Part Three The Tour continues
Please read parts 1 and 2 first
The story so far… We have visited Buckingham Palace, wandered in awe around Luxurious Harrods, ate a less than delightful lunch at Planet Hollywood and become emotional during a march/demonstration against the bombing in Aleppo.
Eventually, we enter one of the most famous, oldest and busiest toy stores I’ve ever seen. On reaching the top floors of Hamleys, my granddaughter becomes a typical child in a toy shop and it seems as though not one cuddly toy from Hamleys vast range escapes her loving touch. As for me, I am captivated by the Harry Potter showcase, the items on display seem very real and I can’t resist taking photographs. There is something magical about being here, even for a muggle born like me and I revel in every moment. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking and reluctantly, it’s time to leave Harry Potter’s memorabilia and of course my idea of Santa’s workshop.
The street outside the store is busier than ever and as we walk along we are literally shoulder to shoulder with others. We feel ourselves being jostled against other pedestrians and it becomes a little frightening. I’m never comfortable being in such close proximity to others and the bodily odours of some makes me feel nauseous; my daughter hangs on tightly to her daughter. It’s something of a relief to reach the tube station, but unfortunately, as with the street above, the tube is equally busy and I find myself wishing that like the Japanese, I had some sort of face mask, I’m now counting the stops until I can finally leave this train.
Standing outside St Paul’s Cathedral I can hardly believe I’m here, I’ve been looking forward to this visit all day. What a magnificent building this is, I’m looking upward towards the dome and taking photographs whilst we still have daylight. We walk around the outside of the building towards the main entrance, but the walking has taken its toll on my hips and I’m aware I have begun to hobble. Suddenly, at a side door, a cathedral attendant appears, she beckons to us. The attendant has noticed my temporary difficulty in walking and has taken pity on me, the door is a disabled entrance and we are ushered into the lift and taken up to the nave. I feel embarrassed, I’m not that old and neither am I disabled, I am, however, very grateful.
Fortunately, I’ve found a quiet area to sit and as I put my feet up on the chair in front I’m hoping that no one will notice. We’ve been handed small tablets with earphones, what a clever idea. I sit here in my corner and listen to the history of St Paul’s, and I find out that Admiral Horatio Nelson is buried here, how come didn’t I know that? I also read and take in the geography of the building.
Given the number of tourists in here it’s surprising that it’s maintained its serenity, but it has and I feel an inner peace. As I sit here I’m saying prayers for family members and for those suffering in Aleppo. After a little while I feel rested, I join my family and begin to walk around this beautiful cathedral. I light candles and say another prayer and I’m beginning to realise I’m no longer hobbling.Therefore, when I bump into the kind attendant who allowed us easier access I feel something of a fraud.
Outside, in the twilight the cathedral is gently lit and the three of us take more photographs of the building and of each other.
Although it’s standing room only, a less busy tube journey takes us back to King’s Cross. As the train jerks forward I fall over onto another passenger, as I apologise he immediately offers his seat.
After arriving at King’s Cross my daughter and granddaughter take a look around the shops and I sit on the Mezzanine level, watching the hustle and bustle of the floor below whilst savouring a most welcome cup of tea.
Finally, we hear the announcement to board our delayed train and we take our time as the crowd of passengers surge forward. We have first class tickets for our return journey and our carriage, when we finally take our seats, is quieter and more comfortable than standard.
Soon after setting off the attendant arrives with his trolley and offers complimentary refreshment, with sandwiches and snacks. We choose our food and my daughter visits the bar and brings back wine.
I’m so glad I accepted the invitation for this London day out even though my hips are shot, and I’m inclined to agree with my daughter’s remarks where she typed a message to her siblings that read, “I think I’ve killed Mum’s hips!”
I’m too tired to play games or even to take much notice of other strangers on the train. I sip my wine and stare out of the window into the darkness. I’m remembering the events of the day until my eyelids become heavy; I rest here quietly for the remainder of the journey.
Footnote: For those interested in St Paul’s and its history… http://www.genealogyinengland.com/Information/stpaulsfamous.htm