Thursday, September 3, 2015

What I Did in My Summer Vacation: England Day 7,London Day 3, Part One: Madame Tussaud, Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens, and a Few Other Things

  There has been something wrong with Blogger or something for the last few days and it wouldn't let me load photos. And these are going to be really photo heavy posts! So finally it's working and I can get this post on. Since I have so many photos from this day I'm doing it in parts. I may even split the Hamley's post into parts to keep it from being so  huge. It's a toy store: there are A LOT of photos! 
   But before I post about London again I have to stop to welcome our newest followers. There are three,but I can only figure out the last two! First, welcome to Sharon.You can click on the link to check out Sharon's blog. She has some beautiful dolls. Next I want to welcome  Rosemary Hill. Rosemary has added alot of information to some of my older posts about Hungarian dolls. Thanks Rosemary!
  I also have to add that my corn waited for us to get back from England before it was ready to be picked. I had a small, but apparently tasty crop. (I planted it for Ken, and since there was so little I made him eat it all himself. He got very little corn this year, and he waits ALL YEAR for corn. He will only eat yellow corn, and there is very little of that grown here these days. It's almost all white or bicolour,which are pretty tasteless. Unfortunately we were in England when the yellow corn was ready.)
Almost my entire crop. I had a whole row eaten by racoons or something.

  My other news is that my baby boy has moved out! Fuzz is 20 and has gotten his first apartment. He has been sort of in and out over the last couple of years. He tried living with friends for a while. But he never officially moved all the way out before. Sniff! I will miss having him around the house, but he has been weaning me off his company for quite a while, as I said, so it's not as big a blow as it was when Emma moved out. She was here and then gone. Fuzz has been watering down his presence  for 2 years, so I may not go into withdrawal!
  I haven't mentioned yet that we are a massively indecisive family. We hem and haw over everything. Some of it is wanting to try to do what somebody else wants, to be nice. But the rest of it is just not being able to say, yes,this will do nicely, thank you. There's always the idea that something else we don't know about might be better and let's wait and see.(We nearly starved Cheryl to death with that the second day in London.) I used to sort of take part in the blame, but after spending so much more time with Ken's family,I realize it's them! When I'm with anybody else we just Do something. (Lori and I were discussing this last week and she agreed with me.)With Ken, (and his family is this way too---even the married ins!), he has to think about it and debate whether something or somewhere else might be better. Oh for heaven's sake! Let's just eat/go/do!! Cheryl is an impatient person, even more so with age. She is on her own and can go or do whatever whenever she wants to. We got on her nerves with our indecision and finally she put her foot down. You don't know if you want to see that? Then you must not! Next! She took control and spurred us to the next thing. This may sound terrible, but we really have to thank Cheryl because if she hadn't done that we wouldn't have fit in nearly as much stuff as we did. I have to also take a bit of credit myself for pushing forward a bit of an itinerary after the first day.
  Our third and last day in London had a hard time getting started.Once we got ourselves out the door and on the way to the tube station to meet Cheryl at Baker Street Station, Ivy realized she couldn't find her London Pass or her Oyster card for the tube. She and Ken went back to the hotel to search through everything, which had already been locked up because we had checked out of the hotel. The luggage was unlocked and gone through, while Emma and I headed on to the station. Once Ivy had found her cards and she and Ken had met back up with Emma and me, we finally got on our way. We were then texted by Cheryl, who had been evacuated from Baker Street station. That was a bit worrying. She didn't know why they had evacuated the station either. We found our tube train stopped in the tunnels several times too. It may or may not have had something to do with what evacuated the station. We got a text from Cheryl saying that she was going to get in line at Madame Tussaud's. We agreed to meet her there, if we ever got off the train!
  When we finally got to Baker Street we headed for Madame Tussaud's and couldn't find Cheryl in the massively long line out front. I called her and she was already inside, and almost up to the ticket counter. We were being told that the wait from where we were in line was going to be 2 to 2 1/2 hours! I told Cheryl that if she hadn't bought her ticket yet, maybe she shouldn't, as the wait for us was going to take up most of our day. Of course, this freaked her, and justifiably so: "You mean you're not even going to go when I've just waited in line for an hour?!" "Well, how about you see if you can buy our tickets and we'll pay you when we get inside?" That worked, but not without some problems. We had to ask an employee outside what we should do because we had a friend inside buying our tickets. Cheryl couldn't buy Ivy's ticket without showing her to the counter lady to prove she was the right age for the cheaper ticket price. The lady sent Cheryl downstairs, (The ticket counter is upstairs.), with a note, to retrieve all of us from the line outside and take Ivy up for display. We got our tickets alright though.

