Flower beds at the Barbican
Flower beds at the Barbican

Another 5.30 am start … again.  Sunday morning – time to go out, except that the boys were up late the night before playing Call of Duty on the X-box.  So the little one was especially resistent to waking up.

We spent the morning enjoying the quietness.  From time to time, cars would speed down Queen Street.  But it’s much quieter than usual. The day looked a bit dreary and cold. Oh dear, has the sunshine gone? But thankfully, it did not last long and finally, bright sunshine.  With packed lunch ready, we headed out to London. This is our first trip out.  Today’s mission was to see something with no admission charge. We chose the Museum of London, mainly for its exhibits on the Great Fire of London.

The walk down to the tube station took about half an hour. Entering the tube, we promptly got “lost”.  Which tube line and which entrance do we go through?  From Richmond station, you can access the tube line, the South West Line and some other train line.  Once we worked out the tube line, we had to work out which station to stop at.  The tube maps are difficult to work out initially.  All that training we had 6 months ago was gone.  We were suddenly illiterate, standing in front of this big poster, and like kindergarten children, running our finger up and down coloured lines.  Eventually, we worked it out and off we went, though we suddenly got confused as to which platform we should board … and by the way, is Upminster the direction we wanted to go …?

We finally got off at St Paul’s and headed off to the Museum of London, which is in the Barbican area.  The Museum is currently undergoing a renovation of its ground floor galleries so not all areas was accessible.  It’s quite a good museum, and the exhibits were well laid out.  They had story telling sessions such as stories on the Anglo Saxons.  By the time we arrived, we’d just missed the one on Diseases and Hygiene in the Middle Ages.  I would liked to have gone to that one.  Instead we sat in an Anglo Saxon hut and listened to stories about Vercingetorix, King Alfred and Beowulf.  Heck, and I thought Beowulf was just a made up story with Angelina Jolie in it, not an English legend/myth.

The Museum of London also has very good exhibits on the Roman prescence in London.  You can also see remnants of the old roman walls.  Over time, these have now been built over, but along the original lines of Londinium.  The exhibits on the Great Fire was also very good and you can try out the old leather fire hats and leather water buckets of the 17th century.  Both were unbelievably heavy.  The fire hose of the day was a giant metal syringe, where you would dip one end in water, pull out the back (like a syringe) and then squirt it at the fire by pushing down the back.  It needed 3 people to handle it.  I suppose it did the job.

After the Museum of London, we caught the train back to Richmond via Barbican tube station.  Now the Barbican area is very interesting architecturally.  Personally, I quite liked it, though I can imagine many hating the look of a concrete jungle.  Bombed out in World War II during the Blitz, it was some 20 years before they began reconstructing this area.  It is a huge area of a mix of residential and commercial areas, including exhibition centres and cinemas.  The pedestrian walks have been built above ground level, some 3 stories high.  They call them the High Walks.  Really different.  Below the High Walks are parks and playgrounds surrounded by concrete structure.  The entire complex has a mix of high rise and low rises.  Personally, I loved the look of the Barbican, though I can imagine people hating its architecture.  But then, I grew up in Singapore, and I am familiar with concrete jungles.  The Barbican is certainly much nicer than the HDB estates in Singapore.

All in all, a door to door trip from Richmond to the City takes about an hour and a half each way.  That makes for quite a long day, and definitely a long commute if it is for work.  It’s also not an easy run as there are a couple of station changes.  We did 3 changes on the way there, and 2 changes on the way back (though this wasn’t easy also as we had to exit the station, cross a main road and re-enter another station.