This was the day I looked for treasure on the Thames. My alarm went off at 830 am and I got dressed and packed my backpack for a day of exploring. Breakfast is served in the common room and is included with your stay. Cereal, toast, yogurt, and juice. Nothing fancy, but they also have a little bar there where I bought a coke and they filled my water bottle up with cold water. I made my way to Temple station to take the circle line east to Blackfriars. A short walk to the Millennium bridge and I found that I was too early. The steps leading down to shore were still under water. Low tide is 230 pm and I was told if you subtract 3 hours from that you will have lots of time to explore. I would have to come back around 1130 am.
I noticed I was close to St Paul's Cathedral, so I decided to check it out. It costs 16 pounds to go in and you receive a neat I pod with headphones for a personal tour. You just tap on a subject that interests you, and a informative you tube style video starts. I sat in a chair below the beautiful dome and learned about all the paintings and glass tiled pictures above me. The guide would say "look down at your screen for a painting of Lord Nelson or a photo of what the dome looked like after it received a bomb hit during the war". It was really neat. After you toured the cathedral floor you could go downstairs and tour the crypt. You can visit The duke of Wellington's, Christopher Wren's, and Lord Nelson's Tombs. Lord Nelson's tomb is situated exactly in the middle of the Dome way above it. On the floor are beautiful tiled sea creatures. I learned that Lord Nelson's body was put in a cask of wine to preserve it after he died on his ship. On the walls are many memorials to soldiers who died while fighting different wars. Also in the crypt are the gift shop, a cafe and washrooms. In the gift-shop I bought some crocheted poppies for my Mom and sister in-law in New Brunswick so they can have a nice one to wear in November. I bought a book on the history of St Paul's and a key chain for my other sister in law. On my way out I noticed that every day at 5 pm the church has an evensong service where the boys choir sings. I read in many guide books that it was something to experience, so I decided to come back at 5 pm after mudlarking.
I walked down the street to find that the tide had moved and I was so excited to start looking for treasure. As I descended the concrete steps covered in green algae, I started seeing a whole bunch of white clay pipe stems all around me. Giddy like a school girl, I started gathering them up in my hand like they were candy. As I walked along I found a coin, (a new one 20 pence), thousands of blue porcelain chard's, brown Stafford-shire slip ware, and lots and lots of bones. Most of the tide line was dark brown bones and teeth from cows and other animals. As I walked along I met people who came up to me and asked me "what have you found?" I loved this. The chance to talk to other mudlarker's who shared their knowledge with me. I met one businessman on his lunch break who goes down to look for the oldest clay pipes he can find. The really old ones have a tiny bowl the size of an eraser on a pencil, because when Tobacco first came out it was really expensive. You would buy a pipe with the tobacco in it, and when you were done, you threw it away. Just like modern day cigarettes. As tobacco got cheaper, the bowls got bigger. I met another woman who loved the Roman, Medieval and Victorian pottery shards. I met a few mothers with children who were amazed at what I had to show and then ran off to find their own treasure. One Mom said "he's finding lots of treasure but he's not as discerning as you" with a laugh. I came to one spot on the foreshore that was absolutely littered with clay pipes. This is where I found my first intact bowl. I did a little dance. Then I found two more, different sizes. I then started to find small ship square nails and a few pins that possibly held clothing closed during the Medieval times. I then discovered a staircase that led up to the Banker's Pub. Perfect timing for a late lunch.
Evensong was absolutely beautiful. I'm not religious in any way, but I believe and hope there is a higher power up there somewhere. When you come in, you receive the book of psalms and a card outlining the service. I was invited to sit in Quire, which is rows of wooden benches harry potter style with names on them where the church officials and the singers sit facing each other behind the dome altar. I would be sitting right next to the singers and the organ. I chatted with an english gentleman who mentioned I should visit the Evensong at Westminster Abbey if I really wanted to see something special. When the choir came out it wasn't the little boys, and I was a bit disappointed. The boys choir gets Mondays off. It was a men and woman's choir from a visiting church. When they started to sing psalm 72, I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes it was so beautiful. The late afternoon sun was shining on me from the dome and I realized it was designed that way. Absolutly moving. There was two "lessons" and one the minister talked about the parting of the red sea. I thought it was interesting as The Ten Commandments is one of my favorite movies to watch at Christmas. After forty-five minutes of angelic singing and lighting two candles for Fizzy and Ab who are not feeling well in Vancouver, I left really emotional.
I decided I needed to walk, so I visited the Great Fire of 1666 Monument, a roman wall ruin in the middle of the city and St Dunstan's in the East, a beautiful church that was hit during the bombing and now is a quiet park among the ruins.
Tomorrow its the British Museum and low tide mudlarking starting at 12 pm.
- Day one Big Ben and pickles on every sandwich
- Day 2 When you sing your pray to God twice
- Day three: Human remains, Shakespeare and warm Beer
- Day 4: Tower of London,off to Hogwarts and shopping in China Town
- Day 5: Diana's funeral, Blame it on the Boogie and The Lettuce and Slug
- Day 6 Victorian-Graves Camden Market and an awesome day of mudlarking