The London Film Museum

My previous post about London led to a conversation with a friend about London, and I wanted to look at the pictures I posted in my blog post about the London Film Museum. When I went to look for the post, I discovered to my vast surprise that I never wrote a post about the London Film Museum, I only wrote a paragraph in one of my previous London posts. In August of 2012, I said the following in a longer post about London:

I quite enjoyed the London Film Museum, which had a lot of neat stuff, including Daleks, a TARDIS, the superman suit from Superman Returns, the Batman Begins batsuit, and a large variety of props from other movies.  There was an entire room of Harry Potter stuff, and a large exhibit dedicated to Ray Harryhausen, including a full sized original Bubo.  This was a highlight for me.

That’s it- just that one paragraph. All the pictures I took at the museum, which I thought I had posted years ago, were still unshared. I will now correct that oversight.

When I visited the London Film Museum, it was in a section of County Hall, right near Westminster Bridge, close to the London Eye along the Thames River. I have since learned that it moved to a location in Covent Garden in April of 2012- my visit was in July of 2012, so I suspect the museum was still moving, and I saw only a fraction of the entire exhibit. What I did see was pretty dang cool though.

Harry Potter props and costumes- A variety of items were present here, including some costumes, the Tri-Wizard cup, and Harry’s Nimbus 2000.

Star Wars stuff – London is the home of Pinewood Studios, which has been a production facility for most of the Star Wars films. There were a few Star Wars artifacts on hand during my visit. I saw much more at the Star Wars exhibit in Tokyo a few years later.

Alien – They had a sculpture of a Xenomorph and some facehuggers from the Alien franchise.

Doctor Who – A film museum in England would naturally have some Doctor Who items. Not as much as the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, but still- a Tardis and a handful of Daleks were still neat to see.

Superman and Batman – Pinewood has a long history with DC Comics, and there weer a number of Superman and Batman artifacts on hand. First up, some costumes!

Next, we have part of the ship that brought Kal to earth in Superman (1978) and a newspaper from Superman II.

Braveheart, Hellraiser, and various animation – The Dangermouse cardboard stand was my favorite in this part.

The Ray Harryhausen Exhibit – This was my favorite part, to be honest- they had a special exhibit in plae called “Ray Harryhausen: Myths and Legends.” It contained various items from Harryhausen’s stop-motion work, but I was most interested in the Clash of the Titans items, particularly the full-sized Bubo the Owl!

Have you ever been to a film museum? What’s your favorite prop that you’ve seen in person?




On my last trip to the UK, we took a day trip to Cardiff by train out of London’s Paddington Station. This makes Wales my fifteenth country visited! (Not including the US.)


Cardiff is a fascinating little city.  We didn’t see even a third of what the city has to offer, but we did take a stroll past this nifty clock down Queen Street.


At the end of the street are the outer walls of Cardiff Castle.


Through the main gate of those outer walls is the original Norman shell keep, flying the flag of Wales.


The red dragon motif is everywhere, as the symbol of Wales.  It’s also the symbol of the Brains brewery, which makes a pretty tasty beer.  I had a Brains Green Dragon at lunch when we were back in London later in the trip, and I wish I’d had a Brains while we were closer to the brewery- I’ve been told that the flavor loses something in transit.


Our goal for this jaunt to Cardiff was actually in Cardiff Bay.  From the Cardiff central station, we took a small local train to Queen Street a few stops from the main station, then changed to the smallest train ever to go to Cardiff Bay.  Seriously, it’s only got the one wagon and it just goes back and forth between Queen Street and Cardiff Bay.


From Cardiff Bay’s little train station, it’s a short walk to the Bay.  You’ll pass  the very pretty Pierhead building.


…and you’ll walk past the Wales Millennium Center.  If you watched Torchwood, this will look familiar.  This is an arts center which hosts events like concerts, opera, ballet, and so forth.  The dome is clad in steel that was treated with copper oxide, to represent Cardiff’s steel making history. It was designed to withstand the weather conditions on the Cardiff Bay waterfront.

Inscribed on the front of the dome, above the main entrance, are two lines written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis. The Welsh version is Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen, which means “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration”. The English is In These Stones Horizons Sing.  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)


Walking further along the bay is the World Harmony Peace Statue. You hold the handle of the torch, and make a wish for world peace.


After a little bit more walking, we arrived at the goal for this side trip:  The Doctor Who Experience, situated in Cardiff Bay until 2017.  The first part of the DWE is an interactive walk-through adventure with the eleventh Doctor in which you get to fly the TARDIS, so that’s pretty fun.  Also, you get to learn how to walk like a scarecrow soldier or a Cyberman.


After the interactive part of the Doctor Who Experience, there’s an exhibition.  I took a bajillion photographs, but I won’t bore my non-geeky readers with all of those.  I selected just seven pictures to give you a sense of the place.  If you’re not into Doctor Who, just skip down to the picture that has me in it, and we’ll pick up the post from there.

