Yesterday was a long day. We had to leave for London at 8.00 and it was probably just as well we did as it took over three hours to get to the O2 arena thanks to traffic because of the high winds, road closures and works on the motorway. I'm not enirely sure how the O2 arena (nee Millennium Dome) is meant to inspire awe, as I still think it's an ugly blot on the landscape, but at least now it's being used for something rather than just sitting there. Y'know, it was kind of hard for us Great British public to be proud of something completely useless. Anyway, we got there with an hour and a half to spare before entering the exhibition, so decided to have a drink. We went to 'ha ha' (bar and grill place) where they sat us down to take our drinks orders rather than letting us order them at the bar. I ordered a smoothie so it took them 15 minutes to bring the drinks...
We had decided to try and eat before going into the exhibition, hence getting there earlier than we needed, but considering how slow the service was, we decided to wait until afterwards. After the first round of drinks we moved to the Newt and Cucumber a little further down 'Entertainment Avenue' (a little Disney, perhaps, O2?) where there was apparently going to be another 15 minute wait on food (which was also horrendously expensive, as was everywhere else), so we just had another drink in there. I tried a new Apple and Blueberry J2O, which was quite nice.
The 'avenue' bit of the arena was really cold, also, but at least the bars and restaurants were heated, as was the exhibition itself. I was dreading the presence of a few school trips that were milling around, but luckily most of the kids there weren't too annoying. There were also no toilets for the duration of the 2-hour trek around the exhibition, and depsite going to loo in the pub not five minutes before going in, for the last half-hour or so I was absolutely bursting, which somewhat ruined my enjoyment of it. It's a tad difficult to concentrate or hold your interest in history, even if it's history you're actually really interested in, if you're trying not to wet yourself - and I have exceptional bladder control, so that's how bad it was. That was a little annoying.
The exhibition itself was good. SO MANY PEOPLE, but luckily the information on the exhibits was repeated inside the cases and on all four sides of them, so you could at least read about stuff even if you couldn't see it straight away. There were some pretty amazing artefacts in there. Like the only remaining carrying-chest of a certain type that has survived into antiquity, which we only really know exists from artwork of the period. The level of detail on the canopic jars and statues, and also the sheer level of preservation, was also amazing. The final few rooms were about the history of when the tomb was uncovered and the very last room was information about the various scans that have been done on the body since it was discovered, in the 60s, 70s and very recently, and some BBC 24 news footage of the mummy being excavated for the first time since its original discovery.
As my mum pointed out, though, it would have been nice if they could have replicated the death mask or even the tomb, given it's the most famous thing people associate with Tutankhamun. Understandably, the originals cannot leave Egypt, but something to demonstrate the scale of it would have been nice. There was a demonstration in one room of the many layers of tombs and sarcophagi containing the body, with some indication on the floor of the vastness of the outer chambers, but nothing really to show us what that final sarcophagus was like. There was also this quote repeated a few times from Howard Carter saying how everywhere he looked there was the glint of gold, and yet the exhibition also did not replicate this in any form. A couple of artefacts had rooms dedicated to them individually - a bust of the king and a canopic jar that had contained his liver, which were both incredible - but the rooms themselves were all artfully dark and subdued. Which again is understandable because these items have been entombed for 3200 years in the dark, but there could have been, I don't know, something to replicate that sense of wonder and richness on opening the tomb for the first time.
My mum came out of it feeling a little disappointed, and also the merchandise was mostly rubbish and horrendously overpriced, clearly aimed at idiot tourists or those with more money than sense. As I said, I also enjoyed it less than I should have done because I needed the toilet, so I dread to think how anyone with cantankerous children are going to get on... Ah well. I suppose we'll just have to go to Egypt. Which is a shame, because this should really have been something to replace the need to do so...
After that we went back to the car and headed home again, getting stuck in yet more traffic and motorway works and finally getting back to Kings Heath at around 7.45pm. We had tea in the Red Lion (local Ember Inns pub) - so much for the nice lunch in London, also, though it would have been horrendously expensive - and then home.
Next week I will make a start on my list of chores for this period of leave. It's not all relaxing and fun, you know...
- clean cupboard under sink (again)
- clean corner cupboard
- find somewhere to put board games
- sort through boxes in attic
- possibly move furniture
That'll do. All this is assuming my back doesn't play merry hell with me as usual, as it's taken until today to calm down since flaring up on Sunday... STUPID BODY.