freya were recovering from the previous day’s revelries at Notting Hill Carnival. You can hear all about their antics on Emma’s Gohemian Travellers post. We strolled through one of my favourite spots, Abney Park. This Victorian era cemetery has almost been reclaimed by nature – stone angels, tumble down tombstones and ivy-clad memorials jostle for space under the tall trees. I have a particular soft spot for this darling stone lion.Tuesday was PICNIC DAY! I packed my basket (yes, I have an actual basket) full of French bread, olives, hummus, cheese, grapes and wine and headed off (feeling a bit like hipster red riding hood) to meet my dear friend Joe at St. Pauls. Our first stop was Postman’s Park, one of those cute-as-a-button hidden away gardens in central London. I had heard about it and probably walked past the entrance many times but never ventured inside the gate.The highlight of this teeny park, formed from a reclaimed burial ground (you can still see the gravestones lining the walls), is the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice by George Frederic Watts, who proposed the idea in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The wooden loggia is lined with ceramic tiles; each one tells the story of someone who died saving the life of another. It is a peaceful and moving spot to sit and contemplate the courage we all keep tucked deep inside of us until the moment we really need itA somewhat cuter and fluffier attraction are the tame squirrels, this cheeky little chap came up very close with an enquiring look and took a grape straight from my hand! I felt like a Disney princess!
After a good catch up in the park we headed almost next door to the fantastic Museum of London. I love this place, it is free to get in, crazy cool and interesting – peeling back London’s onion-like layers of history from pre-stone age times right up to the modern day.
Before lunch we checked out the upper level displays, prehistoric, Roman and medieval London through to War, Fire and Plague (eek!). We squealed with delight at the magical Temple of Mithras projection which changed from the ruins to how it would have looked complete. The medieval cottage looked so cosy and inviting but I don’t think we’d have been allowed to picnic in there! We tried on some snazzy fireman’s helmets, one modern and a copy of one which would have been worn in the great fire of London. I think I may have it back to front?We were peckish by now so grabbed a cup of tea from the museum café, collected our picnic basket from the handy lockers and popped around the corner of the museum where a little lawn and herb garden sits alongside the old Roman city wall. It was perfect!Post-lunch we hit the museum again to explore the Expanding City, which spans 1666-1850’s. As a costume addict, I have to admit that although the entire museum is a treasure trove of historical clothing, this is my favourite section! It contains the incredible (and it must have been incredibly awkward to move in!) Fanshawe dress, created from woven silk by the skilful French Huguenots who settled in East Londons Spitalfields in the 1750’s. It is quite spectacular! Joe and I took an interactive quiz, an apprentice test. I am now committed to a career in gun making while Joe will be making shoes. Then we got lost for a while in the fantastic recreation of an 18th Century pleasure garden. Sadly I don’t think we’d have been allowed to have our picnic in there. But OH! The period costumes are to die for! I fell hook line and sinker for a deep blue velvet number covered in gold stars. Very Smashing Pumpkins album cover, noted Joe. The hats and masks were especially commissioned and created by famous milliner Phillip Treacy. I’m not sure photos are allowed (sorry Museum of London, I was naughty) but this beauty took my breath away! If only I could borrow it for the upcoming Talk Like a Pirate Day! We ambled on, reluctant to leave those beautiful costumes, to the Victorian section with its little shop fronts and cobbled street, so cute! I found a lovely replacement for my bike which was stolen a few weeks ago, and Joe found a pub. So that was fun The rest of the galleries have a brilliant collection of clothing throughout the decades, the 1920’s era dresses brought back happy Great Gatsby memories! This Peter Pan costume dating from the original production caught my eye. There were even costumes from the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony on display, I love how the museum is so up to date.Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better – there was a Dalek!!! It was the best unexpected museum find ever! I cannot describe how happy this made us. We took a silly amount of silly pictures! When we managed to drag ourselves away we admired the beautiful 250 year old Lord Mayor’s ceremonial coach (complete with very realistic fake horses!) which is impressively still used in the Lord Mayor’s show every year The lovely and friendly staff at the Museum desk told me about an exciting new exhibition which is coming to the museum from 11th October. They will be showcasing The Cheapside Hoard, a priceless collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery which was found buried in a cellar in Cheapside, London, in 1912. Sparkles and mystery and history, I’m sold!
Of course, I did manage to squeeze a teeny bit of dressing up somewhere in the week! On Wednesday a bunch of us headed for a cheeky midweek night out, first to the great New Acts night at the Comedy Cafe Theatre in Shoreditch, then to GypsyPixiePirate fave TrannyShack at Madame JoJos. My beautiful housemates Emma, Juliette and I sported some dashing moustaches for the occasion Have you been to the Museum of London? What is your favourite exhibit? Are there any hidden London parks you know about? Get in touch, I’d love to swap adventure notes!