Considering that my last holiday was back in September 2006 I think I’ve done well to last this long. There was a few years when I would always go to London and spend 4 nights or so in a hotel spending the days wandering around, visiting galleries, museums and generally soaking up the culture. Then I think one year I went down, which is always expensive for just one person, and didn’t really have any thing in mind to go and see. I must have seen it all. Any visits after that had to have a purpose, Nine Inch Nails at the Astoria or the opening of the Regent Street Apple store.
Over the last year I’ve kept a list of places that I’d like to visit if I paid a trip to our nations capital. That list grew quite large so a 4 night stay was planned for October, my favourite month for such trips.
The train to Euston arrived at about lunchtime but the Travelodge reservation said that check-in had to be after 3. I arrived about an hour early having walked down Tottenham Court Road carrying my bag. With there being a queue at reception I thought I would be fine to check-in early so that I could leave my bag in the room. No such luck. Had I paid the extra for an early check-in? No. It might have been helpful of them to check to see if my room was ready, instead it was a case of having to pay an extra £10 to check-in an hour early. My room could have been ready and waiting for me but instead I had to wander around waiting until after 3 to check-in. Not the best of starts but there you go, rules are rules. They also won’t let you leave your bag so I had kill time carrying it around with me.
I wandered towards Trafalgar Square and Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, managed to get lost a little, then made my way back to the hotel to check-in.
Once I’d dumped my bag in the room it was back to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly to the Royal Academy of Arts where Anish Kapoor had an exhibition.
The person who sold me the ticket, £12.00, asked if I was aware that the gallery closed at 6. Yes, I had checked the closing times the day before on the web and it was only 4 now so 2 hours should do it easily. I knew what was coming, more or less, as I’d seen a video on the BBC web-site. The most interesting pieces were the ‘wax train’ that went through two doorways and the ‘wax cannon’.
At one end of the ‘wax train’ line there was member of the galleries staff who had a broad cockney accent who was saying to a few inquiring visitors that it was made of wax, a wax type substance. It certainly can’t have been sold wax as it would have been too heavy to move. Apparently it takes an hour to move from one end of the line to the other.
I did manage to see the ‘wax cannon’ being fired, which is primed and loaded every twenty minutes. Over the length of the exhibition it will fire 3 tonnes of this red wax into a blocked off doorway. It’s amazing that the gallery allowed it. The building must be old enough to have a preservation order on it and the doorways, and the plaster moulding in the cannon room, were splattered with this red wax. Let’s hope it doesn’t stain. The other exhibits, piles of coloured powder (or were they?), piles of blobbed clay/mud, the horn and the dimples where really nothing to get excited about. I think I must have been in and out in less than an hour. Bargain.
From there it was off to M&S for something to eat and to queue up for 15 minutes in the quick checkout area with some apples and a drink. Then with the sun slowly setting a quick walk in, and then out of, Hyde Park walking down Park Lane. A wander around the Hard Rock Cafe store then around Buckingham Palace, down the mall back to Trafalgar Square and back to the hotel.