Helios and I had a very busy Saturday. It started far too early because I thought it would take a lot longer to get to and through London to where our Greek friends (Hera and Zeus) were staying. We arrived over an hour early (10:00 a.m.) but our friends were ready anyway so we dropped off our presents (West Country Fudge and a variety of alcoholic apple cider) and headed out.
The weather was, unfortunately, raining. I asked Hera why she had to bring it with her, which made her laugh.
We had a look in St James’s Park first before going in to Churchill’s War Rooms. Hera’s English was superb! We saw a pelican in St James’s Park and she actually used the word “pelican”! I studied French for 12 years and I don’t know the word for pelican! Of course Hera has studied more than one language, which made me feel even smaller. Why is it that people who start off speaking English rarely pick up other languages?
Churchill’s War Rooms was slightly dark and claustrophobic. The rooms were filled with mannequins, appliances, maps, electrics and authentic furniture of the period. I had collected an audio guide at the beginning of the tour but decided not to listen to it once I discovered Helios knew just about as much about the place as the audio guide. He pointed out the telephones with mismatching hand pieces saying “These would have carried a scrambled or coded signal.” Once I thought my audio guide may have mentioned something that he would not have noticed: a small round button (much like a doorbell) next to another small round contraption with a bare wire clearly visible. He had mentioned to our guests more than once that the old bare wires were an obvious hazard. I called Helios’s attention to this machinery. At first he was stumped but, before I had the chance to say “I know what it is!” he figured it out: it was a cigarette lighter. At that point I decided not to listen so much to the audio guide!
The things I will remember most are the lack of light, the cramped living conditions, the pin-holes in the maps to track the Atlantic Convoys (a breathtaking amount of holes), the fact that there were bedrooms as well as offices there. I cannot imagine living like a troglodyte to avoid bombs!
The gift shop was just as cramped as the rest of the museum. Helios managed to find a Dandelion and Burdock drink that he insisted I try. He loved it but I thought it tasted a bit like carbonated cough syrup. Not terribly nice!
After the obligatory purchase of a fridge magnet and postcard, we headed off toward Leicester Square. We found a pub and had lunch. It was fantastic. The food was great! Very filling. Hera and Zeus started to relax a little. I think Zeus was a little shy but he chatted with us like we’d known each other for years over the meal.
After that we walked and walked. We headed up to Covent Garden, back through Leicester Square. We took the tube to Westminster where we crossed the Thames. We walked along South Bank towards St Paul’s. We then crossed the Thames again and got to the front steps of St Paul’s. By this time is was mid-afternoon and my feet were getting sore.
We went back on the tube and walked Zeus and Hera back to their B&B. Zeus and Hera gave us some fantastic Greek gifts including honey, olives, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and Greek sweets. Delicious!!
It was such a large package that I felt bad for Helios – who insisted on carrying it all the way home. It was a lovely day despite the grim weather.