Thanks to oversleeping my alarm clock seven years ago, I'd never been around Westminster before. I knew it was full of graves and monuments to the famous, but actually going through it was a revelation. The walls and stones are dense with text, with whimsical personifications and clever symbolism. Hyberbole crowds sentiment on tombs. My eyes couldn't stop reading image and word, even when what I really wanted to do was step back and just admire the whole confection. There was beauty too: an alabaster Madonna glowing in gentle illumination; Death's delicate bones poised to claim a victim; the thistle-starred canopy over the grave of Mary, Queen of Scots; the excess of white and gold in the densely fanned ceiling. We loitered over Chaucer's grave. irisbleu, you see, is a fellow medievalist who will be attending York this fall.
We walked through the scattered sunshine to the nearby St. James' Park, where fields of daffodils strewed sunshine across the well-groomed lawns. On the bridge, irisbleu fed the ducks, the moorhens, and the black swan. I took photos of the thronging waterfowl and the first cherry blossoms of the year dusting the bare tree-limbs in pink. louiselux led us to the "Refreshment Pavilion" which, despite the generic name, is a lovely modern building building of soothing expanses of wood, and serving very fine pastries. I had a delicious lemon tart, topped with a layer of fresh raspberries and a baked meringue. Best of all, the café used the niftiest and most elegant disposable plateware and cutlery I've ever encountered, all shapes from thin layers of wood.
At Covent Garden, daegaer and louiselux gave in to the temptation of Forbidden Planet while irisbleu and I browsed a tea shop. I was delighted to see they stocked a selection of white teas, but resisted buying any, given the multi-national nature of my current living arrangements and the shelf-life of teas. C. and toscas_kiss met up with us at a nearby pub easily enough, and the other two eventually resisted the lure of manga to rejoin us as well.
I spent the morning in the BL reading about eighteenth-century trades and was distracted from the watch- and spectacle-makers by the prolonged rant against the excessive spicing and fashionableness of French food, and how anything cooked by a French cook is so completely disguised that you can't tell that fish is fish, or roast beef roast beef. Our gregarious group finished the day in a French restaurant, appropriately enough. But the otherwise pleasant celeriac and potato mash could in no way disguise that the screw cooked into it was a screw.
On the way home, I ran into jhaelan and his partner on a platform waiting for a train. We'd only just met at the pie party a few days earlier. He asked where we were coming from... which led to the realization that my week, looked at from the right angle, is one long sequence of socialization with LJers. So far, that's been a good thing.