Cheryl talked me into buying the souvenir book, and I'm glad she did. I would have wished I had bought one later. It was actually pretty interesting. 
Ken posed with one of his 'babes', Julia Roberts, (in wax, of course.) She looked pretty good, and photographed much more realistic than Nicole Kidman, another of Ken's babes, who was next to her.
  A lot of the wax works in the Chamber of Horrors are actually still made from the molds the actual Madame Tussaud made from real victims of the French Revolution. I thought that was pretty interesting. Those are the real people...sort of.  Also, Charles Dickens was a regular at the museum, and used to be notified when ever there was a new figure, so he could come and review it! Another interesting fact, Madame Tussaud's was once the owner of the biggest collection of Napoleonic items, including his coach, until a lot of the things were destroyed in a fire. (The place is full of wax. And I'm sure the old stuff was REALLY flameable.They've had several fires in their history.)
 I love a good wax museum. I've only ever been to one other, and it was in the middle of nowhere on vacation one time,at the Mammoth Cave Wax Museum, in Cave City, Kentucky. It was actually probably even better than Madame Tussaud's though. It has closed now and all the wax figures have been sold at auction. I know this because the auction was held in Newark, Ohio, a little over an hour from here. When I saw  the auction announcement I knew it must be the figures from the Mammoth Cave museum because they had the awesome Jean Harlow figure that had to have been the one we saw.


 It was one of only three made from actual life casts of Harlow's face, and finished during personal sittings with her.
Her official auction photo. I actually wondered if anybody would bid on her, and considered doing so myself. Of course, she went crazy high. I think she was over $10,000! At least somebody appreciated her!
Although according to the auction house it was the only one in existence. Maybe the other two aren't around any more. This is all the more amazing and I feel all the luckier to have seen it because Harlow died in 1937 at the age of 26. There isn't a lot of her around.

But, uh, I digress...
Oh yeah. Madame Tussaud's. Ken with his twin brother---I mean, Albert Einstein!

Me, Ivy, Emma, and four lazy guys who couldn't get off the couch...
Emma with 'Steven Spielberg'. When she was younger she wanted to be a director. She even went to film school for two years. We called her 'Spielberg'.
Ivy and Emma both liked the Mockingjay books.

I happened to catch a picture of this screen. This is the photo of us taken by the Madame Tussaud's camera as we went through the taxi ride. At the end of the ride they offered to sell us the picture for 12 pounds. Oh. No thank you...

I caught this picture of Cheryl in her cab. She still had her terrible cold or flu and the official Madame Tussaud's photo caught her blowing her nose!
One of Emma's favourite things is Star Wars. We were lucky that the Star Wars exhibit at Madame Tussaud's had recently opened. The figures were really well done.
Emma is such a ham, but she did a great job. Director nothing, she should have been an actress. 

Ivy's into Marvel, and there was a fair sized display of Marvel figures and a really well done 4-D movie. I never was able to see old 3-D at all, (I saw one colour at a time of the old two colour 3-D glasses.), but the modern stuff is pretty remarkable.
  There was an exhibit that was supposed to be super scary. The signs were warning pregnant women and people with high blood pressure and heart conditions off it. It turned out to be not scary at all. It was just a bunch of people, who were obviously not supposed to touch anybody, punching the wall in front of people, (Cheryl got this one. It only served to annoy her and she questioned how often the people got punched by the visitors!), or making strange noises.  It was so pitch black in there that I didn't even see a wax figure. Apparently there was Hannibal Lector in a corner somewhere.
  After leaving Madame Tussaud's we walked back to Baker Street with the intention of going to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It's not really numerically 221, but then again, they made up the place anyway. The last time I was in London there was no 221B. The museum has a recreation of  Sherlock Holmes' rooms...or is that a 'creation'? You can't recreate something that was never created in the first place.

