Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunday, 1st October – London

Since we had to replace our stolen train tickets to Southampton we thought at the same time we could do another pilgrimage – this time to Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station, where Harry Potter went each year to catch the train to Hogwarts. And there it was, between platforms 9 and 10, as you would expect! His luggage trolley is stuck half way through the brick wall, as though he’s just left for school.

We had arranged to meet Shelley’s sister and family at an historic house-come-museum called Burgh House, in Hampstead at midday, and had half an hour to spare, so we ducked into the British Library, which was just next door. Ho-hum I hear you say, but this is no ordinary library. Amongst its collection are original copies of the Magna Carta, earliest printed copies of some of Shakespeare’s works, original manuscripts by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, to name a few, ancient maps, beautiful medieval illustrated manuscripts, Beatles song lyrics scribbled on restaurant serviettes. Also rather poignant was the journal of Scott (of the Antarctic), opened at his final entry before he and the last of his team died in his hut in a blizzard. All so fascinating that we had to come back again after lunch with the family, this time until we thrown out at closing time.

Hampstead is a lovely suburb, once a favoured retreat for generations of artists and writers - worth coming back some time just to wander around (when it is not raining). Burgh House is now a museum of the history of the Hampstead area and is quite fascinating.

There is a new movie called ‘The Queen’ which has just opened here, and since we were in London it seemed the right thing to do to go and see it. It stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, and is about the week following the death of Diana (former) Princess of Wales, and how it affected the royal family, and the relationship between the Queen and Tony Blair. It was very well done and gave an insight into what went on behind what was depicted in the media. Not sure how much of it was ‘fictionalised’, we found it interesting that it was portraying current public figures. We’d give it 4½ out of five.