London travel blog
About this blog
I’m going to try and visit every attraction in London (even the rubbish ones), and every big event like 'Trooping the Colour' as well. But it will probably take me about ten years to complete because I’m too lazy to get out of bed most days, so I hope you stick around until the end.
Where I’ve been…
These are the top 25 things that I’ve enjoyed the most:
Visit London Drum’s YouTube channel for more videosI was going to try and go a bit farther afield today but it was just too damn cold. I actually saw a couple of snowmen walking down the street, with wooly hats and scarves on. That is how cold it was. So I ended up just going to Cleopatra's Needle instead and having a look at that.
There's not really much you can say about it because it's basically just a big concrete block with a few black plaques on -- not exactly the kind of the thing that you'd take a detour for. But if you take the time to cross over the road and have a proper look at it then you'll notice a few things to peak your interest.
The heiroglyphs are all worn down from the fumes of the London traffic tootling by, but they are still clear enough to read (provided that you can read ancient Eygptian, of course). You can make out a lot of eagles and eyes and scarab beatles, and that kind of thing. The big black plaques on each side are more interesting because they explain where it came from and how it got here, and who died when they put it up. Apparently six blokes were killed just getting it back to Blighty -- must be the Pharoah's curse.
Because I'm such a nice guy I'm going to write down the text of all the plaques so you can read them...
THIS OBELISK QUARRIED AT SYENE WAS ERECTED AT HELIOPOLIS BY THE PHARAOH THOTHMES III IN ABOUT 1500 B.C. LATERAL INSCRIPTIONS WERE ADDED NEARLY TWO CENTURIES LATER BY RAMESES THE GREAT. REMOVED DURING THE GREEK DYNASTY TO ALEXANDRIA, THE ROYAL CITY OF CLEOPATRA, IT WAS THERE ERECTED IN THE 18th YEAR OF AUGUSTUS CAESAR BC 12.
THROUGH THE PATRIOTIC ZEAL OF ERASMUS WILSON F.R.S. WAS BROUGHT FROM ALEXANDRIA ENCASED IN AN IRON CYLINDER. IT WAS ABANDONED DURING A STORM IN THE BAY OF BISCAY, RECOVERED AND ERECTED ON THIS SPOT BY JOHN DIXON C.E. IN THE 42nd YEAR OF THE REIGN OF QUEEN VICTORIA 1879.
THIS OBELISK, PROSTRATE FOR CENTURIES, WAS PRESENTED TO THE BRITISH NATION AD 1819 BY MAHOMMED ALI VICEROY OF EGYPT. A WORTHY MEMORIAL OF
OUR DISTINGUISHED COUNTRYMEN, NELSON AND ABERCROMBY.
WILLIAM ASKIN, MICHAEL BURNS, JAMES GARDINER, WILLIAM DONALD, JOSEPH BENTON, WILLIAM PATAN, PERISHED IN A BOLD ATTEMPT TO SUCCOUR THE CREW OF THE OBELISK SHIP CLEOPATRA DURING THE STORM OCTOBER 14th 1877.
Either side of the obelisk are two big black sphinxes, guarding it. But that's not all though, because if you keep your eyes open you can spot a load more Egyptian-styled stuff nearby. The benches have been done up with little sphinxes too.
Another plaque appears on the right hand sphinx which says...
THE SCARS THAT DISFIGURE THE PEDESTAL OF THE OBELISK, THE BASES OF THE SPHINXES, AND THE RIGHT HAND SPHINX, WERE CAUSED BY FRAGMENTS OF A BOMB DROPPED IN THE ROADWAY CLOSE TO THIS SPOT, IN THE FIRST RAID ON LONDON BY GERMAN AEROPLANES A FEW MINUTES BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON TUESDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 1917.
I've read in a guidebook somewhere that they buried a time capsule beneath it before they set it upright, but I couldn't find any mention of that. And I didn't fancy getting my shovel out to test the theory either (because it was too cold). But I've been told that the time capsule contains the following: a map of London and a train timetable, 10 newspapers, 12 photographs of the best looking women in England (and one more of Queen Victoria), a box of cigars and some pipes to smoke them with, some kid's toys and a baby's bottle, a man's razor and a box of hairpins, a set of weights, a complete set of British coins and an Indian rupee, a 3-inch bronze model of the monument and the story of how they transported it to England, a translation of the inscriptions, and several copies of the Bible in different languages.
So is it worth crossing over the road and having a close-up look at it? Yeah, I think so. Mainly because there is nice little bit between the monument and the water where you can step down away from the road for a bit of peace and quiet and get some nice views up the river.
Have you been here? Are you planning on going?