So I was not as much of a homebody today as I was anticipating. I made it to my class in the morning, but barely. The professor continues to be one of my favorites. He’s challenging yet supportive, and he helped me get information about where to go for my foot. I couldn’t get a same-day appointment with any doctors, so I headed to Queen’s Road for the walk-in clinic. I arrived just after 11:00, and was told that the wait was nearly three hours. The waiting room was dismal. It was large, but they were so busy today that it was just crowded with sick coughing people. Bearing in mind that if they got to my name and I wasn’t present, I would lose my appointment… I popped next door to a coffee shop.
It was the same coffee shop, by the way, where I had spent my very first hours in Brighton. It’s right by the train station, so I waited there on Day 1 for Alec to get off work and come pick me up. The food and coffee was as delicious as ever. I went through several rounds of drinks (I think it’s rude to stay through multiple turnovers without purchasing anything more. it’s the waitress in me) and when I got tired of coffee, I decided to be a little more adventurous. I’d see Elderflower soda everywhere since I arrived in England, and I’ve been curious about it. I just never knew the right time to try it. It so happens to be delicious. It’s a very light flavored soda, like grapefruit without the bitterness and slightly floral.
I poked my head in at the clinic after about 2 hours, but they were pretty accurate with their initial estimate. I held out til the last 30 minutes before waiting in the clinic itself, trying to inconspicuously breathe only through my scarf will playing solitaire on my iPad.
When it was finally my turn, it all seemed a little anticlimactic. The doctor was nice but didn’t really care much. He kinda looked at my foot, ignored my knee, and told me I had plantar faschiitis. He told me to take 400 mg of ibuprofen 3x a day, and acetaminophen 2x a day between the rounds of ibuprofen. He didn’t explain much of what was going on or how it happened or when I might see improvement. He told me that if it continued to bother me, I should see my general physician and get stronger painkillers. He also suggested that I might go get an arch-support insole from the UK version of CVS pharmacy, Boots.
I was underwhelmed.
On my way to this Boots, I pass several stores. I glance in the window of one. It seems to be advertising orthopedic shoes, but they’re all pretty cute. There’s a model skeleton foot in the window, so it’s obviously legit. I stop in, just expecting to see horribly expensive shoes and be on my way. Best decision I made all day. Within 15 minutes I had had an extensive consultation with their house podiatrist and was being fitted for some arch support insoles specifically made for plantar faschiitis. They also printed off a few pages of exercised I could do that will help, and were able to answer all my questions. It was awesome. I was very impressed, and it really made me feel better. It’s hard to be in this much pain and just be told “Yeah, take some ibuprofen or whatever.” I have, by the way, noticed a huge difference already. The soles are such that they both support the foot and stabilize it, so the injured parties are better able to heal themselves over time. In the short term, the major difference is that it has redistributed some of the pressure. They didn’t come cheap, but I really don’t care. Anything is worth it if it will help me right now.
I stopped back by school on the way home. I wanted to make sure there were no boarding passes or anything else for me to print off, so I wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to school if I were running behind tomorrow. It’s hard to get used to things like not having a printer at home. I had also noticed this fabulous little travel-sized watercolor palette in the school supply shop that I wanted to take on my travels.
What I totally forgot is that the show I had worked so hard on curating opened tonight. The title of the show is “In Transition”. I went and double-checked my travel details in the computer labs, stopped by the studios, and headed down to see the exhibit. The work looked great.
I think most people were going out after the show, but I needed to come home, rest, and pack before my trip to Istanbul tomorrow. Oh, and blog about my amazing trip to London.
We went to the Tower first thing yesterday. Marcos and I were both amazingly pretty close to being on time. I had made a tactical error that morning and missed my intended train. I got out of the house just barely later than I’d hoped. I probably still could have made it, but I was a little nervous about it. I was about half a block from the bus stop when I saw the Brighton Station coach pull up, but I wasn’t desperate enough to run on my bad foot. About 7 minutes later, I’d overtaken the bus, and it pulled up at another stop just as I was passing it. My first red flag should have been that I overtook the bus so easily, but I took it as a sign from fate and hopped on. Then, the bus turned the opposite direction of the station. My confusion turned to horror as I realized that the painfully slow bus was in fact circling the entire town before it would end up at the station, and I was trapped. I was now further from my destination that when I had started walking. We arrived at Brighton Station 2 minutes after my train left.
Fortunately there was a fast train leaving 10 minutes later, so I caught that and all was well. I met Marcos at the Tower. Of. London.
There are some ups and downs to visiting the Tower in February. The Tower is absolutely amazing, and it’s amazing no matter when you go. However, it requires you to make a choice: freeze your butt off in the winter, or battle crowds of tourists in the summer. We had the place to ourselves, for as long as we could stand it.
A guided tour started about 10 minutes after we arrived, so we decided to wait for it. Peter the Beefeater was our tourguide. No one really knows the origin of the name Beefeater. It probably has to do with the fact that the Queen’s body guards were so well fed while the peasants around them were starving to death. Peter himself was one of the more interesting parts of the tour.
