Notes from a Cold Place

Soundtrack of Trip So Far:

Kings of Leon - Only By The Night

Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis

...And They Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes

Following a 70 hour week in delightful Bodo, this week sees me return to Siberia and Tuymen. It's an interesting place, with friendly people and brutal home brew vodka that smells a bit like terps but is very pleasant on the way down. But I don't have any stories that I want to share, and I'm here for 10 days so something interesting is bound to happen.

But I thought I'd talk about Ellie and I's trip to the Tower of London a week or so ago. It was a beautiful Saturday and after a momentous morning on the service, where Ellie did her first door and placed two magazines, we jumped on the train and headed up to Town. Elle's has been learning about the Kings and Queens of England and as all kids do, Henry VIII and his six wives have a special fascination. Seeing where Anne Boylen had head chopped off was the planned highlight of the trip, along with seeing the Koh-I-Noor diamond in the Queen's crown. After tell Elles the legend of the diamond, that if it was ever worn by a man it would bring them death and misfortune, but if worn by a woman, it would bring luck to her whole family. Hence, legend has it, the long lives of the House of Windsor. Anyway, a train ride with Ellie is always a riot as she entertains herself and who ever happens to be around. She re appropriated my camera and clicked away. Our arrival at the Tower was timed well as a Beefeater tour was about to start. As Elles was a little one, we were called to the front so she could see Bob do his thing. Unfortunately for Bob, Ellie wasn't impressed. She didn't like that Bob had to shout and, heart warming for me; she said she just wanted to have a wander with me holding hands. Now who could turn down that?

So off we wandered and my perfect little girl led the way into the tower, home of crowns, beheading and SOE command during World War 2, but I digress. So we walked up to traitors’ gates and after explaining what it was, and giggling about the smelly pond at the bottom of the gate, a picture was required.

From the gate we moved onto the green and the lovely memorial built on the spot of the scaffold where the deeds were done. There is a beautiful fountain sculpture in glass, in the shape of a pillow. Ellie walked around it, telling me all about Anne Boylen and her date with the sword, she suddenly stopped and said:

"Dad, it must have been uncomfortable."

"What? Getting your head chopped off?"

"No, putting your head on that glass pillow."

So I started laughing, swept my Princess up into my arm's and explained that they didn't use that pillow and they made it specially to show the spot where it happened. Happy that the condemned had a fluffy pillow on which their head would land, we moved into the tower to look at the graffiti, then into the Jewel House. Now, my daughter knows her mind, as those of you who have had the pleasure, and speaks it willingly. Having worked our way through the mass of videos screens showing the jewels in use, we finally reached the good bit. Knowing that she wanted to see the Mountain of Light, we had a quick look and then grabbed a guard and asked to see the Koh-I-Noor. Once we had pointed it out to her, the guard started telling Ellie the legend behind the diamond, where if it were owned by a man, he would have bad fortune and death, whereas a woman would be endowed with long life, fame and fortune, Ellie cut in and finished the story for him. Deciding that the diamond that ended the First Sikh War, bought Maharani Jeendan her life and a rather "scandalous" exile in Sussex, Queen's Victoria, Mary, The Queen Mum and our current Queen rather interesting lives, if you believe those sorts of things, Ellie wanted to see the Star of India, as that diamond is bigger and shinier. Suitably impressed by the Queen's bling, we moved on to the armour in the White Tower. Now Elle's loved the kid size armour and I loved the fact the guy who does the Napoleonic arms was a fellow Sharpe fan and putting the 1796 pattern Heavy Calvary sword, Baker Rifles and Harper's Knox Seven Barrel Gun pride of place in the cases on the top floor. So moving onto the games room, where my little girl excelled at the jousting game and archery games, we moved onto the two most important parts of the trip, the gift shop and ice cream.

For a sunny day in town, this was just about the best ever. Sorry for the lack of updates, but it’s been a busy couple weeks! Malta was fun; Siberia was a laugh as always, even if you have to stay up till 2am to watch the footy.