As my family lives on both sides of the continent and neither branch any where close to Indiana, I rarely see my relatives. So it was kind of surreal when I spent the day with Uncle Joe, who normally lives 650 miles away, in a place 3,500 miles away.
It was a lucky coincidence that we were able to meet at all. Uncle Joe had a meeting in London but was able to fly in a day early which also happened to be the only day left that was free for me.
Uncle Joe handled the jet lag much better than me and only a few hours after he landed, he took me out for lunch. (I would have been a wreck). After lunch, we decided to head to the War Rooms where Churchill and the other ministers met during the Blitz. And since I had been living in London for nearly two months, it was my job to get us there. This was fine with me as I wanted to show-off that I knew this city.
A London friend of mine once said, “It’s impossible to be lost in London. All you have to do is find the tube.” The tube is a magical place where you go underground at Parliament, ride through dark twisty tunnels and climb out to see St. Paul’s Cathedral. Unfortunately, while this means I am an expert at reading the tube map, I have a limited knowledge of the above ground layout of the city.
But don’t fear! After studying the map (okay, after Uncle Joe studied the map) and asking for directions, we were able to make it the rooms. (Though I think my uncle was less than impressed with my directional skills).
In the States, WWII is far away, both geographically and historically. But in London, WWII seems like it’s just a block away. Touring the dark and cramped rooms, it was easy to imagine the uncertainty of the era and understand how WWII personally affected Londoners. In an officer’s desk, the museum discovered a ration of sugar that he had hidden because it was a luxury at the time.
After we stepped out of the windowless halls, Uncle Joe and I made our way to the National Gallery. He asked me to specifically mention that we saw the Turner exhibit, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Monet so that his sister the art historian would believe that he actually attended.
As the weather was beautiful –the gold of Big Ben was so bright it hurt to look at it—we walked through St. James Park and took the mandatory family picture in front of a British landmark (Buckingham Palace in this case).
We finished the day at The Clarence, a pub chosen because of its shared name with Uncle Joe’s cat. It was about 7:00 at this time and Uncle Joe had been more or less on the go the whole day. I would like to say that he was the one who needed to turn in for the day, but that would be a lie. I was exhausted at this point— the last 7 weeks were catching up to me.
But thank you Uncle Joe for feeding me and for such a fun day!