Wednesday, August 20, 2014

That blog post I owe you about my last full day in London

You didn’t think I’d forget, did you? 

I started the day on the late side, because work had kept me up very late the night before, and I knew the next day would be a long one with very little sleep before it.  (I was right.)

On the way to lunch before a trip to the Natural History Museum, through the window of the taxi I spotted and was able to catch a bit of this fine statue of a boy attacking an over-sized ice cream cone. 

Click an image to see a larger version.

Wouldn’t it look fine next to the Cone Man in my driveway?

When I first reached the museum, the queue to enter was too long for my taste, so a trip to the special butterfly exhibit seemed to be just the ticket. 

Wow, was it. 

Butterflies make people happy.  Everywhere I looked, people were smiling and laughing at the beautiful creatures that were flying all through the sealed space, eating from flowers, enjoying some fruit the caretakers had set out for them, and just resting. 

The exhibit featured 28 different types of butterflies.

I didn’t keep count, but I’m sure I saw most, if not all, of them.

I know butterfly pictures aren’t anywhere near as compelling as the creatures in person, but I’m going to hit you with a few anyway, because they were so very lovely.

In a corner of the tent, you could see some butterflies just emerging. 

I found that particularly cool to watch.

Outside the butterfly tent stood two pieces of petrified wood

that the museum had dated as being about 330 million years old.  Very cool.

The Natural History museum is absolutely huge.  Here’s as much of it as my camera could capture from a spot near that petrified wood.

That’s nowhere near the full length of the building. 

I didn’t have the time to see anywhere near all of it, so I focused on working my way toward the giant blue whale and mostly stayed among the mammals, where the crowds—wow, is it crowded—were the most bearable.

Though I didn’t take this escalator into the sculpture of a planet, I loved the look and the concept.

Easily the biggest ammonite I’ve ever seen, this one appeared to be more than two feet wide. 

I know this is only a best-guess reproduction, but if it’s at all correct, damn, the Dodo was a strange-looking beast. 

This griffon vulture’s wingspan had to be at least five fight. 

Seeing that thing swooping down on you would be enough to give you nightmares.

This ichthyosaur is nearly seven meters long and one of the biggest known specimens.

A woman named Mary Anning found it in 1832.  Known, according to museum signs, as “the fossil woman,” Anning at age 11 became fascinated with fossils and became a force in fossil collecting.  Sadly, she died young at 48.

The next time someone tries to tell you that no one omitted women from your science and history texts, remember Anning.

This coelacanth, though having long since lost its natural blue coloring, is still a scary-looking critter—and a sample of a species that has survived around 85 million years. 

Just for Dave, this alpine marmot; he’d shiv you if you looked at him wrong.

Ah, finally, the blue whale.  This photo doesn’t do its size justice, but do note that you could tuck a rhino into a corner of its mouth, and it would be about the size of a chaw of tobacco, were the whale to chew rhinos like tobacco (which, of course, it does not).

I fell head over heels in love with ruin marble. 

I know that the limestone ran and then under heat and pressure became marble, but doesn’t it look like a magical cityscape?  Absolutely lovely.

I’d never heard of or seen cavansite, a rare blue mineral of vanadium.

If the museum is right, and I’m guessing it probably is, people have found cavansite in only two places:  Oregon, U.S., and Wagholi, Pune, India.  A very interesting pairing indeed.

On a whim, a spin through Harrods led to a sighting of this lovely ceiling in a part of the store’s vast grocery.

The entire fifth floor of Harrods is full of women’s shoes, real high-end stuff, and carries this name.

If you are seeking expensive women’s shoes, I expect this is heaven indeed.

I spent the bulk of the evening in the lovely Noel Coward Theatre watching the stage version of Shakespeare In Love.  Though I did not at all like the film of the same name, in large part because it depended so heavily on the performance of Gwyneth Paltrow, whom I found believable neither as a man nor a woman, I quite adored the play.  The first act had a few slow bits, but on balance I enjoyed it.  The second brought the story together and earned my complete love.  I highly recommend seeing it if you get a chance. 

Be on the lookout for the dog.

And that was a day in London.



Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Brought many smiles. When I was little, one place I wanted to go was the Natural History Museum in New York. Spent parts of 2 days there and barely scratched the surface. I also love the Smithsonian. I especially love the minerals and gem rooms. Great butterfly pics. Have never had time when in London to go to the natural history Museum, but if I ever get to London again, this will be on my list. Art museums, natural history many wonderful museums in the world. Have been to the Louvre also.

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind words. So many wonderful museums indeed!

Deb said...

I love museums, so I really appreciated this post and the previous one. I say if I go to London, I'd spend a week in the Victoria and Albert museum!

Mark said...

I'm glad you liked the post. I did enjoy my time at the V&A last November; you can find a post on it here:

Mark said...

Oops: wrong URL. Sorry. The post on the V&A is here:

Deb said...

Oh I remember that one. I was admiring the Trajan columns. But I would have been all over the costuming section. =)

Mark said...

Fair enough. I spent a little time with the costumes, but the museum was closing. Always a good sign of a museum: that you stay to closing and still want to see more.

Deb said...

LOL! That it is. I did that with the Roman museum in Cologne Germany. The stupid guidebook said it could be done in a half hour. Obviously they weren't serious Roman freaks like me. :)

Mark said...

I never trust guidebooks when it comes to museums, particularly those of special interest to me.


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