The First Emperor

Saturday was to be our last excursion together before Keith and Marlene’s long trip back to Virginia. Carol had applied for tickets to the British Museum’s exhibition of The First Emperor and our allotted time slot was 8:20 PM. I don’t really like to be in London that late but it’s a very popular exhibition and availability is limited. So, we planned ot make a day of it visiting some sights in the afternoon followed by dinner in a restaurant somewhere before hitting the museum.

One of the old Steam Engines that Powered Tower BridgeWe began by visiting Tower Bridge. It has a permanent exhibition of the development and engineering involved in the bridge itself. Originally, the roadway was raised by large steam engines powering the hydraulics; today electric motors provide the power. The views from the walkways 140 feet above the Thames are impressive, too, although it really shows what a complete architectural mess London’s skyline has become; absolutely no integrity whatsoever.

Next we sauntered along the south embankment of the Thames and found Borough Market, albeit in the throws of winding down for the day. This is a great Saturday market for foodies but cheap it ain’t. There’s a lot of good stuff there if you feel like paying for it.

Crispy Ducks Indignantly Displayed in the Restaurant WindowAlthough we started out from Leighton Buzzard in sun, the weather had caved in a little as we approached London which was grey and overcast. Now it was getting decidedly chilly so we decided to go and find dinner in Chinatown before heading up to the museum. We picked a restaurant which apparently specialized in crispy aromatic duck and the three of us managed to brow-beat Keith into one of the set meals for four featuring the very same. The meal staggered up to the dizzy heights of OK, in my opinion. The wine was good, though.

Finally, we travelled up to the British Museum to see the old Emperor guy and his terracotta army.We arrived when the 7:10 PM intake was going in, just over an hour too soon. Marlene to the rescue; she put on her best American accent and sweet-talked the nice young man into letting us in early. Result! Now we were able to get home before midnight. The exhibition was very good even for someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy museums. The terracotta figures were larger than I expected, around six feet tall, much larger than 2,000 year old Chinese people. It was very hot in the exhibition, though, and Carol and I eventually found Keith and Marlene trying to recover from the heat exhaustion by the exit.

Back home by 10:30 PM for the reviving drink of your choice.

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