Friday, October 14, 2011

Stupid Pigeons--they can find their own food

I reference, of course, this movie.  Which, I'm sure, leads you to understand exactly where we went on our next walks class.  St. Paul's!  Yay!  We got the guided tour--we started in a side chapel where we saw the coats of arms of the members of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, then went through the nave and saw the incredible work they'd done.  Christopher Wren was the chief architect after the original burned down in the Fire.  He'd wanted to make a classical cathedral, but the city officials wanted it Gothic, so he was trying to make compromises to them until he ended up with an ugly combination of both that they accepted and told him he could "make any modifications he deemed necessary" at which point he ceased keeping notes on paper, kept the whole thing hidden, and when he finally unveiled it, the officials found something nothing like the Gothic cathedral they'd wanted--especially not that dome up top.  And Wren got the last laugh.  Or so he thought; the Victorians redid the front section.  When you see mosaics from St. Paul's, that's all the Victorian's doing.  Further down, a good bit of it got destroyed during the bombing when a nice little shell dropped straight through the ceiling and managed by a miracle or several to not hurt anyone, but that part was redone again, and there's a memorial at the end to the American servicemen who died in the UK--there are 3 stained-glass windows with the state seals on them, and in the carvings you can find homages to the air force, the army, and one fish for the military and even a rocket (hidden in a classical-looking carving very cunningly).  We sat in the seats in the quire as we looked at the mosaics and our guide told us about the large organ they have--I forgot the number, but there were several thousand.  We kind of had a "we're happy for you" reaction to that, thinking of the Tabernacle Organ of 11,623 pipes.  It was fun, though, to hear about the new trumpets that had been put in and were played as the queen was entering and startled her so much she almost fell down, so now they are only played after she sits down.  We also went down to the crypts where they've buried tons of people.  (Wow!  Really?  Yeah, really!)  Okay, so they're important people.  Like Caldecott, and quite several famous authors, as well as Nelson and I believe Wellington.  (I love it when I remember things right.)

After we finished admiring the dead guys, we went on quite a hike.  Up to the Whispering Gallery, up long winding shallow and suddenly narrower and steeper spiral stairs.  Quite a place, quite a view.  And I didn't hear anyone whispering anything particular, because there were quite a few people and quite a few of them were talking.  From there, up more stairs and steeper to the Stone Gallery, on the outside at the base of the dome visible from the outside, which is quite high up there, I must say.  Up again, on ridiculously steep mostly steel spiral staircase along the inner dome to the Golden Gallery which is waaaay up top and throat-clenchingly high.  And not very big.  I think that's the staircase that's pretty difficult to go up if you're a few inches taller or broader-shouldered than I am, especially both at once because the doors get very very narrow and short.

Lunch was at the base of the tower.  Have I mentioned before how extremely bold the pigeons are around here?  I've seen them fly on to people to get at food.  Well, I found out that the squirrels are no better.  One of them was wandering between us trying to get food.  It put its paw on one girl's leg and jumped on my lap for a second.  Yeah, brazen as brass.

After that we took a quick wander around town and found our way back to the center.

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