The British Literacy Council has commisioned a series of these benches, honoring several well-known authors and books. On display all summer, these painted sculptures will be auctioned for charity this fall. For now, they may be discovered by following four routes, the Greenwich, City, Bloomsbury, and Thames trails. The Mystery Playground blog asked me to investigate. http://www.mysteryplayground.net/2014/07/dateline-london-literary-investigation.html
There is nothing like a mission to focus your (jet-lagged) mind. The route maps are not exact, artist renderings really, so our explorations lead us through back lanes and riverside walkways. We get lost, ask directions – thus informing others of the project – find comrades engaged in the same quest…and have moments of great discovery.
Paddington is further up the River, in the shadows of London Bridge.
Nearby we discover Dickens’ Great Expectations.
I find a secret bench in the basement of Stanford’s Travel Bookstore, est. 1863.
Then it is on to the Bloomsbury Trail, beginning at the famed British Library, a universe in itself. Here we find perhaps the first book bench.
There is a moving WW1 exhibit of photos and posters, a few exhorting women to do their part.
Another exhibit, Treasures of the British Library, has displays ranging from the Magna Carta to handwritten Beatles’ songs. It is hard to leave but we have our investigation to pursue.
And so it is on to Bloomsbury, the vibrant creative neighborhood centered around London University. Here we find Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway.
Here is another angle on Sherlock with the glimpse of Baker Street. (I love this woman so engrossed in her own book.)
On this fine day everyone is enjoying their parks and squares, so I have to shoot around them. Below we see Bond…James Bond.
And across the way, Agatha Christie and Poirot….
We are lucky to have tickets to Billy Elliott at the Victoria Palace.
Having seen the movie, I was not prepared for the emotional power of this production – nor its raucous fun. See this play if you can. In high spirits, we return by Tube to our great hotel, Villa Kensington, cozy, and close to the Victoria and Albert Museum. There are lovely walks in the neighborhood. On our last morning, I discover my own secret garden.
I almost get locked inside, but that is another story.