I had arranged an interview with an agency near the Barbican. As I was going to be in the area, and hadn’t anything else planned for the rest of the day, I decided I would make the most of my travel card and do some exploring since I don’t know that part of town very well.
I was having lunch with my friend Marc and I told him of my plans. Marc, a travel journalist, also happens to be a Guild certified Blue Badge Tourist Guide. The training to become a BBTG is detailed and comprehensive, the examinations are rigorous and registration is an achievement. It can take up to two years. Pretty impressive. So when Marc suggested that I go to The Museum of London, the Priory Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great, and Smithfield Market, just for starters – I was assured that he knew what he was talking about.
After my interview, I started with the Museum of London. They are currently doing some renovations, but there was still plenty to see – and it was free. There are also free museum tours covering certain exhibits. I had just missed one, so I wandered around on my own. I started with the history of early man. There is a huge collection of early tools, flints and animal bones – more than could sustain my interest, so I wandered over to learn about the Roman influence. I found this section very interesting and continued through Medieval Times, London’s Burning, London Streets and before I knew it – 2 hours had passed by and I had walked around most of the exhibits!
After some lunch, I went to the Priory Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great. This church is so unassuming from the outside that I nearly missed it. The entry fee is only £4 so I bought a candle (for my Aunt) with the change. The young man who was manning the door kindly escorted me personally into the church and as soon as I walked in, I was overcome with this overwhelming feeling of sadness and burst into tears. After weeping for about 15 to 20 minutes for no apparent reason, I managed to compose myself and wander around the church. I found an area to light my candle and reflect on the life of my loved one and what she meant to me. After making sure there were no more tears coming, I continued my tour.
I was given a map which helped explain a lot of the monuments and tombs. This church is so beautiful and really peaceful, so l was taken aback by a small group quietly having a photography lesson. In spite of my lack of religious beliefs, I still find it difficult to accept these commercial enterprises in what is considered to be a holy place – saying that, I watched a DVD of the history of the church and its function today, which was very insightful. In all, I spent over an hour here. It would have been less without the weeping episode.
Although I was in the Smithfield Market area, I never actually went to market – not enough time. I will have to come back again – with a different itinerary. So my little tour was a success – I will check with Mr. Blue Badge before I venture in that neck of the woods again.