There are still so many misadventures in Edinburgh to talk about, but for now…it’s time to move on. Jo demands I catch up on the blog or she’ll leave me behind in Italy, where, undoubtedly, some crazed puppet maker will carve me into a Pinocchio and make me perform the same show day in and day out, while glassy-eyed, sticky-fingered children clap and scream, “Again, again!” *shudders*
Full Disclosure: There aren’t actually any mad Geppettos roaming Italy…that we know of.
Anyway, after Edinburgh, London was calling! And for a month, we called this amazing city our home. From Portobello Road to colorful Camden Market, and from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace…
We didn’t get a chance to see any of those things. That’s right. Instead, Jo and I were both sick.
Jo probably picked up something skeevy from The Tube, and I had a UTI, the second one in three months. So while my urine looked like cherry Kool-Aid, Jo gargled with peroxide and sounded like a chain-smoking phone-sex operator. We made quite the pair!
(Boring sidenote with possibly helpful info for other dogs/cats who suffer with UTIs at end of blog post below)
Yep, we were disappointed we didn’t make it to the markets, especially Portobello Road, where, as the lyrics from Bedknobs and Broomsticks clearly state:
“Portobello Road, Portobello Road
Street where the riches of ages are stowed.
Anything and everything a chap can unload
Is sold off the barrow in Portobello Road.”
Jo was really hoping to score a magical bedknob that would take us to the Isle of Naboombu! Maybe next time… 😉
What we DID get to see in London, however, was pretty damn epic! We started it off with a bang by going to the TOWER OF LONDON!! And we got there by hitching a ride underground…
The London Underground
By the way, The Tube, metro, subway…whatever other wonky words you humans dream up for those underground metallic snake portals to other dimensions…they can’t be trusted! First of all, that Oyster card you get in order to ride the tube, there aren’t even any real oysters on the damn thing! I thought we were paying for food!
Second, my tummy now growling from lack of oysters, we have to cram ourselves into the belly of the metal beast, while it screeches and jerks in the dark (no doubt from being constipated with half of the London population). And we can’t make eye contact with people in the snake’s belly either, lest we get hit up for money or someone thinks we’re trying to flirt with them. Then presto, change-o! The snake portal opens and we’re in a completely different place! It’s wizardry, I tell ya’, and I don’t like it.
Cobblestone streets are also the Devil’s work. They hurt my paws. I hate you, subway and cobblestones.
Just to clarify: I don’t hate Subway. They make delicious sandwiches full of meat. I would love to sleep on a blanket of their meats. And at least there, when you order a Subway card, you actually get a sandwich out of it. Take note, Oyster card!!
Tower of London
Jo is a grade A boob. She literally thought the Tower of London was one tower. One. Tower. Turns out, it’s an entire castle complex that has served as a royal residence, prison, armory, treasury, home of the Crown Jewels, and even contained a menagerie! Jesus, go back to school, Jo.
* Here, take a peek at the map yourself. Photo via Wikipedia
I guess Jo wasn’t entirely incorrect, however, as there is the main White Tower within the walls. Built around 1100, it is the “keep” or the “donjon” of the place, which is basically where everyone holes up and kisses their asses goodbye if the surrounding walls have been breached by the enemy. Interestingly, the word “donjon” transformed into “dungeon” over time, which initially referred to a keep, not a place of imprisonment and torture that we associate it with today.
* Inside the White Tower. This would have been a righteously awesome dragon pic if Jo could figure out how to work a camera
* Since the 1600s, the “Line of Kings” has been on display in some way, shape, or form in the White Tower, showing off life-size wooden horse sculptures, kings’ armor, and (the cherry on top) creepy wooden carvings of the king’s faces
* Henry VIII’s armor…whoa, buddy! Watch where you’re pointing that thing! Could poke out an eye
In addition to dragons, disembodied heads, and shiny codpieces, the White Tower also houses a variety of weapons, including the Perkins steam gun which could fire 240 balls/minute, shattering eleven 1-inch thick wooden planks in rapid succession!
Another disgusting fact is that, for 600 years, exotic animals were held captive here to be ooohed and ahhhed over. The polar bear would at least be allowed to swim and fish in the Thames while tied to a rope, but others wouldn’t be so “lucky.”
* One of the first illustrations of an elephant by Matthew Paris, a Benedictine monk who came to study this one at the Tower of London, the first of its kind in England. Photo via The Parker Library
One of the unlucky ones, in the mid 1200s, this elephant was literally fed meat and a gallon of wine a day because humans thought, ‘Oh, this will keep him warm in the winter, brilliant!’ No surprise, the elephant became an alcoholic, got into a few bar fights, lost his job, and 2 years later he died when his liver packed its bags and said, “Peace out, it’s been real.”
* Hey, barkeep! Got any peanuts to go with this wine?!
Another poor bastard was an ostrich who died after ingesting around 80 nails fed to him by visitors, the popular belief back then being that ostriches could ingest iron. Wow. Just wow.
There was also the baboon at the tower who was fond of smoking a pipe.
And the visitors who couldn’t pay the entrance fee would simply be required to bring a live dog or cat to feed to the wild animals!