The first picture is the outfit of Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor.  This was part of a row of outfits worn by each of the first ten Doctors.


Similarly, the companions each had outfits in the exhibition.  Here’s Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith outfit.


There were several TARDIS control rooms in the exhibition.  I’m pretty sure this was the fourth Doctor’s control room.


…and this was definitely Nine and Ten’s control room, brought over to the DWE in its entirety after the regeneration into Eleven.  They cleaned it up a bit, but you can still see smoke and fire damage from Ten’s fairly explosive regeneration.


No Doctor Who exhibit would be complete without  my favorite robot dog of all time, K-9.


Most of the Doctor’s adversaries were represented, but I particularly liked this Cyberman.


Of course, there were friends of the Doctor present as well.  Here’s me, hanging out with the Face Of Boe.


Ok, that’s enough geekery for this post.  Once we were done at the Doctor Who Experience, it was time to walk back from Cardiff Bay.  I had to force myself not to walk like a Cyberman.

Cardiff Bay is really a very pretty place.  Here’s a view out from the dock.


There’s a number of fascinating sculptures around the Bay.  This was my favorite- the Merchant Seafarers’ War Memorial, by sculptor Brian Fell.  It’s designed to look like both a face and the bow of a ship.


Walking back up the wide sidewalks from the Bay to the little rail station, we couldn’t help but notice all the spiders that were out.  I think they were collecting food and preparing for the winter.


Last but not least, on our way out of the Cardiff Bay area, this little cutie walked right up to us, flopped over, and demanded to be loved.  Who could say no to those little paws?


Have you ever been to Cardiff? Did you learn to walk like a Cyberman while you were there?

London Again

In keeping with my tradition of going to London every July, I went there last weekend.  This was a short trip-  I flew in on Friday night and out on Sunday evening.  However, I ran into some issues with Heathrow.

It seems that a 787 DreamLiner from an Ethiopian carrier caught fire, and the airport had to close for a few hours while this was being dealt with.  The delays snowballed from there, and my evening went like this:

  • My 9pm flight got into Heathrow an hour and ten minutes late.  I’m lucky it wasn’t cancelled entirely.
  • We waited twenty minutes for Heathrow staff to find someone to drive the jet bridge out to the plane.
  • We waited another twenty minutes for the little people mover that takes you from the gate to the arrivals area.
  • Lots and lots of people had no luggage, or had to go back throughout the weekend to try to get their luggage back.  I’m grateful I’ve taken to flying without checking a bag for short trips.
  • We got to the main arrivals area of the terminal after the last Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station had already left.  Luckily, they added two additional trains when they saw the delays stacking up.  One departed at 12:45, and one at 1:30.  I waited another 50 minutes for the 12:45 train.
  • If you’re doing the math from the bolded text above, you’ll spot that we got to Paddington after 1am, which means the London Underground was shut down for the night.  The picture below was the line at the taxi stand at Paddington.  I considered walking to my hotel, but that would have involved cutting through Hyde Park at night, and I wasn’t feeling up to that particular challenge.
  • After my first experience with a legendary London Black Cab, I reached my hotel and made it into bed by around three in the morning.  My weekend was off to a rollicking start.


Saturday morning, I went to The Shard.   The newly constructed tallest building in the European Union was not open to the public yet when I was in London last July, and I couldn’t resist a climb to the top.  Tall stuff!


The lobby has an entire wall covered in quotes about London; this was my favorite one:


The climb was actually one elevator to the 33rd floor, then another elevator to the 68th floor.  From there, a short stair takes you to the first observation level at the 69th floor, and another set of stairs takes you to the open observation on level 72.   There’s more above that, but only for private functions.

The elevators inside the Shard have video screens in their ceilings.  This is a picture of an elevator ceiling:


Stairs to 72:


This is the mostly-open observation level at the top.


…and three pictures of the View from the Shard, which is coincidentally the name of the tourist attraction portion of the building.  The first picture includes the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.


The second picture includes St. Paul’s Cathedral.


The third includes the Tower Bridge and part of the Thames River.


After  I left the Shard, I went on the Tube to meet a friend for lunch.  My weekend of rough travel continued, as parts of the Tube were shut down for maintenance work and I had to go in a very roundabout way.


I made it, eventually, to the British Library to meet Neo for Lunch. That’s not code for anything, it’s just where we met before grabbing a bite to eat.  Hanging out with friends is always a delight, and I love lunching with people.


After lunch, I made my way to the DLR trains from Tower Bridge to go over to Greenwich.  When I was there last July, I couldn’t reach the Royal Observatory because of the Olympic Games, and I really wanted to check that out.  On a nice warm day like this, so did a lot of other people- the lawns of Greenwich Park were littered with sunbathers and picnickers.  The Observatory is waaaay up that hill to the right  It was a nice walk.


