The best discoveries are often done right at your own backyard. The discoveries related to the nature we live in, what we are surrounded with, when we came from and where we are heading to. Not a philosophical joyride rather a simple weekend day out at the enriched Natural History Museum in London turned out to be so different than what we were used to doing.
Defying the sobbing London sky with its grey mood and teary raindrops all day long we managed to become tourists in our own city. Last weekend gifted the Londoners with a glorious sunshine which merited a day out amidst the fallen Autumn leaves at the Hyde Park. This weekend was so miserable that it warranted an indoor exploration to enjoy high and dry exploring the architecture, the light flooding through the dusty windows, the cool touch of stone under fingertips, the icy bronze railings, the stairs smoothed under a million footsteps…it surely is one of most beloved London spaces; The Natural History Museum.
Having resurfaced at the South Kensington underground station with the teeming tourists, we became one of the awed visitors to the city. While some were heading towards the similarly popular Victoria & Albert Museum nearby, we followed the group heading towards the Natural History Museum which occupies an imposing amount of space to welcome for free thousands of visitors every day.
The entrance itself and the hall inside was so captivating that the first time entrants stood in awe sizing up the high ceilings supported by carved pillars. The interior was perfectly illuminated with sun roofs creating a natural sense upfront.
There were long queues for a wildlife photography exhibition for enthusiasts and professionals. We decided to explore the neatly arranged halls which were divided in various colour coded zones – green zone for all things related to birds and plants, red for earth and its forces, orange and blue for insects and the solar system. Anyone is welcome to be in awe and that is why tourists and locals alike, families and friends, couples, singletons – all seemed enthralled at the creatively displayed history of all things around us, some of which we can see, some we cannot.
One may feel it is a massive science class under one roof but it is more than that. It felt as if it was like a journey every human being should make as this museum tells the story of our creation and the creatures around us in the most credible way, fuelled by power of science and evidence. We didn’t forget to photograph the white marble statue of Charles Darwin, who perhaps had unlocked the biggest mysteries of our evolution and thus giving a whole new meaning to the artefacts in display.
Three and a half hours passed in the blink of an eye without having realised that our roving stroll covered the entire essence the museum had to offer. After having explored the halls, corridors and glass cases, we strolled off hand in hand for an early dinner.
Tad hungry and in need of some reflection, we decided to try out one of the many eateries in the neighbourhood. After a quick shop around, a restaurant looked iniviting to Tanusree, and having never eaten at a Polish restaurant before, we decided to give it a go. Completely by chance and without any plan, we found ourselves lucky to have got a table for two at supposedly one of the most authentic Polish restaurants in London called Daquise, opened in 1947 by war-displaced Poles and a legendary refuge for famous expats including film director Roman Polanski. I guess we were a bit early for dinner hence we got ourselves a cosy little table next to the window. Many diners were queueing up later but sadly were turned way as the reservation hours had kicked off, so we were plainly lucky since we were early.
Well mannered staff in black apron made sure the service was personal. He tried out roasted baby chicken stuffed with apricot and apple and calf liver with fried onions, and she ordered pan fried fillet of cod with horseradish sauce, served with spinach and carrots and their famous Polish style stuffed eggs which were class apart. Goes without saying that the gentleman also tried their popular Polish beer and the lady tried a jellied raspberry and vodka Terrine-Malinowa galaretka, fitting conclusion to a one-of-a-kind polish dinner experience.
What made the whole experience even more special was the fact that the chef came out with his cooking pan from which we were served directly. In other words, it was not that the waiters were bringing a dish or a plate on your table, it was the chef who showed up with his tool straight from the kitchen to serve you on your plate while you waited in anticipation, giving a touch of home-cooked food.
As said earlier, some of the best discoveries are made in your own backyard. We defied the rain to discover the histories of our nature in the NHM. Later we discovered this gem of a Polish dine out joint which also had a strong historical background going back to the Second World War and the plight of the Polish in the UK. All in all it was a perfect day out blended with stories and histories. Remember you never get DONE when you are in London!