      But the line was so long we only went in the gift shop.
Check it out. There's one of those blue discs they put  up at historical places. It was never a real place, (and still isn't, since it's not at the true 221.),and Holmes wasn't real. Awfully long line to see the home of a fictional character. Just remember that for later.

The gift shop was also furnished to look Sherlock era. It was nice. I could live there.
Me with Cheryl, in the Sherlock gift shop.

There was a beautiful miniature wooden staircase and balcony that wasn't for sale. It was just there to display things. I wanted it more than anything else in the room though!
  Luckily we had already bought Fuzzy the deerstalker hat, because they were way more expensive here.
Tammy World considered this violin and case, but she already has a couple of violins that are pretty much as good as this one. The bow is nice, but the set was a bit expensive.
  Ken was impressed with the bathroom. (Or, since this was England, the toilet---ask for a 'bathroom'
 in England and they think you want to take a bath. This stems from the fact that the toilet wasn't always in the 'bathroom'. Things are different now I suppose, but for example, the last time I was there Cheryl lived in  a house where the toilet wasn't in the bathroom. Her stepmother said she preferred it that way because, "I guarantee that when I want to take a bath somebody will want to use the toilet!") The toilet at the Sherlock museum was the old fashioned pull chain kind and everything was very old.
 Down the way a door or two from the Sherlock gift shop was The Beatles Shop. It was very tiny but had a lot of things.
Notice the Yellow Submarine dolls. Maybe one of these days I'll get those. They had the Applause Sgt. Pepper and black suit dolls. Luckily I have both of those sets.

Lots of stuff.

More stuff.

Ivy and Emma shopping. Emma and I both made a purchase. I got some really neat drinking glasses and some sunglasses  for Fuzzy. We both got free stuff for mentioning our London Passes.
I love these glasses. I broke down and bought them.
They had apparently just gotten a shipment of stuff...or they were just slobs. The Beatles dolls like I have are on the top shelf on the left. I couldn't get near them because of all the crap they had out on the floor, but I could see that one set cost over 400 pounds!

After checking out the gift shops we were on our way to the Charles Dickens House Museum. It was on the way down the stairs to the platform to wait for the tube train that I felt my giant blister from the day before give way, and my sock getting wet. It was actually less painful afterward than my feet had been before the blister formed.
Ivy, Cheryl, and Emma on the way to the Charles Dickens House.
Charles Dickens was one of the greatest authors in history. He wrote David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and the story of Scrooge and Bob Cratchit: A Christmas Carol. The Charles Dickens House was actually Dickens' house. I mean, he lived there. He wrote Oliver Twist in that house.
Now, remember the long line at the Sherlock Holmes Museum? Look at the line outside the Charles Dickens House Museum...

Yeah that's right. THERE IS NO LINE. Nobody. 50 people were crowding to get in to see the fake home of a fictional character, and there is NO ONE waiting to get in to see the REAL house of a man who was one of the greatest writers of all time, and a social activist who spoke out against child labour and organized fundraisers and charitable projects to benefit women and the poor in Victorian England. While we were there there were probably no more than 5 other people.
  Ok, I've vented a bit.
  When we were on the way to Dickens' house we all decided we were hungry. I was not going to spend another day running around hungry until dinner time. I had researched before we left, so I knew there was a cafe at the Dickens house. There was no where else around anyway, so I said we should eat there. We had tea...
...and lunch. It was good, but I have to say, the staff didn't know what they were doing, and made ordering the most confusing thing ever.

