While in London, we had the opportunity to go to the Tutankhamun exhibition. I have to say that it was well worth the cost, the queueing, and the travel to get to it. Usually when these displays are put on, there’s a few items of interest and a lot of information, and people come away a bit disappointed. This was quite different. There was an excellent range of different possessions from Tutankhamun’s tomb, both practical and personal, along with lots of really interesting informative history about excavating the site. My lovely husband picked this to do, and I got a bonus as well afterwards.
So while in London we stayed out at Gatwick, simply because it’s cheaper. The closer you get to the centre of London, the more expensive it is. I find that Holiday Inn Hotels have everything the bigger brand names have, but for a better price, and the staff there are always courteous and very helpful. It was amusing though, that not one single actual English person was on duty, but mainly Polish amongst other Nationalities. I wonder what will happen when Brexit is finally realised, and if people don’t qualify for residency? I expect they will have to go back to their country of origin. Britain will be short staffed for a while, until they realise they have to clean their own toilets and get their own breakfast! No time for breakfast today though, and off to Gatwick Airport to get the train up to Victoria. Then from Victoria to Sloane Square on the Underground, and a short walk to Saatchi Gallery. Sloane Square is quite a posh area, so we had a walk around exploring while we had a little time to spare. I had forgotten that my winter boots were in storage, miles away in Wales, so I had a new pair in mind. Most of the shoes were around the three hundred pounds mark, a bit expensive for me. I did find a pair nearer my price range, but the realisation that I would wear them for one week, and then have no use for them for at least six months, put me off. I had old work shoes which were comfy enough, just not warm. One more day!
Next we queued. The queue was a bit confusing, as it was after twelve-thirty by this time, and our ‘viewing time’ was one o’clock. After a short while, some organisers came along and explained that a school group had held up the viewing time, and we were in the twelve-thirty queue. I have to admit that I thought, ‘only running thirty minutes late is a miracle for the UK’, then quickly chided myself before I blurted that out. We changed queues. It was really good that it didn’t matter at the other end. What I mean by that is, when actually going through, we could take as much time as we liked, but had to endure being overtaken by the next ‘viewing time’ intake. We gestimated that they were letting in about two hundred people every half an hour, the gallery is open from nine in the morning til ten at night, but I’m not sure if the exhibition is available during that whole time. If it was, and booked out, there would be five thousand people going through each day. Wow. The security was good, and interesting that even though we were advised not to bring backpacks, there were plenty there. People just don’t follow rules sometimes. There was also good wheelchair access and a guided tour electronic listening device you could hire for another six pounds. We successfully shared this for one cost. On entry we got our photo taken, and at the end could choose our own background, which is a bit of fun, another fifteen pounds thank you.
The exhibition had one hundred and fifty pieces from the tomb, with sixty of those being seen for the first time outside Egypt. Having never been to Egypt, this was quite exciting for me, and it’s the kind of archeology that captures my interest. The Egyptians were such an advanced culture, there’s got to be a missing link somewhere. You will notice that my blog has been a bit devoid of photos so far, but at the end I’ll put a photo slide show of the best bits, or at least my best photos. It was alright to take them, but not to use the flash. I liked the personal items the best. The tiny chair he sat in when he took over as Pharaoh at just nine years old, the bed he slept in, the games he played with his wife, who was also his half sister. There were sad things too. Two tiny mummies of babies were entombed with him, the children they had that didn’t live. I guess there would be no understanding of genetics back then. The actual mummies were not in the exhibition, but Tutankhamun’s ‘death mask’ copy was, and this was depicted as though the mummy was there wrapped in cloth. There were also gold finger and toe caps that fascinated me, to protect his precious hands and feet. A gilded box was beautiful, embossed metal, quite large, about the size of your oven door, with scenes depicted of their happy marriage – but it was too shiny and my photo was dreadful. I found it really interesting, like a cartoon snapshot of life at around 1324 BC. The jewellery had the finest enamelling and engraving work I have ever seen, made with precious metals known at the time. It was just a beautiful.
Tutankhamun only ruled for ten years, and died an early death at nineteen. The most amazing thing is that all these treasures buried with him have survived for centuries, and look like you just moved them out of your house. The next Pharaoh tried to wipe out all existence of Tutankhamun, which would have contributed to the preservation of these amazing artefacts, his tomb buried and lost for centuries. His body and the real solid gold mask weighing in at a mere ten kilograms, is in the museum in Cairo. I read an article that stated the mask was actually intended for his mother, and given to him on his death. This and the small tomb size indicate that he died suddenly and unexpectedly. It was thought for years that a hole in the back of his skull meant he’d been killed by a blow, and in fact assassinated. New technologies have now indicated that he most likely died from an infection in his leg, and the hole in his skull would have been made during the mummification process. Yuk.
After the exhibition we then had my treat. We went to Partridges. I had nipped in there and used the loo while queuing, and was desperate to go back for a good look. It turns out they supply to the Queen, and have the most comprehensive range of speciality food I have ever seen. I’ll put a link at the bottom for you to peruse, but what ever you do, don’t click ‘buy’. Oh unless you genuinely want something! We decided to have afternoon tea, and me being me, picked a scotch egg. I tried to buy it from the deli, but established we were having a cup of tea at the café too, and was told the item would be brought over to me. My lovely husband picked something as well, and off we went to order our hot drinks. We were told to sit down and our order would be taken. Okay then. A little while later our drinks arrived, along with two meals of our chosen deli items, warmed up, with beautiful salad and balsamic dressing. I was thinking about taking up biting my fingernails as to how much this would cost. It did indeed turn the one pound-seventy something scotch egg, into a fifteen pound-something meal, times two! It was delicious. And I’m wiser yet again!
More soon – Sally
Oh and don’t forget to check out my little card page – there’s a new one to choose!
Follow this link to find out more about the exhibition in London:
Follow this link to find out more about the Tutankhamun’s Tomb:
Follow this link to have a quick squizz at what Partridges supply:
Great to have seen the Tutankhamun display – you’re living a very different life to being downunder! A journalist once referred to the ‘perpatetic Wales’ (referring to Charles and Diana) and I think of that sometimes as I read your blog. ‘Onya Sally.
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A wise man once told me ‘buy experiences not things’ and I’ve certainly had a few of those. Equally the saying ‘it’s the journey not the destination’ is completely true. The journey’s fantastic!