London on Tuesday was damp and cool with threatening skies. Our big event for the day was lunch at the Michelin three starred Fat Duck. But, before we left to go to Bray for lunch, we had a chance to tour a little more of London.
The large Baroque church, St. Paul’s Cathedral, is a short distance from The Zetter. After an easy walk from our room, we were at the entrance. Unlike many of the cathedrals in Europe, there is a steep fee for entry. Forking over 11 GBP (about $ 18 US) per person got us in. The attractions in London are expensive.
On the inside, the cathedral is massive. The design of the interior is most reminiscent in style to St. Peter’s in the Vatican though St. Peter’s covers an area that is a staggering 2.5 times larger. We took our time carefully examining the nave but still had to wait for the stairway to the top of the Cathedral to open. After 20-minutes, we were allowed up the steps and had just enough time left to be able to climb the dome.
On a landing midway up to the top, there is an interior circular balcony on a ledge just below the central dome. With a perfectly cylindrical wall, the balcony functions as a whisper gallery. Quiet utterances could easily be heard on the far side of the gallery. All the visitors on the balcony were trying out the “whisper to a distant partner” thing. With all the voices, it was like being on an old-fashioned party line telephone. At times, the collection of whispers felt almost as if they were coming from the inside your head. It was not easy to tell who was doing the talking. Becky, perhaps disturbed by another case of the “head voices” or just taking advantage of the opportunity, uttered another of her highly inappropriate phrases. Though this is a family report and, thankfully, I can’t repeat exactly what she said, it is a safe bet that Becky’s particular turn of phrase is highly unlikely to have ever been heard inside a house of worship. Just about a zero chance, I’d figure. I will not soon forget the vision of the heads of all of the gallery’s visitors snapping around in unison trying to determine which person on the gallery had just let loose the “word bomb”. Soon I could over hear the speculation amongst the visitors that someone on the balcony must have a really, really severe case of Tourette’s Syndrome. If only they knew the truth.
Needless to say, it was an excellent time to leave the gallery. And we did, continuing up the super narrow steps to the exterior exit to the outside of the dome. If we had a few more pounds on our bodies, we could have become permanently wedged in the spiraling stairwell. I have to wonder if that has ever happened. It would be ugly.
At the top of the steps, we exited under London’s omnipresent gray clouds. A ledge circled the outside of the dome. Walking around, we had a panoramic view of brisk-cold London.
After all the pictures were taken and the sights noted, we busted our way back to the room to change clothes and make our way to the Tube station. With the three T’s of London transportation–tube, train, and taxi–we were at the Fat Duck in time for lunch. I was just hoping that Becky was done for the day with the word bombs. Being kicked out of the Fat Duck was not on my days “to do” list.
An account of our visit to the Fat Duck is here: