Part 11: France and England

On the 31st of December, we had a mission. A friend of ours was getting married. In the course of her research, she learned that there is more to the “Something Old” poem.

The full verse is “Something old/ something new/ something borrowed/something blue/ and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Since we were abroad in England, she asked if we could find a six pence. We first tried calling some antique coin shops around the city. Many were closed for the holiday. The one we could get in contact with did not sell it. BUt they suggested we try the Bank of England Museum.

And so the morning of the 31st, we were off. We got there super early, before it opened. After waiting in line to go through security, we were in. And within moments of getting in, we found what we were looking for. Mission accomplished. I acquired a six pence for my dear friend who was also getting married in 2016. The museum was fun and free. The first room had some interactive displays trying to teach the basics of finance and economics. I liked this balance game where you had a ball that you had to keep in the optimal area for inflation by adjusting interest rates, etc. But the fun part of the museum was the history. They had a section about animals on bank notes. And a small room on the evolution of bank notes. Originally, bank notes were a lot like checks; you’d sign the bill over to someone. Eventually it evolved to the bearer of the note instead of a specific person. Also, I was surprised to find out that the image of the monarchy on the bank note was a later addition, mid-20th century.

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Bank of England – Pretty note!

And you can try to pick up a solid bar of gold. It’s extremely heavy with only one hand!

Then we met up with my parents and a family friend at the British Museum. We continued our exploration of the back part of the museum. We hung out in the Meso-American gallery, which has really nice sculptures even if it is small. It was a little weird to see a gallery of Native American art there… I wonder if this is what it is like for Australians to see aboriginal art in other continents…Hmm… We also spent time in the Chinese and Korean pottery galleries. Lots of different pottery from different eras in Chinese history.

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Two stories!

Afterwards, we headed up to Covent Garden to see street performers and check out the tourist market. Covent Garden is always a lot of fun because of the street performances. In the past, I’ve heard opera singers, string quintets and more. We watched one man juggle a bowling ball and two apples. Pretty neat.

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Covent Garden Performer

Then we did the best thing of all. We found a secret tea shop. In a bar near Covent garden, you can ask to go to the tea shop on the second floor. The barman said “You know the only serve tea up there.” We knew we were in the right place.

Then you are pointed to a flight of stairs behind the bar. Walk up and you’ll find yourself in a wonderful land of tea and homemade cakes. And no, I won’t reveal the name. You’ll have to find it for yourself. Because it will be more satisfying that way.  It was wondrous. The china is all mixed up, which is perfect. The cakes are delicious and the tea is spot on. I can’t wait to go back.

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Secret Tea shop

That evening was New Year’s Eve at Sarastro in Drury Lane. We’ve spent the past two years enjoying the evening there. It’s a combination of an opera house and a harem with the most pornographic bathrooms. (Women’s is more graphic than the men’s). The food is Turkish, which is pretty cool. There were masks, Christmas crackers, small poppers, and delicious food. We danced the night away. There was a raffle and we went home with a drone. I haven’t assembled it because the weather in Chicago wasn’t great. But soon, there will be adventures.

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Sarastro!

That’s all for now!

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