London, Part 3.

We went to so many museums. One of the Museums we saw was the Tate Modern. I tend not to like modern art, but everyone everywhere said we had to check it out, so we did. The building was amazing (it’s a former power plant, and it is HUGE), but I still don’t like modern art. I can even pinpoint when I stopped caring for modern art. I was in college and since I went to an art school, there was art all over the place. My senior year the college acquired a whole lot of outdoor art. Some of it was clearly identifiable (like bronze sculptures), but some was not (like a shopping cart which had glass bottles filled with pink liquid in them). One day I was walking on the campus and I saw a giant pile of garbage. I immediately circled around it looking for an identifying plaque with the artist’s name, until it occurred to me there wasn’t a plaque because this was a giant pile of garbage. Just regular old garbage, the kind that goes in a dumpster. And it was like a ray of light came out of the heavens and I saw the light and had an epiphany. The epiphany was,

“I don’t have to play this BS game. If something looks like a pile of garbage, whether fancy people call it art or not, it’s still a pile of garbage. Art should require skill and talent. Most modern art requires a PR person to hype it. I’m done with this.”

And since then I won’t go to the Guggenheim or the Whitney or any of those museums. But I made the exception for the Tate Modern for two reasons: One, I was walking right past it, and Two, all the museums in London are free, so no money lost there. Cricket was ecstatic because it had free wifi, so he didn’t mind at all. They have a famous exhibit there right now, the porcelain sunflower seeds. An artist commissioned 100 million hand-painted sunflower seeds and poured them out all over the floor. It looks like this.

And there are signs like this.

And don’t think I wasn’t tempted. They made a little barrier around the sunflower seeds just a leetle too far for me to reach the seeds to take one, and there was a guard posted in the corner makin’ sure the peasants weren’t pilfering the seeds. Shortly after that (when Cricket was done checking his email), we left.

We also went to Greenwich, the home of Greenwich Mean Time. Here’s clarification for those of you that don’t know: There is longitude and latitude. There is a definite latitude line – the equator – to base location and time off of. But there is no definite longitude line. So people invented one, the 0′ line, and it runs right through Greenwich, England. It has been the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) since 1884. It is a completely man-made thing, but the 0′ point has to be somewhere, so it might as well be in Greenwich.

They have a lovely museum there with lots of cool clocks and astronomer’s equipment. They talk a lot about how difficult it was for sailors to figure out where they were, how they used the position of the sun at certain times of day or the stars at night. My favorite tidbit of information was one of the harebrained ideas for always knowing Greenwich Mean Time. Some scientist claimed he had the “Powder of Sympathy”, and his plan was to scratch a dog with a knife that had been rubbed with the powder. The dog would travel on the ship going to foreign destinations. Then, every day at noon in Greenwich, the scientist would plunge the knife into the Powder of Sympathy, and the dog, feeling corresponding pain, would yelp, so the sailors would know and adjust their clocks on ship accordingly. The exhibit wryly said, “This was proven not to work.”

This was the super-cool house the astronomer lived in next to the Royal Observatory.

And this is Cricket standing with one foot on either side of the meridian.

The British, much to their credit, are not Puritans, and they sell hard, soft and in-between liquor in the supermarket. This made us laugh. It is a glass of wine. Seriously. An individual glass of wine with a yogurt-style aluminum peel-back lid.

I don’t drink beer, but Cricket does, and he sampled several bottled beers back in the hotel room. Here are a few.

I made him buy this beer after we returned from Greenwich.

Beer ended up being a big part of this trip. I always insist on eating and drinking wherever the locals do, and that meant we were in pubs almost every night. Cricket then got to try two different on-tap beers every night. One of his favorites was the banana bread beer. I even tried a tiny sip, and doggone it, it did taste surprisingly like banana bread.

I tried to be a trooper, alcohol-wise. There was a menu advertising pear cider and the description was mouth-watering (“known for its strong fresh pear notes with a hint of vanilla”), so I ordered it. Unfortunately, it was carbonated, and I can’t drink anything carbonated, so Cricket, being the best boyfriend in the whole world, got a second glass and poured the pear cider back and forth, back and forth, over and over until it wasn’t fizzy anymore. Best. Boyfriend. EVAR. It ended up being delicious, by the way.

One Response to “London, Part 3.”

  1. Gemma says:

    Some random thoughts after reading – Your statement on modern art summed up what I’ve been trying to put to words for a while now…thanks 😉
    We have some Well’s Banana Bread beer in the fridge, I’m not a huge fan but Stewart is (however if you mix it with a chocolate stout it can be super-yum – about 2/3 stout and 1/3 banana).
    And I love the glass-pouring photo….so sweet…. 😉

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