Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The other side

Today's post is from a guest blogger (actually, I'm just posting an email she sent me) - my mum, who recently spent a couple of days in London to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2 Dome and the Terracotta Army exhibit at the British Museum.

London trip really well organized ... it was almost worth the money just to NOT drive in London. Some pathetic members of the group complained that they had expected a champagne reception ... peasants!

Train journey good, fast, clean and on time - probably a first for the company! Excellent dinner and adequate room, with a fine view of the staff garage ... but it was quiet. Really good breakfast then off by coach to the Dome/O2. A ghastly insult to architects the world over ... but it worked. The (included) lunch in Pharaohs Palace was excellent, the talk first-rate, concise and well delivered (by a lady who had worked in the Valley of the Kings) Then we by-passed all the queuing public and were ushered straight up to the exhibition ... I have never before been in a tent with an escalator and an upper floor paved with marble.

We had plenty of time to see everything, and the ecoute device was an extra help when one could not get really close to the printed details, as they were just the same, but with added bits of information in one's ears. There was a lot of gold; some very fine sculpture and art work ... almost everyone commented on the beautifully decorated little woven cane chair for a princess.

Returning to the hotel in Docklands, was an experience ... Saturday traffic in London ... all the lanes stationary, and just as we began to move, the sound of Police sirens and ambulance neenaws gave us to believe that Milwall had lost at home. We got back in time to sit in the bar and watch the second half of the rugby, then another fine dinner.

Next morning, off to the British Museum ... had I been driving, it would have been termed a scenic route, we drove past several landmarks twice ... including the side entrance to the museum ...and indeed the main one. (It turned out that the coach and driver had been imported from Sheffield.) Our timed tickets gave us plenty of time to admire the new main courtyard, have coffee and then go into the reorganized reading room ... again the layout was first class. There was a lot of film and video, but plenty of real stuff ... much of which we had seen in China, but one could get so close here ... even the marks on their feet and shoes and the brushmarks on their hair were clearly visible.

One particularly fine exhibit was a long model ... a bit like a 3d comic strip, showing the entire manufacturing process from digging the clay to positioning the finished warriors ... full of detail, and worth a lengthy scrutiny. There were seven actual warriors, a general and some foot soldiers, plus a chariot complete with horses and charioteer. Two of the horses were fake , and clearly marked as such. One other fine display was a group of musicians, playing to some dancing water birds ... and there were jugglers, strong men and dancers, plus display cases of armour, headdresses, and weapons, much of which we had only seen photos of in the auxiliary museum in Xian, so we felt it was well worth the journey.

One little add on ... as we drove through Greenwich, our driver commented that we had just crossed the meridian and "You are now on the other side." Your father said he had always wondered what it would be like, and there was a general consensus that it was exactly like the world we had left behind. It seemed a fitting comment following two days admiring the tombs and art work of the long ago.

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