On Friday Dave P. and I checked out of The Melia White House Hotel (a four star hotel), had a bite to eat, then checked into Le Meridien Piccadilly (a five star hotel Starwood Hotel.) After checking in, we contacted Dr. David (who was also staying at Le Meridien Piccadilly) and made plans to go to lunch and then the Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum -- The Cabinet War Rooms served as the control centre of Britain's armed forces during the Second World War and are located underneath a government building in Whitehall. This once top-secret collection of rooms is now open to the public. Administered now by the Imperial War Museum, every detail is left as it was in the 1940's, based on photographs and personal recollections.
The Cabinet War Rooms began to be developed in the 1930's as a centrally-located base for government during what was then the possibility of a conflict involving aerial bombardment. Its humble location, just underneath the Office of Works, was chosen for the building's strength and convenient location between 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament. It was completely converted from its original purpose, a general storage basement, only a week before the German invasion of Poland and the subsequent declaration of war by Britain.
One enters the Cabinet War Rooms through a modern entrance: the sandbags surrounding the door are fake, placed when the Cabinet War Rooms were opened to the public. The original entrance was through a door in the cabinet offices, underneath which the Cabinet War Rooms are located.
We spent a great deal of time there, the Churchill Museum, which is very modern was an amazing multi-media experience and totally worth the £11.00 admission fee.
When we left the Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum, we walked towards the Horse Guards Parade, only to see a strange site -- a three story hydraulic/mechanical elephant and five metres high female marionette, controlled by a construction crane/derrick! We discovered after asking around that there was to be a walking tour starting at 17:00 (which was about in about 15 minutes!) The huge marionette was lifted into the air and onto an open-top double-decker bus -- the elephant; however, was self-powered!! I wasn't expecting to see that huge thing to get up and move! A series of humans (eight that I counted) controlled the legs, ears, trunk, tail and just about everything else -- seemingly making the elephant come to life! Not only did the elephant 'walk' more than half-way to Buckingham Palace, along the way it drank from a huge bucket of water and sprayed the onlookers that were a big too close! The crowd was vast! What was it all about? Why? Read the story at http://thesultanselephant.com/ -- as they state on their website, "Created by theatrical magicians Royal de Luxe, it was an extraordinary experience for everyone who saw it. The majestic elephant and the little girl giant captured the hearts and minds of thousands of Londoners and visitors, and will live in our hearts and minds for years to come."
Dave and I trekked back to Le Meridien for a much deserved swim in their newly-built heated pool and then a steam in their wet sauna... ahhhh, very nice, considering that it was in the upper 20s (75-80'F) that day! Dave, who is professionally a Therapeutic Holistic Massage Specialist, gave me a foot massage that was just heaven!! It was the first time I ever experienced his work first hand! Just lovely it was! We started to plan out our evening. Dr. David had already popped off earlier to see Mamma Mia! -- it's sort of a oddity that he sees it again and again and loves it more every time, but it's David's oddities that make him such a good friend!
I dressed in my full leathers (the one and only day I did this on this trip!!) and we headed out with the following plan: Stop 1: "Yo! Sushi" -- we went to one of these fancy sushi bars last time we were in London and loved it -- so we went back! Yo! Sushi has fresh sushi being made, cut up, and put in these plastic "bubbles" that traverse the bar and you take what you want to eat! The colour of the plates indicate the price. (This trip, I remembered to take a photo of the conveyor belt so people would know what I'm talking about! See the clickable photo on the left of this text.) Stop #2: The King's Arms pub in Soho for a pint (or two) of bitter. I love going to "main stream" bars in my leather -- it really turns heads! We chatted with a few blokes about all sorts of stuff (mainly travel to the States), then it was off to Stop #3: The Hoist! -- I just love the Hoist, and I was substantially impressed that the barman not only remembered Dave and I from our last visit in September 2005, but even remembered what we drank! Now that's service!! Since we'd been there last, they've added onto the raised metal platform to extend over the bar now -- it looks sharp! Sadly, both of us were quite knackered and were not even remotely interested in sex, even tough there were guys making out wearing only boots and their birthday suits just a metre away from us! Not to waste our time or the amenities of the location, I got a very nice boot shine and chap polishing from the same bootblack (smashing gent!) that did my boots & chaps in September! The bootblack and I got into a very enthralling conversation about how evil George Bush is. I love England! It wouldn't take much to get me to move there for good -- honestly!
Yes, all of the above was done in a single day -- no wonder we were knackered!! We left about 1am and took the bus back to the Piccadilly Circus 'area' and walked back to the hotel. A few curiosities stopped us on the way, such as the plastered 21 year old girls visiting London from Australia who's friends had abandoned them as well as a good strong, steaming piss at the impromptu "open air" urinals they set out on the streets on weekends! (These are NOT for the piss-shy guys! -- See photo to the left.) We were out cold shortly after getting home! What an exciting day!
I'll post more about my trip to England shortly, in the mean-time, didn't you read part one of the story?
THE GREAT NORTHEAST FLOOD OF 2006!Back home, and currently, both New Hampshire and Massachusetts are in state of emergency due to all the rain flooding the northeast. It's a wreck here!
The Coast Guard is searching this afternoon for two people seen floating down the flood-swollen Merrimack River in Amesbury. The Coast Guard was notified by Amesbury police just before 16:30 that two people were seen on what's described as a floating bridge that broke free of its moorings.
The Department of Health and Human Services is urging the public to avoid floodwater that has come as a result of the recent heavy rains across the state. Floodwater may mix with sewer systems, septic system, landscaping and industrial products that contain caustic material and other contaminants. Floodwater can often contains high levels of bacteria, as well as toxins or corrosive products. DHHS is also reminding the public to use caution in handling items that have come in contact with floodwater and to disinfect any household items that have been touched by the waters.
Cars flooded in Salem (Dave Roy)