The house is beautiful, and actually full of things Dickens really did own, even if he didn't use all of them at this particular house. This was Dickens' side board.

Ivy and my arm in the dining room.The cart on the left was Dickens'.
This cart...

The kitchen is decorated as it would have been in Dickens' time.

Note the Victorian smoke alarm on the ceiling...


Emma in the kitchen.

The laundry room:


Dickens had his drawers washed in that sink!
Chuck's chair...

And his candelabram.

Dickens' table.


See?

The actual podium Dickens did his readings from. He designed it himself.

See?

And his book with his handwritten notes for reading it aloud.

Charlie's other chair.

Charles Dickens slept here...


And kept his clothes in this wardrobe!

The bottom of the next photo tells about the wardrobe.

I want to go to Charles Dickens' yard sale!
Dickens' stuff, mentioned above.


Dickens' potty chair!!
No kidding. This is what substituted for a toilet in those days. Even my Grandparents only had an outhouse and a 'slop jar' This had to be way more comfortable.
You may not be able to read this, but Dickens wrote to his doctor complaining of constipation and wind.
Charles Dickens desk and chair...


More of his stuff, including his match holder, his walking stick,and his theatre pass.


Dickens' childhood window!


A 'Court Suit'.


His wife's ring.
An autographed copy of A Christmas Carol!! Ken! I know what I want for Christmas!

I think that's a lock of his hair. I seem to have somehow missed photographing the description on this one!
  Some might find this creepy, but I thought this Dickens silhouette painted on the wall was pretty cool.
And fittingly last, the desk Dickens wrote his last words at, the night before he died...

It was the last page he wrote of the unfinished "The Mystery of Edwin Drood".
  And yes, we visited the gift shop afterward! 


I bought this tiny pewter Dickens:




I spent a LONG time at the Dickens house. Everybody must have been bored when they finished before I did, but they politely assured me they weren't. When we left the Dickens House it was starting to get late. But we had time for a bit more before we were due to leave London. We'll see the rest of the trip in my next post...

4 comments:

  1. I just LOVE the Dickens house! I need to visit it too! As a big historical clothing fan I of course adore the court suit. It's so pretty!

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    1. If you love historical clothing while you're in London you should visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, ( On Cromwell Road, same as our hotel was!) It's described on it's site like this: Spanning four centuries, the V&A’s Fashion collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of dress in the world. Key items in the collection include rare 17th-century gowns, 18th-century ‘mantua’ dresses, 1930s evening wear, 1960s day wear and post-war couture. Plus a growing number of pieces from 21st-century designers. Also, The Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street. I haven't been to either, but they are both known for their collections of, and exhibits of vintage fashion.

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  2. Thank you for the welcome to your blog! :) and the link to mine!
    The Dickens house looks lovely and I'd really enjoy visiting there. I'm not surprised by all the vistors at 221b Baker Street though, the Sherlock TV series is so popular at the moment, here in Spain too!
    I too like the silhouette of Dickens painted on the wall at the foot of the stairs.
    And yes, we do indeed refer to the toilet as ... the toilet....but also 'the loo'....'going to the loo to spend a penny!' Quite a lot of newer homes are built with the toilet separate from the rest of the bathroom, and yes, I agree that as soon as you get in the shower or the bath so someone always needs the loo!
    PS £12 for a photograph that is probably just printed off a printer!!!!! That is horrendous, London is so expensive!!

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    1. My daughters pointed out the popularity of the TV series when we were faced with the long line. It's still sort of crazy though because the museum is decorated like the original Sherlock,not modern. With Ken being English we have learned all the different terms for the toilet, including a few he may have made up himself! My sister in laws have all modernized their bathrooms with those ridiculous curved doors that only go halfway along the tub, and the flush button in the wall or the top of the toilet tank. I know when the kids were little I always had company in the bathroom every time I went, but not because they needed to use it! It was usually because they had a complaint about one of the other kids! I agree about the cost of the photo from Madame Tussauds. These days it's all computerized and probably costs them next to nothing.

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Thanks in advance for your comments.