Back to London

Tuesday, December 27, 2005–Cambridge to London. On Monday night, Tessa had told us that six inches of snow were expected overnight. When we got up on Tuesday morning, we had not had six inches, but there was a light dusting on Jesus Green and it was snowing steadily. Such beauty to look out the door and see it coming down, knowing that I did not have to drive in any of it. (Europeans don’t know how lucky they are to have workable train systems.)

After breakfast I went out to do a few errands. On Christmas Eve I had bought a U.K. SIM chip for my T-Mobile phone, so that I could more economically make local phone calls, pay-as-you-go. Well, somehow in the process I had ended up losing my USA T-Mobile SIM, which would mean that I would have to get a new one for my phone when I got home. I thought it was worth going back to the T-Mobile store to see if it had turned up there. I am sometimes an extremely lucky person, because the SIM had fallen out onto the floor of the shop and was still there three days later. As it turned out, I ended up going to a stand in the farmer’s market and getting my mobile unlocked and I bought an O2 mobile SIM, which is what George has. They have a plan that allows for cheap international calls. I also needed to exchange some underwear I’d bought at Marks & Spencer. After my weight loss in the last year, I definitely do NOT need extra-large. The exchange was painless.

At noon George and I went to the Fitzwilliam Museum to see a fabulous special exhibition of illuminated manuscripts. I think that every library in the city had been emptied of their treasures to put on display. One book went back to the 7th century. The highlight of the show was the Macclesfield Psalter, which had come onto the market a few years ago and been bought by the Getty Museum; however, the British authorities halted the purchase and invoked a law that allowed a British consortium to match the price to keep the volume in the U.K. It is a book native to East Anglia, so there is good reason for it to be in Cambridge. It is in the process of restoration, and has been disbound, so a large number of the leaves had been mounted a framed. It was therefore possible to see much more of the volume than had it been bound and just open to a couple of facing pages. It is a remarkable volume.

We came back to the flat for a bite of lunch, then got packed up to take the train back to London. Tessa gave us a ride in her car to the train station, and we got there just in time for a 6:00 train. We were at King’s Cross shortly after 7:00. We put our things down in our room at the Montana, then walked to Covent Garden for dinner at a French bistro on Wellington Street (across from Penhaligon’s) that we had tried last week, but it had been packed. Not busy at all this night. Among other things, I had some real, quality French onion soup–not the nasty stuff you get in most restaurants in the States. We were able to walk back to the hotel. (“What did you do on your trip, Tim?” “Spent the whole time walking back and forth to Argyle Square.”)

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