Stairs.

Life Yesterday in London I spent a lot of time walking up stairs. There were the stairs in shops, in Muji and Foyles and tube stations. There were the steps around the National Gallery up to the Van Dyke room and back again at the end of the day.  Then there were the some six hundred stairs to the top of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral and six hundred back down again.

Rather than spending my Christmas money this year on the usual mix of appliances and something to play on them, I've decided to pay the entry fee into places which I might not otherwise be able to justify the expense.  St Paul's Cathedral's costs in and around twenty pounds to get in which seems like an awful lot when there's already an amazing cathedral or two in my own city.

It's worth every penny.  Having visited Europe, the architect Chris Wren took the demolition of the Norman church which stood in its place previously in the great fire, to bring what amounts to a European-style edifice to our capital city, a massive dome topped structure which also oddly feels quite intimate and between the crypt and the tower offers far too much to see in one day.

After lunch (an only ok cheese role in the cafe) and with an hour to fill until a guided tour, I simply decided to look at the place and with the baroque paintings in the main dome and the golden mosaics across the walls, I realised the best way to do that was from the floor.  So lay down in the middle of the dome and simply looked.  Here's what I saw:



I was just keying up to take another photo which didn't chop off the side windows when I was told by a invigilator that photography was not allowed inside the cathedral.  I asked if it was ok that I was on the floor and she said it was fine but that I might want to move when the lunchtime service was about to begin.   I was a foot away from a lectern which she'd just put in place.

The tour was an incredibly dense history lesson not just of the cathedral but the various luminaries memorialised and buried there.  The crypt is essentially where all of the local historical celebrities not in Westerminster Abbey are buried.  In one corner, it's possible to find yourself standing on the graves of Turner, Leighton, Holman Hunt. Moore and Reynolds.

Then it was time to visit the top of the cathedral.  There's a pain barrier when hunting up that many steps in a confined space.  The tendency is to attack them quick at the beginning, with gasping and heartache pretty soon afterwards.  Then there's the pain barrier, then there's the moment after the pain barrier and then there's simply getting it done.

But it was well worth it.  Here's me and my big nose, at the top, on the Golden Gallery looking out across London:



And here are some of the things I was looking at:









St Pauls is 111m high or 365 feet. Wren purposefully built the cathedral so it would be the same height as all the days in the year. From up there it seemed like the highest I've ever stood out side of a plane, but the Eiffel Tower is just under three time taller, so that's still my personal record.  Nevertheless, like the interior of the cathedral, there so much to see, not enough time to see them. 

But I'll try.

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