It goes without saying that none of the animals at the Tower of London survived very long, and finally they had enough. Fomenting a rebellion, one day a snake tried to strangle its keeper! Another day, a lion didn’t like the way a lady was stroking its paw, grabbed her arm and “most miserably tore her Flesh from the Bone.” Doctors amputated her arm but she soon died after.
Then there was that time a baboon killed a boy by hurling “a Cannon Shot of nine Pounds Weight at him.” Not too long after that, that very same baboon signed with the NY Yankees. 😉
Finally, in the 1800s, after 600 years, the humans learned their lesson and transferred the remaining animals out of the tower.
* Graffiti by prisoners held in the towers
* Good advice! And note one of the animals attacking his ankle. 😀
* White Tower on the right, Crown Jewels on the left
* Getting ready to go in and scope out the Crown Jewels! They were insanely beautiful. No photos allowed though.
* Memorial to those who were reportedly executed on this spot
Among those imprisoned in the complex were Elizabeth I herself (before becoming queen), Scotland’s William Wallace, and even the notorious Kray Twins briefly. Of those executed, most took place outside of the complex on Tower Hill. Only 7 were executed on the Tower Green above, including a couple of Henry VIII’s wives.
* The Bloody Tower!
Ah, yes – the Bloody Tower! The time was the late 1400s, and the story goes that after King Edward IV’s death, his two sons, Edward and Richard, aged 12 and 9, were lodged away in this tower by their uncle, Richard, supposedly in preparation for Edward’s upcoming coronation as king. However, in this episode of the Medieval Young and the Restless, Richard takes the throne for himself, and soon after the children disappear! Dun – dun – DUUUUUN!
Believed to be dead in order to secure his pimpin’ king lifestyle, most fingers pointed to Richard as the mastermind behind it all…with the occasional naysayer who yelled, “Hey, what about the Duke of Buckingham, Richard’s successor?!”
Either way, no one knows what became of the boys. However, in the 1600s when a staircase in the White Tower was demolished, a box with two small skeletons inside was uncovered! Were these the long-lost princes?? But wait! Also in the 1600s, there were yet another two small skeletons found laid out on a table in a walled-up room! Were THOSE the princes?! No DNA testing has been done to date, so the world may never know….but the tower does seem to have a way of swallowing up children.
FUN FACT: Jo remembers learning about Sir Walter Raleigh in school as the dude who loved tobacco, sponsor of the ill-fated Roanoke colony, explorer in search of El Dorado, and that’s about it. Apparently, she slept through this next part:
*deeep breath and go!*
He was imprisoned in the Bloody Tower by Queen Elizabeth I for illegally makin’ whoopee with Elizabeth Throckmorton (“Bess”), one of her ladies-in-waiting! Eventually, he was released, searched unsuccessfully for the legendary El Dorado, won back the Queen’s favor, then the Queen died, after which he was accused of plotting against her successor, sentenced to death, which was changed to a life sentence, wrote a book in the tower, grew some tabacky, was released, and followed that up with another unsuccessful hunt for El Dorado, where some not-so-good shit went down with the Spanish, and Raleigh’s death sentence was reinstated and carried out by beheading.
Then Bess has her hubby’s head embalmed, and she carried it with her in a velvet bag until the day she died!
Humans really don’t get much weirder than that, folks.
FUN FACT #2: Six ravens are to be kept at the tower at all times for good luck (actually seven; one is a spare), or else the tower and, therefore, Britain will fall, the world will run out of chocolate, and women will be forced to admit when they’re wrong. Basically, the end of days.
And, I don’t know if it was one of the ravens, but Jo ended up getting bird shit all down the side of her pant leg. Like, how did a bird even perform that sidewinding aerial feat? Did he shit at an angle? Did he come in hot, then pull up at the last second while releasing the phantom poo? Impressive, lil guy.
To top it off, NO ONE, not a soul on the ride home in the underground snake transporter let her know she was doused in bird poo either.
The Tower Bridge
* We loved the Tower! Then we were off to the Tower Bridge, which Jo soon learned was NOT the London Bridge. Two completely different bridges, Jo. I’m starting to think she slept through tooooo much of school.
* View of the Thames while walking across the Tower Bridge
* Glass observation deck in the Tower Bridge
Funny story: Upon entering the bridge, I encountered my first revolving door. While I’m a pro at going through them now, I had no idea what to do this first time, rearing up and bucking all about when Jo tried to step through one with me. After we made it through, Jo asked if I would be allowed up to the observation deck. “Is she trained??” the lady skeptically asked, eyeballing the revolving door we just stumbled through.
Hey, it was my first time!
* View from the observation deck
Sidenote with possibly helpful info for other dog/cat owners: The humans can’t seem to figure out why I keep getting infections. A lot of good those big brains do them! Geez. Hundreds of dollars of antibiotics, an ultrasound, one cancer scare and another Jo meltdown later…I shall live to see another day. But Jo did some research of her own…
and she put me on an herbal supplement that smells like a hippie’s closet, but I eat it anyway. *shrugs* I guess I like the way hippies taste.
It’s called Only Natural Pet Tract-Ease. It actually seems to be working, so if there are any dogs or cats reading this blog and you get chronic UTIs (or if you just really like the taste of hippies), check this stuff out! You can get it at the site in the link above or through PetSmart or Amazon.
Up Next: The Secrets of Hyde Park!