Hello my gentle readers, from England! I have been without a computer for 14 days now, and have found my way to an internet cafe here in London so I can pop in and wish you all a very Happy New Year. I am having a fantastic time in England, having been able to do everything I want except connect with some blogging friends here. As we have no internet connection, I cannot download my photos until we get home next week, but trust me, I have taken many!!
London is amazing, as ever, and tonight I am - again - on Charing Cross Road - and the crowds are gathering to celebrate New Year's on Trafalgar's Square. My husband and I are not staying - neither of us enjoys crowds or drunkeness! - so it has been enough to see the Square prepared with large screens for tonight. The boats are getting ready on the Thames to blow their horns at midnight. My in-laws live in a tiny town further down the Thames estuary (in a not-so-nice English dockside town) where we will hear the large ocean-going freighters blow their horns also. I am quite eager to hear it for real, since I've only heard it over the phone so far!
When I get back, I will do posts over the next few weeks with some of the photos we've taken. It's been an adventure coming into London when we can, which has only been since Christmas, and often with the children. Today, for instance, we went by St Paul's Cathedral, and found one of the oldest existing pub in London, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which was totally booked for New Year's work parties so we couldn't get in. But, I saw a sign that said that Dr Samuel Johnson used to eat their regularly, as did Charles Dickens later, and then I saw a sign pointing to Johnson's house, so off my husband and I went and we discovered Samuel Johnson's main residence on Gough Square (near Fleet Street) where he wrote the main part of his dictionary. The house is a museum now, and it was open today, so we ended up walking through it!
This brings home to me that for me, London is more about books, and the authors who wrote them and where they lived. It is an adventure to turn a corner here and see an ancient church now squeezed between modern buildings, and discover that Pepys went there (All Hallows by the Towers, the oldest surviving church in London), or St Bride Church, where Johnson regularly went. I have taken pictures of each, so look for photos later. It is as always amazing for me that I am literally walking in the same place that people in bygone times have walked. Johnson was there, 200 hundred years ago, at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub, with his literary society, holding discourse. We found one of the houses Samuel Pepys lived in; he also watched the Great Fire of 1666 burning from the roof of All Hallows Church by the Towers. I love the noise, the bustle of this city, the fashions, the vulgarity of Picadilly Circus, the beautiful museums, the glorious architecture - St Paul's Cathedral is breathtaking - and above all, I love that this city, and this country, is the birthplace of my language, and the English novel and poetry and the words we communicate with.
I have 4 minutes left on my time here at the cafe, so - for now, have a very happy New Year's Eve and may 2009 bring each of you, my dear readers, all that you love and hold dear.
You should see the books I've been buying!!! I can't think of a better place to celebrate the New Year, in one of the oldest cities in the world. Happy 2009!!