The Royal Observatory is great for people who like to geek out about time, clocks, telescopes, astronomy, and so forth.  There are a lot of nifty clocks about, like this one.


The museum section also had a lot of amazing telescopes and spyglasses and so forth.  I took a lot of pictures, but I’m not going to put all of them up here.  Instead, I chose this spyglass to represent the coolest of the cool:  It’s a walking stick/sword/spyglass.  So cool!


Of course the reason that most tourists go to the Royal Observatory is to stand on the Prime Meridian, with one foot in the East and one in the West.  There is also a monster laser in the Observatory that they light up at night- a bright green laser beam shows the path of the Prime Meridian for roughly fifteen miles on a clear dark night.  I’d like to see that some time.

The line to stand on the Meridian was quite long, but only for the picturesque part with the extra markings and a staff member nearby.  Right on the other side of that huge line of people, it was still the Prime Meridian, so I just did my thing off to one side:


After I was done at the Observatory, I doubled back to the hotel to change clothes for the evening.  When I got out of the Tube at Earl’s Court, I found this right outside the station.  The “Bad Wolf” and Clara Oswald notes were already scrawled into the dust; I didn’t put them there.


Finally, Saturday evening had arrived, and this is what brought me to London for this trip:  BBC Prom #2.  The 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Prom.

For those who are unfamiliar with the BBC Proms, a Prom (or Promenade Concert) is part of a yearly series of summer concerts.  Most are held in the Royal Albert Hall, and there are dozens of different shows.  There’s an entire culture built up around going to the Proms, and some fans like to go Promming:  That is, they wait in the morning for the final tickets to be released, pay five pounds for a ticket, and then stand in the center section of the Royal Albert Hall for the entirety of the show.   In the 2013 season, there are 74 separate Proms.  The Doctor Who events were Prom #2 (Saturday evening) and Prom #3 (Sunday afternoon.)

Doctor Who At The Proms has occurred twice before, in 2008 and 2010 respectively.  I had been waiting for it to come up again since I got to Germany, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.  The Proms were recorded live, and  will be aired on the BBC during the 50th Anniversary celebrations later this year.

In any case, here’s the Royal Albert Hall.


The walk between my hotel and the Royal Albert Hall went up a long street filled with various embassies.  At one point, I saw some guys taking a picture of a doorway, and I got a little curious.  This is what they were taking a picture of-  cue Yakety Sax!


But I digress…  this is what the Royal Albert Hall looked like from my seat.


You can see that the stage is large enough to hold the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Ben Foster.  There were racks of seats behind the orchestra for the London Philharmonic Choir.  I cannot begin to describe how amazing they sounded together live.  The acoustics in the Royal Albert are absolutely brilliant.


Matt Smith, the 11th (and current) Doctor appeared at this event, along with Jenna Coleman, the Doctor’s current companion.  Some of the introductions were handled by Madame Vastra and Strax, in character, along with lots of other people from the show.  The music was mostly from the current era of the show (2005 to the present), but some pieces of music performed were from the “Classic” Doctor Who, which is what they now call all of the Doctor Who between 1963 and 1996.   Plus, since this is a Doctor Who Prom, there were Silurians, Silence, Ice Warriors, Whisper Men, Cybermen, and a few others.  Here’s a Weeping Angel:


Here’s a Judoon:


…and here’s the conductor being harassed by a pair of Daleks.


The Proms were amazing, and if I lived in London, I would go to a lot more of them.  Some of the other Proms this year sounded really nifty.  After the show, I headed back to the hotel and had a nice room service sandwich to wind down.   On Sunday morning, I met Neo again, this time at Hyde Park, because there was a giant horse head statue I wanted to check out.  I had seen it from the window of the taxi two evenings before.  In the darkness, it looked like a giant glowing horse head, and I was pleased to find that it wasn’t that difficult to find in the daylight either.  This 35 foot tall horse head statue was sculpted by Nic Fiddian-Green, and it’s been there since around 2009.


Another set of statues, a wander past the Speaker’s Corner of the park, a quick lunch, and then it was already time to head back to Paddington for my trip out of London.  On the walk to Paddington station, we passed a hospital, and there were a bunch of photographers and television crews setting up.  I didn’t know until we’d walked past it what it was all about… there were ranks of ladders for photographers to stand on…


…and just past the already set up tv crews, there were squares of tape which dictated where other camera crews from different media outlets could set up.

We had stumbled onto the journalist area for the media crews covering the birth of Kate Middleton’s royal baby at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.  I didn’t even know this was going on, but there it is.


Tell me your favorite thing to do in London.  Have you ever been to a BBC Prom?  Have you ever accidentally stumbled across a major media event?  Have you ever stood on the Prime Meridian?