To become a beefeater, you have to have served for at least 26 years in the British armed forces, reached a certain rank, and have earned some specific and impressive-sounding medals that I don’t recall. The crazy part, though, is that they all live in the Tower with their families. There’s a whole community that just… lives there. They get locked in every night. I can hardly get my head around visiting historically drenched place, I don’t know if I could handle living there. That would be incredible. Talk about having the place to yourself! What an odd community. I have so many questions about what that kind of life is like. What happens if your 17 year old son is late coming home and isn’t in the door by 10:00? What if you ever want to go out to a show? That’s bound to happen sometimes! Can you take holidays? What if there’s a medical emergency that the resident doctor can’t address on his own?
But the Tower was amazing. I mean, truly every part of it is amazing. I don’t know where to begin–it’s something you just have to see for yourself. The easy things to explain are the awesome Beefeaters, or the Ravens. It was once said that if the ravens were ever to leave to Tower of London, the White Tower would crumble and England would fall. The number can never fall before 6, so they keep 8 just in case. One of Peter’s jobs is keeper of the ravens. He’s their primary caretaker. Feeds them, puts them to bed, everything. He can even tell them apart. They’re terrifying birds, but they all look the same.
The crown jewels blew my mind. Marcos and I went by them over and over. When I was growing up, I was so upset that America didn’t have a monarchy and I could never grow up to be a princess. Founding fathers be damned, that was such a rip off. After seeing my very favorite movie in 1995, A Little Princess, I was able to comfort myself with the knowledge that all girls are princesses. Until now. Not all girls have rocks like these.
By the way, I still think that this is one of the best movies ever made. My mom will never let me live down how emotional I got the first time I saw this movie. I totally lost it in the theatre, crying and screaming at the screen. I was four. Although I have to say, the older I get, the more I seem to cry when I watch it.
Real princesses, though… they have real jewels.
There is so much history in that place. I hope I get the chance to go back when it’s just a little warmer.
We hit a Starbucks and headed to the tube. When we arrived, the whole station was being evacuated. We found out at the next nearest station that the lines that ran though it were temporarily out of service due to “person on tracks.” They sure don’t dress it up at all. You would think they could call it “technical difficulties” or “obstruction on track” or something a little more discreet. Oddly, this has happened every single time I’ve been in London. Then again, I’ve been primarily on Mondays. Maybe Mondays are just a hard day for people.
After lunch, we headed to the Royal Academy to see the Manet portraiture exhibit.
It was great. As an artist, it’s really interesting to look at an extensive chronological collection of works by one artist and see they the paintings developed over time. He’s a really fabulous painter, too. I was a little disappointed that Olympia and The Bar at Folies-Bergeres weren’t present. I don’t want to sound unappreciative of the exhibit. The work was wonderful. It’s just that those two are so famous, you kindof want to be able to see them in real life. You want to look at them relative to the rest of his work. I’m curious about them the way I’m curious about celebrities.
From here it was on to the Tate Britain. I have to say, it kicked the Tate Modern’s butt. It was even undergoing renovations, so it was a little bizarre at times…
but the collection itself was amazing. The modern art was curated quite interestingly, and the 1500’s and 1600’s work was just some of the most bizarre I’ve ever seen. There was a whole room of Victorian women with lower-than-low-cut tops surrounded by watermelons, and another room full of scifi fantasy Lord of the Rings landscapes. It was brilliant. There were also some excellent works by my darling John Singer Sargent. The first piece of his I was shocked to see hung on the upper row of a salon-style room. I’m going to go ahead and chalk that up to a space shortage, with all the remodeling they’re doing. It was disappointing, though, because it’s one that I knew about and I’d really wanted to see closer.
I also had a little flashback to the trauma that occurred when I went to the Met to see Sargent’s Madame X. It is my favorite painting, and I was unbelievably excited to see it for the first time. I won’t retell the whole brutal story, but it ended up being in storage… and there were many tears shed. The story has a happy ending, eventually. Thanks to my truly amazing boyfriend, I got to go back to New York last spring and I saw it then.
But there’s a side story about the painting itself. Sargent was painting it for the Paris salon, but had so much trouble painting her fair skin that by the time he finished he was worrying about the paint cracking and peeling. The week before the exhibit, while finishing the original painting, he also made an exact copy of it. He never finished the copy, and it ended up in the Tate Britain… and, you guessed it, it was in storage yesterday. Go figure. I guess Matthew’s going to have to take me back to London, too…
Marcos and I decided to make it an earlier night than some of our other London adventures. It had been an early morning for both of us, and London can really wear a body out. We were having drinks to discuss art and philosophy and culture, you know, wind down, when he pointed out that the building right outside the window is none other than the MI6 headquarters.
You know, the one that gets blown up in the beginning of Skyfall. We’re going to go back during the day so I can get a photo of me standing in the exact same spot on the bridge as Judi Dench did during that scene. How cool is that??? London it amazing!
Drinks lead to dinner, and I had Indian food for the first time. Nothing is more British than that, right? It was delicious, and I even managed to not miss the last train home. Once again, London was amazing… and I’m beginning to get the feeling that no amount of time there will ever be quite enough.